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SKF bearings to support world’s tallest observation wheel

11 February 2013

SKF is preparing two giant bearings for the Las Vegas High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel. The two SKF spherical roller bearings for the hub of the 143m diameter wheel will be the largest ever produced at SKF's manufacturing facility in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The Las Vegas High Roller is the centrepiece of The LINQ, a planned $550m, open-air retail, dining, and entertainment district situated between Imperial Palace and Flamingo Las Vegas.

The bearings contract was awarded by American Bridge Company, the prime structural contractor appointed by Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, Inc. to build the $64m High Roller’s massive steel structure. Due for completion in December, 2013, the wheel is essentially a tension ring some 143m in diameter, standing 167m high and dominating the LINQ complex. It will carry 28 cabins, each able to revolve independently.

 “We are really proud to supply the High Roller because it represents some of the largest bearings we have produced, and shows the broad range of challenges that SKF knowledge engineering can solve,” says president and CEO, Tom Johnstone. “By combining our technical knowledge across our platforms with the extensive experience from many specialised industries we are able to provide a solution for this fantastic project.”

The two custom-designed SKF spherical roller bearings (one within each side) weigh approximately 8,800kg with a 2,300mm outer diameter, 1,600mm inner diameter, and a width of 63mm.

Special features will include W26 lubrication holes in the inner ring, SKF ‘NoWear’-coated rollers, and a PTFE coated bore. SKF additionally will incorporate advanced lubrication, sealing, and online condition-monitoring systems and take the lead in monitoring the bearings once the wheel has been commissioned and commences operations.

“The Las Vegas High Roller is a complicated engineering feat,” said David Codiga, executive project director of The LINQ. “Only a handful of manufacturers in the world are capable of supplying products of this scale and complexity, and we are pleased to have SKF on our team to create the world's largest and most dynamic observation wheel.”

The Las Vegas High Roller is the latest big-wheel project using SKF expertise within large bearing solutions. The Navy Pier Ferris wheel in Chicago includes two SKF spherical roller bearings and the Liseberg Wheel in Gothenburg, Sweden spins on SKF Explorer bearings.

The High Roller project is the latest of a long line of special structures engineered by the American Bridge Company. Others include the Chicago Picasso structure, the New York World’s Fair Unisphere, the Puerto Rico Convention Centre roof, and the EPCOT Millennium structure in Florida.

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