Inspired by Jim Smith-Wright’s creations on his New Street layout, I decided to try my hand at scratch building my own overhead line mast. The first baseboard on Romford contains three such masts; one four-track span and two double-track spans located on the main overbridges. I decided to start with the more complex four track span. Fortunately, the Mark 1 Great Eastern masts are a lot simpler construction than the WCML versions on New Street.
I started off by reviewing archive photographs found on the internet; notably Flickr. This research was hugely important, as it was apparent that the mast in question had undergone a number of structural changes over the years and I wanted to recreate its condition in the mid-1970s. Using the archive photographs and drawings found on RMweb, I drew up a scale template using Microsoft Visio software. The template drawing was printed off and stuck on to piece of ply wood.
The main cross beam and columns were constructed from 2.5mm brass ‘H’ section purchased from Eileen’s Emporium. The columns and beams were cut to length, fixed to the template using pins and soldered together. The columns were soldered to brass bolts which would eventually protrude through the baseboard. 4No. ‘Y’ hangers are suspended from the main beam. These were constructed from 1mm brass angle configured back to back to reflect the prototype. To these, I soldered 0.5mm diameter brass rod to reflect the conductor arm. Weismann insulators were cut in length to reflect the 6.25kV variety, threaded on to the rod and glued into position. Each ‘Y’ hanger unit was then soldered to the main cross beam. The brackets which will eventually support the catenary wire and the return conductors were fashioned into a square loops using 0.5mm wire. 2No. insulators were threaded onto each loop which was then soldered to the main cross beam. Secondary brackets which in practise support the ‘Y’ hangers and catenary brackets were also constructed from 0.5mm wire which was threaded around the main cross beam and soldered/glued into position. In hindsight, any brackets which were to be supported from the main cross beam should have been fixed prior to fitting the columns to aid assembly.
Final details such as the triangular fillet between the beam and columns (0.5mm brass sheet) and the main cross beam splice plates (0.5mm Plasticard) were glued into position. The splice plates were detailed using Archer rivet transfers. The concrete mast bases were reproduced with 1mm Plasticard. Milliput filler was used to mask the Plasticard joints and to form a benching between the base and the column.
The entire model was sprayed with Halfords grey primer, followed by a light dusting with Halfords matt black. Finally a mix of rust and dark grey enamel was dry brushed around the structure. The final detail was the reference plates. These were constructed from 0.5mm Plasticard, painted BR(E) blue and affixed with Fox number transfers.