Thursday, 7 October 2010

Light paddle gear (and heavy gates) on the Lee

One of the great things about British waterways is the huge variation in the design of lock paddle gear. On the Lee Navigation some of the lower locks are hydraulically operated - both paddles and gates - with some locks being duplicated. Sometimes the hydraulic gear has to be hand wound (boo) (does ANYONE like hand wound hydraulic gear?); sometimes it's done by electric pumps operated by push buttons.

It didn't take long to work out that P stands for paddle and G stands for gate!

Here's Fergus at the electric console with David (below). I think this is Stonebridge Lock.

Higher up the Lee the paddle gear is much friendlier. Hidden gearing means you have to wind the windlass quite a few times to raise or lower the paddle, but it's easy. The weighted pawl gives a slow "click" on the teeth of the rack as you raise it.

If some of the paddle gear on the Lee was easy, the gates were a different matter. They were the heaviest I've come across. Perhaps that's why nearly all boaters on this waterway left them open on leaving a lock.

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