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Mike Vicic - April 22, 2011




Rick Dale, a fan favorite from History's PAWN STARS, now has his own show, AMERICAN RESTORATION, which premiered last Friday to an audience of 3.3 million viewers. Rick took some time out of his busy schedule to answer 13 questions in this exclusive interview with TV Tango. He gave us some scoop about his new series, working with the guys of PAWN STARS, and his favorite restoration.


AMERICAN RESTORATION continues to air on Fridays at 10pm ET/PT on History.






TV Tango: How long have you known the Harrisons from PAWN STARS?

Rick Dale: I've known the Harrisons for one-and-half to two years now. Rick first came to me with a gas pump to restore. That was our beginnings, and we really work well together.

TV Tango: What's it like working with Chumlee on PAWN STARS?

Rick Dale: [Laughter.] Chumlee is not as he's portrayed as he is on TV. He's a humble guy. He's a good guy. He's quite like a couple of my guys here.

TV Tango: Has Rick Harrison ever had you restore something that he couldn't sell for enough money to cover his costs?

Rick Dale: I don't think so. The weird stuff he even gets rid of. When you have that avenue [on TV and the shop], it makes it easier.

TV Tango: Now that you have your own show, how has your life changed?

Rick Dale: [Laughter] About four hours of sleep a day. It's very busy. I enjoy every minute of it though.


The process of doing what we do takes longer. We've been filming for six months, off a month, and on our fourth or fifth month now filming again. The process just takes longer.


People still come in, and I make them happy.

TV Tango: Did you ever think you would have your own TV show?

Rick Dale: I did not ever think about having my own show.


It was on my third or fourth piece for PAWN STARS that History approached me and liked what I was doing. There was an interest, and they said the viewers were interested.

It was sort of slow in the restoration business. The higher-end clientele wasn't spending money during the recession. It's tough times for a lot of people, and it was great to have that opportunity available.

TV Tango: For AMERICAN RESTORATION, do you mostly stay near your home or do you travel across the U.S.?

Rick Dale: I'm at home in Vegas. I live in Vegas. I don't really need to travel like I used to.


I've been doing this for 28 years now -- picking, restoring and selling. I got burned out on the travel and the amount of money it took me to run the business. Now, they come to me both ways -- with stuff to restore and looking for stuff to buy.

About 90% of what I restore is for other customers and they flip it or keep it. I love it more. Now I get to restore people's memories and their own history. I love to see their faces light up when they see it restored for the first time.

TV Tango: When did you do your first restoration and what did you restore?

Rick Dale: I'm 52. When I was 9-years-old, I restored a bicycle. My dad found a junker, and he helped me restore it.


My dad told me, "If you want something, you've got to earn it. Restoring that bike taught me two things: 1. You'll appreciate it more and 2. You'll save money.

Then I did soapbox derby. It was here in town, where we have a big hill in Vegas. I didn't qualify. I don't remember how I finished. Since then, I've seen some really old soapbox derbies, and mine looked more like those -- something built by a kid. Now, parents are building them. It even happens for the Pinewood Derby in the Boy Scouts.


I built my own motorcycles. I did my own cars. I owned my own construction companies, and then in 1982 I started my own restoration business and never looked back.

TV Tango: What's the most expensive restoration you've ever done?

Rick Dale: Lately on the show, we're doing a 1900s oil wagon. It's as big as a stagecoach and is horse-driven. What this wagon used to do was fill up at a bulk plant. It's all wood and comes from the family of Sinclair Oil Corporation.

TV Tango: What's the most outrageous restoration you've ever done?

Rick Dale: It's an X-ray shoe fitter powered by radiation. It was built in late 1930s, early 1940s. It was a gimmick used by shoe companies and shoe stores to get people to buy shoes. The kid would stand up there, and you would put your foot in the machine. You were allowed to come in three times a day, but there weren't any glasses or other protection.


It comes in the shop, and 20 minutes later in comes the fed department with radiation badges. I'm sitting here checking it out, and here comes the feds. I'm thinking, "What do they have, radar?"

This piece is one of ten worst engineering projects in our country's history. The government tried to destroy them all in the 1950s.


When we finished it, we had radiation people check it out in the big lead suit. We don't plug it in because that bulb will give out too much radation; instead, we put film x-rays. It ended up awesome.

TV Tango: What restoration made you most proud?

Rick Dale: Right now, there's one that ended up on the show. I was usually doing the same stuff over and over.


Somebody found this vending coffee machine from one of the first hotels in Vegas. I took it because I heard it came from a western-themed hotel. We opened it up and saw most of the stuff is there, but we had to run around to find a few key parts. We put a dime in, and it would pour out a hot cup of coffee and each button does different things, like cream and sugar. And you can adjust how much you want to add. I painted woodgrain on it, and we did a lot of art graphics. We even did the original logo from the El Rancho Hotel [which burned down in 1960].

It's the kind of thing you have to watch the show to really appreciate.

TV Tango: If you could pick one iconic object from TV history to restore, like the jukebox from HAPPY DAYS, what object would you choose?

Rick Dale: of these things I really want to do  would be something in Universal Studios. I feel like I missed out on the era in 1940s. I want to do the whole diner and the shop. The whole interior. Both design and restore and it. I don't know what movie it was in though.

TV Tango: Who is your favorite host of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW: Chris Jussel, Dan Elias, Lara Spencer or Mark L. Walberg?

Rick Dale: [Long pause] I don't watch it. It's a great show. Things like that, they were the primer, the starter, that allowed Rick [Harrison of PAWN STARS] and us to do shows.


You've got 98% of the people that are just plain normal and have a lot of things. They want to fix them up, sell them, and make some money. We got used to buying everything new, but now people are asking "Why don't we make something out of the attic?"

I've learned about reality shows. When I was doing the picking, there was no internet. It was a quick sale. If I needed a part, I had to go door to door to find it. With the internet, it's just so much easier.

TV Tango: What's on your DVR?


I still even learn stuff. I don't know everything. For as long as I've been in the businesss, I still learn something from these shows. It's great to learn and to have the willingness to learn.