News: Kentucky Lock gets new tow haulage unit
Story by Fred Tucker
GRAND RIVERS, Ky. — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District employees completed the Tow Haulage Unit Replacement Project at Kentucky Lock in Grand Rivers, Ky., Dec. 5, 2013. They finished the work on time and the navigation lock has resumed 24-hour operations.
“The new unit should move unpowered tows more efficiently and also eliminate a winter icing problem caused by the design of the 69-year-old tow haulage unit installed in 1944,” said Jeff Ross, Nashville District Navigation chief.
Most commercial tows that pass through the district’s navigation locks are too long to transit in a single lockage and must be broken down to cuts that fit inside the chamber before they can be raised or lowered, according to Ross.
“Although regulations limit a tow to two cuts, the first is often unpowered and must be pulled out of the chamber using an external force,” Ross said, adding, “a tow haulage unit is installed at most of the nation’s locks where tows are broken down into multiple cuts.”
When designed in the 1940s, the tow haulage unit at Kentucky Lock, like many designed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, used a moving bit that ran through a trough that ran the length of the chamber’s river wall. This caused a problem at Kentucky Lock due to the tendency of ice to form in the trough causing unplanned stoppages and pulling personnel away from other needed work.
When it was determined that the 69-year-old tow haulage machinery required replacement, the opportunity to abandon the trough came about. The plan included mounting a rail on top of the lock wall to guide the bit. This is similar configuration used at the Cumberland River locks and the older projects on the rest of the Tennessee River, according to Ross.
“The new tow haulage unit is in operation and performing as designed as it is now sleeting and ice is forming on lock walls and equipment,” said Jeremy Wallace, lock operator, about 11 a.m., Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. “We are glad to have the new equipment,” he added.