Day 48 – Down to Oundle

I phoned EA at 8.00 and the river manager Ian Cook told me he needed to speak to te engineers, and they weren’t on site yet so he had no news. Phone back at 1pm.

So I went for a walk to Woodford village. It’s one of those chocolate box villages that Northants seems to specialise in, with TWO village greens. But only one small Post Office / general store. I got some milk and a few other bits and pieces and treked back via a different path taking through the middle of the allotments and past the ‘social housing’ tucked well away from the village greens.

It was only 10.00 when I got back so I was planning a long rest and abit of pottering about, but just before 11 a boat came upstream that I hadn’t seen go down, so I spoke to them and was told there were engineers on site at Denford helping boats through the lock.

I set of immediately in case they decided to lock up and leave. They were still there and while two younger guys did all the work I spoke to the senior engineer about the problem.

The basic configuration of guillotine locks is a large, heavy vertical gate counter-balanced by a large heavy slab of cast iron connected by chains over sprockets high up on the supporting framework. The problem is the chains are very heavy too (about 75kg apparently) so as the chain rolls over the sprockets one side (gate or weight) gets heavier and the other lighter. That’s a difference of 150kg between open and closed.

On the electrified gates that’s not important, the motor and gearing can cope with the change. On flywheel operated gates (like Denford) it’s an issue because there comes a point when the difference in weight between the gate and counterweight is enough to overcome the friction in the system and the flywheel can ‘run away’. Apparently at Denford the gate was too light compared to the counterweight so it was hard to close it the last few cm and it tended to rise too easily. They’ve applied an extra 50kg of weights to the gate and were testing it to make sure it was OK. Apparently it’s now hard to open but I had two big strong guys to do it for me. The long term plan is to electrify the last six gates, one over year over the next six years.

Nothing of interest to report after that, except that this stretch of the Nene is deficient in moorings. I passed several early on in the day but by afternoon there were none. Eventually I moored on a meadow just outside Oundle (the town doesn’t have a river frontage, probably due to flooding).

Need to stop for water at Fotheringhay tomorrow, I’d hoped to get there this evening but two more locks is too many. Meeting Linda for dinner at the Boathouse in Thorpe Meadows, Peterborough. Must remember to book passage through Stanground Sluice for Wednesday morning.

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