Four new maintenance cranes have now been installed on the landmark structure Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of an A$4.2m ($3m) refurbishment program begun in February 1997 (History in the making p47, Apr97).

The new electric hydraulic powered cranes, designed and built by Melbourne-based EW Cox, a subsidiary of Wah Tung International Holdings of Hong Kong since 1995.

They can travel at 25m/min along the top chord of the bridge’s two arches and can each accommodate 10 workers and 1t of material, compared with two people and very limited material storage capacity on the original cranes which had been in use since 1930.

Said site engineer Darryl Verity: “The new cranes run up the arch using a bus-bar system to supply power for the traction and crane motors. There is a total of 8km of bus-bar which is said to be the longest installation in Australia. It required 500 welded supports and 2km of C-section covers.” At least one of the old cranes, which are now obsolete and have reached the end of their working lives, will be restored and put on public display.

The original programme for the new cranes to be installed in June 1997 suffered several delays, with causes ranging from technical to weather, but all were fitted by November.