Fiberglass RV

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MyronL 12-03-2005 09:34 PM

Not a lot of people know this, but the first fiberglass trailer was actually modeled after the cucumber. It’s true. See, in those days cukes were not as long as they are today. Cucumbers sold at market today are the product of much genetic engineering, making them far more substantial in length than the cukes of old. Those early American cukes were actually quite stubby, and roundish, of course, and hence their inspiration as the perfect model for the very first fiberglass camper, a 17 footer. It was done by a Cuban (they love cucumber in their sandwiches) émigré. I forget his name. But he had moved to Florida with great hopes, and began making them in his garage, in the thirties, it was.

They say one day, while slicing a cucumber for his sandwich, he held a whole one up to the warm sun and suddenly, it hit him and he said, “I could live in this!”, it was reported at the time. How he made that connection was not recorded.

It’s not hard to believe, once you think about it. (What isn’t?) In fact, Airstream actually stole the first design prototypes from the guy before he could register them and began using the cucumber shape in Europe as their own product evolved. We see them all over the country now. How could a poor émigré fight a big outfit like that, right? Airstream had a huge interest in Cuban design in those days. A powerful marketing arm, paid informants everywhere, and you know in the real world what competition is about.

Well, of course the guy never made it to the big time with his little trailer company. The Cuban “Cuke” just didn’t catch on in America. Soon in North Carolina the chicken industry, which had the big money backers, financed their own venture (no, Frank Perdue wasn’t in on that) into manufacturing what today we cheerily call… our little “eggs.”

By the way, it is not true that the guy then moved to Atlanta and founded Coke.

Chester Taje 12-03-2005 10:05 PM

I took this from home page of Bolerama Site.

The Boler Story: An interview with Ray Olecko
Contributed by Jamie McColl
I met this week with Ray Olecko, the designer and original manufacturer of the Boler Trailer. He seems to have been an inventor of several products,and proud, but modest about his many accomplishments.

He was selling cars,when he became fascinated with the potential of fiberglass,and his first invention was a fiberglass septic tank. His design was light weight and easy to ship by comparison with the steel and concrete tanks of the day - a quality later to be evident in the Boler developement. His patented design quickly became an industry standard. It was while camping with his family ,that he
started to envision a lightweight trailer,and his design was based on his own family's need -2 adults and 2 children -hence the small bunks. He says that he never made any drawings, but carried the
design around in his head, and when it came time to get down to work with the mold maker-Sandor Dussa - he simply drew out the basic lines of the trailer on a large piece of cardboard mounted on
the wall, and said ' Make it like this' !! .

He was looking for an unusual name for the trailer, and thinking that it looked a little like a bowler hat, he decided on Boler! Initially, he met with dealer resistance, as the Boler price of $1400 was thought to be high at a time when you could still buy an aluminum trailer for $895 (1968). When he simply picked up the hitch and pulled the trailer across the parking lot by himself, dealers were quickly convinced that a lightweight trailer would be popular with the owners of the newer breed of smaller cars that were coming in to vogue at the time, and from that time on, the trailers sold easily.
The initial run of 40 units had no insulation, but as condensation was a problem, he recalled all 40 to retrofit them with the Ensolite material. This product had been developed by Uniroyal and was being used in the cockpits of airplanes. It was available only in a 2-inch thick size, but he persuaded them to shave it down to 3/16 of an inch, and he cut it into sections to fit the curves of the Boler. He says that the seam tape was a 3M 2-sided tape. When the inside paper backing was removed, of course the surface was sticky, and he solved this problem by simply rubbing talcum powder over it!!. (this tape should still be available).

The first 100 units were made with a flat roof, but Mr. Olecko realized that he could create more headroom by adding the arched extension to the roof. (This should make it easy to identify those first Bolers.) Production increased steadily, and a new facility opened at 770 Dufferin in Winnipeg. About 150 units were produced in the second year -1969- , and another 400-500 in 1970. In 1971, franchises were sold to companies in Earlton, Ontario and in Peace River, Alberta. By 1972, 4 trailers a day were being built, 220 days a year, with a staff of 23 , at the Winnipeg shop ( 880 per year), with similiar numbers at the other sites. Franchises were awarded in the U.S, but Mr. Olecko is uncertain of the numbers produced. He sold the company to Jim Pattison (Neonex) in 1973, and his involvement mostly came to an end. Production continued in Canada to at least 1978, so a very rough estimate for total Canadian output MIGHT be 7000-10,000 units.

A 17' Boler was built in Calgary, but Mr. Olecko was not involved, and feels that his design was severely compromised. Some trailers were also produced by someone in Kelowna. Mr.Olecko and Sandor Dussa were presented with a Design Award in the 1970's , by the Manitoba Government Department of Industry and Commerce.

The actual 'plaque' went with the company when it was sold. Later, he invented a slim-line ceramic element heater with a fiberglass shell, that saw very limited production. He did seem surprised at the current values for Bolers, as he sold them for $1695 in the 70's, and current prices are often more than that.

I suggested to Mr.Olecko that perhaps he would like to become involved with this forum , as the resident 'guru' for 'Boler Preservationists' , but he is busy working on his new invention and does not have time. Perhaps we should respect his wishes and not start calling him with Boler problems. He is going to try to track down an early brochure and newspaper article for me to copy, and I will post these when I can.


Donna D. 12-04-2005 08:59 AM

Myron, you should have posted this is the Jokes forum...I think Ches thought you might have been serious

EDITOR'S NOTE: Agreed, Donna. This is now moved to the Jokes forum!

MyronL 12-04-2005 11:12 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Perhaps, but life's too short "so don't take anything too seriously." Where'd I read that?

Anyway, all of this reminds me that I am deeply remiss in failing to mention the pivotol Canadian Connection in my little history of the development of the fiberglass camper.

Of course, it is actually the great northern society of this continent, our brothers in the royal order of the portable chamber, who first produced the viable "egg" of today. My story recounts merely the earliest metathesis the fiberglass egg (could have) went through, and in no way should be confused with later history or facts. That fellow in Florida only finished building one "cuke," and evidently it really was a lemon. "They" say he finally sold it to a hat-less, sympathetic brother in law who may have been Canadian.

Gary Lynch 12-04-2005 02:23 PM

Fiberglass eggs? Ever heard of Oscar Mayer's Wienermobile? 1936.

Oscar Mayer & Co. embraced new vehicles to advertise their product, quite literally with the 1936 introduction of Oscar Mayer's trademark Wienermobile, automobiles shaped like giant hot dogs that bore the Oscar Mayer name. The distinctive vehicles were very popular and are still used by Oscar Mayer today. The drivers of the Wienermobile, called "Hotdoggers," learn to drive this famous vehicle at Hot Dog High in Madison, Wisconsin. In that same year, Oscar Mayer also introduced their ambassador, "Little Oscar" who would tour the country in the Wienermobile, stopping at local retailers, and visiting children in schools and hospitals, distributing Wienerwhistles, toy replicas of the Wienermobile that are also a whistle.

pjanits 12-04-2005 03:21 PM

I could have sworn the first egg was fashioned after a fat Okra.
Even then name Olecko could have been a typo for Okra.
You guys are way off......

Byron Kinnaman 12-04-2005 03:45 PM


I could have sworn the first egg was fashioned after a fat Okra.
Even then name Olecko could have been a typo for Okra.
You guys are way off......
Well darn, I thought the first egg came after the first chicken, or was it the otherway around?

CharlynnT 12-05-2005 11:26 PM

Not a lot of people know this, but the first fiberglass trailer was actually modeled after the cucumber. It’s true.


I was wondering about the cuke-connection, had heard some things down in LA. Kept it to myself.

Til now.

I'm a PI. Park Inquisitor, name's Okra. That's Mister Okra to you.

I've seen how those Fibreglassers work. In the dark. At night. Helpin' each other find the food and the firewood, like Racoons at the dump. I've been there.

It's a harsh life. You drive in, you set up. Then the Waiting starts. A Babe comes by, but the BBQ's not done. She waits. You offer a gin and tonic, she's gone before the cork is out.

That's the life. The Life of a PI. In a Park. With a FGRV.

Name's Okra. Okra, PI.

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