West Riding Blog

Painting the Eighth Wonder of the World

Painting the Eighth Wonder of the World

The Forth Rail Bridge is claimed by many to be the eighth wonder of the modern world. In terms of repainting bridges in the UK it has to be considered to be the ultimate challenge.

Set in an aggressive, sometimes hostile environment, this complex structure spans the fast flowing waters of the Firth of  Forth, between North and South Queensferry.

The structure presents many challenges to coatings, not just in the severe corrosive conditions, but also in the complexity of the design, which includes approx 6.5 million rivets, multiple back to back angles, sandwiched steel plates and corrosion traps; all of which conspire to produce a corrosion engineers  (And paint applicators) nightmare scenario.

The structure has been protected since it’s completion in 1890 using an evolving variety of single pack paints which have developed with the advancements in paint technology. Whilst the commonly held belief that a team of painters has been continuously employed to start at one end, then recommence on completion in a continuous cycle of re-painting, probably owes more to urban myth than actual fact; the structure had become a patchwork quilt of ad-hoc repairs over the decades, and the decision was taken by Network Rail to start with a clean slate and completely remove the old coatings, and repaint with a two pack specification designed to give the structure several decades until next major maintenance.

This presentation aims to give an insight into the challenges and procedures involved in this epic painting project.

Presenter Profile:

Malcolm Morris is a technical support manager at Leighs Paints, which following a 150 year history as a privately owned paint manufacturer, in 2011  become a wholly owned subsidiary of Sherwin-Williams; the third largest global paint manufacturer.

Malcolm has been a chemist with Leigh’s since 1978, in a career based mainly in R&D and technical service; but now having qualified in terms of age, experience and receding grey hair as an ‘old fart’, has taken on a broad role in supporting technical and commercial colleagues within the business, as well as customer facing technical support and training.

Malcolm is a long standing member of OCCA and was somehow elected to Fellowship status in 2005. Outside of work his interests include gardening, walking & attempting to keep vaguely fit. His chemical background has also developed special interest in the processes of fermentation and distillation.


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