Ah, the New Year's resolution, a shifty critter if ever there was one. This time of year, it rubs against your leg like a friendly stray. So you leave food out for it, maybe even let it sit on your lap while you rub its ears. Next thing you know, it either vanishes in the dark of night or worse, unpacks its bad habits and settles in for the duration, reminding you daily of your lapse in judgment. Either way, you end up feeling like a chump.
The chance to start fresh is nearly irresistible. "Things are going to be different this year," we say. A little self-improvement is a fine thing, but be aware of the law of unintended consequences.
Zero Growth "I'm not adding anything to my collection this year." Not buying another thing? Swearing off auctions? What if everybody talked that way? Think of the auctioneer: He has kids to feed! And if you're the only collector who stops buying stuff, all that means is that the other guys are getting the stuff that was supposed to be yours! How are you going to get your stuff back when it's in somebody else's collection? You'll end up paying twice the price! Better rethink that plan. You can actually save money by building your collection now.
FIFO "No new projects until all the existing ones are completed." Applying accounting principals (First In, First Out) to restoration? OK, but consider this. While you're lavishing unprecedented attention on that one piece, time marches on. Old stuff gets, well, older … and so do you! Are you going to be better equipped to handle seven concurrent projects 10 years from now?!? If you wait to tackle a project, it's only natural that it'll take longer as you age. You'll be putting twice as much time into each project, which means that you can only complete half as many projects. Any bean counter can tell you that's no way to run a hobby.
Managed Throughput: "Next year I'm starting earlier." So, a week of all-nighters to get that restoration ready for the show didn't sit so well? Fine. Set up a spreadsheet to manage the process. But if you finish too far ahead of set-up day, you're going to spend a lot more time polishing that new paint for the show crowd. And here's another thing. Practically every new restoration has a hiccup or two. Think about it: Do you want that to happen in the privacy of your own shop, or at a show, surrounded by compadres offering helpful suggestions? Right. Start earlier next time!
When it comes to old iron, your best bet is this: Resolve to have more fun in the year ahead!
Leslie McManus, Editor