Radical Change from Former Methods -- General Barge Canal Plan -- Large Power-Plant at Crescent Dam -- Plants at Locks: Vertical Shaft Type: Horizontal Shaft Type: Gasoline-Electric Type: Details of Lock Equipment -- Freight-Handling Equipment at Terminals -- Grain Elevator Machinery Electrically-Driven.

When in the progress of Barge canal construction it came to providing means for operating the several structures that require operation, mechanism propelled by other than hand-power was supplied, and this type of mechanism was employed as a matter of course. Moreover, equally as a matter of course, electric energy was chosen as the proper driving force both for these appliances and for the later freight-handling machinery. And this was all done with scarcely a thought of the mighty strides that were being made in changing from the canal which even then was but just going out of existence. But when we stop and recall the crude hand-operated structures and the various other devices of the superseded canal, we realize what a tremendous difference electricity has made in the new waterway. Our present canal depends on electricity for its efficiency almost as much as on the enlarged channel.

At each of the locks on a canal there exists a head of water and this circumstance makes it possible to install hydraulic power-plants at virtually all canal locks. Often it is necessary to pass water around a lock to supply the needs of the lower levels and in such instance power goes to waste unless there is present a plant to develop it. Also the cost of installing a plant at a lock is confined chiefly to the machinery, since conduits and wheel-pits may be formed simply by leaving cavities in the lock walls. Moreover the locks of today are too large to be operated by hand and thus it is that we find power-plants on all modern canals.

In general each Barge canal lock has its power-plant. There are 31 direct current hydro-electric stations and 11 direct current gasoline-electric stations, the latter being such as they are for reasons which will appear later. There is one alternating current hydro-electric station, and this serves five locks and two guard-gates. At a few locks power is purchased from a local power company.

The one alternating current station is situated at Crescent dam and furnishes power for the five locks and the two guard-gates on the land line between the Hudson and Mohawk rivers. This station contains three 75-kv.-a., 2,300-volt, 3-phase, 40-cycle, vertical generators directly connected to Francis inward-flow turbines. From the station a 2,300-volt alternating current is transmitted by an overhead line to three substations, one each at two of the locks and one at one of the guard-gates. At the lock substations the current is converted to direct current at 250 volts by means of motor-generator sets and is then distributed to the near-by locks. The substation at the guard-gate is supplied with transformers, control panels and controllers for two 25-hp. alternating current motors located on the guard-gate superstructures. The poles for the transmission line are made of reinforced concrete.

The 31 direct current hydro-electric stations are of two types, 26 of them having vertical shaft generators and 5 having horizontal shaft generators.

The equipment at one of the vertical shaft type consists of two head-gates, two Francis inward-flow turbines, each directly connected to a 50-kw., 150-volt, direct current generator, a switchboard consisting of two generator panels and one feeder panel, two motor-driven governor oil pumps, two oil pressure governors, a motor-driven oil pump and lubricating system, a traveling crane, four 4,000-watt electric heaters and an incandescent lighting system. At certain locks slight variations occur. If a station feeds two locks, the capacity of the generator is increased to 75 kilowatts and an extra feeder panel is added. If the second lock is less than a mile and more than half a mile distant, a booster set is provided, together with the necessary switchboard panel.

Where the head of water is so low that the turbine speed falls below 150 revolutions per minute, horizontal shaft generators running at a full load speed of 300 r.p.m. are connected to the turbines through bevel gearing.

At the locks beside which are movable dams the power-stations are of the gasoline-electric type. The movable dams are generally raised at the close of the navigation season, thus destroying the head of water and precluding its use when needed for lowering the gates. At each of these locks, therefore, there has been built a station having two 25-kw. gasoline-electric generator sets, with a closed cooling system and incidental electrical apparatus. Eight of these stations are at Mohawk river locks, where during floods the lock walls are sometimes several feet under water. The power-stations, accordingly, are set well back from the river, on higher ground. In like manner the electrical equipment at these locks is housed in a concrete cabin nine feet high, built on the wall, where it is out of danger from flood. Vertical shafts with the necessary bevel gearing transmit the power from the motors in the cabin to the machinery located in the recesses in the lock below.

The parts to be operated at a lock are the gates, the valves and the capstans. Near each gate is located a master switch stand. A simple movement of the hand will set in motion the machinery for opening or closing the gates or the valves at the end of the lock near which the particular stand is located and this can be done from the stand on either side of the lock. On each stand are five switches, one for each of the two gates, one for each of the two valves and one for the buffer-beam. Once started the action of the motor in accelerating, running, retarding and stopping is automatic. Control panels are located adjacent to the motors they control and are protected, together with the motor, the limit switch and the resistance units, by large steel cabinets. These cabinets can be rolled away from the equipment they protect, thus giving easy access to any part of the apparatus.

Signal lamps are displayed on the tops of the cabinets. On the gate controller cabinet a red light shows for all positions of the gate except when it is fully open. When fully open a green signal appears, indicating that a boat may enter the lock. The signal lamps for the valves are one blue and three white lights, the blue showing that the valve is closed, and one white appearing when it is one-third open, two when it is two-thirds open and the third when it is fully open.

A 7-hp. motor operates each gate. Through a train of gears this drives a vertical pinion, which meshes with teeth cut in the face of a spar attached at the outer end to the gate. Most of the gate machinery is in a recess below the top of the lock wall and is covered by checkered steel plates. The remainder, together with the electric equipment, is above the lock wall, protected by the controller cabinet.

On a lock having feed culverts of the 5 by 7-ft. or the 6 by 8-ft. size, a 3-hp. motor operates each valve. On the larger locks, those having 7 by 9-ft. culverts, 7-hp. motors are used. A part of the valve machinery is also located in a recess in the lock wall and covered with a checkered plate, while the rest is in the cabinet on the back of the wall.

At each end of each lock is placed an electric capstan, which has a capacity of 8,000 pounds at a speed of 60 feet per minute. The diameter of the spool is 12 inches. Except for the spool and the remote controller the entire capstan is set in a recess in the lock wall and is covered with checkered plates. The master switch is operated by a treadle placed flush with the plates and conveniently situated for the operator while overhauling a rope. The machinery and the 20-hp., compound-wound motor for the capstan are enclosed in a water-tight, oil-tight case. This equipment is designed to escape damage even though submerged.

Electric energy drives most of the machinery that is used at the canal terminals for handling freight, each of the larger terminals having a complete lighting and power-distributing system and also in many cases a battery-charging equipment. In general the freight-handling machinery consists of traveling cranes, derricks, conveyors, tiering machines, capstans, storage battery tractors, trailers and hand trucks.

In the chapter on canal and terminal construction we quoted from a paper read by State Engineer Williams before the State Waterways Association in 1920 on the subject of terminal development. In that paper were embodied brief descriptions of various types of terminal machinery. What we might say now concerning the electrical equipment of the terminals would be largely a repetition of those descriptions and therefore we need not say it. We may simply summarize by adding that it is electric power which is used on three of the four types of traveling cranes, the machines of chief importance at the large terminals. The fourth type is steam-driven because electric energy is not easily obtainable at all places and there must be a machine for such localities. The derricks are simpler devices, suitable for the smaller terminals, but where practicable electric power operates even these. The conveyor and tiering machine are electrically-driven, do good work in moving boats to convenient places for loading and unloading, and the small but useful electric tractors occupy an important field.

Electricity plays an important part at the Gowanus bay grain elevator. The success of a modern elevator depends largely on the efficient loading, unloading, conveying and other handling of the grain. In such operations electric machinery is used in the Barge canal elevator wherever it is suitable.

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