Petroleum Collectibles Monthly

June 2005 - Let's Talk Pumps #33 by Scott Anderson


As you receive this June issue of PCM, we are probably preparing for, or on our way to the annual IPCA convention, show and swap meet in Columbus, Ohio. The dates for this year’s show are June 16 - 18, and I strongly urge all PCM readers to attend this great Mid-eastern event.

In this installment of Let’s Talk Pumps, I decided to focus on an issue that frequently arises when a vintage gas pump restoration is being planned. For many years, I have taken telephone or show orders from individuals who were restoring their first “old gas pump”. Most of these collectors knew what parts they needed and wanted, but a few of them would invariably ask the question, “Do I really need a decal, sign, advertising glass, or window for the back of the pump if I’m putting the pump in a corner of my garage where the back will not show?”

Recently, I received a similar question from Brent in Indiana. Brent called to order a Sinclair Dino CAPCO plastic framed globe, advertising glass and porcelain sign. As we were discussing his Bennett #766 pump, he asked me if it was a mistake to order new parts only for the front door and not for the back door of this unit? He further explained that the pump was being installed directly in front of a brick wall next to his garage and that only the front of the pump would be visible to the street. With no hesitation I replied that “Yes, for many reasons it probably would be a mistake to ignore the back of the pump.”

First of all, the cost of the advertising trim pieces for the back of the pump are not that high in relation to the total value of the finished pump. An advertising glass and decal or sign would only run around $25.00-$40.00 and the pump would easily triple in value after the restoration was complete.

Secondly, even though the pump will be displayed against a wall, that location could easily change in the future. What if Brent changes his mind, moves, or decides to sell the pump in five to ten years. Nothing would be worse than to pull out a pump that was only restored properly on one side! Who knows if all of the same restoration parts, with the proper colors, etc., will be available permanently. If you did try to add parts at a later date, it is doubtful that the age, patina, colors, etc., would properly match the “older” front side.

Lastly, it is always better to restore the pump the right way, the original way, the first time. Throughout the history of gasoline pump manufacturing, most pumps have always featured closely or exactly matching sides (front and back or rights and lefts). They were designed this way to be used on driveway islands that featured automobile access on either side of the island. Therefore, gasoline pumps need to offer access and marketing appeal on both their front and back sides to enhance the effectiveness of the two-sided island. In the case of older curbside pumps, these pumps were designed so that the left and right sides were equally visible to motorists traveling either direction on a two-way road.

As a final note, if Brent and other pump collectors and restorers elect to finish their pumps in a complete, 100% original scheme, they will probably find that their pumps will grow in value at a slightly higher rate. The old adage that “you get what you pay for” certainly applies here. I highly recommend that Brent and all other pump collectors don’t cut corners when it comes to their restoration goals and pump part needs. Who knows, you might be asked to display your restored pump at a car show, parade, or party, and if so you want your pump to look it’s best!

For all of you gas pump enthusiasts out there who are currently living with “one-sided” restored pumps, don’t worry, it’s not too late – you can still go back to the shop and finish the back of your pump. Please give us a call if you need help with this important task.

You can submit your questions to:
Scott Anderson
Scotty’s Garage
Time Passages, Ltd.
P.O. Box 65596
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
1-515-223-5105 Phone
1-515-223-5149 Fax E-mail Website

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