What goes great with a 1950s truck? Vintage gas pumps, restored

  • Article by: ERIK LEWIS , HTR Media
  • Updated: July 20, 2013 - 12:05 AM

TWO RIVERS, Wis. — In the 1950s, a gallon of gas didn't cost $3.50 and Texaco, Mobil and Sinclair Dino gasoline electric pumps were the standard at gas stations.

Today, they are something car hobbyists spend time restoring to make them look as bright and new as they once were.

Retired construction worker Butch Gulseth, 75, of Two Rivers, is one person who uses his time and craftsmanship to work on the half-century old pumps to go along with his '50s-era truck, HTR Media reported (http://htrne.ws/13wcjlu).

"It's relaxing," Gulseth said. "I can go in the afternoon and start working on something. I had old trucks and stuff years ago. I figured, I liked the thing and so I got into restoring them."

Gulseth was able to do some of the restorations on the crimson red F-100 Ford pickup truck that he bought about four years ago, like the tires. The rest were finished by the previous owner, he said. The truck cost $10,000 to purchase, and is now insured for $20,000.

His garage is lined with models of hundreds of different cars and a few new gas pumps that he's working on restoring. He doesn't take his shiny, gas-guzzling 1956 Ford F-100 on cross country trips, but he has driven it in the annual Two Rivers Classic Car Cruise and has taken it on short trips to Sheboygan.

"In the '60s I had another one just like it," he said about why he bought another vintage truck. "I just like the body style on it."

Gulseth, who has his own small gas station in his driveway, has restored about nine gas pumps. He travels to area farms and junk yards anywhere in Two Rivers, Denmark and even Oshkosh in search of them.

"I go out and if I see farmers or people with them in their yard, I offer to buy and restore them," he said. The brands of the pumps he has already restored include a Tokheim 39, Bennett 543 and a Bowser 575.

"To start out, you probably pay $600 to $800 for the pump," Gulseth said. "By the time you get done with it, you probably have put $2,000 into it with the paint and everything."

Gulseth restores everything about the old electric gas pumps, except for the parts that pump the gas.

His friend, Ronald Wavrunek, also does some restorations of a gas pump that he keeps for himself. Wavrunek owns a 1962 Chevrolet convertible Impala and a 1936 Chevrolet Standard.

"I'd seen some other ones around," Wavrunek said about why he chose to restore a Tokheim model gas pump. "They just look so nice when they're done, so I just decided to do one."

However, it's a labor-intensive process. Painting them, adding all new locks, siding, and new cover pieces with "price" and "gallons" printed on it is involved in the process, according to Gulseth.

Gulseth has to use a sandblaster to get the dents and rust off of the pumps because of the more than 50 years of wear-and-tear since they were used in gas stations in the U.S.

When he's finished with the pumps, he sells them to people who use them as decorations in their houses and yards. While Gulseth doesn't plan on restoring more cars, he will continue his hobby of restoring gas pumps.

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by HTR Media

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