As is often the case, Da Vinci seems to have had an ability to see past a problem straight to its solution.
What he was lacking was an ability to progress his solution beyond a sketch. This is particularly disappointing since many contemporary art historians and engineers who have since considered this sketch and others have concluded that his solutions would most likely have worked very well.
It's clear however that to Da Vinci the joy came in knowing that he had come up with the solution to a problem, seeing it implemented was a secondary consideration, if indeed he considered it at all.
The Water Lifting Devices sketch is one of the most detailed of Da Vinci's surviving technical sketches. There is a huge amount of detail on the page and the accompanying notes make it clear that this was one of Da Vinci's deepest studies.
There are far more detailed observations on this sketch than on many of his initial sketches that related to statues and other pieces of artwork. This again shows the high level of detail that Da Vinci considered when his mind turned to more scientific pursuits.
Da Vinci's fascination with screws comes to the fore in this sketch as it does in some of his other sketches (the famous depiction of a flying device with similarities to a helicopter was described by Da Vinci as an 'Aerial Screw').
A close look at the sketch shows that Da Vinci puts far more details into, and writes far more copious notes on the screws than certain other parts of the contraption that the casual observer might deem to be equally important. Some observers have suggested that Da Vinci's love of screw shaped devices comes from his equal fascination with depicting natural and botanical scenes.
A review of some of his close up sketches of plans and garden scenes will show that many similar shapes are depicted and, yet again, when it comes to writing notes to accompany these drawings, this is the area upon which Da Vinci focuses.
The sketch of Water Lifting Devices makes for fascinating viewing because of the sheer level of detail which Da Vinci provides as part of the drawings.
Some of his other sketches are disappointing because of the sheer number of questions which remain completely unanswered. In other cases, such as that of the helicopter sketch, this has allowed modern observers to fill in the blanks in a way that suits whatever theory they are trying to promote.
This is less possible in the care of the Water Lifting Devices sketch thanks to the level of detail that is included. This makes it a purer and more focused glimpse into Da Vinci's interests, style and abilities than some of his other technical drawings.