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Restored Gas Cans Sell Like Hotcakes
Give Rich Flanagan a rusty, dented, old metal gas can, and he’ll have it all fixed up in no time. Flanagan dresses up old cans with logos from farm equipment companies, oil companies and more.
  It all started by accident when he decided to paint an old gas can in IH colors and then another in Deere yellow and green. “I hung them in my garage, and people saw them and asked for them,” he recalls.
  Soon Flanagan was going to auctions and estate sales buying up old cans and related items. He only works with steel cans, no plastic. Age doesn’t matter or how the cans have been treated.
  “Some are in pretty rough shape when I start, missing caps and with rust holes in the bottom. I empty them out, sometimes including dead mice, take them down to bare metal, prime them, paint them, coat them and then sell them.”
  While the colors and logos are true to the brands, Flanagan doesn’t worry about authentic designs, often making up his own. Decals are as likely to be from newer tractors as old. Case IH cans can be found with the eagle and without, with IH and sometimes Case-IH.
  Parts are replaced, including caps and even wooden grips that a cousin makes for him. He doesn’t worry about patching the cans. A new paint job is enough.
  “I paint flowers on some and colored dots around the caps, whatever I want,” he says. “Some of the cans are old enough to have the dots embossed into them. In some cases, I will mimic the rivets that hold the handles in place.”
  Flanagan has sold 15-gal. oil and grease barrels without their tops for use as patio trash cans.
  When FARM SHOW visited with him recently, he was looking for cans to work on. He was all out of inventory, having been to a tractor show where he sold out. Flanagan estimates he has fixed up and sold at least a couple hundred gas cans, funnels, barrels and pails in the past four years. When he has them in stock, he gets $39 to $55 for smaller cans and $69 to $75 for 5-gal. cans. Other prices depend on the item.
  “Some are useable, but I tell people not to put anything in them, just in case,” he says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Big D’s Cans, 35 Reidwood Ln., Caledonia, Ill. 61011 (ph 815 885-3794).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #5