Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Thinking Out Of The Box (3)

Thinking out of the box (also thinking out side of the box, thinking beyond the box or thinking the unthinkable) is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. The cliché, has become widely used and refers to novel or creative thinking. Thinking out of the box, is forcing yourself to give considerations to options that you might discount in the first place. To think outside the box is to look farther and to try not thinking of the obvious things, but to try thinking beyond them.

The construction of lock gates is a real craft. Anyone who has taken the time to visit the construction facility on an open day would attest to the skills and craft that can be seen display. 

Time Lapse Lock Gate Build

There are metal lock gates which can be seen around the system. Generally speaking the metal gates seem to stand up to the test of time better than the wooden ones if the date plates are anything to go by.

This started me wondering if some of the more modern plastic materials such as polycarbonate could be used in places where wear and tear is high. Polycarbonate has a very high impact resistance, Easy machining with normal tools, Wide operating temperature range Good resistance to chemicals and UV, is a cost-effective material for harsh environments. Such as the mitre joint at the gunwale height. A place where boats can often come into contact with the gates. Sometimes leading to significant wear of the oak post allowing canal water leaks to develop long before the design life of the gate is reached.
CaRT's Jeff Wyatt. said "A significant part of the stoppage programme is the lock gate replacement programme. In the current year, [2013] circa £450k will be spent on oak to enable 140 lock gates to be replaced, the majority of which are in grade E poor condition. In recent years, improved preventative maintenance has increased the life of lock gates from 24 to 28 years, with consequential cost savings."

The Canal and River Trust recently provided a graph of the lock gate age profile. Though it might appear at first sight that in a few years time requirements will outstrip capacity. Working closer to maximum capacity and then using suitable storage techniques for completed gates for future fitting. It should be possible to flatten the curve. However, that will require bringing forward increasing amounts of money into the maintenance budget for lock gates. With 3,274 lock gates, the average number of gates that need to be changed every 28 years is around 116 per year. If CaRT uses a 25 year cycle the numbers work out at 130 gates a year.

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