Some of My Restored Bicycles
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How to Pick a Restoration Project
Questions to ask yourself:
• Will I keep this forever?
• Is the cost of the restoration not important?
• Is it okay if I invest more than the project can be sold for in the future?
• Does it matter how long it takes to complete the project?
If the answers to the above questions are yes, then you should purchase the project that you like and the initial purchase price and restoration costs are not important factors.
Project for Resale
If you are a hobbyist and intend to sell the project in the future, then the two most important factors in making this project purchase are price and condition.
• Price: You must insure that the initial purchase price and the cost of the restoration do not exceed the market value of the project. EBay is full of ads that read, “$6,000 invested asking $2,900.” Unless you can afford to lose money on your projects, this is not a sound approach. There are those in the restoration hobby that will tell you to find another hobby if you do not want to spend more than the project is worth in the market place. I personally think that this is a flawed philosophy based on incorrect assumptions. It assumes that you will take the project to a shop and have them do all the work. If that is your approach, then you will always invest more in the restoration than the project is worth. If you do much of the work yourself, then you will, at the worst, break even or perhaps make some profit depending on your initial purchase price and how much of the work you can do yourself.
• Condition: Buy a project that is in the best possible original condition. “Rust buckets” or earlier non-professional restorations are all money sinks. Pay more for a better condition project and it will save you money in the restoration process.
Where to Buy
• Craigslist: This is the best place to get bargains. You need to use caution because Craigslist is full of scam artists who will take your money and not deliver the item to you. Always see the project in person. Never buy sight unseen or you will eventually get burned.
• Clubs: Vintage scooter and bicycle clubs can sometime give you leads on a good project, but they tend to keep the good ones for themselves.
• Websites: Vintage websites (scooter.net or vintagebikes.net) can be useful in finding a lead but these tend to be restored scooters and bikes and are not usually suitable for reconditioning or restoration.
• “American Pickers” Approach: This is very time consuming but often yields the best results. It only works in rural areas where people have barns or garages to store stuff. Sometimes you can find a scooter or bike in a yard or garage sale in an urban area, but that is rare.
• Estate Sales: Subscribe to websites that give you estate sale listings. Scooters and bikes are often included in estate sales and can often be purchased at a good price.
• eBay: eBay is a great place to sell something because you have a national market. It is a poor place to buy a project because you are forced to bid against others who often have no idea of the restoration costs involved and will overbid. These are the same people who, two years later, submit an ad on eBay which reads “$6,500 invested, asking $2,800”.