Dad worked in the factory not only
in the radio area but also carried out essential and urgent work in the
factory where his other skills were utilised. He and one of the
mechanical engineers installed several hydraulically operated bakelite
presses for ZC1 component production.
The ZC1 units were New
Zealand designed to use as much as possible domestic radio and New
Zealand made components.
During the 1944
production of the ZC1 sets a shortage of sheet mica sourced from India
occurred. It was a vital component in certain capacitors (condensers)
manufactured in New Zealand only by RCNZ who also supplied other companies
making the ZC1 radio. A survey for strategic war material had earlier been
carried out by New Zealand geologists and it was known that mica existed in
outcrops on the high coastal foothills in South Westland. The Ministry of
Supply and the Geological Survey Department became involved and Geologist
Harold Wellman found a source that was considered worth mining. Operations
began during 1944 with dad as the on-site manager. He had to engage
quarrymen, track cutters, a cook and arrange for machinery, accommodation,
and transport which was by pack horse from the end of the then road at
Paringa. A base camp was set up for quarry operations at a site above the
bush-line and near the winter snowline at 3000ft ASL. This extreme
environment led to only 50 pounds of trimmed mica being sent to the factory
after several months operation.