Pete Boilard used to get out of high school and head to the local hardware store. There he did various chores. He slowly became interested in the Gilson snowblowers. He would uncrate them, put them together and get them ready to go out the door.
After a while, he began to repair them as well.
Pete went off to college, got married and pretty soon had a driveway to keep clean of snow. Rather than buy an expensive new snowblower, he smoozed the old family Gilson from his father. He fixed her up and had himself a fine running machine.
A neighbor gave him another. Then, he saw an abandoned one behind a barn. Pretty soon he was on his way to the world's largest collection of Gilson snowblowers. He also believes it's the world's only sizeable collection of Gilsons.
"You gotta love that old iron," Boilard told NEWS CENTER from his Lyman dooryard. "Today everything is made for efficient manufacture. "In the old days, they just threw material at it and what you had is something you could repair at the end of the day. They don't build them like this anymore!"
Pete's also maintains a website with information about Gilsons from tips on how to repair them to the history of the product. After a big East Coast snowstorm, he got 3000 hits last week.
Gilson went out of business in 1988. Pete believes their demise was caused by a number of factors. One was that they made snowblowers for a number of different companies such as Montgomery-Ward. This diluted their product and didn't allow them to compete with the big three which Pete says is "Toro, Ariens and Simplicity."
Pete occasionally will buy a vintage Gilson, but mostly takes in donations from people's barns and garages. "I never sell a snowblower," Pete told NEWS CENTER. I do guarantee them good homes.