Monday, March 12, 2012

The biggest Meccano set ever…

We moved the short distance from Barnton Cut to the bottom of the Boat Lift on Sunday. Our parting of the ways is now imminent, as is our wedding anniversary, so Carol and Ann shared the cooking of a celebratory Sunday lunch, eaten on Moore2Life. We didn’t have to do a thing, I even got turned down after offering to help with the washing up!

It was a great afternoon, good company, good food washed down with a drop or two of wine.

So today it was back up onto the Trent and Mersey Canal via the lift. We’d got bookings for Moore2Life and Rock’n’Roll at 09:30, with us following at 10:15. This gave me an opportunity to get some pictures from the river, rather than from the less advantageous bankside.

We followed M2L and R’n’R to the holding moorings, then I hovered Seyella in midstream waiting for them to go into the lift.

M2L and R‘n’R on the holding mooringsSAM_0023
As you can see, it’s been a pretty gloomy day, not the best for photographs.

Anyway we waited in midstream at the entrance cut to the lift for them to get the go-ahead. And waited. And waited. I turned around so we were facing upstream… and waited a bit longer. Finally, 20 minutes late, M2L was waved in.

In go Charles and Ann…SAM_0025 In goes M2L

….followed by George and Carol.SAM_0029

Both settled in side-by-side.SAM_0034 In and settled

The gate comes down to seal the caisson….SAM_0035 Gate down...

……then the caisson goes up, complete with cargo.SAM_0037 and up

Balancing on a 3 foot diameter hydraulic ram.
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Coo-eeee!SAM_0041

Our turn was next, we were waiting in the cut as the operator lifted the gate into the caisson.SAM_0043

We’re using the left-hand or west caisson, the eastern side, now with M2L and R’n’R out, is waiting to bring down another two boats. The lift started with both tanks at river level, which is the “not in use” state. Each can be raised and lowered independently, but now that the east caisson is up, it’s weight can be used to counterbalance ours. It’s a lot more efficient this way.

There are a pair of guillotine gates that boats pass under when entering or leaving the lift. At river level the outer one keeps the river out of the base of the structure, while the inner keeps the water in the caisson to float the boats. At the upper level the outer keeps the canal where it belongs. Before the tank can be raised or lowered, the gap between is emptied of water.

Draining the gap between the two guillotine gates.SAM_0045
When the gap is dry the tank is raised. The actual journey of 50 vertical feet only takes a few minutes, the rest of the time is taken by draining (or filling) the voids between the gates, and making sure that the end gates on the caissons are secure. Of course, this is all electronically controlled now, a series of interlocks preventing accidents. When the lift was first built it would be down to the operators to judge when the tanks were level with the canal or the river. A bit out resulted in a wave rushing into or out of the tank when the gate was raised!

Built in 1875, before the introduction of welding techniques, the structure is held together with thousands of rivets. The larger assemblies are then bolted together with dirty great nuts and bolts.
SAM_0049 
SAM_0052
SAM_0053

The top stiffening rails on the caissons are made up of four layers of wrought iron riveted together in an arc.
SAM_0050

The east caisson passes us on the way down.
SAM_0051

At the top and on the aqueduct linking the lift to the canal, looking back.SAM_0054

One of the boats that dropped down is heading for Northwich.SAM_0055

The far gate is up, so we can move out, off the aqueduct and onto the Trent and Mersey.SAM_0056

There’re M2L and R’n’R on the moorings above the lift.SAM_0057

First job when tied up is to get the mop out and wash the boat down. Muddy water drips from the guillotine gates as you pass underneath. Make sure your camera is covered up, and put something on top of your mug of coffee!

Locks 0, miles 2

1 comment:

Wren said...

What a great life this must be! Thank you for sharing.