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Electrification of CRT Broad and Wide Locks.


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2 minutes ago, Goliath said:

or Narrowboats pushing the gates open?

Not really. The mating faces which seal when a pair of gates are closed are a few inches wide and lie on the central axis of the lock when closed. But as soon as a boat starts pushing the gates open, they rotate so only the very downstream edge of the mating face is exposed to possible damage. Eventually that could rub through the whole width of the mating face but that would take a long time. Whereas when a narrowboat enters or leaves a wide lock with one bottom gate open, the widest part of the hull - usually the top rubbing strake - can rub across the full width of the mating face during the passage of almost the full length of the boat. That is far more damaging. Which is why most GU and other wide locks, when full, have a spout of water issuing from the mitre at a height of 2-3 ft above the downstream water level.

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5 hours ago, Phoenix_V said:

It isn't normal in France to even get off the boat when working the lock, there is a siren and flashing light when the gate starts to move, no balance beam to knock the unwary over and an emergancy stop which halts everything.

image.jpeg.ef6b05b5151174dc4ae7aa7afc9c3e23.jpeg

 Which waterway is that? Like many in France, it seems to capture a certain air of genteel neglect!

 

Most french locks are mechanised, but before this they were windlass operated gates: by the late 20th century very few had balance beams (and those that did still generally have them). They also had strict rules and lock keepers to enforce them, amongst those being that gates had to be fully opened before the boat approched them, not least because the gates are much more fragile than ours anyway. 

The evolution and operation of French locks and their funishings is a fascintaing subject that would merit more research - from what I've seen so far there were many differences with out own. some locks were much more rudimentary, and they never went for locks that took two narrow boats side by side - it's that last factor which is said toi be causing the problem on our lock gates 

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Some of the locks on the Finow Canal had off-set entrances to make it easier for two boats to use a lock at the same time. This system was used elsewhere in Europe as a tug and towed barge could lock through together.

1995 Niederfinow 584.jpg

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26 minutes ago, Pluto said:

Some of the locks on the Finow Canal had off-set entrances to make it easier for two boats to use a lock at the same time. This system was used elsewhere in Europe as a tug and towed barge could lock through together.

1995 Niederfinow 584.jpg

 

Lets put it to CRT that the Grand Union should be modified in this way - narrow entrances to wide locks - problem solved ;) 

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4 hours ago, Pluto said:

Some of the locks on the Finow Canal had off-set entrances to make it easier for two boats to use a lock at the same time. This system was used elsewhere in Europe as a tug and towed barge could lock through together.

1995 Niederfinow 584.jpg

A couple of the locks on the Great Ouse are like that. We once shared one of them with about 30 canoes!

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6 hours ago, magpie patrick said:

French Canal Lock with Balance Beams

 

1030329278_canaldunivernaiswithbalancebeams.jpg.88531c5230fcd8b10a70ea5431cbf54f.jpg

 

And standard mechanised type - not exactly leak free

 

1744147773_LockCanalduNivernais.jpg.6a01500786c43f75df8cb503b17fef2d.jpg

 

Both on the Canal du Nivernais

These are the only beams I have seen in France and not sure of their purpose as they are not used to open the gates which are opened and closed by winding a  handle that operates a cog on a rack attached to the gate. There are only a few canals in central France that are manually operated the majority of locks are automated which has resulted in the loss of many jobs and lots of abandoned houses. The system is pretty sophisticated in that on the Ardennes canal the flight of 26 locks sets the next lock as you leave the previous one.

On the restored Shannon Erne canal in Ireland the locks are mechanised and operated by a prepaid card .

3F35CE5D-27F2-4AA1-AA24-27D820D326EE.jpeg

1C61AECA-4952-4762-A02E-325F26B9B895.jpeg

Edited by Dav and Pen
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7 hours ago, magpie patrick said:

 Which waterway is that? Like many in France, it seems to capture a certain air of genteel neglect!

 

 

The Escaut part of the St Quentin, a lovely but neglected canal. Commercial traffic has been in decline for some 50 years ever since the Canl du Nord openned, before that the traffic was really heavy with the locks all doubled. Now only one lock of each pair is in working order. The famous Riqueval tunnel used to see long strings of barges behind the obligatory tug (due to lack of ventilation). This year we saw 2 empty working boats going south and a couple working the Northern section ferrying grain from the silos. Few pleasure craft too as most of us are wary of the tunnel. The towage system is due to be scrapped in 2024 and will be replaced by a number of CO alarms apparently.

The electrification of the locks is quite old and appears to have been done in stages, the first being attaching an electric motor and gearbox to the existing paddles and gates but still keeper operated, then the boater operated system using rods which are pushed and pulled to set all in motion, currently we use a remote control and much of the equipment has been replaced by hydraulics. Though the photo appears to show the motorised original paddle gear. It was weedy this year and the keepers had to be called out for a couple of locks but really quite reliable.

The gates are steel with wooden facing where they meet, they seem to last a long time.

1 hour ago, Dav and Pen said:

 

On the restored Shannon Erne canal in Ireland the locks are mechanised and operated by a prepaid card .

 

 

Interestingly the semi automatic system selected appears to be identical to the ones on the River Lee, but from what I remember broke down/were vandalised less often

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9 hours ago, Dav and Pen said:

These are the only beams I have seen in France and not sure of their purpose as they are not used to open the gates which are opened and closed by winding a  handle that operates a cog on a rack attached to the gate. There are only a few canals in central France that are manually operated the majority of locks are automated

3F35CE5D-27F2-4AA1-AA24-27D820D326EE.jpeg

 

That's a good picture of the winding mechanism

 

The history of the gates is complicated - originally somefrench canals, perhaps most of them, had balance beams and yet most also appear to have had some kind of mechanism (I'm extrapolating from a few examples here so may have got that wrong, but it appears to be true of the Canal du Midi for example). The clue is perhaps in the name "balance beam" - if the name reflected what we Brits use them for they'd be gate levers. I don't know how effective they are at balancing a gate but at the time they were probably thoyght to be necersssary

 

At some point a much lighter design of gate was introduced and these never had balance beams - they also don't have conventional heel posts. They last very well unless clobbered, far longer than our gates do

 

There are still balance beams in Brittany (Canal d'Ille et Rance)  and I think most of the locks there are still manual although I may be out of date on that on

9 hours ago, Dav and Pen said:

 

On the restored Shannon Erne canal in Ireland the locks are mechanised and operated by a prepaid card .

 

 

 

8 hours ago, Phoenix_V said:

 

Interestingly the semi automatic system selected appears to be identical to the ones on the River Lee, but from what I remember broke down/were vandalised less often

 

The boards were purchased from BW and were the same as used on the Lee save that they don't use a BW key

8 hours ago, Phoenix_V said:

The Escaut part of the St Quentin, a lovely but neglected canal. Commercial traffic has been in decline for some 50 years ever since the Canl du Nord openned,

 

Thanks for that  - it's not often someone posts a photo and I haven't a clue where it is! I need to retire and spend more time in France... :)  

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17 hours ago, David Mack said:

Not really. The mating faces which seal when a pair of gates are closed are a few inches wide and lie on the central axis of the lock when closed. But as soon as a boat starts pushing the gates open, they rotate so only the very downstream edge of the mating face is exposed to possible damage. Eventually that could rub through the whole width of the mating face but that would take a long time. Whereas when a narrowboat enters or leaves a wide lock with one bottom gate open, the widest part of the hull - usually the top rubbing strake - can rub across the full width of the mating face during the passage of almost the full length of the boat. That is far more damaging. Which is why most GU and other wide locks, when full, have a spout of water issuing from the mitre at a height of 2-3 ft above the downstream water level.

The obvious solution. Replace metal rubbing strakes on all narrowboats with softwood ones. The clumsy end up having to replace the strakes more often, rather than wearing away the gate mitres. 😀

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Some of the French canal lock gates have two long sectionss of plastic - probably nylon or something really tough on the mitre faces, that is probably simple cheap and effective and repairable.

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4 hours ago, Bee said:

Some of the French canal lock gates have two long sectionss of plastic - probably nylon or something really tough on the mitre faces, that is probably simple cheap and effective and repairable.

they all have a rubbing strip on the mitre faces but on the (rather urban) Roubaix this year we were told that they were going back to wood having trialled plastic as the local rats were very partial to the plastic.

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On 29/11/2022 at 19:00, Midnight said:

If both gates are wide open damage to the face of the mitre is unlikely 

Interesting not seen that up here. Sometimes like at Battyford CRT fix strips of what looks like 3 x 2 to the inner side of the gates.

I would suggest you take a look at the IWA Webinar item on lock gate repair mentioned above. All will be explained!

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6 hours ago, magpie patrick said:

This is Lock 32 on the Erie Canal, as you can see those pesky submarines have been scraiping on the gate mitres ;) 

image.jpeg

Judging by the fountain coming from the bottom of the right hand gate there is something stopping it closing properly.

 

Keith

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On 29/11/2022 at 12:04, alan_fincher said:

 

It would be closer to all the narrowest Thames lock "approximately 15'" than it would be to call it "approximately 14'".

And the constructive contribution??????????????????????

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I would suggest that one of the biggest problems which does not occur as much on the continent is that design of the boats on the canals. As C&RT do not have rules for the Design & Construction of boats which use their waterways there are some out there which are really poorly designed. They have flat base plates which protrudes further than the hull sides. These boats tend to cause huge damage to lock gates.  It can also easily happen if the boat is not level, something which the old carrying boats would not do as it made steering so much harder, they would always trim their boats to be level. If you look at a set of gates which have been brought out over the winter you can clearly see where they have really dug into the timber of the gates and the seals. Most boats on the continent are not flat bottomed, but round chined so this damage does not happen the same.

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On 29/11/2022 at 07:01, Jen-in-Wellies said:

Come to Yorkshire, where many of the canals are as @oboat describes. Aire and Calder to Leeds and Wakefield. Sheffield and South Yorkshire to Rotherham were widened and mostly made push button boating in the 1970's and early '80's for bigger boat commercial traffic, just before Maggie closed down most of the industry that used it. The only powered lock that allows just one gate to be opened on it's own is at Thorne and that is quite a bit wider than 14', so easier to get through in a narrowboat without wearing the mitre. The movement of gates and paddles is by hydraulic ram, but the hydraulic pump, control systems and sensors are electric. A lot of the moveable bridges are push button and those smaller swing bridges that are swung by hand still have electrical interlocking, so you physically can't move the bridge deck away from the  road unless the barriers are blocking the road.

The down side is that all this stuff is fragile and breaks a lot. In the summer months, CaRT has a person in a van, who spends all day going around the locks and bridges, fixing minor problems that are preventing them from working. It is common to come across a structure that isn't working and having an hour or so wait till they can get to you. More severe break downs, needing a day, or two to fix are not uncommon. This is on waterways with relatively sparse boat traffic. Some of that traffic is commercial, so CaRT make keeping it all running a high priority. What it would be like somewhere like the GU at Braunston on a sunny bank holiday weekend, when a sensor decides it isn't going to play nice any more, I don't want to think about.

Say what you like about manual locks, they are very robust and can be used till they are almost falling apart. Very useful now CaRT spend so little on maintenance.

Jen

Actually the electric locks got a lot more reliable when CRT first took over! Until then at least half the locks on a weekend trip to Donny and back wouldn't work! I have given up on the journey, when it became obvious that I wouldn't be able to get there and back in 2 days! It was always the same water level sensors, they said no spares were available, however CRT took over and sensors were sourced and fitted. So Jen if you think they are unreliable now in the past they were 10 times worse!

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11 hours ago, magpie patrick said:

14 foot beam lock with only one gate open, 7 foot wide boat will catch the closed gate - 15 foot wide lock it usually won't. 

Good point. However the EA don't seem to see it that way. As pointed out only St Johns is significantly less than 15ft. 

 

The flat base plates which protrudes further than the hull sides is also a valuable comment. 

It possibly nullifies the comment "I never hit a gate".
How would you know if the contact was below the waterline & did not affect steerage significantly?

Both comments would seem to reinforce the need for gates to be fully open!  

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25 minutes ago, oboat said:

Good point. However the EA don't seem to see it that way. As pointed out only St Johns is significantly less than 15ft. 

 

The flat base plates which protrudes further than the hull sides is also a valuable comment. 

It possibly nullifies the comment "I never hit a gate".
How would you know if the contact was below the waterline & did not affect steerage significantly?

Both comments would seem to reinforce the need for gates to be fully open!  

 

I think the nub of the matter is that there are a lot of reasons gates leak and a lot of reasons why it is a good idea to open both gates on wide lock but mechanising the gates is overdoing it - IIRC correctly that's where we started? 

 

Gates leak around the edges, gates leak through holes in the gates (there was a section of plank missing at Marple for several weeks - lock 5 I think - it took ages to fill and half drained the next pound in doing so), gates leak through poorly sealed cladding, cills leak, paddles leak and the canal between the locks leaks. so leaking where boats scrape against the gates is only a small fraction of the problem and one that has other maintenance solutions

 

Gates also get scraped against because they don't open fully - an open gates should be out of harms way in the gate recess, if it protrudes it will get scraped even if both gates are open because they are not fully open - time CRT fixed that perhaps? 

 

Leaving aside scraping or catching the gates - hitting them does far more damage (albeit happens less often) and is a good reason why both gates should be open

 

Mechanisation isn't cheap and isn't reliable - other methods of encouraging crews to open both gates should be tried, including perhaps making it easier to cross the lock

 

Finally, gates with balance beams are a feature of the UK canal landscape, imagine Devizes or Bingley without balance beams (in the case of Bingley 5 rise, it's listed so the change probably wouldn't be allowed. You CAN mechanise gates and keep the balance beams, but it has obvious safety implications

 

 

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15 minutes ago, magpie patrick said:

 

 

Mechanisation isn't cheap and isn't reliable - other methods of encouraging crews to open both gates should be tried, including perhaps making it easier to cross the lock

 

 

Yes that would make a big difference to the lazy boaters. Can't understand why CRT, who have a fetish for blue signs, don't put signs on the beams saying something like "Please open both gates to avoid damage". There are many boaters who just don't realise rubbing against a mitre causes the lock to eventually leak. (I didn't until a lockie pointed it out). Then there the clever buggers who think they or their partner steering only needs one gate and insist on it if you try to open the other one - but there's no cure for stupid. 

 

 

Edited by Midnight
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