Steve Boucher prepares his Nimbus, another
Shereshaw design predating the Cumulus.
Steve Roselle took this picture at an earlier
SAM Championships in Muncie IN. The
2014 SAM Champs was held in Muncie in
supplies and models. Typical model kits
were in the 10¢ to 25¢ range. Balsa was
cut in Fred’s basement in large quantities.
Sawdust permeated the neighborhood
and neighbors complained but, unlike
today, there weren’t multiple agencies
ready to shut down the operation.
It became a flourishing business run
on a shoestring budget—basically from
a home with neighbors’ garages rented
for balsa storage. A draftsman and
bookkeeper worked upstairs in the house
while others ran the basement shop. Fred
had salesmen out expanding territories in
neighboring states, and began advertising
In the summer of 1933, Fred rented
his first real factory space for $30 a
month. There would later be other
moves to larger spaces. The neighbors
were no doubt much relieved. The final
factory encompassed three stories plus a
basement. Later in 1933, Fred gathered
the confidence to quit his job with the
The year 1935 saw Fred’s business
expand to include European countries
and Australia. Balsa propellers were
an important part of kits because few
young modelers could make a decent-performing propeller for a rubber motor.
Fred’s brother designed a propeller-carving machine and his father produced
millions of propellers as a subcontracter.
Quick-dry cement was manufactured
and sold in 5¢ and 10¢ sizes. For a
while, cement was included in Megow
and other manufacturers’ kits. This was
discontinued for the same reason kit
collectors are often disappointed today—
the cement often dried up before the kit
was ever started.
Fred engaged a balsa buyer in South
America and filled a warehouse with the
largest supply of balsa logs in the country.
84 Model Aviation DECEMBER 2014