The Latest

While sitting at a counter in a restaurant, sandwiched (pun intended) between two guys using cell phones, it hit me. My, what changes have come to pass in the past few years. The reminiscing brought me back to some of the changes this small company Glen-L Marine Designs has gone through.

We were taught that our boat design drawings had to be done in ink, and never on paper, only on drafting linen. That simply wasn’t true; good blueprints could be made with pencil drawings on vellum. Boy, did the drawing pens and ink bottles go by the wayside quickly.

Calculations were done by slide rule, a now obsolete relic. If more accuracy was needed logarithms were the answer; using voluminous tables, calculation that would be difficult by multiplication and division was simplified. Calculators eventually became available, but were very expensive at first and a far cry from the tiny ones used today. The first one we had was a manually operated sliding number affair, actuated by a hand crank. And computers were main-frames that were not available, at least for the small business guy.

Instructions were a real problem. In the days before word processing, copy machines and printers were commonplace, making multi-sheet instructions a chore. Sure, we had the latest manual typewriters. And, if a typo was made, an eraser was handy or the trusty “white out”. Making many copies of a page was something else. A print shop could hand set the type and run 1000 copies on a letterpress. But the cost was astronomical for the time and who needed 1000 copies?

Mimeograph was the popular method of reproducing small runs of printed copy. The process required a special two-part paper that was inserted in the typewriter. The text was typed directly, but woe if a word was misspelled. The cover sheet had to be pulled back and a special correction fluid painted over the area; then re-align on the typewriter and type out the error. Copies were made by inserting the copy in a special machine (in our case hand cranked). It made fair copies if you liked blue type.

Boat designs have evolved because of building materials like plywood and fiberglass and lightweight powerful motors. The powerboat of yesteryear was narrow because it had to be pushed through the water; the motors were heavy and powerless compared to modern powerplants. Light weight motors developing high horsepower enabled wider boats to plane and attain “pleasure” (if approaching 100 MPH is pleasure?) speeds unthinkable just a few years ago.

In the early years plywood was unreliable and the glues used to bond the plies left much to be desired. But progress brought better plywood and the knowledge of how to use it. The original construction methods paralleled that for planked boats; even the adhesives used were flexible and would not form a true bond. Today we have the stitch and glue construction method that takes full advantage of plywood as a sheet material and seam bonding with epoxies and fiberglass laminates form a durable product.

Is everything better today? Of course not. Most can look back at the “good old days” that were just that. Others can’t understand how anyone could exist without TV, computers, and cell phones. In a few years you will look back at this period in time and realize some of what you now deem as wonderful, is an obsolete relic.

Time marches on.


Your Thoughts?

One Response to THEN and NOW

  1. Rich Harmon says:

    I agree that there are lots of life events and challenges that can slow or halt progress if we let them. I liked the remember when article. I too see alot of changes in my lifestyle from just a few years ago. Some I like and some I don’t. I think I still hate computers. I am learning to live with them in the house. Rich

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