Construction backs charity polar expedition

1 November 2012

A range of specialist construction materials has been specified by an expedition team led by Sir Ranulph Fiennes that will attempt to cross Antarctica, a journey expected to take up to nine months. 

“The Coldest Journey” expedition, which begins in January, will gather scientific data on marine life, oceanography, meteorology and the effect of climate change upon the poles, and aims to raise £6m for Seeing is Believing, a charity that works to tackle avoidable blindness.

The journey requires a range of specialist equipment designed to withstand the rough terrain and icy temperatures. 

Merchant Travis Perkins donated £10,000 of building materials to construct two “cabooses”, converted trailers which are able to withstand temperatures as low as -90oC and which will transport the six-man team, along with their equipment and fuel, for the entire 2,000-mile journey.

The main living caboose comprises two 28ft insulated containers locked together to provide four heated rooms. The second, single-container caboose, will house a science and mechanical workshop and a plant room and will act as a back-up living unit. The steel shells of these units were each thermally insulated using BASF’s Walltite closed cell polyurethane spray foam.

Caterpillar tractors will pull the cabooses

The cabooses will be pulled by two Caterpillar D6N track-type tractors, supplied by Finning UK and Ireland, each of which is equipped with a variable-pitch blade for moving snow, filling small crevasses and breaking down irregular ridges on the snow’s surface.

Finning modified the machines’ core heating system and insulation and installed special materials to cope in the extreme cold and prevent an irreparable breakdown.

Meanwhile, Benchmarx Kitchen & Joinery supplied a custom-built kitchen and other storage accessories within one of the cabooses, designed to maximise the limited space.

Construction firms HSS Hire, Hoist UK and Plumbase are also sponsors of the endeavour, which is due to reach its destination in September 2013.

Find out more about the expedition at

The six-man team is embarking on a 2000-mile journey across the continent

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