Last night's History Channel episode of "American Pickers" was titled "Big Boy Toys," starring Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe. They are professional pickers that travel across not only the United States, but over the world picking through treasures covered with dust and rust from age, and love every minute of their hunt as cobwebs and dead animals don’t seem to scare them a bit.
As the episode begins, the guys are in California, and get a call from Danielle, who is sending them to a guy, who has lots of motorcycles and parts. Al is a motor head who loves anything with an engine. Mike spotted several motorcycle gas tanks. His wife Deb, was with him, and she was happy to see some of the stuff gone, as she cheered each sale. There were engines for airplanes, motorcycles, and anything that required one. He even had a 28-cylinder engine a duplicate of one used on Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose. In 1942, the military commissioned aviator and eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes to build an aircraft capable of carrying 750 troops. With a total cost of $40 million, the plane was made entirely of birch and only took one flight two years after WWII. Al even fired it up for the guys to feel the power of this engine, and just imagine with seven more on an airplane? He could not even try to put the propeller on it, because it would take off and be too dangerous.
Mike found a 1950s boat that he just loved. It was made by Feather Craft in Atlanta; he got it for $1,500 after Al’s wife stepped in to push the deal along. Next item of intrigue was an Izetta. Al valued it at $20,000, but Mike asked if he had any for less money. He had quite a few of them, and Mike liked the fact that Al was the mechanic and knew them inside out. When they saw the other Izetta that he was restoring, he wanted $15,000. Mike asked him to mull over his offer of $11,000. The guys then found out something interesting about Deb; she was also a mechanic and used to work for Sears in their repair shop and was a manager for years. The guys told them they would be in town for a few more days, and if they wanted to sell, to call them.
Danielle called again, this time to ask if they remembered Bob and his son Alex from the last time they were in California? Of course they did, and sadly, Bob lost his 12-year battle with cancer, leaving Alex with all his stuff they saw in the 2013 episode titled, “California Gold Mine.” Alex must clear out some things and is looking forward to seeing the guys. When they arrived, Alex was shocked to see them so soon. His father died about a year ago, and explained that they had to sell the property where Bob’s collection resides. The radiator shop was there since 1936, but soon will be another piece of history erased from the map. As Mike and Frank dickered on prices, Alex was the perfect student of his father’s teaching. Mike went into the attic of an old building on the property, but found just old furniture that he had no interest in. When Mike asked about his immense bicycle collection, Alex told him that he put them in a trust for ten years, not to sell them until after the ten years were up.
Frank found an old tin prohibition era Budweiser advertisement in the shape of a beer bottle, when Budweiser was making cereal beer that was non-alcoholic. As Mike perused the radiator collections that were there forever. Mike found two grills from Franklin automobiles; he got both for $450. He found the complete radiator for an Auburn Beauty Six, however after dickering, he got it for $400. Alex was a bit sad to see some of the stuff go, but he knows that his father is smiling upon him and his family and taking care of them even after his death.
The next phone call they received was from Al, who got the Izetta running. The guys will be there in a few hours. When they arrived, the car was all buffed out and looking just great. It had the BMW logo, and when Mike got in, it started. They finally agreed on $13,000 because they went the extra mile to clean it up and ensure it will run.
At the end of the episode, a photo of Bob Trepenier with an in memoriam tribute to him. He was born in 1940 and died in 2014 and when he passed, they put his coffin on his beloved turn of the century fire truck that Alex made sure was running, as he related to the guys on this episode of "American Pickers."