History Channel’s “American Restoration” had a successful run for six seasons from 2010 to 2014 with Rick Dale at the helm, as he and his team restored vintage items at his shop Rick’s Restorations. It became one of the most-watched television series as it amassed a huge following not just in the US but also across the globe. Many were shocked when it was canceled with no official explanation from the network, but just as surprised when it was rebooted in 2016, featuring five other restoration shops instead of Rick’s Las Vegas shop. The viewing public could only speculate on the reason for the changes made in the show, and Rick’s loyal fans were left wondering what became of him and his crew.

How did Rick’s Restorations start?

Everything began with Rick Dale’s penchant for restoring or rehabilitating old items when he was around nine, as his father encouraged him along with his brother to fix a dilapidated bicycle found in a dumpster, and he enjoyed it.

His father didn’t have a lot of money so he was all about fixing or making things work, and wanted to teach his children the same philosophy. Since then, Rick had been fascinated by how things work, as he said, ‘I love taking things apart, and I love putting things back together.’

When he learned that he could make money from this skill of his, he began to look for vintage stuff he could restore and then sell. Back during his struggling days in the early 1980’s, he invested about a thousand dollars restoring a vintage coke machine that he bought, and then sold it for three times the amount he’d put into it, at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, California. There was a demand for old coke machines and gas pumps overseas at that time, and then later on, Americans wanted them too, and they were more than willing to pay more for them. He went around the country doing business this way, until he was able to set up his own shop.

Rick put time into researching what he could about a piece he was working on, so he could restore it to its original glory, as well as having an idea of the value. He took pride in his work, and things went well for a while.

In 1993, he went through a divorce, and although he sold his shop, he still put classic pieces he restored for sale right in front of his house. He later found the right partner in his second wife named Kelly, who specialized in marketing. She said to him, ‘You do the work, and I’ll make the money,’ as Rick re-established his restoration business in 2007.

From Rick’s Restorations to “American Restoration”

Leftfield Pictures, the producers of History Channel’s reality TV series “Pawn Stars,” first approached Rick to ask if he would like to pawn the gas tank that he had listed in a printed publication. He declined, but expressed his interest in being called upon as an expert antique restorer and metal artist in the show. With his knowledge, the producers took him up on that, and he became a recurring guest in the show, first appearing in the “Time Machines” episode in its first season in 2009.

It didn’t take long after that for Leftfield Pictures to create a spin-off series featuring Rick Dale and his restoration shop. His crew was one of a kind, but they somehow managed to get the job done according to Rick. The shop was actually a family business with his wife as head of business operations, and members of his family working the front office: his daughter Ally was the office manager, son Tyler the foreman, and his brother Ron and stepson Brettly were the pickers. Rick had a wider team of specialists for restoration projects: Kevin “Kowboy” Lowery was the metal polisher and woodworker, Ted Hague the lettering artist, and Kyle Astorga the assembler and fabricator. He would also call on other experts depending on the project he was working on, whenever needed.

“American Restorations” premiered on the History Channel on 25 October 2010. The first project his team took on for the show’s first episode was a 1950’s three-wheeled Marketeer golf cart bought by Rick Harrison, the owner of the Gold and Silver Pawnshop in “Pawn Stars,” as a gift to his father, “Old Man” Harrison.

It was a 40 man-hour job that cost $6,000 to fixing the interior and bodywork, replacing parts such as the batteries and wheels, and painting it.

The first part of the restoration process was to take the item apart, piece by piece, to clean it up and remove the rust and paint. The next step was finding parts that were missing or needed replacing. As much as possible, he used original pieces as he didn’t want to reduce the value of an item or take away its authenticity by using re-manufactured parts. After finishing the bodywork, it was time to paint it. The last part would be putting it all together and making sure that it was working or running as it should. It was pretty hectic at Rick’s shop as his team tackled various projects at the same time, but they never lose sight of their goal, which was to make their clients happy and satisfied with the work they had done.

Restoration projects for celebrities

1967 BSA Royal Star motorcycle

Billy Joel, one of the best-selling music artists of all time, came to Rick’s Restoration to have his 1967 BSA Royal Star motorcycle brought back to life – he has his own motorcycle shop and gallery in Oyster Bay called 20th Century Cycles in which he built, modified, and customized bikes. However, when it comes to restoring his vintage motorcycle, he turned to Rick. He was quite sentimental about the bike as it was the first one he ever rode. When Billy was quite young, he had a friend who asked him to take care of his bike as he was leaving for Vietnam; he rode it around and fell in love with it. When he started collecting bikes, he found one of the same brand, model, and color but it was in bad shape. Rick had to buy the parts from collectors overseas, and his friend worked on the motor. After the restoration was completed, he delivered it to Billy Joel’s shop. The “Piano Man” was amazed at the transformation and said, ‘This is the best bike I have in the shop!’ He then excitedly took it for a test ride.

American Restoration

Ferris Wheel Coaster Goat and Knife-Throwing Board

David Copperfield, who was declared by the US Library of Congress as a Living Legend and hailed by Forbes as ‘the most commercially successful magician in history,’ asked Rick to come to his magic museum, as he had two unusual devices from his collection that he wanted restored. One was a knife-throwing board apparatus, and David positioned Rick in front of the board and made decoy knives come out of it. The next one was a Ferris Wheel Coaster Goat with an exploding device under the goat; they were originally made by the DeMoulin Bros & Company to scare the unsuspecting victim, while everyone else laughed at the prank. Everything had to be done perfectly to ensure that the magic trick would work. David came to the shop and was happy to see the restored devices, and they tested both on Rick’s new employee.

Frank D. Fixer signage

The Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, Jason Mraz, along with his father Tom, wanted Rick to restore a sign with the name “Frank D. Fixer,” which came from his grandfather’s old shop.

It was said to have been originally made by a soda company as an advertisement for Frank Mraz’s shop. The “I’m Yours” singer had already written a ballad in his grandfather’s honor, and he wanted to hang the restored sign in his studio where he wrote the song. Rick had a hard time with this one, as he said that ‘signs are basically like paper, you can’t fix them very well,’ but he couldn’t say no to Jason as he knew how important it was to the singer.

Cancellation of “American Restoration”

The TV series was canceled after five years, much to the dismay of its loyal viewers from 87 countries where it was aired. With an average of 2.9 million viewers each week, many were surprised by this move from the network. No official statement was issued regarding the matter and people began to wonder about the cause of the cancellation. Fans were appeased when it was announced that they were rebooting the show, but only until they realized that Rick Dale and his crew wouldn’t be part of it.

Speculations arose, and the one who suffered the most was Rick, as he was put in a bad light when people were trying to understand why he was fired. Some thought that he had become difficult to work with or that he demanded a higher fee. Others claimed that his work had become shoddy and he lost sight of what he said made his business a success, which was his attention to detail. It didn’t help that he failed to deliver on his promise to an 85-year-old man in restoring a 1950’s jukebox for $4,000. While its exterior looked well, it wasn’t functioning properly. Then, there were those who believed that Rick refused to be part of a show in which he would share the limelight with other restoration shops. It was said that as each restoration project took time to finish, the producers thought it best to include other shops so Rick’s Restorations wouldn’t be inundated with work that might result in substandard quality.

Nobody knew what really happened, only that an emotional Rick took to social media and uploaded a video thanking his fans for their support.

American Restoration

He further said, ‘There will only be one Rick’s Restorations, which is basically American Restoration.’ He even went as far as to ask his fans to go to the “American Restoration” website to share how they felt about it. A fan initiated a petition for the network to keep Rick on the show, but it only attracted a few signatures, so nothing came of it.

Season seven premiered in January 2016, with 13 episodes featuring five restoration shops such as Bodie Stroud Industries, Dale Walksler’s Wheels Through Time, Andy Bowman Jr.’s Monkey Business, Steve’s Restorations and Hot Rods, and Bob Halliday’s Bob’s Garage. However, it wasn’t renewed for another season. While some viewers acknowledged that it was a good show, it wasn’t as successful as the first six seasons.

Where is Rick Dale and his crew today?

There was a grand re-opening of Rick’s shop on 17 October 2015 with Mayor Carolyn Goodman giving a speech and proclaiming that day as Rick’s Restorations’ Day in the City of Las Vegas. Unfortunately, his business didn’t fare as well as before, and he eventually had to shut it down.

Some weren’t surprised by this, considering that the property was leased to accommodate filming for the show. He initially worked at a shop and boneyard that took him 15 years to build, but he said that they’d outgrown it. Much of the filming done since season three took place in this new property, which was much bigger than their former workplace. They made the façade look like one would see in an old town street such as a diner, theater, bank, and barbershop. Since they were no longer filming, they didn’t need such a big place anymore.

Rick’s Restorations merchandise is available for sale on their website, and includes glassware, beanies/hats, shirts, and bumper stickers. People who are interested in vintage machines restored by Rick and his crew would be delighted to know that they still have a chance to own one of these: Fire Chief Pedal Car, Candy Machines (U-Select, Green Stoner, and Wood Grain Stoner), Bally’s Slot Machine, and Coca-Cola Vendo Machines. If one wanted a special message from Rick Dale such as a birthday greeting or words of encouragement, then a two-minute or less video would be sent through e-mail at a minimal cost.

Based on their Facebook page, it appeared that Rick Dale continued to restore old pieces to their original glory. His popularity also hadn’t waned since he often receives invites to car shows, expos, and swap meets. He’s had a YouTube channel since 2010, and in February 2021, he shared his plans of giving tutorials on the restoration process, Q&A sessions, and working on projects with enthusiasts. In June 2021, he opened another YouTube channel, Restoration Ricks, and posted videos of what he‘s been doing at his shop.

Everything is going well in Rick’s personal life if one would base it on social media postings. Rick and Kelly celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in November 2021, and it appeared that they were having the time of their lives with their kids and grandchildren.

His wife, Kelly

Aside from being a successful Las Vegas realtor with 20 years of experience, his wife, Kelly established a small business called My Best Font Forward in 2019.

Her shop was located in Las Vegas and she said that no job is too big or too small for them when it comes to custom embroidery, as well as laser cutting and engraving. Some of the work they did included engraved boards and laser-cut woods for family or business signage, gifts, giveaways, and souvenirs. They also specialized in customizing apparel and upholsteries. In 2021, Kelly set up a mobile do-it-yourself studio in which friends and families could have a fun time in a Vegas Sign Party. After choosing the sample designs from their website, Kelly and her team would bring all the materials and tools needed for the participants to put everything together, paint the design, stain it, and apply the hanging hardware for the sign.

His children

His daughter, Ally, married her best friend in March 2019, and has a career in insurance. Tyler has his automotive customization shop called Daily Grind Fabrication, and he also started making custom rings in 2016 in between big jobs, as he admitted to being inspired by The Louie Brand in making non-traditional rings.

It was available on his Etsy shop, The Tyler Dale Project. In 2021, his engagement to his girlfriend of nine years was made known through Instagram. Brettly also became engaged to his girlfriend in 2020; he was part of the show for five seasons before he established his own business called Clean Works Mobile Media Blasting in Las Vegas, in which they offered dustless blasting services for graffiti removal, cleaning equipment and tanks, and removing paint and rust. He said he worked hard to get his business going without taking out loans or handouts from anyone. Kowboy is one of his employees.

Rick Dale on TV

Much to the delight of his fans, Rick appeared as a guest in 2019 and 2020 in History Channel’s “Pawn Stars”, when his expertise was called upon by the Harrisons. However, many are still hoping to see Rick in his own reality TV show again, doing what he does best, as fans would often leave comments with this sentiment on their Facebook page as they really fell in love with the show and Rick’s Restorations.

Leave a Reply

Pin It