Portland Swap Meet 2017

Whew! Another successful swap meet is in the books! And what a weekend it was! Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly…

First, the good… We were blessed with the help of a renter on Wednesday night and managed to get our 17′ U-Haul truck filled completely up in short order. Wow. We had never taken so much stuff! Bonus – Karen commanded that 17 footer having never driven anything larger than a large passenger van before! She even backed that bad boy up into the driveway from the two lane road in front of the house! Well done! Karen’s youngest son joined us on the last day of the meet, too, and was a great help loading the truck and unloading back at home!

Photo of a 17' U-Haul truck backed into a driveway with the back open and the ramp extended.

More good came in the form of meeting up with friends at the swap meet. We’re blessed with having some terrific longtime neighbors at the swap meet and we were glad to get to share the weekend with them again. We also saw countless friends that were also there as vendors and attendees. One thing that is fantastic about being in the same spot each year is that people know right where to find us and find us they did! We were happy to do business with them and to create new friendships along the way. Plus, a huge shout out to the organizers and staff of the Portland Swap Meet. This is the 53rd annual show, and it is a HUGE show (the largest on the west coast with approximately 3,500 vendor stalls and over 50,000 shoppers). The men and women that keep it going are so helpful and so nice. We LOVE doing business with you folks!

Photo of Karen and Mark with the guys who are their booth neighbors at the swap meet.

Our swap meet neighbors Randy, Dan, and Virgil. Missing from the pic is Frank, who was picking up the truck to drive them all home.

On to the bad… The weather this year certainly could have been better. Last year we had sunshine all weekend and it was WARM! This year…not so much.

Which leads us to the ugly… If you live in our local area, you know what this last Friday was like. If not, let us break it down for you. We started Friday morning with five popup canopy tents. 20 minutes after raising the tents to start the day, we had four. Despite the tents being lashed to each other, tables, wheels, and more, our casualty tent was lifted up, bent, and thrown on top of another tent all while the two of us were trying to keep the other four tents from flying away, too! We managed to get the destroyed tent down, took another tent down completely, and kept two of the remaining three lowered as far as they could go for the whole day. The last tent wasn’t even extended fully and that’s where we spent the day. Much of the day found Karen hanging onto the frame of that remaining tent to keep it from flying away as so many others did. It was exhausting. And cold. And wet. The dumpsters were full of canopy carnage. We heard that the folks at the swap meet down at the racetrack didn’t fare any better. We’re told that canopies were blowing across the track and that there were even porta-potties that were blown over. Eew.

Photo of the bent up metal frame of a pop up canopy tent.

Not ours but a good representation of what many of us experienced!

All in all, though, we had a great weekend. Lots of great people, great cars and trucks, great sales, and great finds! It wore us out and we were in bed and asleep before 9pm on Sunday, but we’re excited to do it all again next year!

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Rusteration – A Love Story, part 4

Putting a masterpiece back together after it has fallen into disrepair is really kind of a beautiful thing to witness. As all the pieces fall back into place and the luster of what once was returns, it’s almost like there’s a new energy in the room.

Photo of vintage Bowser gasoline pump in the midst of restoration.So it was with putting this old man back together. It’s been mentioned before in parts one and two of this series that Mark is something of a “whisperer.” From the very beginning, he knew this guy had a story to tell. His patience and care in bringing this pump back to life is now written into every turn of every bolt that holds it together.
Photograph of a side view of a restored vintage Bowser gasoline pump.
As faceplates and glass were installed, as panels and doors were attached, it was if the old man was slowly regaining his life. Images of where he may have once stood and the customers who he served over the years began to dance in the air. And, with the lighting of the new globe that sits atop his sturdy metal frame, it was if he finally exhaled and came into his own once more. He may not ever pump gasoline again, but, if you listen carefully, you can almost hear him breathe, “Let me tell you a story about the old days.”

Mark did a remarkable job (and in a very short time frame, too!) in giving this old pump new life. The sharp contrast of deep black, vivid yellow, and bright white are enough to draw you in, but just light this guy up and he’s the center of attention!

Before and after photo of a restored vintage Bowser gasoline pump.


We’re very proud of the work that’s been done but we have only been his caretakers for a time. Now it’s time to find him a new home. If you’re interested in being that home, head over to our store for more details. And, if he hasn’t found a new home yet, we’ll have him with us at the Portland Swap Meet, April 7th-9th, at the Portland Expo Center. Come by “Hell’s Corner” (booth #s 6140, 6141, and 6156 just outside the D Building) and see him for yourself! We’d love to say “hi” and introduce you!

Photo of a restored vintage Bowser gasoline pump.


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The tables are filled with items to prep for Swap Meet and we haven’t even scratched the surface yet! We’re going to have LOTS of items to choose from! Signage, cans, vintage advertising, parts and pieces, upholstery, clothing, gas pumps, and sooooo much more! Don’t miss us at the meet! We’re in booth numbers 6140, 6141, and 6156 just outside the D Building!

Rusteration – A Love Story, part 3

When it comes to any artistic creation – whether it’s a painting, a costume, a piece of architecture, or even a gas pump – the devil’s in the details.

As you saw in part one of our saga, this old pump was in rather rough shape when we found him. Years of neglect and being left to the elements had robbed him of his once grand stature but surely not his character.

In part two, we stripped him down to his bones and began developing the vision that we hoped would begin to bring him back to his glory. When we left off, his exterior pieces had been sent off to the powdercoater to have him work his magic. In the meantime, there was work to be done at home.

With his exterior parts being worked on away from home, we knew we had some time to begin addressing all the little things that needed to be tinkered with and polished. But, wow, our powdercoater works FASTĀ so we really didn’t have too much time to waste!

There were parts that needed to be ordered such as faceplates, decals, and a new globe. We managed to find some outstanding pieces from dealers in the US and waited for those to arrive in the mail. Photo of a Signal gas pump globe wrapped in plastic in a shipping box.

We were fortunate that the old man still had one piece of original glass in him that was intact. No small feat considering his age! Replacement glass was cut to fill in his missing pieces and we even managed to score an original nozzle from a swap meet we attended at the beach. Chrome was polished and buffed and readied for the old guy. His wiring was reconnected and, with the addition of a couple of new lightbulbs, he lit right up when plugged in (and there were no sparks or fire; hurray!) And then…we picked up the pieces from the powdercoater. W.O.W. They were beautiful!

Photo of a freshly powdercoated yellow door to a vintage Bowser gas pump.

All that was really left was to put him back together. Witness his transformation in part four!

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Back to the Beach

Third weekend in a row…making a run down to Astoria. Hit a local swap meet on the way out of town (pics of treasures to follow later), an unexpected storage unit sale (pics to come of that, too!), and finally arrived in Astoria to pick up the gas pump we purchased last weekend! Weather is beautiful; we hope your day is, too!


Portland Swap Meet 2017

Swap Meet is coming up in just two weeks. TWO WEEKS! Great googly moogly, we’ve got a LOT of stuff to prep for this epic weekend! More details about the event and how to find us there are on our Facebook page under Events!

Rusteration – A Love Story, part 2

Once the Bowser was in the garage, we were able to do a little more assessing of its condition. As noted in part one of this story, Mark began whispering to the old guy, and we weren’t disappointed in his reply.

Piece by piece, the old man was taken down to a mere skeleton of his former self. Doors, top, and side panels were carefully removed and set aside, electrical was disconnected (well, the cut wires at the base had already rendered it disconnected!), and the cleaning began. And, fortunately, all the parts that were supposed to move did! Even more fortunate was that the parts thatĀ weren’t supposed to move didn’t!

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This is when the dreaming began, too. We knew we wanted to have the exterior powder coated but what color scheme? We knew we needed to purchase a globe for the top but what kind? There was much discussion and looking online at examples of other pumps and a decision was made. Off to the powdercoater his pieces went while we hunted down the appropriate globe, face plates, etc!

What did we decide to go with? You’ll have to tune in to part three in our series!

Other Posts in the Rusteration SeriesRusteration – A Love Story, part 2


Rusteration – A Love Story, part 1

Several months ago, we were fortunate enough to come upon a small cache of gas pumps just waiting for someone to scoop them up and breathe life back into them. This is one of their stories…

This vintage Bowser gas pump had certainly seen better days. When we found it, it had been sitting outside uncovered and completely exposed to the elements for countless months (years?). The old guy whose farm we found it and three others on wasn’t so much interested in selling them at that time.

Photo of 4 salvaged vintage gas pumps loaded in the back of a pickup truck.

Coming home…the Bowser in question is the second to the left.

“I’m going to restore them,” he told us, “after I get rid of all this stuff!”

We looked around. There was a lot of stuff. A LOT of stuff.

Six months later we returned. There was still a lot of stuff. In fact, there was MORE stuff! And, so, we inquired about the pumps again and he made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. Thus, the Bowser and its comrades came to be in our possession.

Photo of doors from salvaged vintage Bowser gas pump.He was rough, for sure, but he had good bones and, like many other items manufactured well over 50 years ago, he had stood the test of time remarkably well considering his outward appearance. All that was left to do was determine if his moving parts would still move!

Enter the Gas Pump Whisperer aka Mark. Truth be told, the man can whisper at just about anything old and he seems to have an ear for hearing the response. And, as expected, this old guy breathed out a reply…

Stay tuned to hear more of his story!

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We spent the day at the beach yesterday and, of course, we had to poke around in the local antique stores as well as a flea market we happened upon on the way! Duh!

Just like tide pools at low tide, you never know what you’re going to find! The flea market yielded a few goodies for our home – a couple of new spice tins for the vintage spice rack and a Quaker Oats tin that has become the new home for our large utensils.

Photo of three vintage clocks sitting side by side.The antique stores in town yielded decidedly larger (and more costly) items. We found a never ending supply of glass fishing floats of all sizes, plenty of maritime antiques, dishes, linens, antique hardware, and even the bones of a covered wagon! There were a surprising number of beautiful vintage clocks of all kinds that Karen was quite enchanted with, too!

Photo of antique canopy bed frame, settee, dresser, chair, and amiore.But the furniture! Wow! We saw some really amazing antique pieces! Just check out these pieces! This beautiful wood double canopy bed frame and lace canopy was to in amazing condition and, if we had space in our own home or a buyer to pass it on to, we certainly would have picked it up. The dresser and mirrored door amoire behind it were stunners, too!

Finally, we did make one larger purchase and will return to bring it home shortly. This beauty was sitting just inside the door of a store we stopped in and both our jaws hit the floor when we saw it.

Honestly, the shop was closing soon after we got there so we didn’t purchase it at that time. We couldn’t stop talking about it over dinner, though, or even on the way home. Mark called the store this morning and spoke with the gentleman that owns it and put a deposit on it over the phone.

We haven’t decided yet if we’re going to keep her or pass her on to someone else but she’s a real looker! It’s hard to even decide if she should be restored or left as is. The patina on her is extraordinary!

All in all, it was a pretty fantastic day. It was a beautiful spring day on the Oregon Coast, we got to experience sea spray on our faces, indulged in the obligatory clam chowder and fish and chips, and, like almost all of our treasure hunting excursions, we found creepy dolls. It’s just not a treasure hunt without creepy dolls.

Photo of two creepy dolls.