Friday, 4 September 2015

Returning Flamingo from Alvecote - Day 4

Very retrospective post for Friday 4th September - A fair bit of delay.

(Boat Flamingo - posted  by Alan)

Buckby Top Lock, which was not padlocked.
Since we went North not that long ago there had been another lock gate failure in the Buckby flight.  Somewhat bizarrely it was at the opposite end of the same lock that had already had a failure only a few months previously.  Last time a balance beam had literally snapped off at the offside bottom gate, but this time the failure was in the offside top gate.  The heel post, (broadly the bit on which the collar pivots, and on which the balance beam sits), had broken away.
Balance beam being reinstated
CRT had been maintaining traffic for narrow beam craft, by shoring up the gate in a fixed position, and then offering only assisted passage through the lock.  Considerable queues had been reported, made worse than they might otherwise have been because the IWA festival was being held in Northampton, with quite a few bats coming from the North to attend it.

Jumping up and down on it seems to help!
We had monitored the situation almost daily, knowing we needed to come back through these locks.  It just so happened that CRT picked the very day we needed to pass through to do a temporary stoppage to put a better work around in place.  Not the final fix, but something that would allow the lock to be used normally without constant CRT supervision.

When we arrived at the top of the Buckby flight it wasn't closed at the top lock, and no information was forthcoming.  It seemed people were going down as far as they could, and forming a queue, so we decided to join them, and went down two locks before encountering a longish queue,  The next lock down was padlocked, but still nobody to supply information.  The initial stoppage notice had hoped the locks would be reopened again by now, but clearly not.

Part of the failed post - should be one solid piece.
I decided to walk down, and work was still very much in progress.  However a conversation with a supervisor indicated they still hoped to get boats flowing again that evening.  They had made a large temporary part to replace the wooden parts that had failed, and were now relocating the balance beam back on to it.  It did not look that close to being ready to my eyes, and I returned to "Flamingo".

This is serious rot.
However by about, I guess 5:00pm, boats finally started to move, although it took some time before we went through our next lock, due to those queued ahead.  When we finally worked the affected lock the fix was working, although leakage around the edges far greater than previously.

This should be the samepiece of wood as all the other bits
By the bottom of the flight we were not that far from darkness, and we reasoned if we went ahead for the available time we would not find any mooring any better than where we already were.  So we decided to moor up below the locks, despite being sandwiched between the M1 motorway and the West Coast mainline railway - a location we generally avoid.  In practice it wasn't as noisy as we feared, (or we were more tired than we thought we were!).

Getting going again once the locks are off.
Thank goodness with all the staff losses there have been in CRT amongst those that actually "do", that they still retain enough capacity and skills to make an ingenious temporary repair as they have done here.  The repairis a "good 'un", and despite taking a bit longer to install than they first hoped, it is to the credit of those involved that we got through this day.

And on our way again.

Braunston to Bottom of Buckby Locks at Whilton

Miles: 6.2, Locks:13
Total Miles: 99.6, Locks: 56

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