The composite handrails, platforms and ladders were manufactured in September and delivered to Washington state via trucks by November. From Seattle the product departed on a 300-foot coastal boat to Saint Paul Island in December where WPC employees installed Strongwell pultruded composites in blizzard-like conditions in a four month timeframe. If the building materials missed the last western Alaskan boat to Saint Paul for the year, the team would have to hire a charter vessel, which costs upwards of $30,000.
“During transportation some of the fiberglass parts were crushed in the shipping trucks. Fortunately, we were able to contact Montgomery at Strongwell and ordered extra spare parts. There aren’t any hardware stores on the island, just the tools we brought,” says Sousie. “I was really impressed with the level of responsiveness from Strongwell and the durability of the product. I know NOAA was extremely pleased with the outcome as well. If the right opportunity came up, I would definitely work with the material again.”
The Alaskan Observatory Project was recently named the Best Federal Heavy Renovation Project of 2010 at the Aon Build America Awards in Las Vegas. The composite observatory provided NOAA and WPC with material more durable than wood, corrosion resistant and easy to install in the field. Montgomery predicts that the observatory will last much longer than the previous wood installation, based on his experience with current Strongwell products in the field, and looks forward to completing more projects with unique composite applications in the coming year.