“Never-ending paint job” to end

Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials

ISSN: 0003-5599

Article publication date: 27 June 2008



(2008), "“Never-ending paint job” to end", Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials, Vol. 55 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/acmm.2008.12855dab.011



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

“Never-ending paint job” to end

Article Type: Industrial news From: Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials, Volume 55, Issue 4

The longest painting project in British history - the 120-year painting of the Firth of Forth Bridge - will end in 2012, thanks to a new coating that is designed to last decades. The bridge project has coined its own saying in Britain - “like painting the Forth Bridge” - to describe a never-ending project.

The 118-year-old, 1.5 mile rail bridge contains so much steel that, legend goes, by the time the painters finish, they need to start over again at the other end. The bridge spans the river Forth north of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Now, however, the British engineering firm Balfour Beatty has committed to stripping the 51,000 ton of steel down to bare metal and recoating the entire bridge by 2012 with a coating designed to last 20-30 years.

The company has been blasting layers of paint off the bridge and recoating it since 2002. In February, it was awarded a $144.3 million contract by state-controlled network rail to finish the job and restore the bridge to its original condition. (The cost is enough to have built more than 40 Forth bridges at the 1,890 construction price).

A team of 200 workers, divided into two squads, is at work on the project, with a rescue boat stationed on the Firth River below to watch for falls from the 4,500 ton of scaffolding that encases the bridge. The surface is the equivalent of 45 acres. The new paint, tested in the North Sea and similar to that used in the offshore oil industry, is being applied in three coats.

So famous is the project that the expression “like painting the Forth Bridge” has found a place in the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. It states: “If repairing or improving something is like painting the Forth Bridge, it takes such a long time that by the time you have finished doing it, you have to start again.”

The project will mark the “end of the modern myth” of the never-ending paint job, Balfour Beatty said, although in reality there have been isolated periods when no paint has been applied.

For further details, please visit: www.paintsquare.com

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