With “Pawn Stars” a runaway hit for The History Channel, its amiable spinoff, “American Restoration,” is bound to be welcomed, too. The show that debuted with a quick four episodes last fall returns April 15 with a new set of half-hour episodes, showcasing the work of Rick Dale, who brings myriad items from the past back to their full glory. There’s also his lively crew, including his cute, dual hair-color-sporting teenage son. And, of course, there’s all their interesting stuff.
According to Dale, his intake of items has increased dramatically since his TV exposure began. Even from his first “Pawn Star” appearances, “People have been sending me stuff. You’d be really surprised how many things out there need restoring,” he says. Those things have included arcade rides, barber poles, mail boxes, a Punch-a-Bag amusement park attraction, an X-Ray shoe fitting machine, a fuel oil delivery wagon from the early 1900s for which Dale sought help from Amish woodworkers to restore. Then there was the instant coffee machine from the 1940s.
“The mechanics were very, very complex,” he notes. “I was born in Southern California, but moved to Las Vegas and this machine had to have come from the first hotel ever here, so it had all that history. I put it together and put wild paint on it, going back to the frontier days of Vegas. I put a lot of heart into it.”
Dale’s fondness for restoring things began at age nine, when his father give him a bike that was “a junker. He said, ‘If you want a bike, you have to fix it’ — and he helped me with the process a lot.” Next came a soap box derby car. A few years later came a motorcycle, then a car. ”Everything he bought me was a pile of crap,” Dale relates — which he would then transform into a gem.
Now his greatest satisfaction comes from the fact “I’m capable — or allowed — to restore people’s histories. There are things in people’s lives that mean so much to them — maybe something their grandfather owned, something sacred to them. When they come in and see it all finished, they cry, they break down. It’s an amazing feeling.”