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National Geographic


A nuclear power plant turbine needs to be replaced. A cruise ship needs another engine. When big machines experience problems, they often require big solutions. These fixes take much more than your average piece of duct tape. Master rigger and host Sean Riley discovers how these heavy duty industrial repairs are made, on everything from high voltage electricity lines to nuclear power plants, and meets the specialists charged with putting things right.

A professional rigger with a passion for adventure, Riley is not afraid to strap on a hazmat suit or attach himself to a live high-voltage power line to get the job done. He’s seen more than his fair share of perilous situations, but on each job he has to show the crew he knows his stuff. It’s usually a quick initiation, and soon Riley is flexing his engineering muscle while helping experts solve problems of enormous proportions.

Whether dangling from ropes hundreds of feet in the air or diving close to a construction vessel’s propellers, Riley’s engineering prowess travels inside the marvels of large-scale industry and shows what happens when things do not always go to plan.


  • World's Toughest Fixes: The Impossible Build
    The story of The California Academy of Sciences: world's largest green public building - from initial concept, through construction challenges, to the grand finale of moving the plants & animals in.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Lock And Load
    Riley races the clock to dam up a river & replace one of the locks that regulates water level. One wrong move & tones of water could be unleashed
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Rocket Launch
    For this fix, we launch a satellite into space by using a rocket the size of a twelve-story building and an enormous amount of firepower.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Blown Away
    brave perilous conditions with surf crashing across the wreck to repair the ship, but treacherous weather forces the salvage team to leave their divers on the Jane overnight. When the weather finally breaks, at least 1,000 tons of coal are still on the ship - along with tons of new sand and water. After three months, all of the coal has been removed, but the Jane remains grounded and the rookie salvage master's plan is in tatters - the crew must abandon the Jane…for now. Grounded on one of the most precious coral reefs in the world, the Archangel has been trapped for six months. The ship is in danger of leaking hundreds of liters of fuel onto the reef. To rescue the Archangel, the salvage team drive two steel piles into the ocean floor, and use a floating barge to pull the boat carefully off the reef. But first, they must make the boat light enough to pull; 130 tons of railway track welded together makes this easier said than done. The team must work tirelessly to capitalize on the month's highest tide, and their best opportunity to refloat the ship.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: High Voltage
    Dangling from ropes hundreds of feet in the air or diving beneath a bridge with a shaky foundation, some of the world's top engineers & mechanics will show us how the impossible fix-it jobs get done.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: UK Big Bridge
    Hang on tight and don't look down as World's Toughest Fixes scales the iconic bridges of the UK: the world-famous Tower Bridge in London, and two bridges in Scotland -- the historic Forth Bridge and, right next door, the Forth Road Bridge. It's three bridges, three big problems, three tough fixes. In London, it's the famous Tower Bridge, with a serious lead contamination problem. In Scotland, it's all high access. Riley will help construct scaffolding from the top down, 367 feet above the water, dangling on a pole over speeding trains. And on an aging suspension bridge, Riley's rappelling down a 296-foot suspender cable, swinging in mid-air to run data cables to a high-tech monitoring system. It's a tour of some of the biggest fixes across the pond, meeting the men who are taking on the hazards to get the job done, on World's Toughest Fixes.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: High Rise Walkway
    Grab your hard hats and load up on coffee, World's Toughest Fixes is working the night shift in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have just three days to pull off the nearly impossible; lift a 300 thousand pound bridge between two buildings with mere inches to spare. There's no room for error on this fix. This lift is chock full of obstacles. We're working in the middle of downtown on Main Street, we've got a commuter train running through our worksite, power lines all around, 5-stories of parking garages beneath our feet, two massive cranes working in tandem, and all work has to be done in the dead of night. It's fair to say the conditions here are less than ideal. It's going to take a miracle and a lot of hard work to pull off this fix.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Water Coaster
    World's Toughest Fixes is going on one wild ride … as we build the world's longest water coaster, using some amazing new technology that could change the future of theme park rides … and modern transportation. Our destination - a quaint little town known as Santa Claus, Indiana, home to one of America's classic amusement parks … Holiday World. Their latest creation is the Wildebeest. This eighteen hundred foot long ride combines the ups and downs of a traditional roller coaster with the big splashes of a water ride. And it uses some high-tech engines and the power of magnets to power it. Putting it together will be like assembling a huge jigsaw puzzle. But these enormous pieces don't always fit together the way they're supposed to … and even when the ride is fully-assembled, some last minute troubles threaten to slow the Wildebeest's uphill climb. Ultimately, Riley's got to try out the Wildebeest for himself … if everything's gone just right, this could be the ride of his life … and if it hasn't, we could find ourselves in some hot water.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Deep Space Antenna
    The team gets under the hood of the nearly 7 million pound giant: NASA's DSS-14 Mars antenna - to fix a critical part of the enormous hydrostatic bearing, to get it back up running smoothly again.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Alaskan Salvage
    An unwanted visitor sits smack-dab in the middle of one of the most important Northern fur seal breeding grounds of the north Pacific, taking up valuable real estate and endangering the lives of seal pups every year. The Ocean Clipper is a fishing boat that ran aground nearly twenty-five years ago. Today it's a rusty death trap… and it's gotta go. Riley joins a crack crew of salvage operators braving the treacherous waters of the Bering Sea, traveling to a cold, volcanic island between Russia and Alaska. St. Paul Island is home to about 400 people, but each spring the population of this remote outpost swells considerably when around 800,000 seals clamber ashore to stake their claim in the yearly ritual of fighting, mating and calving. So apart from struggling with freezing conditions that blow straight out of the Arctic North, this salvage crew has a small window to pull off this fix… in only a few weeks the beach will be a writhing, snarling mass of seals competing for every square inch. It'll be standing room only… and no place to work.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Vegas Breakdown
    Ever think about running away to join the circus? Well here's your chance. Join Riley as he travels to Las Vegas to help high-flying Cirque du Soleil solve a real show-stopper of a problem. At the center of the show is the largest, most technologically advanced theater stage in the world - and it's failing. For the crack team of experts in charge of nursing it back to health, this fix is a huge leap without a net. It's never been attempted before. For the actors and acrobats who rely on the 40-ton stage every night, it could be a matter of life and death. While in Sin City, Riley will cruise the strip to join some other teams racing against the clock to keep the world's most amazing spectacles up and running. For these men and women, failure is not an option. The show must go on!
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Texas High Tower
    Hang on tight and whatever you do… don't look down! An old TV antenna that's been part of the San Antonio skyline for nearly sixty years is past its use-by date… and it has to come down before it falls down. Question is: how do you drop something that's heavy and unwieldy over 500 feet to the ground… smack bang in the middle of a city? Riley teams up with a bunch of high-altitude riggers to get a bird's eye view of one of the most dangerous fixes he's ever been on. And he's taking you with him. Anyone scared of heights better watch from the safety of the couch at home.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Satellite
    For this fix, we're going satellite launching. Delivering this piece of high-tech equipment into space will take a rocket the size of a twelve-story building and an enormous amount of firepower.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Pipeline shutdown
    Riley is deep in the wilds of Alaska on a dangerous fix that could impact the pocketbooks of millions. He and a crew of 100 highly trained men and women shut down the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline - the only conduit to market for almost 15 percent of the US domestic oil production. This major fix calls for swapping out a 32-ton valve system, but the size of the job is the least of their problems. Crude oil is not just highly toxic; it's explosive. Just the batteries on Riley's cameras are enough to spark a disaster. Riley follows the crew as it races to complete the fix in 36 hours… if anything goes wrong and the fix runs over, millions of Americans will pay the price.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Overpass overhaul
    How do you move an object that weighs two and a half million pounds? In this episode of World's Toughest Fixes, Riley jumps in with a crew of the leading experts in moving BIG things. The challenge: move a mammoth, five-lane bridge two miles and drop it into place on a major U.S. Interstate highway in Salt Lake City. All without stopping highway traffic for a minute. And to add a little pressure, the placement must be accurate down to just a few inches. This isn't like parallel parking or backing your car into the driveway - you only get one chance at getting this right or everything comes to a screeching halt.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Airline ER
    Sean Riley is off to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris to join a crack team of Boeing engineers and mechanics as they attempt to fix a damaged Boeing 767.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Operation Cruise ship
    A 90,000-ton cruise ship needs a new power plant. Watch how Riley & others struggle to open the hull of the ship, cram a massive new 320-ton generator inside & put it all back together in record time!
  • World's Toughest Fixes: 20 ton eye
    For this tough fix, Riley joins a team of engineers to move a 24-foot, 23-ton, 15-million-dollar mirror. He's at the Paranal Observatory at the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. Here, 3 telescopes can be used together to form the largest combined telescope in the world in order to regularly scan the heavens for clues about the nature of matter and the origin of the universe. Right now one of the telescopes is in need of a cleaning because of a thin layer of dust, putting it temporarily out of commission. It needs to come out to be cleaned, but that's no easy task for a gigantic mirror. The slightest touch can damage it, and high winds and a mountainous road stand between the telescope and the cleaning facility. If it's damaged, it will take 4 to 6 years to make a new one. Astronomers are waiting in line to use it and this fix has to be on time.
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Going nuclear
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Moving the monster barage
  • World's Toughest Fixes: Deep Sea thruster
    It's high stakes on the high seas. The big fix host riley dons a wetsuit, throws on an air tank and joins a commercial dive team for a very big fix: an offshore engine swap-out on a huge deep water construction vessel. If they fail to remove a piece of th