National Grid’s new electric pylon prototype – the T pylon – is taking shape at Mabey Bridge’s factory in south Wales.
The steel structures for the T pylon test line are being manufactured at the company’s Chepstow plant.
Mabey is fabricating all six of the new T pylon designs, which will be erected in the spring at National Grid’s Eakring training academy in Nottinghamshire.
All the T pylons start as raw steel sheets, shot-blasted to remove any rust or imperfections. Each piece of plate is specifically identified, marked with key information about its size and weight and then cut to specified sizes.
The plates are then rolled using specialised equipment which creates circular cans. The can sections are then welded and joined together. Once welded, Mabey carries out a full ultra-violet check for any imperfections.
As well as the main monopoles of the T pylon, other fittings are made to hold the arms. Mabey then bolts together the components and carries out a trial erection on the factory floor to ensure that the structures all fit together.
Three coats of paint are sprayed manually onto the pylons – a metal spray paint, a primer coat and a final grey-coloured top coat. There is then a final inspection, before the pylons are taken by road to the location of the test line.
David Raynor, Mabey’s project director, said: “The whole process takes roughly a week from start to finish and we’ve been able to work on several pylons at the same time.
“I’ve grown up looking at steel lattice pylons and have seen what a change wind turbines have made to the landscape. The old pylons have served us well but at some point new technology and new designs come long.”