Its the middle of July and we have had people all around the US looking for a used steel barge that we could use for the new project. We flew out to Seattle, Mississippi and parts of FL to personally see any barge that was a candidate. What we soon discovered is that there wasn’t anything close to our requirements and it was appearing like we would need to build it ourselves, but how? Building it out of fiberglass while challenging, certainly was something we knew how to do. However the mold that we would need to build a barge 90′x40′ would cost more to make that the barge itself. Besides the size of a mold like that would take months to build, months we didn’t have. So Dick approached Mike Schenk who’s been running our fiberglass dept for 15 years with an idea. ”How about we use the building as the mold?” ”When Dick asked me that I thought for certain he had finally lost his mind on this one” says Mike. While the suggestion at first seemed crazy after further investigation it was so simple it was brilliant. Mike remembers “the time and money it saved us by using the building as the mold, we’ll let me put it to you this way. Without that idea we could have never done it in the time frame we had and on budget.”
While the barge construction was certainly a large design problem to overcome, it certainly wasn’t the only one. There was still 100,000 pounds of steel that needed to be welded and placed upon the barge to support the structure. Then there was thousand of pounds of 1.5″ think glass (Hurricane resistant to 150mph) that would be applied to the steel frame. Systems to make the barge self sustainable, like two 55kw generators, a waste treatment center, spuds (anchoring system) and ballast tanks for leveling. In addition the barge would need to have features to educate and entertain people. So to that end we have 22 TVs, 14 computer workstations,1000 watt stereo system, 8 Apple TVs, 6 touchscreen computer kiosks, a 17′ waterfall with LCD behind it, a 10′ x 20′ water wall, 25 tons of AC, 5 refrigerators, 2 ovens, and washer/dryer.
All this had to be designed, built and installed with less than 60 days to go. While you obviously know that we made it, those last 60 days were filled with miracles and controlled chaos. Roger Emery, Plant Manager, said “What we did in those last 60 days was nothing short of a miracle. You wouldn’t believe some of the stories behind it.” (…to be continued)
- special thanks to Brandon Williams for producing the video at the beginning of this story