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Who remembers Granny Gear?

43 posts in this topic

Otherwise known as Hydraulic Paddle Gear we nearly lost the majority of rack and pinion winding gear at our locks.

The 1980s were several decades and numerous wars ago when these little barrel shaped monstrosities started to infest our lock sides.

(photo accredited to TNC On Tour 2002 Page 36 Tuesday Night Club)

 

The H&S implications were enormous due to not being able to drop the paddle in an emergency.  I recall representatives from H&S Executive being transported by boat through Kegworth Deep to witness how vulnerable it was sitting in the bottom looking up at the exposed, massive cill and paddle gear above.  I seem to remember the baffles were fitted as a precaution. Regardless of the mounting number of accidents happening BWB kept the roll out happening.

At the time I was on the fringes of The Provisional Wing of The IWA. To prove that BWB didn't know what they were doing I wrote to them as a concerned boater of many years standing at the tiller with the stove toasting my left leg.  I demanded to know if their reckless fitting of Granny Gear paddle gear would also be inflicted on the delightful Ashby Canal. They wrote back and said yes they would, they confirmed their intention to include all canals and waterways they were responsible for.  I did write to them again advising I very much doubted they would install any on The Ashby, sadly they didn't reply again.

Tomorrow I'm going up there, I have a week off. I will be interested to learn if my prediction was accurate. 

hydraulic paddle gear.jpg

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There are two on the top gates on one of the Lapworth flight. Likewise one on each of the lift bridges after the top lock

Richard

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I remember having to keep a windlass on the spindle to hold the paddle up otherwise they would slowly close by themselves, not on all but enough to be irritating :captain:

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More or less still the standard fit on the Ashton into Manchester, each with massive locking bars that take countless turns of a handcuff key to release and then to put back.

These (very heavy) locking bars being carefully designed to knee-cap you if you manage to let them drop down without staying hold of them.

Do any still remain at Hanwell on the GU, are are they all gone now?

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7 minutes ago, alan_fincher said:

More or less still the standard fit on the Ashton into Manchester, each with massive locking bars that take countless turns of a handcuff key to release and then to put back.

These (very heavy) locking bars being carefully designed to knee-cap you if you manage to let them drop down without staying hold of them.

Do any still remain at Hanwell on the GU, are are they all gone now?

Don't remember any at Hanwell. (Normally there is an out of work Hudson Butler there however).

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I remember my parents boat getting caught going up in a lock with those paddles, as my dad tried to quickly wind the paddle down his windlass slipped off the spindle and smashed in to his face. We were in the middle of nowhere but fortunately a BW chap was working on the next lock so took him to hospital.

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IIRC it's either Tilston lock or Beeston stone lock on the Shropshire Union (or is it both?) that has these, and combined with the restricted passage through Beeston iron lock accounts for a lot of queuing on that part of the canal.  Goodness knows what it would be like if every lock had them.

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There are geared boxes like that but not hydraulic on some Lee and Stort locks.

A big GRP  a few weeks back got hung up on a lock going down on the Lee and my wife heard the panic shout from the boater pulled away windlass and the paddle closed rapidly under it's own steam.

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I suppose they were part of the general BW program for modernisation of the waterways, I have mixed views myself on using them, but believe traditional paddle gear is in keeping with the image. Yet the range of previous paddle gear was diverse. Is it known who supplied the hydraulic gear. I recall that it may be on them. 

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3 hours ago, mark99 said:

There are geared boxes like that but not hydraulic on some Lee and Stort locks.

Well actually if you use the non electric side of the paired locks at Old Ford, Tottenham & Stonebrridge, that hydraulic gear exactly what you get.

One thing to work the paddles, but those that work the gates are one of the worst locking experiences ever.

(You have to work the manual lock if the electric one is playing up, or has been placed out of use by CRT).

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14 hours ago, pete harrison said:

I remember having to keep a windlass on the spindle to hold the paddle up otherwise they would slowly close by themselves, not on all but enough to be irritating :captain:

There was one on the lock before the long pound in the middle of the Wolverhampton 21 that would drop almost as fast as you could raise it if you didnt keep the windlass on it. 

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6 minutes ago, AMModels said:

There was one on the lock before the long pound in the middle of the Wolverhampton 21 that would drop almost as fast as you could raise it if you didnt keep the windlass on it. 

We had one last trip and a couple that crept but I can't remember where 

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26 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

We had one last trip and a couple that crept but I can't remember where 

On the ones that crept someone showed us that reversing the windlass, or handle in, in the right place locks them. 

Seemed to work.

Don

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I have met these, but not for some time now. Does the Hatton Flight have them?

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8 minutes ago, Athy said:

I have met these, but not for some time now. Does the Hatton Flight have them?

Hatton, and other locations on the widened GU do not have hydraulic gear.

It is "Ham-Baker Patented Self Lowering Paddle Gear".  As such, it will lower itself when the catch is removed.  Occasionally it is stiff and needs assisting, but most will self lower safely without assistance.

I have no doubt it was specified in the 1930s with the full knowledge that boatmen of the day were knocking the catches off the older gear with the potential for damage.

George

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1 minute ago, furnessvale said:

Hatton, and other locations on the widened GU do not have hydraulic gear.

It is "Ham-Baker Patented Self Lowering Paddle Gear".  As such, it will lower itself when the catch is removed. 

It looked like the gear in the photo above. Is there actually a difference?

Yes, we were taught to remove the little catch after working the lock, as the gear would lower itself unaided, a good labour-saver.

Come to think of it, last time I encountered this gear we still had 'Batto', which we sold in 2005 so my memory may be faulty.

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22 minutes ago, Athy said:

It looked like the gear in the photo above. Is there actually a difference?

Yes, we were taught to remove the little catch after working the lock, as the gear would lower itself unaided, a good labour-saver.

Come to think of it, last time I encountered this gear we still had 'Batto', which we sold in 2005 so my memory may be faulty.

The only photo I can see is in post#1 which is hydraulic.

Ham- Baker is as below (borrowed from Tugbrutus.com copyright acknowledged).

img_20161004_121027867_hdr.jpg.975bdf73ef68df9c9655a8a71c87be4f.jpg

George

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1 minute ago, furnessvale said:

The only photo I can see is in post#1 which is hydraulic.

Ham- Baker is as below (borrowed from Tugbrutus.com copyright acknowledged).

img_20161004_121027867_hdr.jpg.975bdf73ef68df9c9655a8a71c87be4f.jpg

George

I find it amazing how many people think these are hydraulic

 

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12 minutes ago, furnessvale said:

The only photo I can see is in post#1 which is hydraulic.

Ham- Baker is as below (borrowed from Tugbrutus.com copyright acknowledged).

img_20161004_121027867_hdr.jpg.975bdf73ef68df9c9655a8a71c87be4f.jpg

George

Ah yes, thank you, I remember the shape, with that distinctive superstructure, now.

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The ground paddles at Stenson and Swarkestone locks are still hydraulic.

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I believe the further introduction of this granny gear was (thankfully) dropped following representations by the IWA and doubtless others; certainly in the London-branch level.  tim Lewis may know whether it was a national decision or not

The was also a fuss about the tendency to erect railings where the towpath swerves at bridges.  Not too annoying sometimes but obstructive near locks where the narrows are just the place to drop and collect crew.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Lots of the hydraulic things on the Huddersfield Narrow and Calder & Hebble - I just got used to them as another form of paddle mechanism, not quite as difficult as the C&H handspike contraptions, which can't be changed for historical reasons!   But I seem to have come across them very recently, so it must have been Bardney or Anton's Gowt?

Edited by Mac of Cygnet
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7 hours ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

Lots of the hydraulic things on the Huddersfield Narrow and Calder & Hebble - I just got used to them as another form of paddle mechanism, not quite as difficult as the C&H handspike contraptions, which can't be changed for historical reasons!

I must admit we rather fell for the hand spike paddles on the C&H, which once mastered work remarkably well.

I recall the C&H being the most eclectic mix of paddle types we had ever experienced, but had forgotten the hydraulics.

Think about it, of course, Tuel Lane Lock, (the deepest in the country), has them, but they are worked by the lock keepers, not by the boat crew when we went through.

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There's still hydraulic ground paddles on a couple of the wide T & M locks. 

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