Army Hill Reconstruction 2015-2017

Much of the preliminary works were filed under ‘Waratah Loop’, but as work ramped up, a separate post was required.

After many years work, the track was completed in mass concrete mid-2017 with supporting earthworks taking several more months.

The track was re-opened to ‘traffic’ at the museum Members day on 2nd of December 2017. Normal operations started a few weeks later after enough crews had been recertified for the hill.

This project is now complete and this page stays as a record of the work.


May 2015

After a break, some more activity to report – the old rails from ‘Army Hill’ have been dragged up to the loop itself and welding has started to make this long continuous lengths. At some point soon Army Hill will get regraded so that it’s a constant slope all the way down, at the moment the slope has a ‘hump’ in it, and then reconstruction of the actual track will commence. While a reopening is still a long way off, things are moving forward.

June 2015

Our earth moving contractor graded the hill, taking out the ‘hump’ to prepare the location for relaying of the track and then dug a trench for a conduit that will run up the ‘4ft’ that will eventually contain a negative feeder.

July 2015

After our earth mover David Canini graded Army Hill and dug a trench to lay conduits for us, work progressed on dragging the rails back down the hill in preparation for final positioning and concreting.

August 2015

Rails continued to be aligned and held into place with tie bars.

October 2015

23rd October

After much work in welding of rails then placing, jacking and aligning, on the 23rd of October a milestone in this project was reached: the first concrete went in, using 5m³ of purchased concrete.

28th October

Our concrete supplier dropped of a small amount of surplus. Whilst not much every bit helps us with this project.

31st October

Work is rapidly progressing in a push to quickly get one car length past the crossing available in order to make area easier to turn traffic trams around in. The pole at this location was always a compulsory stop on the way down the hill.

December 2015

4th December 2015

Work has been steadily proceeding over the last few weeks on Army Hill. Many small loads of surplus concrete have arrived and some times under quite hot conditions this as been accepted and placed, at times drafting in members who normally work at other locations and other projects to assist.

12th December

A good load of concrete arrived in the afternoon resulting in quite a length of track being locked in.

16th December

Another good load turned up this Wednesday. The concrete is now to the 2nd pole. Seems there has been a rush of construction in the local area this December. However January is pretty dead for construction and the local concrete plant often shuts for much of January so this sudden burst of construction on the hill will probably back off for a short while.


February 2016

6th February

After a summer break (the building industry takes a break over December/January, so the local concrete plant stands down), work has resumed. At the top of the hill, work has been slowly progressing on what will become the southern end of ‘Waratah loop’.

April 2016

9th April

A good load of concrete saw concreting on the hill and up at the Waratah Loop points.

This now gives about a ‘standard car length’ of completed Army Hill track.

16th April

Concrete went in on the previous Wednesday AND on the Saturday. Some was purchased and some was donated. Concrete also went in at the Waratah Loop points.

Current estimates are 6 months to complete up to Waratah Loop. Of course this does depend on a supply of labour and concrete and could be missed by a wide margin. The current surge in work has been assisted by generous donations that have allowed the purchasing of significant amounts of concrete and the labours of our CSO workers.

30th April

Most of the concrete we got this Saturday went up top at Waratah, but some was put on Army Hill as well.

July 2016

27th July

While nothing has been reported for a while, the concrete has been slowly advancing, on this day extra people were available and concrete was ordered to be used on the hill. A small amount was also placed at the Waratah Loop points. This got a few more metres added to the track.

October 2016

8th October

Nothing has been posted for a while, as work is concentrated on the Waratah Loop south points. In early October however, focus switched back to the main track on Army Hill.

The last shot shows the gap in the rails between the work proceeding up the hill and the start of Waratah Loop. This is to avoid the new track being warped by expansion and contraction of the unsecured rails in the sun and affecting the line and level of the new track. The gap in the rails will not be closed until just before the final segment of concrete is to go in.

15th October – A report from one of the workers on the day

Yesterday we placed 5 metres of paid concrete (many thanks to our supporters’ donations) on Army hill and just as we went to move on to other tasks a full truck (5 metres) of surplus concrete turned up from Concrite, followed by a further truck with 1.5 metres. A very very, busy time for our track workers and their CSOs helpers saw all 11.5 metres placed and finished on Army Hill. Thanks to all involved for their terrific efforts.

November 2016

5th November

A small delivery, but it does mean another few metres of track a locked in. And a small delivery is all we could handle with only a ‘skeleton’ crew available. Only about 20 metres left till the new Waratah Loop points are reached.

9th November

The Wednesday crew thought they had enough people to deal with a small amount of concrete. 5m and 4 trucks later, a very exhausted work crew, got another couple of metres of track locked into position.

Very soon the final welds that rejoin Waratah loop to the rest of the tracks will be made. These welds haven’t been done so far as to leave an expansion gap, ensuring that on hot days the track doesn’t get pushed out of line.

12th November

The closure rails have been finally installed connecting Army Hill to Waratah loop. This will allow the last 12 metres of track to be concreted.

19th November

6m³ of concrete was purchased. Fortunately, this day was a bit cooler than earlier in the week, however, it was still a struggle to finish off such a long pour. The concrete truck drivers demonstrate their skill with their heavy trucks by backing up the track from the Army Crossing. The gap is getting ever smaller. Photo photos looking down the hill were taken from the new Waratah loop points, which are out of sight under the feet of the photogapher.

23rd November

Small amount of concrete on this Wednesday allowed another 2m to be locked in. With the next ‘pull forward’ of the formwork, the Waratah Loop points will be reached. A lot of ‘minor’ earthworks will be needed to finish off the hill before it can be handed back to ‘traffic’.

December 2016

3rd December

Some backfilling. The spoil has come from trackbed excavation at the loop. Over the next month or so, much spoil will be moved to provide a sloped side to the new concrete track. The final gap has not yet been concreted. The highly variable weather of late has caused the two of the welds to crack after a particularly cold night. The rails will now only be rewelded the same day the final concrete is due to arrive to prevent another cold snap doing it again.

10th December

On this Saturday, another 6m³ on concrete was purchased to allow the gap to be filled in all in one pour. The truck was supposed to arrive at 10:30, but traffic in ‘The Shire’ was bad and the local concrete plant rang to say all their trucks were caught in traffic and running late. About an hour later than hoped the truck turned up and work started. Shortly 2 more trucks appeared with small amounts of surplus they wanted to get rid of. This was used on Waratah Loop (East). At one point we had 3 trucks on site at the same time.

In the afternoon, after the concrete had been finished, Ballast Motor 42s was run allmost up to the wet concrete with the large timbers for the new waiting shed seat. The closer 42s got to the top, the less distance the large seat had to be carried. 42s is no stranger to supplying contruction sites, both in museum service and back in it’s days of working on the Sydney Tramways.

With this, the major construction work on this long awaited project is complete. The job isn’t complete yet however. There are still two small sections of ‘4ft’ to be finished, a lot of earth works to fill in on each side of the slab track and a major tree pruning – over the years the line has been unavailable for traffic, the trees have been encroaching. These tasks will have to be completed before the track is ‘handed back to traffic’.

17th December

Works car 134s, configured as a track ‘scrubber’ is run over the new track to clean the layer of cement and rust of the rail head.

A camera was attached to the underframe of 134s to capture this task from near ground level.


January 2017

14th January

99u was used to assist with tree trimming duties, cutting back trees that had been encroaching on the track. Both hand and power tools were used and CSO workers helped remove the branches and take them up to Waratah Loop for mulching.

Minor earthworks are needed before the track can be opened to regular passenger use. The track, however, is open for training purposes. The track has not been in use for so long that all drivers need to be re-tested on their ‘route knowledge’ before taking a tram in passenger service down the hill.

11th February

The ‘gaps’ in the ‘4ft’ were filled. All track construction for Army Hill is now completed. Backfilling the sides is still needed and more concrete will be needed at the Army top gate near the Waratah loop points to allow road vehicles to cross the track to the gate, but the actual track is now complete.

April 2017

8th April

Spoil from Waratah loop is placed on the track cess to build up the soil beside the track to the level of the concrete slab. This task needs to be completed before the line can be opened to passenger traffic.
Another day or 2 of excavator work is required to complete this. There are stockpiles of spoil at various locations along the Sutherland line that will be used as source material.

May 2017

6th May

Another day of Army Hill earthworks. This time the spoil came from alongside the track down next to TAFE where ‘stockpiles’ of extra soil have been kept for some time. The Daihatsu tipper was used to take loads of soil up to Army.

Time ran out with the western side one ‘pole length’ short of being completed. Most of the eastern side of the track is yet to be filled.

9th May

Completing welding on the ‘midway’ track drain. It can now be finished off with concrete. This was done at night by the ‘Tuesday nighters’.

17th June

More fill moved from ‘TAFE Cutting’ to Army Hill. The western cess was completed, along with about 1/3 of the eastern side. Another day of earthmoving will be required to complete this work.

6 thoughts on “Army Hill Reconstruction 2015-2017”

  1. Great reporting of progress. Makes it easy to follow as more detail than in TW. Wish you could get coverage of other aspects.

  2. watching this project with interest, great effort wish I could be involved but I live too far away, more coverage would be great

    1. The coverage comes in spurts as the work really does progress in spurts as people and resources are available. It also requires those involved to actually report what they have been upto. There is always a lot going on around the museum, but much doesn’t get reported or remarked on. It just ‘happens’.

      I report what I can, but i’m not there all the time.

  3. While still a member, I an now domiciled far from Loftus. Accordingly, I find these illustrated reports of particular interest. Thank you to Matthew and the others who have contributed to recording these works so that others may share in the Museum’s progress.

  4. I only visited the museum once, more than 15 years ago, but these progress reports help me to remember my visit and visualise all the progress you are making.

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