- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2016

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) - Owen Weaver has more than enough gas pumps to open a gas station, but that’s not likely to happen since he and his wife sold their station years ago.

Weaver, who lives south of Elkhart, restores and collects classic gas pumps ranging from the 1910s to the 1950s. None of them are functional, since the pumps, motors and meters are removed while being restored in the workshop behind his home on C.R. 13.

“That’s an acceptable thing to do in the industry because they are never going to work again,” Weaver explained.

Weaver and his wife owned a Shell station in Goshen from 1978 to 1989. That’s where his interest in gas and oil items began, but his pump collection started with the old pump from his family’s farm.

“My wife asked me, ‘What do you want with that rust bucket?’ and I said, ‘I don’t have a clue,’” he said. “I took it down to bare metal and repainted it.”

That first pump was not historically correct, Weaver admitted, saying he didn’t know any better. From that first restoration project, Weaver’s collection has grown to more than 20 pumps.

“I designed a shop for five and I have nine in here,” he said with a laugh. “I just found a couple and slowly got hooked, and slowly found suppliers and that kind of stuff.”

Weaver puts 100 to 200 hours into each pump he restores in painting, tinkering and more. While some pump collectors only work in original parts, he uses reproductions - know as “repop” in the lingo of the gas and oil world. He said it’s more affordable than tracking down original pieces.

“It doesn’t bother me to use repop parts, there are some purists out there,” Weaver said.

He also doesn’t always follow the historical color schemes of the brands he chooses for his projects, but that’s only because he likes to diversify his collection.

“So many brands are red, I don’t want a shop full of red pumps,” he said. “I will vary from historically correct just to add some color.”

His passion is just for his own enjoyment. Weaver has received offers from people who want him restore a pump for them but he says he couldn’t make a living at it.

He’s always looking for a pump to restore. Weaver even has a sign on the van he drives every day with a callout for gas and oil items.

“The sign on the van I get about one good hit a year, I get about 20 wasted hits,” he said. “I’m always looking. It used to be you could pick up pumps from farmers or old places, but now it’s just dealer to dealer, hobbyist to hobbyist.”

Weaver said he manages to get the items without using the Internet at all. His favorite brand of items to collect is Shell because that is the brand of station he used to own.

“It’s amazing how much history there is. In the 1920s there were 50 pump manufacturers, now we’re down to six or so,” he said. “There were hundreds of oil companies, it’s just amazing who bought whom and on and on.”


Source: The Elkhart Truth, https://bit.ly/1RVv12x


Information from: The Elkhart Truth, https://www.elkharttruth.com

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