Antarctic Heritage Trust Heritage Carpenter John Taylor, talks about repairing the water tank ‘Turk’ huts at the site of Carsten Borchgrevink’s historic hut at Cape Adare
The main task for this year’s Cape Adare on-Ice team was the remedial repairs and protection of the damaged water tank huts, aka Turks, which have been on site for almost five years. The team consisted of Antarctic Heritage Trust staff Patrick Power, General Manager Operations and Programmes and John Taylor, Trust Heritage Carpenter. They were joined by Antarctica New Zealand’s Doug Henderson (Doug is also a Trust conservation alumni), and Professor Craig Cary from Waikato University.
The Turks were positioned at Cape Adare in February 2018, in anticipation of a five-year life cycle, to support the restoration project at Carsten Borchgrevink’s huts. They have not been used for that purpose, nor visited by Antarctica New Zealand or AHT staff since Feb 2020, due to Covid-19 and other logistical challenges.
In late 2021, an Italian field visit identified some structural damage to one of the Turks. Tourist operator Heritage Expeditions carried out an emergency repair during their visit in February 2022. Our task was to complete structural repairs to our engineer’s specification.
Doug Henderson and John Taylor bending ply at Scott Base. © AHT/Patrick Power
Doug Henderson fixing studs and ply to the turk at Cape Adare. © AHT/Patrick Power
Repairs to the turks at the Cape Adare field camp. © Antarctica New Zealand/Doug Henderson
The repair consisted of bolting studs and ply to the outside of the tank, on the windward side, where damage has occurred and where the wind pressure is greatest. Fixing straight ply (12mm) to a curved tank is a bit like putting a square peg in a round hole, so the team conducted trials at Scott Base to see how difficult this would be in the field. It was decided to pre-bend all the ply at Scott Base to the required radius, prior to departure to Cape Adare.
Fixing the curved sheets to the hut then became a reasonably simple process. Ply backing was also fixed to the inside of the Turks on the damaged sections.
At completion of the work, right on cue a storm struck with winds up to 55 knots. Gusts pelted small stones and scoria against the tanks. The reinforced sections felt stable and strong and the team is confident that the Turks will be in good shape for the upcoming restoration work at Borchgrevink’s huts over the next few seasons.