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What's the fuss?


tehmarks

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Just came down the Rochdale 9 earlier today with one crewmmate. I was expecting a bit of a battle,  but despite an abundance of water there were only a couple of locks that were anything other than benign (okay, my crewmate did almost give himself a hernia trying to winch open the very bottom lock, but the rest were pretty okay). Granted, we're both fit young men, but I weigh 60kg soaking wet. I'm hardly built like a professional full-back! The flight seems to have a ubquitous bad reputation on here; what's the drama?

 

One word of warning though, there are a couple of sneaky bywashes (including a hidden one) that may catch you out. May need to touch up the shiny new blacking on my rubbing strake that is no longer there...

 

Otherrwise, a good fun experience. If anyone is thinking of going through Manchester, don't be put off by the reputation of the flight!

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Manchester is in a tier three lockdown at the moment, so few people about, So the trouble makers are at home. I been through the 'nine' back in the 1990's when it was £30 passage fee had to be paid. We had all sorts of things thrown at us from above by the pissheads hanging around the bars. Not forgetting the druggies and rent boys hanging around under dark, dingy and unpleasant Piccadilly station undercroft  performing 'lewd acts.  

 

 

Locking down the Rochdale Nine

 

Chorus :
Locking down the Rochdale Nine
You won‘t want to do it a second time
Your hands are all blistered, your shoulders in pain
And because you‘re in Manchester, down comes the rain
When you‘re locking the Rochdale Nine

At lock number 1 you pay thirty quid
By lock number 2 you‘ll regret that you did
They secure number 1 with a padlock and chain
In case you change your mind and turn back again
When you‘re locking the Rochdale Nine

At lock number 3 the towpath‘s not there
In fact the canal‘s got far more than it‘s share
You can‘t get across without straddling the gates
While the tillerman curses the rain as he waits
When you‘re locking the Rochdale Nine

Chorus

At lock number 4 your feet get all wet
But at locks 5 and 6 they‘ll be much wetter yet
And as for the scenery it‘s not worth two hoots
And you‘d give a week‘s ale for a dry pair of boots
When you‘re locking the Rochdale Nine

It‘s lock number 7, not one boat has passed
The water is lapping up right round your raft
A local is helping ‘cos the top gate won‘t close
And his pet pit bull terrier‘s got hold of me clothes
When you‘re locking the Rochdale Nine

Chorus

By lock number 8 you‘ve given up hope
Moored to the lock-side by a short length of rope
The gate‘s wide enough for the old QE2
But the paddles are leaking so you crash your way through
When you‘re locking the Rochdale Nine

It‘s lock number 9. Thank God, it‘s the end
‘Cos most of your crew have gone right round the bend
They‘re shouting and cursing and swearing out loud
They sound like a part of the United crowd
When you‘re locking the Rochdale Nine

Locking down the Rochdale Nine
You won‘t want to do it a second time
Your hands are all blistered your shoulders in pain
And because you‘re in Manchester down comes the rain
But you‘ve finished the Rochdale Nine

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Ah, I meant what's the navigation-related fuss? I can imagine that it could be a very boring couple of hours if the wrong sort of people are out and having public sex/shooting up/lobbing stuff at you. I found the Ashton far more tedious, between the lock of uphill walkway, the amount of crap in the locks (including some ~8' long offcuts of plastic and wood behind the gates in one) and just for general relentlessness. That said, things did improve when we decided to open the beer early while still on our way own.

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I've done the Rochdale 9 about a dozen times never had any issues with locks or knob-heads. Although several years ago when you could climb up the wall alongside the Gay Bar and walk up to the next lock I was approached by a big Geordie fella who said "Have you seen this lot they're aaaall gays like" then continued with "What would yee do if one tapped yee up like?" When I explained I would probably crack the purveyor of a hands on approach around the head with the windlass I was carrying he replied "See ya later bonny lad"

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1 hour ago, tehmarks said:

Ah, I meant what's the navigation-related fuss? I can imagine that it could be a very boring couple of hours if the wrong sort of people are out and having public sex/shooting up/lobbing stuff at you. I found the Ashton far more tedious, between the lock of uphill walkway, the amount of crap in the locks (including some ~8' long offcuts of plastic and wood behind the gates in one) and just for general relentlessness. That said, things did improve when we decided to open the beer early while still on our way own.

What's wrong with public sex nobody makes you look.

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We went up them in September and they weren't very pleasant - human excrement, needles etc. We had problems at several locks: the second or third pound was very low due to a paddle left open - at least that refilled quickly once we'd closed the paddle; then at the lock by the G-A-Y bar (can't remember the number, it's the one with no towpath access) we had so much water coming over the top gate we couldn't get the bottom gates open. As we later found out this was caused by a CRT person helping a boat with a similar problem at the top lock (of the 9) by sending water down the flight. The CRT guy hung about to help us through the top lock. Passage involved several calls to CRT but their on-site staff were very helpful throughout. I wouldn't describe them as 'typical urban locks' and they were hard work and slow (due to the problems) but they're do-able by a not very fit couple in their 60s. The Ashton flight was no bother other than the irritating habit of a lot of the bottom gates swinging open by themselves. For both flights we set off reasonably early in the morning, so saw very few people (or boats).

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Last time we went down, in 2014, was my first time not in a narrow boat. I found them really hard work after a long day in the p*ssing rain. The main issue when you need both gates open is the lack of walkways across the bottom gates. Took to using a shaft to push the offside top gates open, but they wouldn't stay open for long on account of the water coming down the flight, and the usual BW fine balancing, so by the time I'd gone back for the boat they'd have closed again..

 

It was a real slog. In spite of the floods of water the bottom pound was virtually empty (where was it all going), and the paddle holes on the bottom lock were so jammed full of rubbish that we had to resort to jerking the top gates open with the barge and quickly jamming a bit of wood in the gap. For an organisation so obsessed with H&S that they spend about half of their budget on it, the flight was a disgrace.

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2 hours ago, Dave123 said:

not done the rest of the Rochdale up through Rochdale itself, but apparently that is the hardest part of the canal and now needs CRT chaperones?

 They weren't offering volunteer escorts when we came through earlier this year due to Covid, but you did have to book passage through the 'Manchester 18' so they could unlock the flight for us and then lock up again afterwards.

None of it is particularly hard, there are just a lot of locks, and you don't generally want to stop between New Islington and Fairfield Top. The channel is a bit shallow in places for a deep drafted boat, but it is the restricted channel width through Miles Platting that is more of an risk for most boaters.

Edited by David Mack
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The lock with the drum/chain winches to open the gates (86?) is a real PITA when it's raining heavily; the waterfall over the top gates means you have to strain to open the bottom gates against a head of water, and the chains slip on the drum when they're soaking wet so the gates stay shut. Had to get one person to stand on the taut chains to get some extra tension in them and it took two people to wind the winch to get them open. How you'd do this with only two people on the boat beats me... ?

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39 minutes ago, IanD said:

The lock with the drum/chain winches to open the gates (86?) is a real PITA when it's raining heavily; the waterfall over the top gates means you have to strain to open the bottom gates against a head of water, and the chains slip on the drum when they're soaking wet so the gates stay shut. Had to get one person to stand on the taut chains to get some extra tension in them and it took two people to wind the winch to get them open. How you'd do this with only two people on the boat beats me... ?

 

lock 86.jpg

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43 minutes ago, IanD said:

The lock with the drum/chain winches to open the gates (86?) is a real PITA when it's raining heavily; the waterfall over the top gates means you have to strain to open the bottom gates against a head of water, and the chains slip on the drum when they're soaking wet so the gates stay shut. Had to get one person to stand on the taut chains to get some extra tension in them and it took two people to wind the winch to get them open. How you'd do this with only two people on the boat beats me... ?

Use the "Spanish Windlass"  

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18 minutes ago, Mad Harold said:

Use the "Spanish Windlass"  

Don't see how that would work, can you explain?

 

The problem is that when the winch tries to turn the drum, when it's wet the turns of chain around the drum just slip round; the only way to stop this is to apply plenty of tension on the "slack" chain between the gate beam and winch (hidden in the photo), which has quite a lot of slack in it -- I don't see how twisting a single chain (a "Spanish windlass" normally needs a loop of rope) could take this up...

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I think I may have mentioned this previously. I was told by a local marina owner that when water is pouring over the top gates to open all the paddles. Can't figure out why but it does work. After hearing that we have never really struggled with any of the nine locks although some are naturally rather heavy. 

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19 minutes ago, Midnight said:

I think I may have mentioned this previously. I was told by a local marina owner that when water is pouring over the top gates to open all the paddles. Can't figure out why but it does work. After hearing that we have never really struggled with any of the nine locks although some are naturally rather heavy. 

There are no by washes on the 9 hence the water over the gates. Opening all paddles drops the excess water off and makes gate opening easier. 

Its not a hard flight, just involves a bit of thought and organisation. Much easier if you only open one gate but some of the locks have rubbish behind the gates sometimes.

A fair number of bodies have been found in the flight over recent years.

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1 hour ago, IanD said:

Don't see how that would work, can you explain?

 

The problem is that when the winch tries to turn the drum, when it's wet the turns of chain around the drum just slip round; the only way to stop this is to apply plenty of tension on the "slack" chain between the gate beam and winch (hidden in the photo), which has quite a lot of slack in it -- I don't see how twisting a single chain (a "Spanish windlass" normally needs a loop of rope) could take this up...

Loop the rope around the lock beam and around a bollard,tie the rope ends together,insert a mooring spike or piece of suitable wood between the rope near the middle and keep twisting until the gate opens or if the lock beam is rotten it snaps.

Don't let go of the mooring spike or piece of wood until the gate opens or you will be sorry.?

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Went up last year with a lot of water coming down, the week before the flood. To get the bottom lock open we did as Tracy D'arth says. open all four paddles until the pound above is a good few inches below the top of the gate then close the top paddles to empty the lock.

A few years earlier some lads at the pub were jeering as we tried to open the bottom gate so I roped them in to help. Problem solved.

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8 hours ago, Dave123 said:

I found them fine 3 years ago. The Ashton was fine too, not done the rest of the Rochdale up through Rochdale itself, but apparently that is the hardest part of the canal and now needs CRT chaperones?

CRT do not do chaperones. Its a lot of locks to do in a day and a CRT volunteer is a big help, but it is just a volunteer to help with the locks, though with extensive knowledge of the channel profile through the narrow and shallow bits. Earlier this year many locks had padlocks on them and the volunteer would lock and unlock these. CRT initially said this was due to increased vandalism but another theory is that it was just gate leakage, nobody did the flight during lockdown so the gates dried out.

 

Outer Manchester is the bad bit, Rochdale itself is relatively tame if uninspiring, and the bit in between (Slattocks) is a fine flight of locks.

 

Its a rough area and there is always a small chance of trouble but the lock keeper is not going to act as a policeman.

 

....................Dave

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3 hours ago, Mad Harold said:

Loop the rope around the lock beam and around a bollard,tie the rope ends together,insert a mooring spike or piece of suitable wood between the rope near the middle and keep twisting until the gate opens or if the lock beam is rotten it snaps.

Don't let go of the mooring spike or piece of wood until the gate opens or you will be sorry.?

Aha, you meant to make a separate Spanish windlass out of rope, not use the chain -- now I understand.

That lock's still a rubbish design...

Edited by IanD
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3 hours ago, Tracy D'arth said:

There are no by washes on the 9 hence the water over the gates. Opening all paddles drops the excess water off and makes gate opening easier. 

Its not a hard flight, just involves a bit of thought and organisation. Much easier if you only open one gate but some of the locks have rubbish behind the gates sometimes.

A fair number of bodies have been found in the flight over recent years.

Last time I went down there was some poor bugger coming up so for the first half I was throwing loads of water at them

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