Headstocks installed on Sydney Gateway Project

Melrose Cranes & Rigging recently completed a dual lift to install the heaviest headstock on the Sydney Gateway Project. The lift involved meticulous planning, says Melrose Senior Project Manager Damien Ellison.

“We recently installed headstock number 12 on the Gateway project which is a John Holland Seymour Whyte Joint Venture. It’s the largest headstock we’ve had to lift to date, weighing in at 200,000kg including the rigging,” said Damien.

The headstocks each stand at more than six metres tall and will support an 800m long elevated road, giving motorists a toll-free connection to the airport. The lift involved two Grove all terrains, a GMK 6400 with 400t capacity and 135t of counterweight and a GMK 7450 with 450t capacity and 120t of counterweight.


“As with all previous lifts, the project was complicated due to the lack of space we had to set up the cranes, and the restricted night shift timeframe. Traffic to and from the airport is the priority and road closures are limited to ensure the minimum amount of disruption.


“Meticulous planning went into the lift and almost every minute had to be accounted for. Our logistics team had to ensure everything required for the lift was where it needed to be and at the right time,” said Damien.


“For example, for the Grove GMK 7450 we had seven trucks and trailers carrying the required counterweights and lifting equipment parked nearby and ready to go when we knew the road closures had happened,” he said.

“We had two lanes of the road available to us from 9:00pm and this enabled us to get our Franna AT40 to position the crane’s outrigger pads, and then we rolled both the cranes out onto the roadway and started building them at the same time.

“The full road closure didn’t start until 1am when we were able to lift the headstock into place. We then had approximately two and a half hours to pack up both cranes and remove them from the road before it reopened at 4am,” he said.

There were 14 trailers of counterweight and lifting equipment, two large capacity all terrains, an expectation that the lift would cause minimal disruption to the traffic travelling around the airport, and safety of the general public was paramount. This meant that meticulous logistical planning was required.

“Months of planning went into the lift. We worked through the lift study process to ensure everything was right, then we completed a final revision closer to the date of the lift. We also attended numerous client meetings where we worked together to analyse the planning programs and examine ways we could save time.

“The night before the lift, we came up with the idea of pre-delivering and offloading some of the counterweights near where the cranes were setting up in the side compounds. This saved us an hour of waiting for trucks to back in, unload the counterweights and drive out. As with the previous lifts, we planned every action minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour,” said Damien.


He went on to say that as a result of the detailed planning, the major lift went according to plan.

“As I mentioned, we had our GMK7450 and GMK 6400 all terrains onsite. Our Franna AT40 was busy as the assist crane laying out the pads and getting the large hooks ready for the cranes. That’s because we had the GMK 6400 reeved with 12 parts of wire rope and the GMK 7450 reeved with 14 parts of wire rope.

“Including the 20% dual lift factor, we had the cranes working at very high capacities. The headstock was fabricated on site, next to the piers and the compounds. It included an integrated handrail system attached to it and we used this for ease of access when connecting the rigging. Once the headstock was landed onto the piers, the system was used for working at heights safely.

“When we lifted the massive headstock, we had to bring it up above the piers. We had the cranes reversed onto each other, so by turning the headstock slightly, we ended up repositioning it in between the two cranes and landed it into position on the piers.

“The lift went exceptionally well, and the headstock was spot on in terms of weight. We packed the cranes up in a very quick and safe manner, and the road was opened well ahead of the scheduled time,” said Damien.


The Sydney Gateway team is very happy with Melrose Cranes & Rigging. It’s a major project and there are numerous crane businesses working on the various elements of the project.

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Phone 02 9624 1944
Fax 02 9624 1233

Postal Address

P.O. Box 299
Winston Hills
NSW 2153