Lovell Pit Stop

With all the excitement of Astrofest and others things last week I forgot to talk about the wheel change for the Lovell Telescope.

Several weeks ago telescope engineers noticed a crack on a steel tyre on one of the 64 wheels that allow the telescope to drive in azimuth (around horizontally). These wheels also support the 3200 tonnes of the telescope so keeping them in working order is pretty important. Anyone following the Lovell Telescope on twitter would probably have noticed that it has been a bit quiet for a number of weeks and that is due to the wheel replacement.

This is only the second time that one of the wheels has needed to be replaced in the Lovell Telescope's 50 year history. The first replacement was last year and Jodrell Bank's engineers took the opportunity then to get two wheels made so that they would have a spare. You can't just nip down to the local Kwikfit and get a new wheel however so the replacements had to be specially commissioned. Of course once you've got your new tyre it isn't that easy to replace as the telescope has to be effectively put up on jacks and that is a pretty big engineering job too.

In the picture below you can see some of the Jodrell Bank Observatory engineers working on the broken wheel at the base of one of the supporting towers (I can't tell if it is green tower or red tower from this angle). The darker grey surface visible on the bowl is actually the original surface from 1957. The current surface (the nice white one seen when face on) actually sits a few metres above the original surface. You can also see the lift (elevator) shaft going up the tower.

Lovell Telescope repair
Engineers replace a broken steel tyre on the 76m diameter Lovell Telescope, Jodrell Bank Observatory CREDIT: Ed Swinden, University of Manchester

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Monday 18th Feb 2008 (17:06 GMT) | Permalink
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]