MORRISVALE - With enough paint, sand, sweat and WD-40, old things become new again in Danny Hill's garage.
Be it a gumball machine, drive-in movie speakers, a vintage refrigerator or tabletop jukebox, Hill, 60, uses skills he earned from years of fixing up cars to make these antiques look and work like new.
His garage is a grease monkey's dream. The outside is covered with vintage signs for Exxon, Firestone, Pennzoil and Shell, alongside forgotten names like Wolf's Head Oil and Lube, Pennzip, Esso and Sinclair.
The collection only becomes more impressive inside, where Hill has more vintage signs, some 30 years old but never used, along with old road signs and traffic lights, three unrestored "Smokey and the Bandit" Pontiac Trans Ams, a 2003 Mustang Cobra and a Thundering Herd-themed dune buggy.
A trained eye will spot less noticeable treasures. Look around the shop and you'll see old gas pump parts, hand-cranked air compressors, service station oil dispensers, patinaed parking meters and domed light fixtures from old filling stations.
They don't look very impressive now, but with a few weeks of work, Hill can turn these hunks of rusted metal into showpieces worthy of the world's finest man caves.
Hill, a retired diesel mechanic, came upon this hobby by accident.
About two years ago, he purchased his first gas pump on eBay for $300, intending to fix it up to keep around his garage. But once the pump was finished, a friend asked to buy it. So Hill bought another pump. Then he bought another, and another, and another.
Before long, the front room of his garage was filled with gas pumps. When his wife gently suggested the obsession might be getting out of hand, Hill admitted she was right and started selling off his finished works to pay for new projects.
He has now completed 25 gas pump restorations, but he's far from finished. There are seven pumps in his shop waiting to be restored, and he's heading to Indianapolis in a few weeks to buy even more.
'Do it the right way'
Hill is currently working on a Gulf pump from the 1940s. As he does with all new projects, he has stripped the pump to its frame so he can make sure the inner workings are in good shape.
Vintage gas pumps calculated each purchase using a computer, although not the kind with a motherboard or DVD drive. It's more like a complicated clock, driven by gears and cogs.
Hill won't continue a project if the computer doesn't work. They are too complicated for him to fix, and he doesn't want a pump to leave the shop without working properly.
If a computer's numbers are stuck in place when it arrives at Hill's shop, he remedies the problem by spraying WD-40 into the machine over and over. The computer usually breaks free after a few days. If it doesn't, the project is dead.
"If that doesn't work, I don't go any further," he said.