The Cantilever Principle

Engineering students at GRW continued their journey of discovery in the wonderful world of bridges with a double whammy: a recreation of a famous engineering photo and a living demonstration of the Cantilever Principle; all part of their in depth analysis of Scotland’s Forth Bridge. The demonstration we recreated, after building the apparatus ourselves, was devised in 1887 by the Forth Bridge engineer Benjamin Baker. He wanted to show that cantilevers were the most effective means of constructing long-span bridges, and demonstrate how the forces of tension (in the arms and anchor ropes) and compression (in the planks and the seated bodies) were balanced within the structure. In the original 19th century photo, the load is represented by Kaichi Watanabe, a Japanese engineer studying under Baker. In our recreation, the load is represented by Cameron, another keen student of bridge building.