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Restoring memorabilia and memories from long ago

Restoring memorabilia and memories from long ago

By Todd Travis

When Southside resident Rob Devlin was in seventh grade, he received one of the most enviable Christmas gifts for kids his age at that time: a 1972 Schwinn Super Sport bicycle. It even had a generator and light to go with it. He was so excited that not even the cold December weather could deter him from taking a test ride right away.

“I’ve kept that bike for all these years even though I haven’t ridden it in forever. It was just one of those pieces of my childhood that meant something to me,” he said.

The storage of the bike was not kind to the condition of it over the years. He remembers a stint specifically where the bike had to be kept outside and seemed to almost disintegrate. Finally, last fall Devlin decided it was time to shine up the old bicycle and restore it to its new condition. That’s where Tim Showalter at Hoosierboy Restorations stepped in.

Tim Showalter, left, owner of Hoosierboy Restorations with Rob Devlin. Devlin picked up his bicycle at the shop after having it restored. (Submitted photos)

Devlin and Showalter had known each other from years earlier when Devlin was the president of the redevelopment committee and Showalter was doing a lot of technical work for the City of Beech Grove. Showalter had since opened his restoration shop and agreed to restore Devlin’s bike for him. The finished product left Devlin speechless.

“The bike looked as new as the day it was purchased from Matthew’s Bicycle Shop in 1972. Tim’s work is primo. He manufactured the stickers that were originally on it. We even ordered the original derailleur that was on the bike since the existing one was damaged,” Devlin stated.

Showalter restores just about anything he can get his hands on.

“I’ve always had an interest in working with my hands. My dad started off as a shop teacher, so I think I picked up a lot of my skills from him. He showed me how to use tools and safety procedures, so I learned from a professional,” he shared. “After spending years working in information technology, I got burnt out, so I cashed in my 401(k) and started Hoosierboy Restorations. Since then, we’ve restored everything from pedal cars, bicycles, wagons, pop machines to a 102-year-old printing press and even an ejection seat for a fighter jet.” That printing press sits in Franklin on the square and it weighs 900 pounds!

Marc Feigenblatt with his T33 ejection seat restoration.

Right now Showalter has about 30 projects that he’s working on simultaneously at the shop from all over the world. He lives in Beech Grove, but he has made a name for himself from his craftsmanship that has traveled far and wide.

“I started off more national than local because of my website, although at this point about 40% of my business is local. I’ve restored items for the lower 48 states as well as Canada, South Africa, England, Australia and Brazil,” he explained.

“Meanwhile, I just like how Beech Grove is a small-town feel with a Main Street and just the friendliness of the town while still having access to Indianapolis once you hop on the interstate,” Showalter continued. “I also like having a local government. I’ve worked with the government, and I continue to do so. I livestream the Beech Grove government meetings such as city council, redevelopment commission and others. I’ve always had a close relationship with the government and the police department. But I can still come back to the fact that we have access to a large city which is really nice.”

A 1930s refrigerator restoration project at Bottleworks Hotel in the Bottleworks District.

Showalter appreciates being able to hear people’s stories and to see the memories connected to the items, like Rob Devlin and his bicycle.

“I like the part when they come back to pick up the item and I can see on their face that 7-year-old kid or that 14-year-old boy on Christmas morning and it just transfers them back in time. There’s no better feeling that I get than when I can bring that memory back. I always say, ‘I don’t restore toys, I restore memories,’” Showalter concluded.

For more information, go to hoosierboyrestorations.com.

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