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Viva-la-B-110

Restoration Business

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Viva-la-B-110
Hey Guys-- I've been toying with the idea of one day starting a business devoted to gathering up old Simplicity and A/C equipment, restoring it, and reselling it to collectors-- or anyone else who was interested. Given the admirable and understandable do-it-yourself attitude of most collectors-- not to mention other variables-- do you all think this would be a worth while endeavor? Thanks!

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Brettw
I think as a personal endeavor, or a hobby that also makes a few bucks it could be very rewarding. To make a living at it? I don't think that would be remotely viable. Most of these become a labor of love, and at the same time a functional tool for many of us. But if you were to "restore" one of these the costs would simply not work. Your parts costs, the countless hours at a rate compared to the going mechanics rate, and then a reasonable profit to sustain any business would make these unmarketable as a business model, IMHO. Take a Sovereign that is reasonably restorable. $300 purchase price? Misc parts, bearings, nuts bolts, maybe $1-200? Now, pulleys and belts, $150? A repower, $1,200? Tires? another $150. Paint and decals maybe a couple hundred. All the stuff I'm not even thinking of, light bulbs, wire all the little stuff. Then what would it take? A full week? 40 hours? More like 80, but let's use 40. At $50 per hour that would be 2k in labor, not including taxes and burdens (usually 25-30%). So you end up with 4-5k in total costs. To cover insurance and labor burdens, overhead for shop and and utilities, and a small profit you would have to sell these for about $6-7,000. In today's marketplace, I don't see it as happening. Is there a warranty on a 7k tractor? Did you completely tear down the trans and BGB and rebuild them? Steering? All linkages? What about your liability selling a "new" tractor without all of the new safety nannies? I am not trying to rain on your parade, because it sounds great, and if it could work I would love to do it too, but I just don't see it as a way to make a living. Maybe if retired and as additional income when sold in different stages of restoration and general horse trading, maybe make few extra bucks. Otherwise, I think I would have to keep my day job.

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B110guy
I agree a bit with Brett. Only in the car world is a restoration worth more than it cost. I think if you were a source for high quality sheet metal painting, re chroming, etc that might work. Guess if you were good at overhauling engines (reboring, rings, bearings, etc that might work too. I can't paint to save my life and if I ever get around to restoring one I'd probably have the sheet metal done by someone else. If someone has an engine that smokes and can send it to you for a guaranteed to run overhaul, that might work. Just need to really know your costs so you don't wind up breaking even on materials and not making any money. B110guy

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Bell
I think you might be able to do it on a parts basis. In other words if you bought old parts tractors and refurbished and sold the parts. For instance you had a 712 hood and painted it all up with new decals etc. I might pay a good bit for stuff like that to aoid messing with it myself.

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MysTiK
I have tried running my own business; and I discovered there are many things I don't understand - I don't have a good head for business. It amazes me how businesses survive, and get away with charging what they do -but it seems that that is what has to be done. Run your own little buy and sell, have a fun hobby too. Make a few bucks on the side. That's fun, and challenging in itself. Don't quit your day job - there is no market control possible it seems, unless you buy them all up. Having money tied up in inventory can be the undoing. Running a service business might be the thing - but there's lots of competitors there too - shake any tree, and ten of them fall out. But then I look at Al Eden - but he seems to have hard focus on specialization, and a definite market niche. Establishing that - priceless. How to get there? ask Al. I guess. Really I don't know what all Al does - he's been at it a long time. I am sure there is lots more to the story, and a lot of experience, and a lot of people skills, and a spirit of good will and fairness, and no lack of voluntary help. They say word of mouth is best advertising available. I just love the guy for the bits of info he presents here - I read it all, and save a lot of it, and have put some of it into practice, and used it to, in turn, help others too. I think that might be called 'true value'. That's a biggy. For a tractor biz, you need a fairly large premises - my lil single garage just ain't it. sm03 my thoughts

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colincox1
good luck, the points made are good, maybe go to it as a hobby, maybe the market will change, and you will be ready. keep your expectaions realistic, maybe you could start with a funded restoration . good luck

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JimDk
This subject has come up on the farm tractor forums. Most agree that you can't make money restoring tractors. One guy does restore customer's tractors. I think he invoices regularly ( progress payments ) so he does not get in too deep. No money, no work on tractor. I agree that it is a better hobby or part time venture.

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MysTiK
Another problem is the question of "standards" or "level of quality". That can be hugely different for different people, and your own standards may conflict - plus, apparently clear communication of intentions, may get pretty foggy in the end zone details. scary! You can stay clear of this, if you simply do what you do, and sell your own finished product, as is. Extras cost extra.

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GLPointon
The problem many times is your competing for buisness from someone just looking to cut grass or maybe push a little snow & there going to Lowes to see the $1000 "throw-away" Tractors. Its hard to sell them a "Quality" Tractor like ours thats >25 yrs old regardless how good it looks...IMO I've given Resto bids with the same responses...Good luck

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dave7016
I thought of this doing antique outboard motors years ago with my father. The issue was this. We'd buy a motor for say $100. Most would need points, condensors, coils and a carb kit....most Evinrude/Johnsons had similar parts and I found a few suppliers that were cheap....$100 or less for all that. We'd get them going and then tear everything apart and repaint...Paint was cheap decals were NOT. So all said and done $300-400 into most. Maybe they'd sell for $600-$800 depending on model but that wasn't worth the time. I'd have 8-15 hours into a restore and that wasn't including the time my dad would spend online buying and selling. Side business/hobby OK but nothing more. There isn't enough demand for this stuff and people won't pay what it is worth. I now do snowblowers on the side come winter and profit extremely well on those. (average $40-50 an hour profit) I have yet to make any real money on a lawnmower of any kind and gave that up last summer.

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SmilinSam
In my experience, collectors want tractors that are untouched originals. As you suggested, they prefer to do and restorations themselves, without having to wade through someone elses previous work. Users, they tend to close their wallets when the price exceeds $800-$900 most of the time. Thats what I ran into back when I was fixing, painting and selling the old Simplicity and Wheel Horse tractors. At such prices you find yourself getting only $1-$3 an hour for your time. Thats when I shifted to just parting the tractors out. Less time involved, and the average tractor would fetch around the same amounts without that time of the restoration or paintwork. However, as Ebay fees grew, gas prices rose, and scrap iron prices went through the roof, even parting them out lost its glitter for me.

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jmhusby
I think the 75th Anniversery unit is a good example. There has been one on ebay for a long time for $3999 and not sold. Another one on Craigs List for $3000. Just don't think folks are into spending big bucks on a restored garden tractor.

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HerbP
I phoned a gentleman in my area recently who had a 720 with 60 inch deck and front end loader. Said the tractor was 90% restored but it didn't look it from the photos... I asked what he wanted and he replied "$7500". Now, I realize the FEL is worth a bit of money, but seriously? Meanwhile, not far from him, I see this: For sale is a 2008 Simplicity Legacy Compact Acreage Tractor: • 92 hours • 27 horsepower Diesel Engine • Hydrostatic Transmission • 4 Wheel Drive • 26x12.00-12 Rear Tires • 18x8.50-10 Front Tires • Mid PTO • Rear PTO • 3 Point Hitch • Loader • 48" Bucket • Joystick • Rear Wheel Weights • 3 Point Hitch Weight Box - $10,500. So, an extra $3k seems to buy just so much more. Maybe he'll find that one guy out there who really covets a 1976 AC720... But from a utility perspective, he's way out to lunch. At least, that's my newbie opinion. In summary, My intuition says you can't really make money doing restorations since your target audience isn't looking for the perfectly restored tractor; they're looking for functional... Or they're looking for an unmolested tractor they can restore themselves.

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1Litre
I think you may be able to be profitable some of the time . Not all of the time. Most people do not allow for time to recondition a part. They are aware of material cost to perform the work to a part or assembly and that is what they add up in their head and that is what the part is worth to them. They most likely are not in business and do account for time as they do it on their own and that is where you earn a living. In the time you charge per hour. Example: Lately I am now paying machine shops to grind a single journal small engine crank the same cost of a v-8 9 journal crank. The time to change the ginder to do the small engine crank was absorbed in the past but now it is accounted and charge for because there is less work and higher business operation cost. What ever you do you have to enjoy what you do or it will just be work that you have to do. So try it out and see what you can get without throwing all your eggs in one basket and you may find success in it. Good luck.

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timflury
Remember the guy that brought his Bantam onto "American Restoration" on the History channel??? Rick charged him like $6,000 to restore that tractor. If you are going to run a viable restoration business, I really think you need to restore a lot more than just garden tractors. I believe there is a market for restoration services. Restoring garden tractors for customers would just be a small part of that business.

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AC_B-1Novice
Not trying to discourage you but I think most collectors like doing their own work. That is the satisfaction of the collecting, 'look at what I have done'. However, there may be certain areas that they do not want to fool with or it is too messy or dangerous to do themselves. I doubt a living could be made of that sort of general offer. For example, I have a leaky gas tank on my B1. It would be much simpler to buy a good used one than to pay to have it cleaned, fixed, painted and shipped back and forth. Just MHO

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Dark
Restoring is a big deal, restoring and updating flaws is a bigger deal, reproducing parts that are NLA is a better deal. If you own or have access to a machine shop,sheet metal shop,casting shop, your home free but if not your falling prey to other business that are after the same customers you are. Rebuilding parts on the NLA list can be achieved simply by opening the manuals and asking if anyone has the specs of the part you are making many members have produced NLA parts like hitches, brackets,and other various parts some have sold these items but few have warehoused enough to make the parts no longer NLA if you decide to make replacement parts make sure they are within spec and listed as reproduced. I have found many parts can be substituted from other sources you just have to "do the research" to find them. In my shop there is no such thing as a NLA piston or ring set,shafts,gears, or pulleys. These items can be machined or cast,rings can be matched to pistons by checking gaps. our shop has not yet been tooled for crankshafts but it is in our future. It is true we live in a throw away world where the cheap stuff sells and the quality went wayside but finding a midway point is possible. and midway can be profitable for 7 years now the shop has repaired, reproduced and fabricated everything from hydraulic cylinders to 15 over Tecumseh pistons. set a good business plan in motion and look at all the contingency aspects. I wish the best of luck to ya in your endeavor and hope for your success.

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MrSteele
A local body shop devoted itself to car restoration several years ago. I almost went to work for them as a mechanic and got to know them in the process. At first, at least for about 7-8 years, the owners made a killing of sorts, then it got interesting. They specialized in high end or odd cars, and the market slimmed. Now, the shop is back as a normal body shop, advertising that they do insurance work, employ no full-time mechanics, will take a restoration for body work, only, and only when paid up front. It might work, but be very careful. Working for a profit is good, working for the fun of it, if on something of your own, is fun. Working and not being reimbursed at all, is of little value any way you look at it

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546cowboy
From personal experience I cannot see anyone making a full time job out of restoring garden/lawn tractors. I am retired and what else would I do with my time than something I like doing. I know there are some people that have been making a living at stripping and selling parts for years and as far as I know none of them would consider restoring as a business. That should tell you the whole story right there about a viable business model. How many of you have done a restoration and actually made money selling it? The key here is in the words restore and refurbish. Restore means make new or as close as possible. Refurbish means making it a reliable piece of equipment again for years to come. Fixing things that need repair, maintenance, fresh paint, decals, new seat, serviceable tires and such. Very few of these tractors sell for more than $1500 to $2000 even when refurbished so how can you ever expect to make a living at it?

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humphrey
My fathers family did mack truck restorations for many years. When completed they were in the same condition as they had left the factory. NLA parts had to be manufactured from scratch. Many times the parts had to be reconstructed from pictures that contained other known parts for a dimensional reference. The common models typicaly did not get restored unless they had huge sentimental value. Most where limited model runs for trucks that could not be bought easily on the market. Time and expense was phenominal. Most trucks took a years worth of work by 6 highly skilled employees working 40 hours a week. Everything was overhauled, include the whole driveline and powerplant. Most customers spent between $200,000 to shy of a cool $1,000,000 (for the items that showed up as just a frame) to have a truck done. Profit margin after expenses was slim to nothing. Quality of work was everything, if it wasn't perfect it wasn't right. Repeat customers was big. Competitive customers was even bigger. When you have excess cash to spend and your compensating for stuff while trying to keep up with the jones, well. You also had to have a sales presence. We had someone that worked at our place at almost every truck show on the eastcoast. You could always buy one way cheaper, but these where restored to the point that it was no different then if you had walked into a dealership and custom ordered a truck to your specifications. Your paint color choices, your optional features. [img]http://bp0.blogger.com/_eMfw8PboF5U/RqefePK7nGI/AAAAAAAAA5Y/lW1wbzTNJXM/s400/9_Big+Blue+Mack.jpg[/img] [img]http://www.tuckahoesteam.org/images/2007%20Show/w300DSCN0045.jpg[/img] I think what you'd find is that doing garden tractors would be not profitable unless you targeted the major manufacturers that also had a large tractor line up, and particularly the popular ones. A man will be more likely to pay to have a JD restored so as to be able to drag it to the tractor shows as a run about or as a cameo piece for his big JD's then he would for the sake of having a JD garden tractor. Its a toy show for dudes with excess money. A restored Cub Cadet Narrow Frame with a color scheme to match the Farmalls of the era would be another example of what one might see.

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