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Project to Recreate two ZC1 Radio Truck Bodies

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To Replica Body

Today no one is sure how many ZC1 Radio Trucks were made although records at the Army Museum suggest as many as fifty could have been.  In 1995 when this project was started only four bodies were known to still exist.  One complete body mounted on a C8AX in the Hamilton area.  (Note: Although this body has been repaired and slightly modified it is probably the most original unit still remaining.)  Another body is believed to exist in the Christchurch area (condition unknown), and two bodies sitting in a farmer's field near Featherston.   The Radio Trucks were rare even when new and they do not seem to appear in period photographs or publications.


Hence when Military vehicle collector Ross Jowitt saw the rotting and collapsing radio bodies near Featherston he felt compelled to recover one and see what could be saved.  Little did he know what he was letting himself in for. 


Remnants of Radio Body      -    November 1995


Unfortunately by the time permission was obtained to recover the first body from the farm, it was badly deteriorated and collapsed when an attempt to move it was made.  Ross decided to recover the remnants anyway and carefully raked over the ground after the body was moved to ensure no metallic parts were lost.

With the body remnants back in at his workshop Ross carefully reassembled the rotted bits of body on backing sheets to enable measurements to be taken of the bodies dimensions.  It was a long and painstaking job.  All metal components were removed from the remains and refurbished where possible.  Period replacements were sought for those components beyond repair and in a number of instances new parts had to be fabricated using remnants as the patterns.


Some months later, in the hope that the second body in the Featherston area would provide more information to help fill in the jigsaw of parts, it was also recovered and taken to Auckland.


2nd ZC1 Radio Body before recovery


View showing extent of decay of Malthoid roof covering




The second body proved to be in little better condition than the first and was only semi complete having already lost most of it's fittings.  In the end it's prime usefulness was to check the measurements taken from the first body.  This body had been acquired from GT Gillies Ltd when that companies war surplus truck sales business was being wound up.  The body had been in use as a storage shed for many years and had been stripped of anything useful or saleable and was in generally poor condition. 


View of a part of GT Gillies Ltd yard showing what might be a ZC1 radio body being used as a shed.  If so, it's possible that this is the same body recovered from the yard referred to above.  c.1979/80  (NB this photo taken by an employee a few years before the closure of the yard)

The new owners main interest was in GMC trucks at the time and the body was stored in the open where it continued to deteriorate while it was decided what to do with it.  A feature of this body was that it had been clad in wide 6" (150mm) T&G planking unlike the first body recovered in which narrow 3" (75mm) T&G had been used.  It had also been over-skinned with Aluminum sheeting on it's sides at some point.

Recovered parts assembled on backing board enabling measurements to be taken

With both bodies relocated to his workshop Ross commenced the painstaking process of reassembling the remnants of the bodies to allow accurate measurements to be taken.

From remnants such as this slowly but surely measurements were taken and construction plans drawn up


As a final check Ross assembled a temporary body floor on his C8A truck to ensure everything would fit.  The measurements were turned into draft plans, checked again, then redrawn by a professional draftsman.


C8A Truck fitted with temporary body floor and remnant body parts


Part 2


top                                                                                         May 2009