Excerpt: How Aluminum Revolutionized The Canoe
But perhaps its most well-known new product was the Grumman aluminum canoe. The idea came from Grumman's chief tool engineer, William Hoffman. He was an avid fisherman and outdoorsman, and at the end of May, 1944, he took a canoe trip into the
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Canoes: When Aluminum Was King THE FIRST OF THE POST-WORLD WAR II CANOES to hit the market successfully in a material other than wood were built of aluminum—not a synthetic material, but not an element with a huge market share in mass-produced... Aluminum had a brief history with watercraft, full of stops and starts and mostly dead ends. Although aluminum is the world’s most common metal, it is not found lying around by itself in huge veins, ready to be mined. This has been done more-or-less successfully since at least the 1850s, although the real breakthrough came in the 1880s, when American Charles Martin Hall and Frenchman Paul Heroult, working independently, devised a cost-effective extraction... Hall’s company, Pittsburgh Reduction, was the forerunner of Alcoa, still one of the world’s largest producers of aluminum. Wartime Production By the middle of World War II, Grumman was the major supplier of aircraft, such as the famed F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat, to the U. S. Navy. But it became clear as the war was winding down that Grumman needed to reduce its labor force—employment went from more than 20,000 to slightly more than 5,000—as well as find new markets as the demand for military aircraft nearly vanished. The company returned to commercial amphibian models and aluminum truck bodies and added private light planes. But perhaps its most well-known new product was the Grumman aluminum canoe. The idea came from Grumman’s chief tool engineer, William Hoffman. He was an avid fisherman and outdoorsman, and at the end of May, 1944, he took a canoe trip into the Adirondacks. Hoffman’s personal canoe was a 13-foot Old Town wood-and-canvas that had seen some wear. A lighter canoe might be possible with aluminum, he thought, so he took the idea to Grumman and Jake Swirbul, a manager at the aircraft company. Grumman Approves Prototype “They liked the idea, particularly as a postwar project, and suggested I start some studies on it,” Hoffman said. Grumman was convinced, and Hoffman’s group went to work on a design. “Then we had to design the hull lines so that our aluminum stretch presses could form each of the two halves of the canoe out of one piece of aluminum sheet without any wrinkling,” Hoffman recalled. Two identical halves were riveted together and the keel and the gunwales produced from aluminum extrusions. Alcoa designed and produced a special aluminum alloy for the Grumman canoes and sent along a canoe expert named Russell Bontecou, who had been working with aluminum boat prototypes for several years. First Aluminum Canoe Bontecou did not have Grumman’s engineering expertise, nor access to its big stretch presses, and he had been designing and building canoe prototypes in sections, which proved unworkable commercially. But he landed in the right spot, and his canoe knowledge was important to the project. Hoffman, Bontecou, and their team built a 13-foot pilot model, using a maple die, based on an Old Town canoe owned by Hoffman. The aluminum boat weighed 38 pounds, while the elderly Old Town tipped the scales at 64 pounds. More test models, this time 17 feet long, were ordered, and production of the longer prototypes was moved to the company’s bowling alley in Plant Number 2 at the end of 1944. In the spring of 1945, the company sent a crew down the Allagash River... Lighter, And Cheaper, Than The Competition By the end of 1945, the war was over and Grumman had 94 orders for its aluminum canoe. The following year, 10,000 canoes were ordered and the plant was running three shifts per day. By 1947, Grumman was the nation’s largest canoe maker. It was undercutting Old Town on price—a new Old Town OTCA was $199 in 1947, while the Grumman went for $157 in regular trim. And the aluminum boat was 18 pounds lighter, and 32 pounds less in its lightweight version.
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Grumman Canoes - Marathon Boat Group Inc
Grumman Canoes : Download Catalog .pdf • Solo Model ... All models feature .060" aluminum deck caps and .080" stemcaps with special T-6 alumilite finish rivets ...
Grumman - Wikipedia
Grumman Olson built aluminum truck bodies, known as stepvans. ... The Grumman canoes with its logo are used in the film Deliverance.
Marathon Boat Group
Marathon Boat Group PO Box 549 One Grumman Way Marathon, NY 13803 607-849-3211
Grumman+Cargo+Canoe Grumman G17 canoe, aluminum (Reduced) - Nex-Tech ...
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Image by www.pic2fly.com