Ben - 9's Waterways

Monday, 10 May 2010

Guillotines For The Chop

Well - they should be. Guillotine gates on locks, that is. They seem to be nothing but trouble!

I see that the the guillotine gate at Salterhebble has thrown another wobbly and is having to be operated manually by a man in blue. Trouble is that he is only there for three two-hour sessions each day.

This is not the first time, either. There were similar restrictions there for a whole year, along with some total closures, until the mechanism was supposedly fixed around 12 months ago.

What's more, I seem to remember problems on the guillotine lock in Todmorden a few years ago, as well.

The only other guillotine lock in this part of the country is the one on a narrow lock in Slaithwaite, on the Huddersfield Narrow. That one is not electrically operated so it should be alright, shouldn't it? Well, no. Even that one has had some sort of malfunction and has had to be operated manually by a man in blue. Last I heard it had scaffolding around it so it might have been fixed by now.

Why do we have these unreliable monstrosities on our locks? Because the roads that pass over the lower ends of the locks have been widened, leaving no room for the normal balance beams.

However, there are other ways of tackling this problem that do not involve potentially troublesome guillotine gates.

There are a number of locks with crook beams - where the beam is bent so that the path of its sweep remains upstream of the gate recess. One of the Huddersfield Broad locks is like this.

Then there are several systems which involve using a windlass to open and close the gate, like the chain-operated gates at Lock 92 at Castlefield and the ratchet mechanisms on the gates at Lock 84 on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in Wigan.

When Locks 1w and 2w on the Huddersfield Narrow were restored, hydraulically operated gates and paddles were installed, but these were not such a good idea as they proved to be very heavy to operate. Lock 2w has now had crook beams and standard gate paddles fitted and is very easy to operate. The same thing is supposed to be happening to Lock 1w as well some time soon.

So why bother with troublesome guillotine gates at all? The costs of all of these repairs and of the manual operation could instead be put towards the cost of replacing them with something simpler and more reliable. It would be more economical in the long run. So I say - give the guillotine gates the chop!



No comments:

Post a Comment

If you are not able to sign in with a Blogger/Google etc account, then please click on "Name/URL" and type in your name or nickname.

If you have no URL you can leave that part blank.

Please do not post as "Anonymous".