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24 May, 2024

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New drive system prepares Middlesbrough bridge for its centenary
Published:  13 December, 2010

Middlesbrough`s iconic Transporter Bridge (below) has been given a new lease of life, following the replacement of its original electric motor and drive system after nearly a century of service.

The bridge – only working structure of its type in England – connects Middlesbrough to Port Clarence on the banks of the River Tees. It was built in 1910 to replace a steam ferry and carries passengers and vehicles across the river in a suspended gondola. A transporter bridge was chosen because Parliament decreed that the new method of crossing the river had to avoid disrupting shipping.

In May 2010, the bridge was shut down to allow the original electric motors and drive system to be replaced in time for its centenary celebrations in 2011. The work was designed to enhance the bridge`s reliability and safety, while cutting the time it needs to be closed for routine maintenance. In addition, the new motor/drive system will allow the bridge to be operated safely in higher wind speeds than before.

The new motors were supplied and installed by Deritend RMB. They consist of three high-efficiency 45kW four-pole machines (one of which is a spare) from WEG’s W22 range. The motors are equipped with 1,024 pulse/rev encoders and are controlled by two WEG CFW-11 inverters.

The new drive system was designed to allow the existing, listed drive to remain in its entirety. Only the bolts on the motor couplings needed to be disconnected. The photograph above shows the original motor in the foreground and its modern replacement in the background.

“One of the main criteria within the tender document was for the original drive system to remain in place and recognise the heritage status of the site and treat it accordingly,” explains Deritend’s operations manager, Mark Westwood. “We achieved this by designing a bespoke solution which is built around the existing equipment and the ‘old to new’ concept is clearly visible.”

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