The Century-Old Panama Canal is Opening Up to a Busy Future
GE – The Panama Canal is a full century old, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t grow. The 48-mile-long landmark that cuts across “the backbone of the Western Hemisphere” is going through the final year of a massive expansion. When work is completed in 2015, new locks will allow giant “New Panamax” class of container ships and supertankers through and boost the canal’s capacity by half.
In 1914, the canal used 500 GE motors to operate the locks, with 500 more installed elsewhere in the system. GE also built the power plants that provided the canal with electricity and designed the centralized control equipment for the locks.
One historian noted that GE “produced about half the electrical equipment needed during construction and virtually all of the permanent motors, relays, switches, wiring and generating equipment. They also built the original locks towing locomotives and all of the lighting.”
Those 40 electric towing locomotives were made in Schenectady, NY. Since ships were not permitted to pass through the locks under their own power, these “lock mules” rode on rails next to the canal and pulled them through the locks. Custom gears and electrical design allowed them to run as slow as 1 mph, the speed required for gently tugging large vessels. more> http://tinyurl.com/kuvm694
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