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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Building a Wharf in Antarctica

Existing Wharf Configuration
Photo by David (Horse) Barringhaus

So, the question is, “What the hell am I doing in Antarctica, again, really?”
First of all, my apologies to you all if I go off on a boilermakers rant that sounds a bit technical.Well at this time I’m involved in the extension of the wharf at Davis. The existing wharf is not really a wharf, but rather a mound of dirt flattened out and protruding into the water like a break water wall. It currently has a few precast concrete slabs where cranes can be set up for the loading and unloading of supplies that come in on jet barges, usually from the Aurora Australis. As I see it, we are to construct a more permanent, what they call a, “ Whaler Wall “ wharf. That is we:
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Part of the "Whaler Wall" Being Rolled Over
Photo by David (Horse) Barringhaus

1.    drill down into sea bed a couple of metres down through the sea ice and down into the rock bed;

2.     we then grout 36mm deformed bar into the holes using special water displacing underwater grout cement;

3.    We then locate 125mm heavy wall RHS (that’s hollow steel that’s sort of squarish, has rounded edges opposed to nice sharp square corners)steel pylons over the deformed bar and grout them into place;

Horse Apparently Welding
Photo by Cliff (Rowdy) Davis

4.    A fabricated “Whaler Wall “ frame is then attached to the pylons in a half octagon shape;

5.    Steel “Whaler Wall” cladding(looks like oversized corrugated iron, 12mm thick) is then attached to the outside of the frame work;

6.    Earth works are then completed by back filling up to the “Whaler Wall”;
7.    We complete the welding side of things with ladders down to the water and bollards for tying up of the barges and IRB’s (inflatable rubber boats); and finally we;

8.    Break out the beer and celebrate.

Weldmaster Remote Wire Feeder
Photo by David (Horse) Barringhaus

All welding is done in sub zero temps using mainly flux core mig. No gas mig for obvious reasons, it blows like hell most of the time. All my tacks are done with a stick welder using 4816 or 18’s (7016/18’s) although I do prefer the WIA TC 16’s. We have a few caddy welders here which are ideal for the tacking job. The mig is not 3 phase due to availability of power supply and portability of the generator. It all has to be stowed away each night due to the weather conditions. Also large gen sets require more storage space which we don’t have. Hence our mig is a 15 amp “weldmaster” with a remote wire feed. The genset is a Honda V twin ULP petrol motor driving a 15 KVA generator. All in all, a trouble free outfit, so far.

36mm Deformed Bar Being Placed in Predrilled Holes
Photo by David (Horse) Barringhaus
I can also tell you that whilst welding you generally are standing in one place for some time. The only thing that really gets cold are your bloody toes. I’ve yet to have a day welding when my toes didn’t feel like ice blocks. The rest of you is bound up in pure wool thermal underwear Carhart jacket, welding leathers. But the old Antarctic socks just don’t cut it. Anyway, good excuse to go and have a cuppa and thaw out.
There is some aerial shots of the Wharf at another blog of mine, Aerial Images of Davis

There you have it. Just one of the jobs a boilermaker gets to do whilst in Antarctica. Now watch the epic slideshow which captures the project in a five minute snapshot.

Air Drill for Drilling Through Ice and Rock For 36mm Rebar
Photograph by David (Horse) Barringhaus 
Lifting Main Wall Frame. Frame Has to be Slung Using Fibre Slings Because Welding Has to be Done Whilst Crane is Still "Hooked" Up. Welding A Frame That is Slung Using Chains or Wire Slings Can Cause the Cranes Computer to Fail. Photograph by David (Horse) Barringhaus 

Lifting the Frame Into Place Photograph by David (Horse) Barringhaus 

Bolting the Side Frames to Main Frontal Frame. Dry Suits Being Worn Because the Water Temp. is minus 1.5
Photograph by David (Horse) Barringhaus 

Horse Welding 125mm RHS Pillon to Side Frame. Note Fibre Sling Being Used , Not Chains or Wire Sling.
Photograph by  Cliff (Rowdy) Davis

Horse Using Metal Displacement Technology to Trim Bottom Side Beam. It's All About the Science in Antarctica. Photograph by Cliff (Rowdy) Davis
Wall Frames With Cross Ties.  Gal.N36 Rebar. Conrete Plinth in Foreground
Photograph by David (Horse) Barringhaus 

Cross Tie Bars Gal. N36 Rebar Photograph by David (Horse) Barringhaus 

Cross Tie Bars N36 Rebar. Note Vertical N36 Bars. These are Up to 2m Long and Grouted Into Rock
Photograph by David (Horse) Barringhaus 

Rock Drilling For Conrete Plinth Rebar Photograph by David (Horse) Barringhaus 
Cross Tie Bars Being Back Filled Photograph by David (Horse) Barringhaus

Excavator Spreading Back Fill
Photograph by David (Horse) Barringhaus 

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