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Published in Ralph Bolt's Blog
17 January 2014

The Train Station Ice came from last year!

1-17-14 Plus 25 Fahrenheit
In our seven winters here, I don't recall a January thaw such as this. I think it must be a tropical vortex. The Chinese crew is putting the finishing touches on the Train station. Note the "pickle fork" being used to remove ice. The tines are extremely sharp and flake away the ice without gouging too deeply. I'll describe some of the tools the sculptors use as we get into the competition in a few weeks.  The source of the ice the Chinese Artists are now using for the Train Station came from last year!. Connie Adkins, Operations Chair and her crew stored ice near the pond last spring and virtually all of it survived the unusually warm summer Fairbanks had last year. The operations crew covers the ice with plastic sheeting and sawdust to insulate it. Each year we depend on stored ice to do early construction work in the next season.

Harvesting Ice Tomorrow

The pond, an old gravel pit, is the source of our sculpting and construction ice. It's nearly 80 feet deep and is crystal clear.  But we'll need much more ice for the Kid's Park and sculpting events so it's essential that we harvest new ice. We need several million pounds of it each year.


Today, Operations crew members, Connie, Howard, and Craig, laid out the grid pattern for the harvest Connie hopes to do this weekend. They stretch a long rope from one end of the area to the other and then run a can of orange spray paint along the rope. When they lift the rope, it leaves a paint-free line between two orange stripes and gives a perfect guide for the saws which will cut the big blocks. By successively moving the rope and spraying the line and then doing a cross-hatch, she ends up with a grid of 250 4'x6' rectangles.


The crew then mounts a chainsaw vertically on a small upright sled, and scribes a shallow cut in the ice. Even if it snows overnight or if water should overflow the area, the scored line will remain visible for the sawyer. During the harvest, they'll mount a large 4-foot long chainsaw on a bigger sled and cut along Connie's scribe mark. The ice is nearly 30 inches thick. The first ice is often poor quality for sculpting because it has melted and refrozen snow and overflow on it so has a thick cloudy layer on top, It's still OK for construction ice so will be used. But the open water from the harvest area will refreeze in a short time and make perfectly clear ice. I hope to get out there tomorrow and get some pics of the process. More later. Ralph Bolt

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