Awanui engine house

Engine house under construction at Awanui wireless station, c1912

Engine house under construction at Awanui wireless station, c1912. Photo: A Northwood, Awanui Scrapbook, Te Ahu Museum

The 75hp Gardner petrol-kerosene engine that drove the 30kW alternator

The 75hp Gardner petrol-kerosene engine that drove the 30kW alternator. It was started using compressed air and ran on petrol until warmed up, then switched over to kerosene. Courtesy: Te Ahu Museum. Click to enlarge.

Power required for the 30kW spark gap transmitter was provided by a 75hp English Gardner petrol-kerosene engine driving a 30kW alternator via a belt.

30kW 500Hz alternator at Awanui Radio VLA

30kW 500Hz alternator at Awanui Radio VLA.

It is interesting that a British engine was used in a radio station built by the German company Telefunken as a “turn-key” operation. This may well have been a “political” decision.

Bill Walker, in a 1962 radio interview, speaks of going off to war in 1916 and having to teach a local boy how to run the engine until a man (B Winstanley) arrived from Auckland.

He also mentions that, due to the poor transport in the area, fuel for the engine was obtained in small cans – which must have been a real inconvenience.

Engine room at Awanui Radio showing the 75hp Gardner engine. This photo may have been taken some time after the station opened, as there is a large crack in the wall (visible at top right of photo).

Engine room at Awanui Radio showing the 75hp Gardner engine. This photo may have been taken some time after the station opened, as there is a large crack in the wall (visible at top right of photo). Click to enlarge.

Example of a Gardner petrol-kerosene engine from the 1920s: