The Kremlin's five-pointed ruby stars that have been shining day and night over Moscow's skyline for 65 years are going under restoration in 2003.
According to Gennady Borzov, a steeplejack and a stunt man, who has been servicing "the Kremlin lights" for almost a quarter of a century, there are plans to change cracked glass on the stars in the summer of next year.
He didn't mention the precise number of glass panels to be changed, but explained that each of the five stars crowning the Kremlin's towers (20 towers in all) has two layers of glass: the internal one is made of opaque glass and the external - from ruby glass, both 6-7 mm thick. There is an air-gap between the two.
By the way, each star weighs almost a ton. Under the pressure of the wind, they turn around their axis like a weathercock. They are not affected by rust of bad weather conditions because their frames are made of a special type of stainless steel. The distance between the points of the biggest stars (on Spasskaya and Nikolskaya towers) is 3.75 meters.
Even during general electricity blackouts, the stars would continue to shine because they have their own electric generators.
The lamps for the stars are unique in design. They were specifically manufactured at Moscow Electric-Bulb Factory. The output of three stars - on Spasskaya, Nikolskaya and Troitskaya towers - is 5,000 watts and on Borovitskaya and Vodovzvodnaya towers - 3,700 watts. Each bulb has two parallel filaments. If one burns out, the other one keeps burning and the control room receives an automatic warning.
In order to prevent the overheating of the stars, experts developed a special ventilation system - it consists of an air filter and two fans (one is a back-up).
The ruby stars of the Kremlin lighted up first on November 2, 1937. Since 1946, they have been repaired several times - the damaged glass and metal plating were replaced on a regular basis, but the mechanisms always remained the same - exactly like they were in 1937.
Every month, the stars undergo a routine servicing. The works on changing the outdated equipment had been done between 1978 and 1980.
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