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Collectors Restore Old Gas Pumps
A few years ago, John Rutske found a Twenties Era gas pump, brought it back to his custom metal-working shop, completely overhauled it and decked it out with chrome metal and a shiny red paint job.
Since then, he's gotten hooked on his off-beat hobby, buying old gas pumps wherever he can, restoring some for others, and finding himself wishing he had more time and money to devote to them.
John says the restorable gas pumps were built from about 1915 to 1929. Unrestored, they sell in a range from about $250 to $500. "Like any other collecting," John says, "some pumps are more rare and sought after, such as twin cylinder or twin clock face Canadian pumps. They'll run you about $2,500 unrestored."
The glass globes that fit on top the pumps, he says, command prices of $85, on up to $1,000 or more. Restoring a pump might take you 100 hours, plus parts, if you know what you're doing. That's why John typically asks about $4,500 for a completely overhauled, shining gas pump. Though they are in working order, he says people buy them to decorate restaurants or use them as patio or garage lights, even as aquariums.
John says he's just a dabbler; some guys really get into it. "There's a fellow down in Oklahoma who's got a collection of 650 pumps and more than a thousand globes."
There's also a book out on the old-style pumps, called 10 Gallons For A Dollar, written by Bob Lee. It sells for about $20 from Harlo Press, 50 Victor, Highland Park, MI 48203. To contact John Rutske; FARM SHOW Followup John's Custom Fabrication, Inc., 1401 W. 97th St., Bloomington, MN 55431.
(Story and photo reprinted courtesy of Home Shop Magazine, 650 Mt. Curve, St. Paul, Minn. 55116.)

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1986 - Volume #10, Issue #5