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The original Canadian built Boler molded fiberglass trailer was introduced in 1968. The design offered a simple and lightweight family travel trailer.
Made by joining two molded fiberglass halves (top and bottom) created a water tight and extremely durable shell. Inside is cozy yet comfortable, it include a stove, fridge or ice box, sink with hand pump.
Sleeping for 4 is available by lowering the rear dinette table between the seats to create a double bed ,and the front gaucho converts into bunk beds.
The boler ultralight fibreglass trailer – the famous “egg on wheels” – was invented and manufactured in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The boler was manufactured and sold between 1968 and 1988, and approximately 10,000 units were sold. The boler is credited with inspiring numerous manufacturers to create nearly identical trailers. The bolers and their imitators are growing in popularity again, as the baby boomers get tired of camping in tents or are searching for a low-cost trailer for their retirement years; as hobbyists find a new muse from their childhood memories; or as the price of gas continues to increase (thus taking larger RV’s off the road). What may have once been viewed as a poor man’s RV, bolers are now cool. Retro “glamping” (glamorous camping) is in style and hobbyists are having a blast creating the most beautiful, personalized, lightweight trailers on the road. The Internet allows fibreglass RV owners to exchange restoration ideas and how-to information, buy and sell their trailers, show off their marvelous eggs and arrange for fibreglass meet-ups around North America. Check out www.fiberglassrv.com .
The boler trailer was invented by Ray Olecko and the master moulds created by Sandor Dusa.
Ray Olecko was born in Lamont, Alberta in 1930. He had two sisters, Anne Marie and Virgie, and two brothers, Horace and Toby; his mother was Mary and father was Mike. Ray started boxing in his teens and went on to win the Alberta Golden Gloves Amateur Championship in 1948. He did not finish grade 9. Aileen, one of Ray’s daughters, told me after grade 8 he ran away to join the circus. Erwin Krieg, one of the original three boler partners, told me that at least one of Olecko’s jobs there was as a carnival barker, for which he wore a bowler hat. (More on that below.)
Ray spent three years in the Canadian Air Force in Ontario, Quebec and Labrador between 1954 and 1957. He met Lorraine Joba in 1957. They had two daughters, Aileen (1957) and Tammy (1959). Ray’s family moved to Toronto in 1958, then Halifax in 1960 and then to Winnipeg in 1962, first on Styles Street and Kent Road before buying their first home, on Scotia Street along the Red River. Ray and Lorraine divorced in 1978, Ray married Joyce in 1989 and ran Ray’s Trading Co. for 20 years until his cancer diagnosis. Ray passed away in 2001 at age 71.
The love of Olecko’s life was always design. Olecko’s daughter Tammy wrote to me that: “Dad was also mechanically inclined, as we grew up with his many homemade tractors and such. And in his youth growing up poor, he made a working go cart that according to his family was a wonderful two seater, using scrap metal and scavenged parts that as a lot of fun until wash days, when his mother made him undo the motor and put it back into her washing machine!”
Olecko worked for free in the fibreglass industry learning how to work the material. Along the way, he used to make fibreglass moulded slingshots in his tiny basement office/workshop which he sold all over the world through advertising in hunting magazines. These slingshots were called boler slingshots, pre-dating the trailer.
Before long working with fibreglass became a paying job. Olecko’s interest in fibreglass led him to design a septic tank for Structural Glass and to help in the design of road-side round trash receptacles in Manitoba called “Orbit” (“put your trash into orbit”). I recall passing many of the Orbits on Manitoba roads in the 1970s.
In 1962, Olecko, Dusa and Erwin Krieg worked together at Structural Glass in Winnipeg. Olecko was the sales manager, Dusa worked in the moulds and tooling department. Krieg started at the bottom of the company and became the production foreman in 1966.
Ray’s proudest moment was when he designed the boler trailer. While Olecko was camping with his family, he got the idea of a light-weight camper trailer made from fibreglass. The family used to go camping in an old canvas tent. Many nights were rained or snowed out.
Ray spent countless hours working out the design and measurements for the boler trailer. Planning the sizes for the table conversion to bed, bunk beds, countertop for icebox/fridge propane heater, storage under bunks and closet. He knew that being built out of fibreglass, the trailer would be lightweight and affordable on gas to haul behind a car. Plexiglass was used on the front and rear of the trailer to withstand gravel roads as well as being lighter than glass. He meticulously laboured over graph paper designs, and explained the graph paper were actually to help with the measurements for fitting everything into the design. The bed-and-two bunks configuration was specifically designed for Olecko’s family of four. With Dusa’s help, they made a wooden mock-up. Olecko said: “We had designed and built a unique unit which would appeal to the small family. It sleeps four, has a cooler, stove, sink, cupboard space and a few other comforts of home.
Fibreglass was key. Olecko stated the reason for the trailer’s success was its light weight. “Our trailer weighs only 800 pounds because it does not have the conventional wood frame. The fibreglass acts as its own frame and skin. Many people who would like to trailer, but don’t because they’re afraid of pulling a heavy weight behind their car. A four-cylinder car can pull one of our units. The Winnipeg Free Press added that the boler
“is practically unbreakable, leak-proof and, because it’s fabricated as a single unit, will not loosen up. … Layers of fibreglass are molded together with plastic resin in a large bathtub-shaped mold. During this process the trailer’s exterior paint job is built into the fibreglass. Fibreglass, says Olecko, has four times the strength of steel of the same weight. After about four hours the fibreglass is lifted from the mold to form the top half of the trailer. A similarly-shaped mold, with the addition of wheel wells, is made for the bottom half. The two halves are bonded together and the door and window areas cut out. With the cabin of the trailer completed it is placed on a steel chassis and the interior fitted out.
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