London Olympics: Big Ben

Project brief

Fineline Solutions was asked to devise a mechanism to open and close the top of Big Ben – not the real thing, but a model used as part of the London Closing Ceremony. The mechanism needed to be able to move four solid panels simultaneously, allowing an actor to appear through the top of the tower. The system needed to be battery powered, and operated by a non-technical person.


big_benThe system comprised four electrically-operated linear actuators. These actuators are very simple to use: they have a constant speed, and will slip once they reach the end of their travel. A single actuator was used for each panel, and was attached to the inside of the structure out of view. A simple bell crank was used to connect the other end of the actuator to the hinged panel.

A simple switch panel was provided to allow the cast member to operate the mechanism. A press-to-hold rocker switch allowed the panels to be opened or closed. As the actuators slip at the end of travel, there was no need to explicitly disconnect the power once the panels had been fully extended or fully closed.

A simple battery charger was provided to charge the batteries mounted in the base.

Further information

For further information, or to discuss a similar project, please contact Fineline Solutions.