Repair method a 'world first'

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 08:09 30/01/2013
Daryl Grout
Kat Pickford
Highly skilled: Cuddon’s engineer Daryl Grout, of Blenheim, takes a break from welding the 37th and final ‘live link’ into place in the elevator shaft on the ground floor of the Pacific Tower building in Christchurch yesterday.

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Blenheim firm Cuddon Engineering is being told it has achieved a world-first in Christchurch.

The methods it used to help repair a 22-storey earthquake-damaged building are unprecedented, according to project manager Mark Tonks.

A mini-documentary featuring the new technique is planned and will be shared with engineering firms around the world.

It involved the careful replacement of "live-links" at the joins of the building's structural steel beams.

Mr Tonks said the technique could be adopted for future new builds, as an easier fix in event of earthquakes.

"This is the first time in the world this method has been used," he said. "It's a huge thing for Christchurch to be involved with something like this."

The February 22, 2011, earthquake stressed the links in the Pacific Tower building, weakening them and breaking four. Their replacements were manufactured in Cuddon's McArtney St workshop, and freighted to Christchurch where Cuddon engineer Daryl Grout has been installing them.

It has meant cutting away the concrete flooring around the beams, removing the phone and power cables and water pipes, and cutting out the stressed links.

Mr Grout, who has been the sole resident of the building for the past three months, then welded and bolted the replacements in place.

Cuddon chief executive Andy Rowe met the owner of the building, Ernest Duval, at the forum for Marlborough businesses to investigate opportunities in Christchurch, which was held in Blenheim in August.

Their discussion led to the contract to supply 37 pre-fabricated steel "live links" to bring the building up to 100 per cent in terms of the new building code.

Mr Duval hopes it will be ready to hand over to his tenants, the Rendezvous Hotel, by February 22.

It will be the first major hotel to reopen after the earthquake, and is the tallest building in the city.

Cuddon's had won the contract by being "very very competitive" and he was pleased with their work, he said.

"The rebuild is going to take a collective effort from firms all round the South Island to get the job done," he said.

"We don't have the capacity to do the rebuild ourselves, and it feels good to keep the money in the South Island."

Cuddon Engineering was one of about 17 Marlborough businesses who attended a two-day forum in Christchurch this week.

The forum, led by the Marlborough District Council and the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, aimed to get an update on the rebuild progress and identify opportunities for Marlborough businesses to assist.

After a tour of the CBD red zone yesterday, the group viewed the extent of the damage to the city from the penthouse suites on the 22nd floor of the Pacific Tower building.

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- The Marlborough Express

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