The History Channel series American Restoration debuted in October 2010 and it quickly became a hit among fans thanks to the seemingly superb work completed by Rick Dale and his team at Las Vegas-based Rick’s Restorations. The show scored some big ratings when it debuted thanks to Rick’s ability to take old worn-out objects and restore them to their former glory. In the end, it turned out all wasn’t as it seemed.
From customer complaints to hatred for their own fans, here’s the story of American Restoration like you’ve never heard it before, starting with Rick’s humble reality TV start to his eventual meltdown.
It All Started On Pawn Stars
If you regularly watch Pawn Stars you’re aware that the team behind that incredibly successful series often brings in experts to appraise items outside of their specialties. One of those experts and a series regular was Rick Dale.
Fans enjoyed watching Rick on Pawn Stars and he was soon approached by History Channel to host his own show. Rick agreed and quickly got to work filming what he thought would be a few episodes for a test season.
Next up, Rick was far from prepared to deal with a full season worth of episodes.
Rick Thought He’d Only Film A Few Episodes
Rick Dale initially told the show’s producers that he didn’t want to film his own TV series. His team was focused on fixing up old gas pumps and soda machines and he didn’t know how interesting those would be for an entire season.
Rick openly admitted to the Sioux City Journal, “I only knew how to restore like five different pieces, and a show has twenty-six episodes. I figured I’d be done after about five.” It was the show’s producers who convinced Dale that his skillset was good enough to work on other items as well.
It turns out Rick’s talents really didn’t extend far beyond his core business as we’ll soon learn.
Rick Dale Couldn’t Fix A Customer’s Jukebox But He Cashed Their Check
Eighty-five-year-old Angel Delgadillo brought his prized jukebox to Rick’s Restorations and paid $4,000 to have the item restored to its former glory. Dale gladly accepted the check and even cashed it. After two months of work, the jukebox was handed back over to the customer. Unfortunately, the jukebox still didn’t operate as intended.
Delgadillo sent Rick Dale letters and phone calls asking that the work be properly finished. His messages went ignored until media outlets picked up the story. Rick was forced to admit he didn’t have electrical knowledge to fix the jukebox and ended up arranging to have an electronics expert complete the job.
This wouldn’t be the only time shoddy work was completed on the show. In fact, some fans pointed out some serious issues.
Some Restoration Fans Were Not Happy With Rick’s Go Kart Work
There’s no denying that the products delivered to customers on American Restoration looked brand new. In reality, viewers with a keen eye were quick to point out various fault points with many of the completed pieces delivered by Rick’s Restorations.
Take, for example, the McCulloch Go Gart. Visitors to the Corvette Forum were quick to point out that the tires on the vehicle were mounted crookedly which caused the restoration to wobble as it moved. Other items were found to have chipped paint and additional shoddy work. These were hardly the finished products promised for the exorbitant fees Rick’s Restorations charges.
Rick’s team soon learned to rely on outside help… let’s talk about that next.
Hiring Freelancers Became A Necessity
Rick’s Restorations worked quickly to film each upcoming season, typically working on 12 projects at a time. Because Rick’s team members were not experts in every type of restoration and because of time constraints, they would sometimes bring freelance workers for assistance on more complex tasks.
Rick would also purchase some items from pickers that he knew could be quickly fixed up. We can’t blame the guy — it made for good TV. The people pictured were series regularly but not everyone we watched fix up various items was a full-time member of the show.
Learn how producers played around with the show’s timeline.
Learn How The Show Was Staged By Producers
If you watch Rick’s Restorations it appears that everything happens very quickly but that’s simply not the case. Producers for the show staged certain scenes to coincide with their own shooting schedule. Jobs that took hours to complete looked like mere minutes while other longer jobs appeared to be finished in days.
Howie Cohen, a man who restores neon signs, revealed that he was filmed two times by the show’s crew. In July, the crew filmed the neon signs reveal, and in November they filmed a session in which Cohen pretended to talk about the upcoming project that, in reality, was already completed.
Up next, learn why Rick Dale hated working with celebrities.
Rick Dale Was Nervous Around Celebrity Guests On The Show
Rick Dale was asked to repair an old motorcycle for Billy Joel and a sentimental sign for Jason Mraz which belonged to the singer’s grandmother. Sammy Hagar, David Copperfield, and other celebrity guests also appeared on the show.
Speaking to Fox411, Dale said after talking to Billy Joel, “I am pulling my hair out. I can’t sleep over it…I just pray to God I can finish.” He later added, “I listened to him as a kid and went to his concerts.”
And Rick’s fame meant his restorations became more difficult, let’s talk about that next.
Fame Only Meant Harder Restorations
Rick Dale was known for his gas pumps and soda machines but once American Restoration started airing his new fans thought he was a genius who could fix anything. At one point his team was tasked with fixing a mechanical surfboard, an item far outside of their normal work.
Rick later revealed that items arriving at his shop were increasingly worse shape, making them harder to restore. Rick even quipped, “I think all the good stuff is gone. The stuff people bring in now is testing me.” Dale did add that at least he “learns something new everyday.”
Not everyone at the shop took their new fame in stride. Up next, learn how “Kowboy” treated fans of the show.
Kowboy Is Mean In Person, Just Like His Show Persona Suggests
What reality TV show on History Channel is complete without some type of colorful supporting cast? For American Restoration, the most colorful character was a guy who goes by the name “Kowboy.” Rick regularly refers to his metal polisher as “grumpy” and his irritable nature has spilled over to guests.
A customer who visited Rick’s Restorations happened to run into Kowboy and asked to take a photographer with him. Kowboy’s response? “I don’t do photos.” When the customer asked if he was joking Kowboy said, “I’m quite serious” and then he turned and walked away. Ouch.
Kowboy isn’t the only part of the show that has left a bad taste in fans mouths.
The Paid Tour Is Awful
If you’re in Las Vegas and you want to visit Rick’s Restorations you might want to reconsider. Fans on various review sites have noted that the $25 version gives you little more than access to the gift shop where a sales rep will try to sell you overpriced memorabilia.
Pay $50 for a tour and you’ll be allowed to take photos, see a few of Rick’s restored items, and for $25 more he’ll send you a picture of yourself with the man himself, an item that is later mailed to your home. Sadly, the experience isn’t much better for Pawn Star fans — maybe it’s a Vegas thing we just don’t understand.
Rick Was Fired And Not Happy About It
When History Channel changed the format of American Restoration they fired Rick Dale and the rest of his crew. The show took a different direction by focusing on a group of other restoration experts. Rick Dale wasn’t happy about the shake-up and he recorded a video message to his fans.
Rick held back tears as he thanked his loyal viewers. Then, he turned his anger to History Channel, telling his supporters to visit the company’s website to voice their anger over his removal from the TV show. Rumors have circulated that Rick Dale was difficult to work with which likely led to the format change.
A Petition Circulated To Bring Back Rick Dale. It Didn’t Go Well
After the program shifted to focus on five different businesses and Rick Dale wasn’t included, there appeared to be some fan outrage, although you wouldn’t know it by the petition that circulated.
An angry fan started a petition which they spread all over social media. The petition asked to bring back the show’s old format with Rick Dale being showcased for all his “loyal fans” to see again. The petition was met with underwhelming support as only sixteen people signed the document.
Despite his inability to keep moving forward with the show, Rick Dale’s past shows he’s a resilient guy so let’s talk about that next.
Rick Was Living In Poverty And Restorations Were His Way Out
When Rick Dale was a child he lived an impoverished life. To earn extra money his dad would look for old discarded items to refurbish. One of those items was an old bike which his dad gave him to restore at the young age of nine.
Rick revealed that he worked on the bike with his dad and when it was refurbished he felt like it was “the coolest bike” he had ever seen. His passion for restorations grew out of poverty and led him to build a successful business.
Next up, learn the exact time Rick realized he could make a living doing restoration work.
A Failing Construction Company And A Coke Machine
In the 1980s Rick Dale was running a failing construction company. To make ends meet he remembered the Rose Bowl flea market. Rick picked up an old Coca-Cola machine and got to work restoring the piece of Americana.
Rick visited the flea market and quickly sold the Coke machine for $1,000. After that, he started picking up random restoration work and delivering finished products to people all throughout the United States.
Rick Found Happiness With A New Wife But It Was A Rocky Start
Rick Dale would eventually marry a woman named Kelly and her presence on the show brought a nice family element to the series. Rick’s fans even got to watch as Rick popped the question to Kelly. What fans might not realize is that Kelly wasn’t initially interested in dating him.
Rick told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Kelly initially first him out and when he arrived at the event it was a party aimed at promoting a singles night. Kelly invited a bunch of single friends and Rick was shocked it wasn’t a date. She eventually invited him to a bar where she showed up alone. The rest, as they say, is history.
Next up, even the new format for American Restoration was met with controversy.
Controversy With The Show’s Newest Member
When season seven debuted it was revealed that new cast member Dale Walksler, owner of the Wheels Through Time Museum, also wasn’t afraid of controversy. Walksler allegedly went on a four-hour tirade complete with insults and yelling.
Walksler was angry that there was a permit being discussed to reopen a local bar that was filled with biker gangs and drug users. His screaming and general demeanor during the meeting led him to be reprimanded numerous times by local officials. He refused to listen and the bar was ultimately granted the needed permits and reopened as planned.
New cast member Bob Halliday also had some personal issues but they were beyond his control.
Bob Halliday Lost Everything
Bob Halliday was also a new cast member on American Restoration but his personal loss happened before his time on the show. The owner of Bob’s Garage in Marietta, Georgia has a great sense of humor, so much so you wouldn’t realize disaster struck for him during Hurricane Katrina.
After running a successful business in the area for 20 years he lost everything when Katrina struck. Everything Bob owned, including his family home, was swept away in the storm. His home, his business, and all of his personal belongings were gone. Thankfully his family and pets were okay. He packed up his family in his car and they left the area.
Despite the cast change, Rick Dale still has big plans… like owning a city block!
Rick Dale Wants His Very Own Block
We’re not talking about a street named after Rick Dale. No way, this guy actually wants to buy up an entire street and renovate it with a 1940s theme. If you’re a fan of the show you know that his own business already features a miniature street facade but Rick is thinking much bigger.
Rick says he would love to find a “main street” location and fix it up with building restorations, old-school gas stations, a classic movie theater, a 1940s drug store, and much more. That’s a TV show we would definitely be willing to watch.
Despite Customer Complaints, The Show Was Good For Rick Dale’s Finances
Several net worth tracking companies have estimated that Rick Dale has skyrocketed his assets to $2.5 million thanks in large part to his History Channel salary and then to the added work sent his way thanks to his new fame.
Despite customer complaints about shoddy finished products being delivered, recent accounts suggest that Rick’s Restorations continues to bring in new business thanks to the show’s success. We just probably wouldn’t bring him a jukebox.
Today, It’s A Family Affair
Rick Dale and his wife Kelly may no longer be headlining a hit History Channel show but they continue to work together. In fact, Rick’s Restorations is truly a family affair with various jobs being handled by his immediate family members.
Kelly handles business operations for Rick’s Restorations while their son Brettly is a picker and salesman. The couple’s daughter Ally is the front of store manager and their son Tyler runs shop for the company.