Jacking the Clean Air Facility

Raising the Clean Air Facility
Raising the Clean Air Facility

Everything at Pole tends to get buried eventually. There are only 2 ways to avoid this with buildings that aren't buried to begin with...tow them up out of their hole onto a new elevated snow pad as was done with the elevated dorm/IceCube laboratory a few years ago...or jack them up in place. This structure, amazingly, was stick-built in one summer season (my first, in 1976-77)...I didn't believe that this project could be completed in one summer, and I was amazingly impressed that H&N construction superintendent Pat Haggerty was able to pull it off. Before we went to the ice that season, engineer Frank Brier, who'd been involved in its original design, showed up briefly in the Anaheim office to look over the design and offer construction advice. I asked him how it was supposed to be jacked up...his response was that it had been designed to be jacked up, but that the actual jacking methods hadn't been part of the design. Little did I know that I'd again become part of the program when that operation became necessary.

Actually, as I had only been hired by ITT/ANS in September 1986, I had been totally uninvolved with the planning for this operation...that had been tasked to my ITT coworker engineer, the late Brian Smith. The previous season, a simpler cheaper operation with mechanical jacks had been attempted, but it wasn't successful. This time he did well. A scheme using manifolded hydraulic jacks was used...a vendor representative put the package together and came down to Pole to conduct the jacking operation.

Some of the structure including the column extensions had been added the previous season...other parts of it including some of the jacking beams and the red brackets (and threaded rod which supported the structure when the jacks were adjusted) were part of this project. All of this was in place when I showed up on 24 December 1985, and the jacking operation was soon underway and completed. Then the stairway had to be reconstructed...

getting ready to replace the stair

Although access to the building was a bit difficult while this was going on, NOAA operations continued uninterrupted.
carpenters working on the stairway

Here are some of the carpenters working on laying out and building the stairway.

The original design (maintained here) was that the back door was an emergency exit with a ladder (which obviously wouldn't meet current safety standards).

the completed CAF stairway
Here is the completed stairway.

This stairway would be replaced a year later with an aluminum stairway; the project included a stairway to the roof and a platform that wrapped around the building to the rear exit.

The other thing which is obvious from these photos..the white streaking and bits of ice on the exterior walls--signs of moisture. The structure was constructed using state-of-the-art mid-1970's technology...basically plywood walls with perhaps 12" of fiberglass insulation and a vapor barrier. But with all of the conduit and instrumentation penetrations in the floor, walls, and roof, eventually there was lots of ice frozen into the fiberglass...as I found out a couple of years later when I accompanied CRREL engineer Wayne Tobiasson; we took core samples through the roof and found lots of ice.