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Photographer's Note

Sorry I have been away for a few days, but in my last post I mentioned that ships are moved through the canal with mules.

he locks, which have a total of six steps, limit the maximum size of ships which can transit the canal, known as Panamax. Each of these steps has two lock chambers, doubling the amount of traffic that can be handled.

One important safety feature is that ships are guided though the lock chambers by electric locomotives, known as mulas (mules, named after the animals traditionally used to pull barges), on the lock walls. These mules are used for side-to-side and braking control in the rather narrow locks (narrow relative to modern-day ships). Forward motion into and through the locks is actually provided by the ship's engines and not the mules'. A ship approaching the locks first pulls up to the guide wall, which is an extension of the centre wall of the locks, where she is taken under control by the mules on the wall before proceeding into the lock. As she moves forward, additional lines are taken to mules on the other wall. With large ships, there are two mules on each side at the bow, and two each side at the stern — eight in total, allowing for precise control of the ship.

The mules themselves run on rack tracks, to which they are geared. Each mule has a powerful winch, operated by the driver; these are used to take two cables in or pay them out, to keep the ship centred in the lock while moving it from chamber to chamber. With as little as 60 cm (2 ft) of space on each side of a ship, considerable skill is required on the part of the operators.
Hope this is not too technical, but I found it interesting.

Kofman, rodgerg, jlbrthnn oznaczył to zdjęcie jeko użyteczne

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Additional Photos by Roger Edgington (edge) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 754 W: 34 N: 2205] (7409)
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