Pioneering Spirit

Large Size Bearings

Schaeffler is a preferred development partner and supplier for very particular requirements in terms of engineers and rolling bearings. Further evidence is provided by the development of the hub bearing arrangement for the "London Eye" which was supplied at the change of the Millennium in 1999/2000. Originally, the Ferris wheel was only planned as a temporary attraction for a few years. However, more than 36 million passengers have made the wheel an unexpected success and have kept it in motion for more than a decade.


The Ferris wheel in London, which contains approximately 1 500 tonnes of steel, rotates with the aid of two double row FAG spherical roller bearings which are fitted in the hub of the viewing wheel in a locating/non-locating bearing combination. The locating bearing, with an outside diameter of 2,66 metres, weighs 6,3 tonnes and is firmly mounted on the shaft. The non-locating bearing, with an outside diameter of 2,62 metres and a mass of 5,2 tonnes, can move both and forth on the shaft in order to compensate for thermal expansion.

In addition to the central hub bearing arrangements, large size spherical plain bearings of the Schaeffler brand ELGES ensure that the London Eye stands securely upright. Thanks to the large size spherical plain bearings, the wheel could be swivelled during erection transversely over the River Thames from its horizontal construction position to its vertical final position. Since then, the function of the bearings has been to compensate for very small movements of the wheel, for example as a result of the wind, that would otherwise act on the comparatively rigid steel construction.


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