I retired as an aerospace electrical engineer in 1991. I have spent the last 43 years building a business serving the Model T hobby. It has grown from a $2000.00 inventory to a million dollar inventory. During that time we have developed and produced many new parts for the Model T Ford including the Ruckstell axle and hundreds of other much need parts. It has been an interesting and rewording experience. I recently indicated that I would sell the business so I could really retire and work on my 1909, 1911 and 1914 projects. There was much interest but no one had any money thanks to Obama. This is a dream lost. I am a healthy 80 years old now and still going strong but the business does not allow me to work on my cars. So I may never realize my dream and the cars just sit in my museum in pieces. This is my only regret in life. I love the hobby and I love the people but I would also love to restore my cars. THis is truly A Dream Lost.
I'm beginning to realize that while I very much prefer to do my own work, whenever possible, I am going to have to have other people work on my cars for me, if I'm ever going to be able to drive some of them. Maybe you can "outsource" some of your dream?
I have great respect and gratitude for what you have accomplished and have done for our hobby. It is a shame that you are not able to complete your model T projects as planned with all that you have accomplished.
Yes, Obama and Calif. has made it difficult for a small business (Or Large Business) to survive. We see we many businesses that have went under over the past 8 years. I would hope that someone in our hobby near you that is retired could step in and help you complete your model T projects. Life does not get much better than the joy of restoring/driving model T's.
Glen, I agree with Jerry, your dream may not be completely lost. There's no reason why at least one of your cars cannot be completed in the next year if start now by outsourcing most of the work; sent off the engine, order new wood wheels, order a new horsehair leather interior, etc. Maybe not the way you wanted to do things but I think seeing at least one car restored and taking it for a drive will wipe away any disappointment you're feeling now.
Anyone can buy a car or pay someone for restoring it. But they will never restore it the way you would or enjoy doing it. I enjoy every minute restoring a car and would rather never get it done instead of having someone else do it. I may never achieve my dream but maybe my son Mark will. What a lucky guy he will be. I spent 50 years collecting the parts and he gets to put it together. It's not fair but I am happy for him.
Hi Glen, I am 62 years old. My dream in life is to be 80 years old and going strong. Get over it. Money is not everything.
glen! move over there are a lot of us in the same boat. charley
Then maybe you can get help for the business besides Dave, so you could perhaps minimize your daily troubles to only answer questions on how to do things for about an hour or two a day, fiddling with your own stuff for the rest of the time?
If it IS your dream, you will find a way. Or, maybe a way will find you.
Glen, I hope you feel a great deal of satisfaction in knowing you've been one of the most influential contributors to our hobby. For some of us, knowing that, would please us a great deal. But I also feel some sympathy for the fact you're running out of time to do the restorations. Though I've decided to quit aging at my current status I fear the inevitable will happen and my cars will end up in someone else's hands.
Still, I'll pray you are able to find a way to restore at least one of your cars. It's the least you deserve for being such a great "Model T" guy!
Glen, I always dreamed of dying in bed with blond twin sisters with DD cups and big butts but my wife won't even let that project start. Sometimes in life you just have to be happy with what you have and move on. There are millions of folks born in third world countries I would not trade one second with no matter what the offer!
There is only so much time in the day, and it is your choice how to spend it. If your dream is to restore your cars consider hiring more help at the shop to allow you to spend time on your cars. If that isn't possible because the shop doesn't run without you, that might make the shop challenging to sell.
Interest rates are so low, there are many people with money searching for solid passive investments. If the shop is priced competitively based on revenue it should sell...unless the real value is you and your knowledge, not the parts on the shelves. If that is the case the most important part of your shop isn't for sale. You are not looking for someone with money to invest, you are looking for a Model T person with your level of knowledge with money to invest. This is a tiny crowd as few people have your Model T knowledge, and that is more due to people passing on than a president.
I realize how much satisfaction there is to restoring a Model T. I have learned a lot by the two which I have restored. I also restored a few Model A's in the past. Each time I try to do a better job than in the past. I don't participate in shows which involve judging because I realize that they only pick the cars which the judges consider "best". Those cars can and many times are not driven but carefully moved to the site. Some don't even have oil in them. Many times they are "restored" to more exacting specifications than the original. Many are professionally restored and detailed. I would rather drive mine and if I should be so unfortunate to damage one or if it breaks down, then I can enjoy fixing it again.
I want to thank you Glen for the time and effort which you have expended to keep the hobby going. I have some parts which were either made or sold by you and appreciate the quality and authenticity. Although the cars which you have helped to restore by your hard work, are not owned by you, we couldn't do what we do without you and others like you who have the knowledge and ability to make it possible.
It is truly sad that these passions can't be translated into cold hard cash- but there are many economic factors, thanks to the turbulent bumps and yaws of modern capitalism, that contribute to unpredictable markets. You are alive, healthy and kicking- count your biological and genetic strokes of luck and move on to reinvent yourself. Blame, whether founded or perceived, only makes you sicker and bitter. Thanks for your many years of service to our hobby!
The hobby demands cheap parts. This is good for the hobby but not for business. Most dealers make little profit, therefor we must watch costs. In our case Dave runs the retail side of the business and I spend full time manufacturing new parts. I doubt that I could hire anyone to do what I do and do it right. Your reputation depends on doing it right and I think we have done it pretty well. But that is as valuable as all the inventory, patterns and tooling required to make the parts. Knowledge and experience is invaluable. But all of that can be learned if you have the time and desire.
I really dislike when people blame other people for their problems.
I respect Glen, but I wish this forum could leave politics out of their discussion.
FYI, I started a small business 8 years ago and we have greatly prospered under the current administration.
I think I truly understand your frustrations. I enjoy making stuff and building cars (especially radical engines". Paying someone to do the work so often ends in frustration.
Recently I was approached by someone wanting to buy one of my "floating " transmission shafts. They couldn't understand that the price is the same now as 8 years ago!!!
I hope you can come up with a compromise you can live with
We all have a little of that no time to get much done. Everything is all about the hassle and hussle it seems, I get up at 5am and get back home most nights by 9pm. I have paid to have a few things done in the past few years to my model A s. It's never as satisfying as the work you do your self. I have worked for the people I work for for 25 years and hope I am healthy enough to complete my last model A projects and to get my 26 rpu completed the way I want it. I think I can retire in another 5 years. Time will tell for me. I am still holding on to my dream to complete my last T myself. Time gets away from us really fast now it seems. Grandkids, house and yard work, job and family. Tim
Rod, Sorry if I offended you. I am glad you have prospered. You are one of a few as whitnessed by all of the closed businesses and empty commercial buildings in town. That's not political, those are just the facts.
Glen, Perhaps it is time to hire an apprentice and teach him or her to do what you do. Passing on knowledge and skill is what maintains craftsmanship at a company. In time you would have more time for your cars, and still be available as needed.
Rod, do you print food stamps?
(Sorry. Back to our regular programming....)
And it starts...................................
Yeah, you're right, Howard. I shouldn't have, but the devil made me do it...
Love that devil.
Hi Glen, I don't post much here but I want to add any support to your problem I can. For the past 30 plus years, I've had various young guys come to my shop to work and learn. This is not a well thought out plan, it just happened. I like to start them in 8th grade and of course, they go on to life after high school. I can't explain in detail what they have done, but the videos and records of the cars (on my website - www.dunlavy.us), we've built are positive records. You may have been having local kids work for you all along, and that is terrific. I really like the idea of one at a time. My last boy, now 19, is in community college building a house, called construction practices. He progressed more than any other boy I know. When he started he literately didn't know how to hold a screwdriver, let alone which way to turn it. I am not a "do-gooder" - these boys have very seriously helped built several cars with me. I am pushing 80 and all this keeps me young. My 35 year old computer consulting business will be closed when my last client bites the dust. It's hard to get enough capital to start or buy a business, no matter what Rod from Indiana says. I'm seriously glad I'm not going to live forever. God Speed, Glen.
It could be that after this next election you would love to have Obama back!
Ted, Fat chance. I didn't vote for him but I had great hopes for a black president. It would have been a great thing for this country. But it just didn't work out that way. More people on food stamps today than ever before and race relations couldn't be much worse. What a shame. And I thought I had problems! Oh, but I was told to not get political, sorry.
Dave, It is great to have young people come in and help. I have had several but mostly to just put together and package kits. What I do is just to technical. Our young people need practical learning. I think it is a crime that schools have don away with shops and auto class.
Part of the reason we have this particular niche in the old-car hobby is that we suffer from no shortage of spare parts. _A big part of the reason we have that never-ending stockpile of parts is that there are dreamers—not big, corporate players, but little guys—who, against all odds, shovel it against the tide and keep right on shoveling, year after year. _
That kind of dedication has benefited all of us and so, when the guy with the spade pauses to wipe his proverbial brow, look around and wonder where the years have gone, and consider whether his own personal dreams will ever come to fruition, it's time for his friends to close ranks, raise a toast to him and make our "Thank you" sound like a peal of thunder. _
So I'll respectfully disagree with those whose attitude is, "Just suck it up, life isn't fair," and suggest that just maybe the man deserves a show of support from those he has benefited for so long. _Just a thought. _I could be wrong—happens all the time—just ask my wife.
Thank you so much for your support for so many years to our hobby.
I believe you have several options – like many of us also usually have several options. In my case I could easily sell four of my projects and pay to have the other ones “fixed.” But I have chosen to hang onto them all. I’m working to save money to build a garage so I can work on them. And I haven’t built the garage yet, because I figure I will only be able to have one garage built – so I would like to have it built where my wife and I plan to retire. And we don’t know where that is yet. Of the options I have reviewed, for me that is the one I have selected. You and others might select a different option given those same choices.
In your case, from just the little you have shared, it sounds like you probably have the option of closing the business, selling off the assets, and restoring your cars. That is probably not the choice you will chose – but it is probably an option.
You could continue to do what you have been doing. And we all know what the definition of insanity is, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
But since you are an engineer, I’m sure you can come up with a “win-win” solution. For example take 3 days off from the business each week. Spend those extra hours on your cars. Would the business suffer – sure. But if you cut out the several items that are taking up a lot of your time in the business and are not producing a lot of revenue for the time invested – you should still be able to keep the business going. And if one of those items you let go of -- until you finish your cars is the Ruckstell axle kits – the price will probably go up some and then you can sell the remaining parts for a higher price.
We have an air cooled VW shop in our town and the shop is only open from 8 AM to 2 PM Thur through Sat. The owner does great work. He was trained by VW on the air cooled engines. We like him and his shop. We schedule our car appointments on Thur through Sat. With the cost of doing business in California, you may not have enough cash flow room to cut out three days. But if you are working 60 to 70 hours a week to keep the doors open – is it really worth it at 80 years old? I don’t know – that is a question you and your family need to answer. But for me I would rather let go of the business and take a part time job as long as I could provide for my family etc.
So I would encourage you to look at what you want to do. Discuss it with your family. Chart a course to help you reach the most important objectives. Be realistic – none of us can accomplish all the things we would like to accomplish (at least not with the current mortality rates). So what are the really important goals for you and your family? Pursue those. [Note that is why I was willing to have Ghost our 1915 Centerdoor go to Bob’s garage. Bob gave Ghost a good home! I would have had to live to be 100+ before I ever got to that project. And because my real goal was to see it restored and not parted out – having Bob give it a good home was a real “win-win” for me. For more info on Ghost see: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/118802/142783.html . And Bob is making steady progress on getting Ghost back on the road.]
If things are too overwhelming for you to make a decision that you are comfortable with, I would encourage you to consider seeing a counselor. Sometime we need some accountability or help or both to make the changes that we want to make. Other times something medical has gone wrong and we need some sort of medicine etc. to help us get over the issue. But you can do it -- either on your own or with help. And there are lots of folks willing to help.
We will be praying for wisdom, guidance, and courage for you as you navigate this “fork in the road.” I’m confident you can make the best decision for you and your family. And I’m sure the folks in the hobby will still be thankful for you – no matter what your decision will be.
Hap l9l5 cut off
Long before this administration I have been saying that black trucks matter ....
You deserve to retire and do your own thing. Have you considered using a technical school somehow to help make retirement possible? There are high school and 2 year programs that could surely pick up parts of your business. How about McPherson College and their automotive restoration program?
If you sell off a million worth all at once you will surely feel a big TAX hit. Maybe donating some of the tooling and patterns to a school could provide a tax break or write off. You built this business over many many years and I think it will be too overwhelming for one person to just take it all over at once. Consider selling off or donating parts of the business. Just my 2 cents but maybe something to consider.
I keep forgetting to compliment you on those purple headlight lenses! This posting reminded me, so there I go, way off topic!
You are in a tough spot. It is hard to spend years building something up, and then not be able to see it continue on without your guidance. If it's any consolation, there are others in very similar circumstances who have great empathy with you.
My Dad built up the family resort, my brother has run it for three decades now; it soon will be 100 years old, but there's no one in the family to carry on, and the market, quite frankly, STINKS for selling a Motel/Resort--and how will they run it? Takes a special talent to keep 1923 "vacation cabins" up and functioning (I will be there next week repairing the overhead electrical system; one of our "main power pole" trees decided to die, so I have to figure out another way to route the wiring. Try finding outdoor wire insulators nowadays--fortunately we have some we've stashed away).
Had a Model A friend whose family had an egg ranch in LA, was almost there 100 years; they tried to keep it going to 100, but the neighborhood got to be too bad with the Bloods and the Crypts gangs shooting it out right there. Think they gave up at 98 years. And this was probably 10 years ago! Times have been tough far too long!
So I assume that Rod has started a business making/supplying to the old car( model T) hobby. As he is successful maybe he can buy out Glen and expand the business. Or did I miss something?
Tom, I could never sell the business for what it is worth, so I will be lucky to get what I have in it so there should be no taxes. But the government will probably nix that also. Hap, as always you have words of wisdom. Thank you for the advise. I want to keep the cars I have and wouldn't think of selling them. I don't need the money and certainly don't have any medical or mental problems I am aware of. As for counseling, I never met a counselor I liked. They usually give you bad advise from an uninformed perspective, so why bother. But thanks anyway. I know you are a buisy man also and stopped repairing Ruckstell's just so you could do what I want to do. So I know you understand. I will some how work things out.
Some times we just wait too long. You sound intelligent enough to know where this was going say 10 or 15 years back. Now you're in a hurry and stuck. I feel for you even though I'd have done it differently. Actually I have.
Charlie, I regret nothing, and wouldn't have done anything different. It has been a wonderful experience. I have met thousands of wonderful people and have enjoyed helping them with their projects and problems. The best solution to my problem would be to sell the business to someone who wants to continue what I have created and make it even a bigger success. Then I could be happy doing what I want to do now. Hopefully, I will live long enough that my son can take over the business in five years. But by then I probably won't be able to work on my cars anymore.
I got hurt on the job 11 years ago. My income was cut and changes were made to systems involved that leaves me 750 a month income. So when I am up to it I patch my neighbors lawnmowers and such to try to buy a few parts along and just to be able to breath a sigh of relief once in a while.
I either feel bad and am broke, or I feel good and and busy as heck. Or busy and feel bad and have some money to put towards the hobbies or any combo of the above.
All that to say this.
I am dang near 50 years old. I am thinking if I don't soon get started I won't finish some things I want to.
So I do stuff for other folks only a few days a week. the rest of the time is for my stuff.
Allocation of time is the idea. Put 20 hours toward work, 20 hours towards projects .
While you have a whole bunch of years on me, I can relate to a number of facets to your dilemma.
I was on a helicopter that crashed in AFG and through this and a few other "close brushes", came
to see my own mortality as being pretty much an "at any moment" kind of thing. The experience sparked
in me the beginnings of a paradigm to prioritize and stop putting stuff off that was important to me.
I am a big fan of gratitude and FINDING gratitude even in disappointments. My old man was a first
class SOB and croaked out at 52. From observations of you and Mark, I'd say you are not an SOB
(first thing to be grateful for), and secondly, you're still healthy and squeezed 35% more time out of
life than he did (and you're still going !) One more thing to be grateful for. I sent men home in boxes
before they could legally drink. Just something to think about. I wish I had had a Dad that I could have
hobbies in common with. There is SO MUCH to be grateful for in life.
When I had my mortality epiphany, I came home, sold off a lot of big projects I would never live to
finish, and bought a couple TT's ..... always loved them and was done denying myself "the dream".
I have both a house and shop to finish. Both enormous projects. When they are done, I too hope
to really have the free time to enjoy my trucks. But I make the best of it and keep picking away at
the stone. We could have just as easily hit the rocky part of that mountain when we crashed and that
would have been the end. And for this, even with all life's setbacks and annoyances, I am grateful.
Burger, We too are grateful that you didn't hit the rocks and survived. Now you can enjoy your two TT's and do what you love doing. God bless you for your service. I too served during the cold war with Russia.
I remember being told some 30 plus years ago that with each decade our priorities change. That this is normal. I now find I think of my mortality more than I did before. And yes, we never know when we'll be called into the next existence. I almost was Saturday, traveling back from a piano tuning way up in the mountains. Right in the middle of nowhere, my cell phone crackled into life, "Text Message!" Well, that wasn't important, but what was important was that I could call Linda to let her know I was on my way home, so I stopped right there and called her. Back on the road again, and within 3 minutes some clown in a mini-cooper is zooming up the road, straightening out the curves right into my lane. We missed by inches, but I thought how awful it would have been for Linda to hear me telling her I'll be home soon, and then suddenly be in a huge head-on accident. A friend of ours was diagnosed with a "curable" cancer, and is gone in 4 weeks. We never know what will happen, so enjoy life while you can and with what you can. Glad I already have my Ts now, as I probably couldn't get them nowadays.
I collect old insulators. The glass and porcelain things on telephone/power poles. Started
collecting at the ripe old age of 5, in 1966.
Back then, the hobby was comprised of gruff old linemen and rockhounds and few would
give some snot-nosed kid a second glance for inclusion to the scene. And then I met a guy
named Bill Reid. He was in his mid-30's (really OLD to a kid my age !) and he treated me and
my friends as equals and was the best friend and mentor a kid could ever hope for. I lost him
this past March at the age of 86. I am real sick of this growing old and running out of time
way that life works, and it only seems to be getting worse, the older I get !
Hell, a person just hits their stride for knowledge and wisdom (some more than others !) and
then the clock runs out ! What's up with that ? And the worst part is these croakers take it
all with them ! All that knowledge. All that school of hard knocks wisdom .... POOF ! .... it's
I asked Bill for two things when he croaked (that was HIS term for passing on):
1. He had extraordinary handwriting. I wanted that, once he wasn't going to be using it. And,
2. Bill was a professional jazz pianist, learning to play at age 5 and professional before he got
out of school. I wanted that talent to just drip that stuff out of my fingertips like he did.
He promised me that both were mine when he croaked. I am still waiting.
Good thing we shared a sense of humor based in the absurd.
Glen, About 5 years ago I GAVE my son my business but kept a 30X40 corner for my Model Ts. I am in the process of building a Speedster from all the parts I have laying around....but it still is kind of expensive. I went to Turlock and picked up 2 fenders, 2 running boards and 2 splash aprons and I still need a 26 inch hood. And BTW, I am 5 years older that U. I also make pens and mess with photography. You and Dave are a huge asset to the hobby...we need and appreciate U!!
Good Luck with those two gifts.
My handwriting was bad when they taught it to me (cursive, 2nd grade); been around pianos since I was still a kid at home and they only time they really sound good with me sitting in front of them is when there's a good piano roll on!
My Aunt Wanitta claimed she couldn't play, but after a few glasses of wine, she could put out some hot ragtime! I miss her still!
I get a kick out of junk shops selling insulators; heck we still use them--I think there's still a box full of Hemmingray #11s in the resort shop, along with the oak standoffs to go with them.
However, I'm going to be using the 3 & 4 line spool insulators & brackets next week.
Surely you have brought someone along on the manufacturing side that has impressed you with their technical abilities, the ''go to guy'' your other people look to. To start with, take a week every month and work on your cars, doing just a bit of oversight on the business for that week. If things progress well add a day a month to your cars. Before you know it you could be smelling smoke on that first car.....Gary
Burger - how long were you active duty?
With all due respect for your contributions to the hobby, and your ability to produce such wonderful things, I would share what I have found.
I do a little consulting work for small business and you are what I find all the time. You are trying to sell what you consider a business, but if it won't run with out you, you are really trying to sell a job. The engineer that would buy your business can get a "job" anywhere and not have to "buy" it.
You have to structure your business so it will run without you. If that means hiring an engineer, plant manager, or whatever you want to call it, that is what you will have to do. Until then, you don't have anything to sell, except the assets.
>>>What I do is just to technical.<<<
I too have a dream. In my dream, I'm about 10 minutes into an important job interview when I realize I'm not wearing any pants.
I bet there's a lot of machinists/technicians out there, maybe not in your neighborhood, but are willing to relocate for work. Try the internet. Something like Linkedin.com. Be specific about your needs and you should be able to find a good fit. It's amazing in this culture how much the value of a man's self worth is rooted in their work. I don't think that's necessarily a good thing. We're all more than that. The first hurdle I had to deal with when I retired was coming to the understanding, in my own head, that I was not unique or indispensable. After you cross that threshold, its all downhill. Good luck.
(Message edited by jesselashcraft on July 12, 2016)
I use to work from daylight to after dark. Can't do it anymore, about 4 to 6 hours is it. I can now set down and maybe do it tomorrow I just tell my wife her next husband can do it.
I was a contractor (too old to enlist), assigned with the 1/3 Marines at Camp Dwyer. I built forward
operating bases and other construction needs for the military. Did three back-to-back tours and came
home 10 weeks shy of completing my 3rd year after getting hurt at al Pasab.
Tried to enlist in 1991 for Desert Storm. Recruiter said I was "golden", except I was too old ..... 30
His exact words for this were "We got this one, Grandpa !" I was really bummed.
I wish I had made a career of it at 18, but nothing was happening in 1980 to make that sound exciting
at the time. Tried to enlist in 1991 for Desert Storm. Recruiter said I was "golden", except I was too old ..... 30
His exact words for this were "We got this one, Grandpa !" I was really bummed.
But the service part wore on me and I ultimately went at age 49. It was a poor paying, risky job, but it
was a dream come true. I miss the culture badly.
Glen, why not put aside four hours per day to work on your cars, and let Dave run the counter?
Larry. Dave does run the counter. I spend all of my time on developing new parts and manufacturing all of our other new parts. It is more than a full time job. Michael, My asking price for the business only included the cost of assets and tooling. It was virtually a give away and still no one could afford it. Thanks guys for all your advise, I know you are right and I need to step away and make time for myself.
Glen, I have not read the whole thread today. There was a gentlemen that posted a few months ago who was in the military and he stated he was getting out some time in the next year and wanted to open a Model T shop. Maybe worth looking up the thread, contacting him. Maybe you can setup a deal. You own the shop, work less and less each month. He builds up knowledge, and works with his bank to buy you out, after a year or two?? Could be a win win for both of you.
I spent the whole day working on the engine of my 1914 yesterday. The body is now being painted. That's a start!
Way to go, Glen!
Now cut out all those unscheduled naps at your desk every day and you'll have even more time to work on your cars.
I'm just a new guy here but would one of the after market parts suppliers (or folks they deal with) be interested? From what I've heard, Glen's stuff is top notch. Selfishly I want his designs and products to continue to be available since I'm so new I don't even have my car put together yet.
I hope you get the retirement you deserve!
Rick, A new part is not worth making unless you make it right. That has always been our policy. There is nothing better than a satisfied and happy customer. There is nothing worse than an unhappy customer. I have informed all of the dealers we sell to of my desire to retire but none of them seem interested. You would think they would be considering all of the new parts they buy from Chaffin's. Mark, When did you last see me napping? I think you have been drinking too much soda pop. Your just another of those bad cops!
There are folks who left this life early, folks who are disabled by strokes or other issues, those whose lives are consumed by caring for others. These are the folks whose dreams are lost. I urge everyone on the forum to count their blessings and get on with their life.
Every time I see you you're taking a nap. You never notice because you're asleep. As far as the "bad cop" comment, I know you don't mean it because you know better.
Mark, You need to have your eyes checked. Especially since you are a cop. We don't want you shooting an innocent bystander.
My business partner and I (13 years) started working 4 day weeks about 5 years ago. We work MOnday to Thursday and Friday is work on cars day. We have finished 3 in the past 5 years and should be done another by the end of this year. Don't need to step away just take some time for you...