Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Muffler Men restoration updates!

We wanted to give a quick update on the current restorations of our two Muffler Men. Well, actually one Muffler Man and one disembodied head.

First up is Big George. Thanks to the amazing folks at Miles Fiberglass here in Portland, Oregon we're thrilled to announce he is now 100% sound again! He came to us with very severe damage to his torso after taking a fall back in 2010.

One of the numerous large tears in the fiberglass.

The team at Miles repaired him from head to toe and he's now ready to move on to painting. You can see in the photo below the numerous large tears that needed to be repaired both externally and internally. They also reconstructed his waist line so he could be bolted together again.

 Note areas of large repairs.

 We'll post an update as soon as we get him to the paint shop. We're currently in the process of selecting colors.

Roll me over!

Next up is our orphan Muffler Man Bunyan head. We actually picked him up last fall and he's been undergoing a complete restoration the past few months. The story of this one is that an antique dealer bought it from a picker who obtained it several years ago. At the time the picker got him the body still existed but was "too large" to also save. That person was not able to confirm if all these years later the body still existed. We're guessing it sadly ended up being scrapped. We've not been able to locate any photos showing a Bunyan with this paint job. The photos below will give you an idea of what a complete wreck he was when he arrived.

Paul in "as found" condition.

His problems were many, starting with the fact that at some point someone decided it would be awesome to glue gobs of pillow batting to his hair, eyebrows and beard. This created a giant mess that took endless applications of paint stripper and hand sanding. Next up was the paint job that appeared to have been applied by hand. Not with a brush, but an actual bare hand. They had also chosen a lobster red for a skin tone. Perhaps they were going for "First sunny day of the year Paul."

Paint stripper in action.

Once the numerous layers of paint had been removed we could get an idea of the underlying damage. The two areas needing the largest repairs were a large crack running from the front of his cap back into his head and a large tear at the base of his neck. We're guessing that when the head was removed from the body it was done less than carefully.

This large crack had been previously "fixed" by applying duct tape over it.

Like many jobs the preparation has been by far the largest part of getting Paul back to his handsome self. Many hours of stripping, sanding, fiberglass application, more sanding, filling in small imperfections etc. We're currently in the primer stage but hopefully you can see how great he's turning out.

We knew that rugged lumberjack was hiding under there!

He should be all painted up by the end of the weekend and we'll post a few "after" photos so you can see how he turned out!

If you need us we'll be over here sanding away,

Jeff & Kelly

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Tastee Freez Twin - a unique piece of advertising history

It's been an eventful month for our vintage fiberglass mascot collection with the arrival of Big George the Muffler Man and our newest addition Eff.

Eff settles in with some of the A&W Burger Family
What's an Eff you ask?. Eff was actually the male half of the Tastee Freez Twins - mascots used for a time by Tastee Freez. Eff has chocolate hair and waves jauntily with his right arm while his sister Tee has strawberry hair and greets everyone with her left arm.

Tastee Freez featured the twins in a series of comic books as well as other products. The most common items are the salt & pepper shakers which are still somewhat easy to track down.

Here's a lovely set recently offered on Etsy by NewportRoad

As you can see Eff does still bear a resemblance to his 2" salt shaker self, but turning him into a 7.5' statue takes him to an entirely different level. :-)

Surprisingly adding Eff to our collection was a 9-year process. We first became aware of him several years ago when Debra Jane Seltzer posted photos of a collection of fiberglass statues she visited in South Carolina. The statues were located at a business that sold concrete lawn ornaments, and after a bit of digging and were able to find a phone number. Unfortunately for us when we called we were told he wasn't for sale. We were disappointed but could tell the owner truly enjoyed having him.

Photo courtesy of Mark Blackwell

So, we called about once a year just to check in and see if he was possibly available and each year we were told politely he was still there but not for sale. Then in 2013 the phone number we had no longer worked. We thought maybe they had closed up shop and we resigned ourselves to the fact it wasn't meant to be.

Being us (i.e. completely obsessed) we still thought about him and wondered where he ended up. Finally around the end of last year we did another online search and found a different number for the shop. We called and found out that they were indeed looking to wrap up the business and everything was now for sale. The bad news was that Eff had been sold.

In February of this year a friend of ours was visiting family in South Carolina and just happened to be quite close to the shop that once owned Eff. We asked if he'd be willing to swing by and see what was still there. That afternoon he sent us several photos including the one below:

Photo courtesy of Mark Blackwell

It's him! Eff was still there! We immediately wrote Mark and asked him to find out if he was available, and if so to please let them know we'd like him. He was, and Mark was able to facilitate the adoption process for us and we were on our way. 

Obstacle one was that now that Eff was ours we needed to somehow get him from South Carolina to Oregon...quickly. Enter Jacob the Carpetbagger from North Carolina. Jacob was kind enough to drive down and meet Mark to take Eff back to his house while we arranged shipping.

Photo courtesy of Mark Blackwell
Jacob loaded up Eff and took him on a little road trip back to North Carolina (check his his road trip video here) with one particularly fun stop along the way:

Eff says hello to his former employer. (Photo by Jacob Krecj)

Eff stayed with Jacob for a couple weeks while we worked out the best way to get a giant ice cream boy statue shipped across the country. The UPS Store in Asheville, NC ended up being a tremendous help and about a week later we were picking him up here in Portland.

It turns out that Eff is not only unique in the looks department he's also quite unique in the world of advertising statues. At the moment there are three Tastee Freez statues known to still exist - ours, one other Eff and one Tee (sporting a unique set of clothes.) We'd love to find a Tee for Eff but that may be a bit like finding a unicorn. He's next in line for a complete restoration and we can't wait to see him in a new coat of yellow and chocolate brown.

Estelle says goodbye to Eff...

In closing we'd like to once again offer our sincere thanks to Estelle, Mark and Jacob. Without them we'd still be pining away for Eff. Thanks again guys for making "Operation Tastee Freez" a success.

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Vintage Roadside adds a Muffler Man to the collection!

Big news friends! We're thrilled to announce the Vintage Roadside fiberglass family has grown with the addition of one very large new fella - Big George.

Some of you Muffler Man fans may recognize Big George from the Sterling McCall Classic Car Museum in Round Top, Texas. He was purchased by Mr. McCall in the late 1990s and stood in front of his museum until one unfortunate day in 2010.

According to his former caretaker he received a call one morning letting him know "the Big Guy was down." He had been placed on a raised section of the grounds (image) and sadly became a victim of overnight winds. He fell face-first, in what must have looked like the world's most awkward cliff dive, breaking his fall on the sidewalk below with both his outstretched arms and his forehead.

The results of his tumble are evident in the damage to both armpits, smaller fractures across his chest, tears at his waist and a non-lethal head wound.

Big George was then taken apart at the waist and moved to the Museum's storage warehouse. In the following years the Museum's collections were auctioned off and sadly Mr. McCall passed away in 2013. In the Fall of 2015 a friend let us know that the family was considering finding a new home for Big George. We tried to make contact but weren't able to get in touch with the family. In February we decided to give it one last shot and luckily we reached one of Mr. McCall's daughters. She put us in touch with the caretaker of the collection and he was kind enough to send us a set of detailed photos.

After discussions with the McCall family an agreement was made and we became the proud new parents of Big George.

We do have one bit of caution to other potential Muffler Men owners - be prepared to find your perfect Muffler Man no closer than 8-10 states away from wherever you're located. Before landing Big George we had "almost" landed one in South Carolina, Georgia, Texas (different statue) and California. Being in Oregon we knew immediately the California one wouldn't work out - way too easy! While finally locating one is certainly the largest part of the challenge, shipping a 20' statue home is also a major part of the process. We ended up going the uShip route and in the end he arrived here in Portland.

The two questions we've been asked are: "What's next for him?" and "Where can we see him?"

A complete restoration begins for him next week which will probably take somewhere around 3 months. We have also had several inquiries from local businesses interested in having him on display. Our number one priority is to get him restored and back out in public view. Portland has never been home to an International Fiberglass Muffler Man and we're so excited to bring one to town. As soon as we confirm placement we'll be sure and let you all know. We can't wait to get a photo with him either. :-)

If you're a local Portland business and are interested in having Big George at your location or event please contact us regarding availability here. For over 50 years now these roadside giants have drawn a crowd.

In closing we'd like to once again thank the McCall family for passing him on to us, and to all of you who have been so supportive of Vintage Roadside over the past 10 years.

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

P.S. We've also recently added two other pieces to our vintage fiberglass mascot family - a rare Tastee Freez Twin as well as the head of a Bunyan model Muffler Man. We'll post about those two next time out.