In small narrow locks single gates only are necessary; in large locks pairs of gates are required, fitting together at the head or “mitre-post” when closed. The vertical timber at the end of the gate is known as the “heel-post,” and at its foot is a casting that admits an iron pivot which is fixed in the lock bottom, and on which the gate turns. Iron straps round the head of the heel-post are let into the lock-coping to support the gate. The gates are opened and closed by balance beams projecting over the lock side, by gearing or in cases where they are very large and heavy by the direct action of a hydraulic ram. In order to economize water canal locks are made only a few inches wider than the vessels they have to accommodate. The English canal boat is about 70 or 75 ft. long and 7 or 8 ft. in beam; canal barges are the same length but 14 or 15 ft. in width, so that locks which will hold one of them will admit two of the narrower canal boats side by side. In general canal locks are just long enough to accommodate the longest vessels using the navigation. In some cases, however, provision is made for admitting a train of barges; such long locks have sometimes intermediate gates by which the effective length is reduced when a single vessel is passing. The lift of canal locks, that is, the difference between the level of adjoining reaches, is in general about 8 or 10 ft., but sometimes is as little as 1½ ft. On the Canal du Centre (Belgium) there are locks with a lift of 17 ft., and on the St Denis canal near La Villette basins in Paris there is one with a lift of 32½ ft. In cases where a considerable difference of level has to be surmounted the locks are placed close together in a series or “flight,” so that the lower gates of one serve also as the upper gates of the next below. To save water, expecially where the lift is considerable, side ponds are sometimes employed; they are reservoirs into which a portion of the water in a lock-chamber is run, instead of being discharged into the lower reach, and is afterwards used for partially filling the chamber again. Double locks, that is, two locks placed side by side and communicating by a passage which can be opened or closed at will, also tend to save water, since each serves as a side pond to the other. The same advantage is gained with double flights of locks, and time also is saved since vessels can pass up and down simultaneously.
A still greater economy of water can be effected by the use of inclined planes or vertical lifts in place of locks. In China rude inclines appear to have been used at an early date, vessels being carried down a sloping plane of Inclines. stonework by the aid of a flush of water or hauled up it by capstans. On the Bude canal (England) this plan was adopted in an improved form, the small flat-bottomed boats employed being fitted with wheels to facilitate their course over the inclines. Another variant, often adopted as an adjunct to locks where many small pleasure boats have to be dealt with, is to fit the incline itself with rollers, upon which the boats travel. In some cases the boats are conveyed on a wheeled trolley or cradle running on rails; this plan was adopted on the Morris canal, built in 1825–1831, in the case of 23 inclines having gradients of about 1 in 10, the rise of each varying from 44 to 100 ft. Between the Ourcq canal and the Marne, near Meaux, the difference of level is about 40 ft., and barges weighing about 70 tons are taken from the one to the other on a wheeled cradle weighing 35 tons by a wire rope over an incline nearly 500 yards long. But heavy barges are apt to be strained by being supported on cradles in this way, and to avoid this objection they are sometimes drawn up the inclines floating in a tank or caisson filled with water and running on wheels. This arrangement was utilized about 1840 on the Chard canal (England), and 10 years later it was adapted at Blackhill on the Monkland canal (Scotland) to replace a double flight of locks, in consequence of the traffic having been interrupted by insufficiency of water. There the height to be overcome was 96 ft. Two pairs of rails, of 7 ft. gauge, were laid down on a gradient of 1 in 10, and on these ran two carriages having wrought iron, water-tight caissons with lifting gates at each end, in which the barges floated partially but not wholly supported by water. The carriages, with the barge and water, weighed about 80 tons each, and were arranged to counterbalance each other, one going up as the other was going down. The power required was provided by two high pressure steam engines of 25 h.p., driving two large drums round which was coiled, in opposite directions, the 2-inch wire rope that hauled the caissons. An incline constructed on the Union canal at Foxton (England) to replace 10 locks giving a total rise of 75 ft., accommodates barges of 70 tons, or two canal boats of 33 tons. It is in some respects like the Monkland canal incline, but the movable caissons work on four pairs of rails on an incline of 1 in 14, broadside on, and the boats are entirely waterborne. Steam power is employed, with an hydraulic accumulator which enables hydraulic power to be used in keeping the caisson in position at the top of the incline while the boats are being moved in or out, a water-tight joint being maintained with the final portion of the canal during the operation. The gates in the caisson and canal are also worked by hydraulic power. The incline is capable of passing 200 canal boats in 12 hours, and the whole plant is worked by three men.
Vertical lifts can only be used instead of locks with advantage at places where the difference in level occurs in a short length of canal, since otherwise long embankments or aqueducts would be necessary to obtain sites for Lifts. their construction. An early example was built in 1809 at Tardebigge on the Worcester and Birmingham canal. It consisted of a timber caisson, weighing 64 tons when full of water, counterpoised by heavy weights carried on timber platforms. The lift of 12 ft. was effected in about three minutes by two men working winches. Seven lifts, erected on the Grand Western canal between Wellington and Tiverton about 1835, consisted of two chambers with a masonry pier between them. In each chamber there worked a timber caisson, suspended at either end of a chain hung over large pulleys above. As one caisson descended the other rose, and the apparatus was worked by putting about a ton more water in the descending caisson than in the ascending one. At Anderton a lift was erected in 1875 to connect the Weaver navigation with the Trent and Mersey canal, which at that point is 50 ft. higher than the river. The lift is a double one, and can deal with barges up to 100 tons. The change is made while the vessels are floating in 5 ft. of water contained in a wrought iron caisson, 75 ft. long and 15½ ft. wide. An hydraulic ram 3 ft. in diameter supports each caisson, the bottom of which is strengthened so as to transfer the weight to the side girders. The descending caisson falls owing to being filled with 6 in. greater depth of water than the ascending one, the weight on the rams (240 tons) being otherwise constant, since the barge displaces its own weight of water; an hydraulic accumulator is used to overcome the loss of weight in the descending caisson when it begins to be immersed in the lower level of the river. The two presses in which the rams work are connected by a 5-in. pipe, so that the descent of one caisson effects the raising of the other. A similar lift, completed in 1888 at Fontinettes on the Neuffossé canal in France, can accommodate vessels of 250 tons, a total weight of 785 tons being lifted 43 ft.; and a still larger example on the Canal du Centre at La Louvière in Belgium has a rise of 50 ft., with caissons that will admit vessels up to 400 tons, the total weight lifted amounting to over 1000 tons. This lift, with three others of the same character, overcomes the rise of 217 ft., which occurs in this canal in the course of 4⅓ m.
Haulage.—The horse or mule walking along a tow-path and drawing or “tracking” a boat or barge by means of a towing rope, still remains the typical method of conducting traffic on the smaller canals; on ship-canals Animal power. vessels proceed under their own steam or are aided by tugs. Horse traction is very slow. The maximum speed on a narrow canal is about 3½ m. an hour, and the average speed, which, of course, depends largely on the number of locks to be passed through, very much less. It has been calculated that in England on the average one horse hauls one narrow canal boat about 2 m. an hour loaded or 3 m. empty, or two narrow canal boats 1½ m. loaded and 2½ m.