A Canadian Success Story: the Boler Trailer
The Boler ultralight fiberglass trailer the famous "egg on wheels" was invented in 1968 by Ray Olecko of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The trailer went on to sell thousands of units and to spawn a dozen imitators. Yet the history of this important Canadian contribution to the RV pleasure of so many people remains relatively unknown. Ray Olecko, Trapper and Inventor According to Jamie McColl who on some unspecified date interviewed Olecko and posted notes of the chat on his Bolerama web site Olecko was a car salesman and inventor. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office lists three patents in Olecko's name; the inventions are also patented in the U.S.A. #770200 1967-10-24 Septic Tank (US #03426903)#1263234 1989-11-28 Cable Trap (US #4920690)#2297627 2000-02-03 Trap for Animals (US #3,272,193)Olecko became interested in fiberglass, and on October 24, 1967 was issued patent # 770200 for a lightweight, cylindrical, expandable fiberglass septic tank with tapered ends. It was designed so the parts were nested together for shipping and bolted together in the proper configuration on the site. According to the patent description, this design offered substantial benefits over the concrete or steel tanks common at the time, and McColl reports that they sold well. Boler afficionados would be aghast at any suggested connection between the rounded shape of the
fiberglass septic tank and the egg-shaped trailer produced the following year. But a look at the patent drawings suggests a strong parentage! Perhaps a rounded cylinder represents a good blend of strength and volume. The Boler is Born
While Olecko was camping with his family, McColl continues, he got the idea of a light-weight camper trailer made from fiberglass. "He never made any drawings, but carried the design around in his head, and when it came time to get down to work with mold maker Sandor Dussa [sic], 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'." The bed-and-two bunks configuration was, McColl says, specifically designed for Olecko's family. Seeing possibilities in the new trailer, Olecko and Dusa mortgaged their homes for $5,000 CAD startup capital and began producing the 13-foot four-berth trailer in an old Winnipeg warehouse. "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!" writes McColl.
Unfortunately, a search of both the Canadian and American patent databases did not turn up a patent for the Boler design. It appears that Olecko and Dusa may not have filed a patent. The Boler Goes into Production Forty flat-roofed uninsulated prototypes were produced in the first run, says McColl. These were later recalled and insulated after they encountered condensation problems. Subsequent models also had the arched roof which, with the rounded ends, gave the "egg" shape. Initially, Olecko "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 coming into vogue at the time." Boler Exported to the USA At some point, a third partner named Irwin Krieg joined the project, and by 1969 the factory was moved to a larger 30,000 sq. ft. facility on Dufferin Street. A report in the Manitoba Business Journal (DecemberJanuary 1971/72 p. 14) details some achievements of the company: 1000 Bolers produced in Winnipeg and Grand Praire1971 Sales reached half a million dollars CADElenor International of Witchita KS signed on to produce Bolers in three plantsThis is a remarkable achievement in only four years.Boler Bought by Neonex Around 1974 (or perhaps as late as 1977; accounts vary), the Canadian company was purchased by Neonex. Neonex had considerable experience, producing the Travelaire, Holidaire, Triple E, Rustler and Otto brand RVs. Neonex Leisure shifted production to Calgary and in 1979 introduced a 17' version that was not as successful as the original 13' edition. All together, an drain field estimated 10,000 Boler trailers were manufactured. There is no indication of what became of the American wing, though it continued for some years. The last Boler trailer apparently came off the line around 1988. Jim Pattison Inc., the owner of Neonex, still holds the Boler trademark and the registration is still "live". Teardrop trailers are making a comeback, and there's a strong market for light-weight RVs. Who knows, perhaps one year the "Egg" will roll back into production. A Timeline of Boler History http://www.suite101.com/content/history-of-the-boler-ultralight-trailer-a100809 http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/watershed_protection/septic_systems.shtml