Favorite road trip
In 1983, Dale had been working in construction for about five years and had his own business, which ended because of the economy. Then he restored an old Coke machine and his new business began.
"I needed to sell the Coke machine, so I took it to Southern California to the Rose Bowl and sold it to a guy in Japan," Dale says. "The same day, I met a guy who had a whole bunch of Coke machines he wanted restored. It took off. Within three months it was huge. I was building three or four Coke machines a week.
One of his most memorable road trips occurred in the early days of his burgeoning restoration business around 1985. "My favorite trip was in my big truck, when I drove Route 66 and had to be in Florida at a certain time to pick up some Coke machines," he says, adding he met a lot of people on that trip.
"I got all the way to Florida, didn't sleep the whole way and didn't use drugs," he said with a laugh. "I passed out in Florida and woke up in the morning. The sun was up, and I felt like it was night. I felt it was five at night, but it was five in the morning. If you drive a long road trip, you can get a little dingy."
He drove by himself from Vegas to Florida in six days.
"As far as road trip, it wasn't fun. It was a work trip, but I had a good time doing it. I've driven back and forth across the U.S. at least 100 times."
He says back then he had to drive everywhere himself to look at machines and pick them up to restore. "This was back before the Internet, you didn't buy on line; you had to go door to door to buy machines, to sell," he says.
History Channel's "American Restoration"
Dale originally appeared on "Pawn Stars." His own show, "American Restoration," was spun off of that. Dale is known for being able to restore unusual items. One popular episode from season one was when Dale restored a 1955 British Matchless motorcycle. The owner's late father raced it around Michigan and won many trophies in the 1950s.
"He would race the Harleys and Indians, and he would eat them alive because it had a lot bigger motor and it was lighter," Dale says. "A lot of people who bring in stuff are bringing their memories. The only thing they have to remember their dad by is this motorcycle. Everything else is gone."
Since Matchless is one of the oldest British bike makers, it was a difficult restoration. "It's got different nuts and bolts. Nothing's American," Dale says. "We had to make wrenches, there were no parts for it. It came out absolutely awesome."
Off camera, when they were doing the paperwork at the end of the job, the customer got very emotional. "He lost it," Dale says. "You could tell when he came back to do the interview that he'd been crying. He was so, so, happy that this thing got brought back. And the guy stays in touch with me all the time."
The restoration cost $8,500. "It should have been expensive. I don't do a lot of motorcycles, and I'm very reasonable when I restore stuff. I can only tell by the time the paper's all done and we write everything down what it costs. It's like, 'Oh, my gosh, we should have charged a little more than that!'" he says.
In season two, which is now airing, he says he's doing a lot of museum pieces. "We're doing this thing called a speeder. It ran on the railroad tracks, but it has a Ford motor in it," Dale says. "So we've got half railroad stuff and half car stuff in it. It's a V-8 flathead Ford. It's going to be the hardest long-range difficult restoration I do in season two."
This season Dale moves his business out of his house into a separate building. "The first season was at my house. I couldn't work and film at the same time," he says. "Things were costing me so much money. We ended up buying an old building for filming, and that has made things a lot smoother. So now we've coordinated that we can do both -- film and work at the same time. Season one, we had everything outside, and stuff was everywhere. You had 15 to 20 projects going on in the same day. We didn't have the space."