Here's how Gastite flexible gas piping was used to ignite a bronze, flame-spewing statue at the entrance to Doak Campbell Stadium on the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL.

Over the past decade, professional installers have successfully maneuvered thousands of feet of Gastite flexible gas piping through some pretty tight spots on a wide variety of residential and commercial projects. But few, if any, of these applications could match the unique engineering challenge that recently confronted mechanical contractor Ralph Scott in the form of a bronze, flame-spewing statue at the entrance to Doak Campbell Stadium on the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL.

The newly erected "Unconquered" depicts a Seminole warrior wearing full battle regalia, rearing back upon his horse and holding aloft a flaming spear that exhorts fans to join the football battle inside the stadium. Before every home football game, an FSU student depicting Seminole warrior "Osceola" revs up the home crowd by galloping an actual horse onto the gridiron and defiantly tossing a flaming spear into the center of the field. The 19-foot-high statue is meant, in part, to echo that emotionally charged ceremony-complete with actual flames enveloping one end of the Chief's 12-1/2-foot, bronze-plated spear.

Scott's task was to supply the fuel needed to create the fire element, which extends 31 feet into the air, thanks to the statue's 12-foot, stucco pedestal. The chosen fuel was natural gas, and the means of delivering it was Gastite corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST).

Bends & Curves

Scott's Tallahassee-based contracting firm, Scott-Burnett Inc., threaded approximately 80 feet of 3/8" CSST through an equivalent amount of aluminum conduit placed inside the statue by the foundry that forged its stainless steel armature and the 150 pieces of molded bronze covering it. The fire element and its gas line were part of the design from the beginning, but that didn't make their incorporation into the statue's interior any easier.

To maintain proper, lifelike proportions between the rider, his mount and spear without creating engineering problems, the spaces inside the armature had to be extremely tight. These cramped conditions subjected the gas chase to "innumerable bends and curves at constricted radiuses," according to Scott.

Particularly tricky were the horse's slender back hooves, the only parts of the statue actually in touch with its pedestal and the point of entry for the Gastite. Equally difficult was the juncture of the Chief's wrist and the spear, requiring the flexible piping to take a hard 45° turn to enter the shaft itself.

No Contest

All these twists and turns made flexible gas piping the only practical choice for building the gas chase, says Scott, who regards the project as "the most unusual gas-piping project our company has ever done." Scott-Burnett specializes in commercial plumbing installations, including the recently completed $100 million expansion of the FSU University Center.

"We didn't want to take any chance of a leaky joint in the cavity of the statue causing catastrophic damage," explains Scott, who credits Gastite sales rep Scott Heacox of the Spirit Group Inc. (Orlando) with bringing CSST to his attention. "Gastite was the only material that could allow us to maintain the artistic and structural integrity of the statue, as well as the safety and serviceability of the gas-delivery system."

Steve Reilly, chairman of the statue committee, whose mission was to usher in a dramatic new tradition on football weekends at FSU, declares himself thrilled with the physical realization of the committee's vision. "No one deserves more credit bringing this idea to life than Ralph Scott, with all the painstaking work he did over 18 months resolving one-of-a-kind technical problems again and again.

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