I had been working on this story earlier and filed it for posting later so here goes now.
At one point in my Prudhoe Bay life in Alaska and durring my 2 years away from aviation and Wien and while managing a hotel and setting up my tour program at Prudhoe Bay, I had little to do in the winter since no tours.
The company I worked for out of Anchorage owned a large ATCO quick build storage (foldaway) building but it was not insulated. We had a chance to lease it to a company but they required it have insulation and sufficient furnace capability to keep it warm in the winter.
Keep in mind, in the winter on the North Slope of Alaska near the Arctic Ocean, the temperature is 20 to 30 degrees below zero most of the time and often lots of wind which produces unbelievable wind chill factors. The coldest I ever worked outside was offloading an L-188 Electra cargo flight with a chill factor of 136 below zero F.
It was decided by the owner, my immediate boss, that we would bring in a crew that would spray Styrofoam at least 4 inches (ending up closer to 6 inches) thick on the inside on all walls and roof. As I recall, the building was something like 180 foot long and maybe 60 feet wide with a crown of maybe 25 foot more or less but probably more. At that time, the entire inside walls were covered with frost and ice which of course had to come off and be completely dry before the foam could be applied. How to do this at 20 below zero with a 20 mph wind?
We talked it over and came up with the idea of using construction grade visqueen which has nylon mesh built into the material which was designed to take the cold temperatures of the Arctic and we would spread that over the outside of the building across the top and place good old Herman Nelson Heaters (modern Alaska could not have been built without those machines) on the outside blowing hot air under the visqueen covering to keep the outside of the building warm. I forget just how many BTUs were used on the outside but suspect more than 6 million BTUs. We had to run nylon ropes across the top of the visqueen to keep it from ballooning or blowing off in the wind. That was probably the hardest thing to set up since it was all done with a 15 to 20 mph wind. At one point, someone had to crawl up on the crown and move the ropes around to place them in the right locations. I decided to do that myself without thinking about what it might be like. After all, the hotel could get along without me but not my maintenance crew. Once I got up to the crown and on top of the visqueen, the wind came up and started ballooning the covering and I was kind of like flying around laying on top of a parachute while descending. Thank God for a couple of really great guys on the ground that grabbed some ropes real fast. When the gusts would die down, we would get some work done since I didn't have a safety rope. Finally, we got it all completed and since I am still here, we know the two guys on the ground did everything just right. Well, some say I may still have a problem with my mind though...crazy.
Once that was done, next came the inside. Here we set up 8 million BTUs of Herman Nelson (or equal) heat. The exhausts of all of these heaters were vented direct into the inside the building just as the generator was. A little smoky? You bet.
We rented a big portable generator so we had sufficient power to operate everything and that exhaust was vented inside also.
As I recall, the metal that the foam was to be applied to had to be 72 degrees or above so there was a constant check to see if it could be done. Once we got it warm enough, the two foam workers started setting up their equipment. I got our Cat 920 loader with an 8 foot boxboard pallet set up for them. I covered the cab of the forklift with normal visqueen and draped the sides down hoping to keep the spray out of the interior. Stupid me, I did all of the entire operation without a mask on and talk about coughing. Before anyone else reminds me again of how stupid that was, I admit it first so save your time. The smoke from the diesel engine of the forklift added to everything else from the heaters and generator. And people say cigarette smoking is dangerous.
First we started at the top where it was the warmest. I was always in the cab of the forklift while the two guys were in the boxboard topside properly protected with filters of course that their company supplied. We had set up a series of hand motions for me to know what they needed since all the heaters, generator and the loader made so much noise. They did an hour or two of work and than we took a meal break. Steak and lobster, baked potato and all the rest of the goodies. Would you believe I only had a hot dog and salad to save the boss money? Well, how about two hot dogs and two salads? Oh what the heck, I had the same thing. For outside workers staying at our hotel, we planned meals that contained around 6,000 calories per day per person in the winter and they burned all of those calories off at work but we did cut back in the summer.
When we got back to work, they checked to make sure the foam was sticking. Once they figured it was OK to go on, it was 16 hour days for all of us but we left the heaters running 24 hours per day. I had one of my maintenance guys make sure everything was fueled and an occasional check.
The more work that was done on the ceiling, the warmer it became as we started down the sides. Pretty soon, we started shutting down some of the heaters which helped with the smoke. When we finished the entire building, there was only one heater out of six burning to keep it warm. The work crew went back across all the areas to make sure there were no areas where the foam might drop off (shades of the fuel tank on the Shuttle). Some small areas were replaced. Once they were satisfied, we went back and sprayed a fire resistant covering.
Once it was decided the foam insulation would work, we added a side addition to the building for a huge furnace setup. To my knowledge, that building is still being used and all of this was done some 30 years ago.
An added note: When I went back to Wien and ended up as District Sales Manager in Seattle, I often spent a lot of time on weekends with my old boss who was also a good friend. He had a beautiful 54 foot boat with twin Cat engines on Lake Union and we would take it out and cruise that lake and Lake Washington just for kicks and to charge up the batteries and oil up all the machinery, especially the refrigerator where the cool ones were kept. He liked to pull up to a dock of some elite lakeside establishment to show off and who wouldn't with a boat like his. I remember one time, he pulled up and made motions of backing in to a private dock and suddenly three employees of the place came out to help tie up. I have to admit, he used those two chrome controls levers for the engines to the max just like a pilot would do for differential power. He had learned how to put that 54 foot anywhere he wanted to dock it. He was not a pilot but had access to a Lear in Anchorage as he saw fit. His boat was rather impressive also needless to say. We were both in jeans and T shirts of course since we had been cleaning the hull of the boat that Saturday. We were finally allowed in after they looked out and saw his boat. They did seat us at an out of the way table though. Time to eat. Menu? Nah, just bring us a couple of cheeseburgers and fries he told the waiter. I could just see the "no tip" look on the server's (dressed in a tux) face.
When we left, there were no employees to help cast off so it was up to me. Oh how he laughed about that on the way back to his covered dock on the southwest end of Lake Union. I suspect everyone in Anchorage knows who this person was or at least the family name but please don't post it. PM if you want confirmation. He had a home very near where Bill Gates has his "small" place now.
He had married a Western Airlines Flight Attendant after he left Alaska and boy did she get upset with me every weekend. She always accused me of steeling her husband when she had made plans for them. Seems my friend still liked to party and being an airline sales manager in Seattle I am sure his wife knew that I was aware of all the hot spots.
The odd part is that I had flown many trips from Anchorage to Honolulu on Western Airline flights when his future wife was working the flights so she had seen me "in action" so to speak.
Often I have said some days it just doesn't pay to get up in the morning and than if you are lucky to have lived a life like I have, you cannot afford to stay in bed sleeping for fear of missing something. Life is so short so live it to it's fullest, after all, this life is not a dress rehearsal.