Ron Stevenson, Secretary MLC Antique Outboard Club
switzercraft 1957


 Take yourself back in time to May 8th, 1945. Some of you might be able to remember V-E day. The majority of us will not.  WWII was over and the world sighed a big breath of relief. The men


 and women who survived the fighting would soon be home. Ship loads of our fighting forces soon started to flood home. Life would start to get back to normal. The veterans would have to learn to fit back into society which would prove to be harder than they thought.
 Most of the war time factories were manned by women. The nick-name “Rosie-the-Riviter”was coined in a Ford car plant making Boeing B-17 bombers because most of the assemblers were women.
My aunt Ruth came right out of O’Neil High school here in Oshawa in the spring of 1939 and was hired right into the General Motors Fabrication Plant making plywood wings for the deHavilland moskito Bomber. The men in GM who didn’t go to war were mostly too old for service. GM Oshawa was thrown right into the war effort. All the automobile tooling was removed and the Fabrication plant was turning out a “Heavy Trucks” powered by the famous GM “stove-bolt” 6 cylinder engine. My grandfather Stevenson was also too old for the war. He was a machinist in GM using a metal lathe, turning out Bren Gun machine gun barrels.
  The US government banned the use of aluminum and deemed things like slot machines, outboards and other recreational items “unnecessary” during war time. OMC and Kiekhaefer Mfg were told to cease the manufacture of outboards. Kiekhaefer ended up getting a large contract for air cooled chain saws for the war effort. In one month they made 1,000 chain saws working 3 shifts, 7 days a week. OMC was awarded a contract for making bomb fuses, aircraft engines and Evinrude Storm Boat outboard engines( the only outboard made specifically for war use ). Once the armistice was signed and the reality of peacetime sank in ,GM, like most other manufacturing companies soon found themselves scrambling to rip out all the old war time tooling. Outboard Marine was no exception. The outboards which had been designed and tooled in 1941 to be sold as ’42 models were shelved. In late 1945 Johnson sold outboards as 1946 models that were actually 1942 in design.
OMC in Peterboro had changed over to peace time commodities and were again cranking out outboards as fast as possible. OMC grew to a huge plant producing Pioneer chain saws, Lawn Boy Lawn mowers and Johnson-Evinrude snowmobiles.1957 glastron  1958 hertors The post war boom was on and the average family were concentrating on recreational time and putting all the war behind them. A happy time of innocence was everywhere. Advertisers in the ‘50’s printed ads for Camel cigarettes , transistor radios from Radio Shack, the DeSoto Firedome 8, the 54 Buick with a Hydramatic transmission and so on. The ‘50’s were booming with post war greatness. Our entire family was a true GM family. My grandparents on both sides, my aunts and uncles, my father had been employed by GM. The ‘50s cars dad bought were never to be reproduced again. There huge size, gleaming chrome and incredible styling seemed to repeat itself year after year.
The boat buying public was also wanted something better than the average wooden cedar strip. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with a cedar strip or any other wooden boat. But as time passed on, new technology emerged.
The birth of fiberglass had taken place around 1941 by an Ohio State University chemist by the name of Ray Greene. Also in Ohio was Owens-Corning who patented the manufacture of glass fiber. Mr. Greene who was employed by O-C did some experimenting with the glass fibers( which had been woven into a mat also called “cloth”)
Mr.Greene bought some of the woven fibers and started impregnating( saturating ) the fibers with a crude form of resin. During this same time, other companies were rushing to develop better resins. In 1942 he got his hands on a laboratory produced sample of a polyester cold setting resin and built himself a dingy of Reinforced Glass. Mr.Green did his time in WWII and after the war started up his own boat building business. In 1947 Ray built a wooden decked sail boat which was a 16’ fiberglass hull. The business took off and his company built 5,000 sail boats up to 1949. brunswick 1962 If you dive deep into the fiberglass boat history, some may argue that there were several earlier boats made of fiberglass and various plastic resins, but most were too brittle for practical use. The real breakthrough came when true polyester resin was developed and the fiberglass boat revolution started.
Fiberglass boats are extremely strong and don’t rust or corrode. However they are susceptible to degradation from sunlight and extreme temperatures. The most common form of making a fiberglass hull and deck is called the “chopped strand” method.
Imagine a spray gun pulling a “rope” of fiberglass into a rotary chopper blade and spraying a mixture of polyester resin and hardener all at the same time. This chopped stand is not the most ideal method of laying down a layer of fiberglass. 
For one, the fiberglass is mechanically chopped which reduces the strand length and secondly, the strands do not get fully saturated with the resin mixture.mt dora 08 048

 The most ideal way to build a fiberglass boat is the “hand lay-up” method. This is wetted onto the mats. Then the builder will “wet-out” the mats to remove all air and saturation of the mats will occur. 

Now lets talk fins. The most famous automotive designer for fins was Harley Earl. The young designer came up through the ranks of GM and finally was made head of the Design studio. It’s important to note that many of Harley Earl’s detractors tried to dethrone the sheer magnitude of his innovative tail fin design. Fins were an expression of a care free lifestyle and hope of better days ahead.
American manufacturing would follow suite. Many fiberglass boats of the fifties had high tail fins to match the trend setting cars of the day. Other designers had their hand in designing other cool boatsas well. Brooks Steven was commissioned to design a boat with huge fins to match the colour of the 1956, 30 hp. Evinrude Lark. The boat was named the 1956 LARK Runabout. It had huge fins and a 2 piece bubble windshield. Brooks also had his designs on OMC motors as the 1956 Johnson Javelin and the 1957 Johnson Golden Javelin. Not to be outdone in the boat scene but Chris-Craft had a famous boat with a single fin..the Cobra
Today we stand back and marvel at those amazing finned boats and we can be certain were it all started.
Ron Stevenson, Secretary MLC Antique Outboard Club

ere large sheets of woven fiberglass mats are layed in the mold and then the resin is either sprayed or pour