The "A" Factor - Taking a look at what it takes to be a plumber at an Antarctic Station

The "A" Factor

As an Antarctic plumber staying through the winter you really get a feel for the importance of having the right gear ordered for you by the past winter crews. However, even the most psychic of tradesmen can’t predict the “A” factor. That is, the Antarctica factor.

At this point of the season if you don’t have the part you need on station there isn’t a hardware store down the road you can call on. Re-supply is still many many months away, inter station flights have ended and the chance of an airdrop is as about as slim as it gets. Often the solution for a problem such as this requires some expert creativity, one of the defining factors of many tradesmen that are chosen to work in this part of the world.

Thankfully this year hasn’t seen too many “A” factor situations that haven’t been unsolvable. The use of our general trade extrodinaire Will's fitting skills, or work with the 3D printer on the odd occasion for small plastic parts, has been helpful and has seen the phrase “where there’s a Will, there’s a way” heard more than once. In Antarctic plumbing, our skills with copper often get a good workout. With all the new plastic piping systems, some of our tasks are something not so commonly seen outside of trade school in Australia these days. It is not unheard of to fabricate copper bends, make break tanks, or even, as we have experienced this year, making a 80mm copper line strainer.

Fingers crossed for no more “A” factors for the rest of the year.


Davis wintering plumber