Rant Alert: Rant Alert: Fake Crap. False Goods, AHHHHHHHHH!



They say “ignorance is bliss,” but what they don’t say is after you figure out something, you just get pissed off and after you have been pissed on. BTW, No judgements. Anyway. yesterdays story on the neon clock triggered my ranternator again. Ya, just made that word up. When I read the description on the ebay listing, I thought, okay, makes sense, thats the kinda thing I would have done. All of us would have found a cool clock and then rebuilt it, thats part of the fun. But when you read between the nines, the seller put a new clock onto new “redone” neon. So, thats like saying, nothing is original, so you are purchasing a story. Now one could argue, so? Its a neon clock thats cool and close enough. THEN I ASK, why be clever. And call it what it is? It is a buyer beware thing out there. Fake signs, fake everything, and it pisses me off to no end.

Not original

Okay you say. Hey Matt aren’t you the guy that painted a Johnson on the side of a building? Jimmys sign.. YES. and let me point out the HUGE difference. They are hand done in the same way the originals were done. AND one off’s and altered to be clearly different. AND I am not trying to sell them with some lame ass argument.

Real is real.

Real is real, and lets call all this crap from India made to look old. COUNTERFEIT! The box it comes in is worth more. And also putting that crap up is just crap! This gets deeper into the depth of truth in things that are old. You can feel the truth. And that honesty is the real joy, that we are saving, preserving and caring for history. There is no history in a pile of ship sold on ebay. Like that clock.

Real post card of a real sign.

We have done stories on this topic before. And a HUGE HUGE thanks to Jim Staib for sharing his learning the hard way experience with us all. Another older story on fake Gas signs HERE

19 replies
  1. Scott K
    Scott K says:

    Yes, real IS real and is the preferred way. However, keeping it all real is a huge PITA. The reality is that most everyone has no patience / desire / discipline to search out the (expensive) real when a close enough copy is easy to get at a much better price.
    And in the end, most people are lazy and its mostly the thought of being real that keeps them content, not the actual act of being real.

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I don’t know, any neon is art these days. That clock is cool for what it is, definitely not crap.

    And then there is always the question of old, like a relic that has seen 75 years of abuse old vs what it would have been like when it left the factory 75 years ago…or even better old. In this hobby, the preference leans heavily toward the latter with regard to boats. Do we call the restored boats fake, or just enjoy them for what they are?

    Nostalgia is all about fake memories triggering real emotion. Nothing wrong with using fake objects to get there.

  3. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:


    This RANT can touch on the Preserved / Restored / Replica conversation of our hobby. Was that clock restored or simply a replica?

  4. Steve in the woods
    Steve in the woods says:

    Bought a 66 yo vehicle at auction last year. After hammer drop, woman came up hugging me and told me it was “her” car. Asked her about it, and she related thay the only things original were the steering wheel and, the 265 2 barrel! AC and trailer on the way…honesty, even after the sale, made it sweeter.

  5. Murdock
    Murdock says:

    Original truck, new(er) lettering, old shading, blends in like it’s always been at the marina.
    “Re-patinaed”? “New” patina?
    I’m getting old, so replacement knees aren’t too far away. Regular maintenance, rebuilt or restored?
    Scars and stitches to prove authenticity from factory records?
    Uh oh. Look, squirrel!!!!!!

  6. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    To me, there’s nothing wrong with a restored boat, new neon or a decent copy of a sign. As m-fine notes, new neon is still art. And as Scott says, many of us would love to have the “real” thing, but don’t have years to spend finding one. Or lack the funds for the “real” version. What’s important is to be HONEST about what it is. And price it accordingly.

    A parallel – I enjoy mid century modern furniture design. Even if my pockets did reach my ankles, I couldn’t bring myself to spend 5k on a chair! We actually SIT in our chairs. Our chairs collect crumbs, from eating, while sitting in them. So we have decent copies, of MCM icons. Knew they were copies when we bought them, priced accordingly.

    Typed on my laptop, with my aft firmly planted in my “fake” Saarinen Womb chair! While drinking my morning Pepsi & eating muffins left over from the weekend’s Road Atlanta race!

  7. Tuobanur
    Tuobanur says:

    Believe it or not but it is real, found it over 30 years ago in the original store it once belong to.
    And it’s two sided with a couple customary bullet holes.

  8. briant
    briant says:

    Uh oh.

    How are Chad and Floyd going to weed out the fake tits versus the real tits on all those broads they post?

  9. ART A
    ART A says:

    I had never read the story of the “restoration” of Wa-Chee-We before, but it sure hit very close to home to me and fits with Matt’s story about “real or made real”.
    Molly-O was also one of five, built in 1939. Over the past 40+ years I have personally seen 3 of her sister ships. One of the 5 was in a field of a local “parts guru” and sat outside in the elements for MANY years, would have been much better under water. It had been there so long that it had a 4 inch tree growing through it. It was purchased by a gentlemen from Grand Rapids MI who had it “restored” by a very capable boat restorer in Cadillac MI. I know all this because both of these gentlemen called and asked me to take MANY pictures and measurements from Molly-O for their 90+ % “restoration” project.
    The current owner was aware of the above and chose to buy it anyway. He is a very nice guy and we plan on going sister-shipping (Matt, I can makeup words too) together this summer.
    Mentioned in the Wa-Chee-We article there was reference to the ACBS having a judging category for such boats——–I have never heard of such a category, can someone please clue me in?

  10. RH in NY
    RH in NY says:

    “This is my great-great-great-great-great grandfather’s antique axe. I replaced the head and it’s had two handles”.

  11. Jeff Rogers
    Jeff Rogers says:

    While done in the collaborative spirit and camaraderie for which the vintage boat hobby is so well known, I must respond to Art’s comments made above regarding a certain 1939 Chris Craft. Having been personally involved and on-site when that boat was purchased in St. Clair, MI (and having seen it some years before that), I had to set the record straight. I also was the one who – with my truck and trailer – transported that boat back to Grand Rapids. While it is true that the boat was stored outdoors, there were certainly no tree(s) growing through it. Like countless other boats in our hobby, it would most certainly have been classified as a “project boat” (i.e., grey wood) – and one needing to be fully restored. That fact has never been disputed or denied. However, what seems to have been overlooked, however, is that an actual restoration took place – and not the construction of a replica. Having spent many years serving on the board of the ACBS – when the very judging guidelines we have in place today were discussed and decided (in significant depth and time), we made two unique distinctions (for good reason) between boat types: “preserved” and “restored.” The first type of boats – “best preserved” – were just that. Phenomenally unique examples of original boats that – save for routine maintenance, varnish, and repairs over the years – remain remarkably original. Even blemishes, “dock rash” and perhaps less-than-professional repairs were to be excused (points-wise) – as the boat’s preserved originality trumped all – and thus virtually always made it the highest-scoring boat in any show. However, the ACBS also recognized the (very important) fact that – unfortunately – some boats simply didn’t have the same level of care over the decades (as did Molly-O, for instance). Instead of being lovingly cared for by one family like the Armstrong’s since leaving the factory, they were discarded, left outdoors, and for all intents and purposes, forgotten about. That said, the ACBS (rightly) recognized the fact that original boats (with such a provenance and originality, yet in rough shape) were still most worthy of preservation – and not simply discarding (or as mentioned in the previous comment, “would have been much better underwater.”). Thus, the ACBS created the “best restored” category for this very purpose. In essence, it was a category that wouldn’t take anything away from an absolutely original and preserved boat (like the Molly-O) – for those boats are truly one-of-a-kind. At the same time, however, they realized that between sinking/burning/destroying an original boat or instead restoring it to it’s former glory (no matter how much a relic or gray boat as it may be), was a very worthy and noble goal. After all, between being lost forever or once again plying the waters, the decision was quite simple. That said, the ACBS took great pains (in creating a Best Restored category) to keep it separate from those Best Preserved – yet still on a parallel track. So while two boats docked at a show may be the exact year/make/model (e.g., Molly-O and Tradition) – and look equally beautiful, run flawlessly, etc. – there is a difference. Molly-O is and will always be a “best preserved” boat. There is no higher honor. And Tradition – while an original boat to be sure – will always be a “best restored” boat, as it unfortunately didn’t have the same loving care for many of its’ earlier years What matters most, however, is that someone DID – after years of neglect – take the time and make the investment to restore her to her former glory. So were the owners of Tradition ever to call this boat a “best preserved” boat, I’d be first in line to call out their error. It’s not a best preserved boat and never can be. But to set the record straight, neither the owner(s) nor the restorers of this boat ever claimed it was. Tradition most certainly falls into the “best restored” category – which is exactly what the boat has always been known as, presented as, and remains to this day. It goes without saying that the vintage boat hobby is all about the “preservation and enjoyment” of these boats we all cherish so much. Knowing that so many of these invaluable boats were neglected and left out behind the marina or barn (or outright destroyed) back in the 1960s and 1970s was undoubtedly a shame. That some still survived – and that new owners would invest the time and resources to make them seaworthy once again – is a beautiful thing. The only thing more beautiful? The fact that in the case of Molly-O and Tradition, these two very rare (one of seven built) Chris Crafts – once again, after first being together in 1939 at the factory in Algonac – can be docked (or run at full throttle) side by side, as Chris Smith intended. And while one (Molly-O) will always have the esteemed privilege of being most original (no one can ever take that status away) – her sister ship (all the restoration work she needed aside) is no less a 1939 Chris Craft. And that’s exactly the wisdom behind the ACBS’ judging rules: to preserve and enjoy as many vintage boats as possible, while at the same time, honoring the unique differences that each boat – through no fault of its’ own – brings with it. So let’s go boating!

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