Non-stop paint job on Forth Bridge comes to an end after 120 years

20 January 2012

The painting of the Forth Rail Bridge – a job famous for never being finished – has finally come to an end, thanks to a specialist coating system developed by Leighs Paints. After 10 years and an investment of more than £130M, contractors finished the project ahead of schedule on Friday, December 9, 2011.

The glass flake epoxy coating being used on the project was developed by Leighs Paints and is expected to last at least 25 years, ending the tradition of continuously painting the bridge. Old layers of paint were removed using an abrasive blasting technique and steelwork requiring maintenance was repaired before the paint was applied in three protective layers.

Dave Bottomley, technical manager at Leighs Paints commented: "Leighs Paints is delighted to have played a part in the restoration of such an iconic structure as the Forth Rail Bridge. The paint system used on the structure has primarily been used in the offshore industry. Its glass flake epoxy formula bonds with the metal to keep moisture out.”

David Simpson, route managing director, Network Rail Scotland said: "Network Rail is the proud steward of our railway history, which the Forth Bridge exemplifies. Since 1890 it has been a working monument to the genius of British railway engineering. Over the past decade, the bridge has been restored to its original condition and its new paint will preserve the steelwork for decades to come.”

Engineering firm Balfour Beatty had been restoring the structure since 2002, blasting the 53,000t of steelwork back to bare metal before applying the tough coating.
Managing director for Balfour Beatty, Marshall Scott commented: "The now fully restored Forth Bridge will continue to operate for many decades to come and it will provide the world renowned image that Scotland can be rightfully proud.”

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