Friday, July 18, 2008

The long and short of lock gubbins

One day I mean to compile a photo directory of lock gears and related gubbinses. One of the delights of boating is the variety of designs you come across.

Take a look at these three windlasses.

The short one is my "regular" windlass for use on canals. Kath likes to use the middle one, which being a bit longer gives better leverage but can bring your knuckles a bit close to the balance beam of the lock.

The big red one is what they lend you to use on the river Wey. Its nearly twice as long as mine. You get plenty of leverage but your arms have to describe a huge circle when you turn it, and often you are leaning out over the water at the time so it makes it feel very precarious, especially when the little plank you are standing on is wobbling beneath your feet. And why do they paint the windlasses dull red? It makes it quite hard to see them when you lay them on the grass to have hands free to catch a rope. I like my bright yellow one, but as you can see it needs a lick of paint now.

The paddle gear on Wey locks is very neat though. They only seem to have gate paddles, so the current in the locks can be pretty fierce, but the mechanisms are super. The horizontal shafts have universal joints in them, which presumably allows for less than accurate alignment of the end bearings,but the rachet gear is the really good bit. I don't know how it works because it is all enclosed in a box. It stops the paddle falling when wound up, but somehow it lets you wind down without having to manually release the rachet. Clever. No sudden clattering drops of the paddle, and no greasy fingers.

What ever the designs of rachet gear, they're all better than the ghastly hydraulic things which BW went through a phase of some years back. I hate them with a passion. They are just as hard to wind down as up, they take ages, they can't be quickly closed in an emergency and worst of all they don't make a nice clackety clack noise.

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