Trucks and Mobile Cranes.

From Engineering Heritage New South Wales

   The construction of the city railway and the Sydney Harbour Bridge extended over a wide area and a long time, so the fleet of mobile machinery employed was large and ever changing. Nevertheless, two specific types of machines can be identified at least at one point in time.    The first are a fleet of 14 rail-mounted electric cranes which moved all over the city as required. Their reach was small, and they were used for loading vehicles, lifting material from shafts and other low, close hoisting needs. While they were mobile in that they ran on rails, from site to site they were moved by inserting solid rubber-tyred wheels under their chassis and towing them with motor lorries.

The stiff-leg derrick crane which erected the three level steel frame for Wynyard station. 14 June 1929. SARA NRS 17420.
The stiff-leg derrick crane which erected the three level steel frame for Wynyard station. It travels a limited distance on rails mounted on the structure already built. 22 April 1930. SARA NRS 17420.<

   Lifts requiring longer reach usually employed stiff-leg derrick cranes, some of which were mobile on rails. The construction of the harbour bridge, both approach spans and the arch, was a special case and will be looked at specifically in a later article. The amazing fact is however that all the extensive works at the city stations were completed without the use of a long reach crane (or cranes) which commanded the whole site.

A mobile crane set up to move spoil from tunnel excavations north of St James. Buckets of spoil are wheeled within reach by horse, lifted and dumped into the timber bin and then loaded into trucks. 13 September 1923. SARA NRS 17420.<
A mobile crane above the tunnels at St James. It holds a skip of broken rock from its hook. The gap in the concrete arches in the middle distance is the space for the steel frame of the station concourse. 23 March 1925. SARA NRS 17420.<

One of the fleet of mobile electric cranes working on the Elizabeth Street retaining wall. 30 August 1922. SARA NRS 16669.<
Mobile cranes building the retaining walls in Elizabeth and Castelreagh streets. 23 July 1923. SARA NRS 16669.<
Town Hall station was built through shafts in the footpath in front of the cathedral and town hall. Buckets of spoil were man-haued underground then lifted to the surface using the mobile electric cranes. 1 November 1926. SARA NRS 16669.<
A mobile electric crane being used for the erection of the station canopy at Central. 22 September 1927. SARA NRS 16669.<

Much of the tunnelling between Goulburn Street portal and Town Hall was under buildings. One block in George Street was cleared and access gained to the four parallel tunnels. Electric cranes build that section of the tunnels and service the work extending in both directions from this adit. 31 May 1928. SARA NRS 16669.<
The George Street access site to the tunnels towards Town Hall with electric cranes working. 13 December 1929. SARA NRS 16669.<
Town Hall station was built in progressibe strips across George Street. Electric cranes are on he western footpath servcing the shafts and in the currently occupied strip in the middleofthe road. 20 January 1930. SARA NRS 16669.<
The cranes were moved all over the city by road, apparently with a motor lorry fore and aft. 18 March 1932. SARA NRS 16669.<

The rail wheels were lifted clear of the road on solid-rubber-tyred axles. Since this is a 1932 photo the tyres are very ragged from much use over the decade. 18 March 1932. SARA NRS 16669.<
These three photos of moving a crane were taken the day before the Bridge opened. 18 March 1932. SARA NRS 16669.<

   Removal of spoil and delivery of materials was undertaken by a fleet of what would in later times be considered small trucks, then known as motor lorries. At least for the earlier phases of the work large fleets of horse drawn tip drays were used to move spoil. Bradfield, in his 1923 thesis, gives a list of the motor lorry fleet. It should be realised that other lorries were employed by contract, notably to serve the Bucyrus dragline at St James.

A fair propoertion of the Metropolitan Railway Constructionroad fleet backfilling in Hyde Park. 11 November 1925. SARA NRS 17420.<
MRC Lorry No.26. The scene is the works depot near Museum in Hyde Park which is finally being dismantled after 16 years use. 23 May 1932. SARA NRS 16669.<

An extract from Bradfield's thesis.

   Bradfield, in his 1923 thesis, gives a list of the motor lorry fleet. It should be realised that other lorries were employed by contract, notably to serve the Bucyrus dragline at St James.

   Bradfield shows:

  12	4-ton	“Thornycroft” Lorries
  1    5-ton	“Thornycroft” Lorry
  3	4-ton 	“Sentinel” Steam Lorries
  1	5-ton 	“A.E.C.” Lorry

All these lorries are equipped with end-dumping steel bodies. In addition, a one-ton “Ford” truck was used for light run-about work. To maintain the fleet a garage was well equipped with tools for light repair work, including a double emery wheel, and a sensitive drill, all motor driven through line shafting.

Loading a lorry at Museum. A skip is hoisted onto a stage, the side-gate dropped and the contents tipped into the truck below. 4 January 1924. SARA NRS 16669.
The lorries all had tipping bodies operated hydraulically with a pulley system to increase the travel of the piston. 1923. SARA NRS 16669.<


This scene is at the top of the huge stockpile of material in Hyde Park, adjacent to Museum, about the present site of the Anzac Memorial. 1923. SARA NRS 16669.
Without any sort of tracked machine to spread the material some skill seesm to have been needed on the part of the lorry drivers to maintain a level path for future loads. 1923. SARA NRS 16669.<
Several trucks and a steam navvy working at the North Sydney station site. 7 March 1024. SARA NRS 12685.
Trucks at North Sydney station site. 1 April 1924. SARA NRS 12685.<
The steam navvy loading a steam truck at North Sydney. 22 April 1924. SARA NRS 12685.<
TLoading a lorry outside the portal of North Sydney tunnel. The man second from left is unidentified, but the other three are Keith Fraser, John Bradfield and Bill Farrow.<
Lorries at North Sydney. 3 March 1925. SARA NRS 12685.<
Spoil from North Sydney was taken to a tip in Lincoln Street Lavender Bay. 3 March 1925. SARA NRS 12685.<


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