By Dorothy Preece
Engineer Brian Parker was transported back in time last month, when he held in his hand a roofing tool that he had helped to design and patent. In 1965 Brian was the workshop foreman at Bolt and Sutherland (instrument makers) in Wellington. “A couple of builders from Christchurch approached us to help them to design a roofing square that would measure all the roofing angles and be easier to read. They had the basic idea but no way of making it,” Brian says.
The job turned out to be a sharp learning curve for all concerned. It took more than a year of research, including learning about photographic processes to etch stainless steel, and endless calculations. “We only had logarithmic tables to calculate angles in those days,” Brian recalls.
The Roofmaster Square design was patented in the United States and Europe as well as Australasia, and the firm made about 3,000 of them.
In recent years, Brian has regretted that he never kept a Roofmaster Square for himself, as he has often tried to describe it. Then, about a year ago, he saw one on Trade Me, but it was already sold.
“I decided to keep searching, and last month I found one. I’m really pleased to have it, with its ‘Made in New Zealand’ kiwi logo. It represents a lot of memories – and a lot of work all those years ago.”
Caption: Brian Parker with his Roofmaster Square