Monday, July 28, 2008

THE BLACK THREAD & the Panama Canal

My third novel THE BLACK THREAD was set on the Leeds and Liverpool canal so I was particularly interested to see how these enormous locks operated.
In the old days they probably used real mules to warp the ships through. Today they use 4 – 8 powerful electric locomotives called ‘mules’ which run along tracks beside the ship – hauling the cables which align and tow the ships through.
Each chamber is 33.5 m wide and 305m long.
The lock gates are 25m high and weigh 730 tons.
They are removed for checking ever 15 years.
With the huge container ships almost grazing the sides of the locks, it is no wonder that a new cut and locks are being built.
Seeing the huge vessels being lifted by the inflowing water – is amazing.
Photo: ‘Mules’ keeping the contrainer aligned

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