2023 - Volume #47, Issue #3, Page #21[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
His Passion Is Restoring Metal Toys
“My neighbor’s child had a big yellow metal truck that had belonged to his dad,” recalls Weigle, Tonka-Toy and RAW Restoration. “It was rusty, and he cut himself on it. I restored it for him and posted some pictures online. People who saw it said I should do more like it, and the business grew from there.”
Weigle began buying and selling old toy trucks, sometimes restoring them to like new status, other times simply cleaning them up and repairing them. He keeps many original parts on hand, as well as after-market fenders, roofs, wheels, etc. He uses them in his work but also buys and sells them online.
“I won’t restore a truck unless the customer requests it,” says Weigle. “I prefer to keep its history.”
For a time, Weigle traveled extensively looking for pressed metal toy vehicles. “I’ve gone from Florida to Maine and bought, sold and traded with some of the biggest collectors,” says Weigle. “I think I’ve seen pretty much every pressed metal truck built.”
When Weigle finds trucks that have been poorly restored, painted over, are rusty or beat up, he restores them or customizes them on his own time.
“I love to restore things that people say their father or grandfather owned,” says Weigle. “It’s great to see their eyes light up at the restoration.”
Weigle is careful about the customers he takes on, preferring to avoid those who will simply turn around and resell the restored truck. “I want to restore things that mean something to the customer,” he says.
When a restoration isn’t needed or requested, Weigle suggests simply applying gun oil to the vehicle to preserve its patina.
“I do have people request I clean a truck and apply clear coat,” he says. “That’s sort of like bronzing a pair of baby shoes. You aren’t taking away from its history, but you’re still altering it.”
While Weigle is in the business of buying and selling, he also does evaluations for clients. Repairs and restoration costs depend on the condition a toy is in, how it’s to be used, what parts are needed, and the desired condition when finished.
“I prefer to restore a part, rather than replace it,” he says. “Prices start at $150, depending on the quality of parts, decals, paint and the extent of the restoration requested.”
One of his most extensive and costly restorations was a 1923 Buddy L Red Baby. It required a specific paint and with parts hard to find, a lot of Bondo, recalls Weigle.
“An original is worth $5,000 on the market,” he says. “The restoration cost the client about $750.”
If FARM SHOW readers want an estimate of costs for a restoration, Weigle suggests sending a video of the vehicle (top, bottom and all sides) with a list of work desired.
“Do they want all new parts or polished and restored parts?” he says. “Do they want a full sandblasting, filling in problem areas and repainting? Do they want a different color? All of my restorations involve professionally sprayed automotive paint.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Tonka-Toy & RAW Restoration, 5438 Carrick Rd., Cocoa, Fla. 32927 (ph 321-404-9411; email@example.com; www.tonka-toys.com).
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