Nothing makes the world feel larger than finding out about new abandoned vehicles, places, or ships. Like the McBarge, a floating McDonald’s, from the World Expo on Transportation and Communication in Vancouver, BC during 1986. It also was in Blade Trinity.
The Fonserannes Water Slope Tractor is another example of that. This 18-wheeled tractor was used to push a section of water up a slope that also happened to have 1 to 3 canal boats floating in that water.
Why a slope?
The idea of a water slope has been around for 135 years and is pretty straight forward. Instead of using the system of locks to lower and raise the water level to get the canal boats to different elevations, the water slope allowed the boats to be floated to the new height as the tractor pushes the volume of water up or down the slope. When everything is functioning, the canal boats move much quicker to the new elevations.
Did the water slope work?
For the Fonserannes Water slope, the answer is for a little bit. The physics and the slope’s construction worked, but the tractor itself is the weak link in this system. The slope was built from 1980 to 1983 and was declared functional in May of 1984. Shortly after beginning operations, it became apparent that the tractor was letting the system down. The hydraulic system’s oil leaks were causing the concrete tracks to be lubricated, and the 18 tires were unable to get suitable traction to move the volume of water to the top of the slope. It took several years to resolve the leaks and traction issue, but they never really solved them in reality. For a short period of time, the tractor did move boats from the bottom to the top. Watch this family’s trip up the slope.
There is an account of an accident occurring in 1984. The tractor lost traction. The entire wedge of water moved uncontrolled to the bottom of the slope, creating a canal tsunami that overwhelmed a lock and damaged many boats docked nearby. There may or may not have been a boat in the wedge at the time. Why else would the tractor have been moving to the top of the slope?
The slope officially closed in 2001 and is still closed. Why didn’t they use a cog rail system or a rack railway? Those rail systems have been around since way before the 1980s, like the 1860s…
Either way, abandoned stuff is neat and creepy.