Automation opens doors on Seventh Century Cathedral 05 October 2012

Using a motor from Rotor UK, design engineers from Drive Lines Technologies have developed a discrete and sensitive solution to motorising a huge medieval door at Ripon Cathedral in North Yorkshire.

Visitors to the Cathedral Church of St Wilfrid in Ripon can now admire its medieval interior in greater comfort, following the installation of the Narthex Porch into the main frontage.

Drives engineer Patrick Logue explains that it was an essential part of the plan that the original door was retained, to maintain the historic and architectural integrity of the frontage.

"The arch-shaped doors are 5.5m tall and over 2m wide, made of ancient oak and hung on what may be the original hinges," recalls Logue.

"The load was considerable and we also had to allow for possible wind load, but above all, we had to respect the antiquity and solemnity of the site, and come up with a solution that was compact, quiet, discrete and which could handle the doors gently," he adds.

Logue considered specifying an off-the-shelf door operating mechanism, but was not that surprised to discover that there was nothing suitable on the market.

He decided that a powered, pivot-mounted lead screw was the optimum solution, as this would give a smooth, steady motion, and would be reliable, long lasting and quiet in operation.

Speaking of the motor, he says: "We wanted something small and discrete, that would be virtually invisible to the casual observer.

"Reliability was a given, and we were also keen to find a standard motor that the Cathedral's maintenance staff would be comfortable with. Fortunately, there was an existing three-phase supply on site, so we were not restricted to finding a single phase solution."

Eventually, the design team opted for a three-phase, 0.6kW IEC frame motor from Rotor. "This may seem small, considering the job, but it is stepped down through a compact 50:1 ZF-Servoplan planetary gearbox," explains Logue.

"Even with the switchgear, we were able to produce an elegant and effective solution."

Officially opened this year, the Narthex Porch consists of a bronze framework structure with glass panels embellished with etchings depicting the life of Saint Wilfrid, founder of the Cathedral.

Brian Tinham

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