Warren, Ohio – August 2018 – Packard Car Museum

James and William Packard built their first automobile in Warren, Ohio in 1899. By 1903 the company had moved to Detroit, but Packard remained an important part of Warren business for the next 100 years.

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Packards were always known for their very fancy hood ornaments. Today the museum boasts some scaled up versions.

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The museum has a nice collection of automobiles.

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Packard built cars up until the 1950s.

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They were known as luxury automobiles, rivaling even Rolls Royce at one point.

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Packard maintained a business in Warren – Packard Electric. Today it is Delphi.

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The museum has expanded considerably in the last 10 years, thanks to a government grant.

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Mannequin models add to the feel. Note on the back wall the wiring harnesses that Packard Electric would’ve made.

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The famed hood ornaments.

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They don’t make them like they used to.

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Note the similarity to the earlier art piece.

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While most were private vehicles, they did make commercial vehicles as well.

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I can see Clark Gable driving this down Hollywood Boulevard with the top down.

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The newer rag tops didn’t quite live up to the previous one.

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A final look at the hood ornaments.

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The Packard Museum in Warren is nice, however the privately owned one in Dayton in the former Packard Dealership has a nicer, and larger collection, and the architecture and detail of the dealership adds to it.

However if you find yourself in Warren, this museum is a good place to spend an hour or two.

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Warren, Ohio – August 2018 – Wings and Wheels

Sloas Airfield in Warren, Ohio is a nice 3,000 foot long grass landing strip that sees occasional use, except for 1 day a year – this day.

This was the day for Wings and Wheels. As we entered we immediately passed by a fantastic Porsche.

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Hurried by the Cobra.

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Skipped the Ferrari…

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Even blew by the Superbird, because on this day cars were anything but the Superbirds.

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The ‘Wings’ part of the show were the stars.

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Taking off and landing throughout the day.

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With biplanes.

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We were literally standing next to the runway for the takeoffs.

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The classic cars lining the far side of the runway.

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The pilots were showing off their skills.

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Many completing low passes down the length of the runway.

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Before gaining altitude and heading out.

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The weather was perfect, a few big puffy clouds.

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The ‘crew’ were the volunteers.

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Old school leather helmets were in order.

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Biplanes have a majestic look to them.

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Another one heads skyward.

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I would estimate there were about 50 airplanes when we arrived, many parked with their owners hanging out or checking out the rest of the planes and the cars.

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The noses of the various plans are very distinctive.

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As well as the tails.

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An immaculate Piper Cub.

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Even a couple of ultra lights.

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We spent most of our time in the planes, as we see custom cars all the time.

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Another one heads out – we were happy we were there fairly early as by noon many had departed.

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And he takes off for home.

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While one returns.

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The symmetry of a small plane.

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This photo illustrates how close you were allowed.

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Planes everywhere you looked.

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An excellent paint job for this biplane.

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Future pilots perhaps?

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Even the Porsche pales in comparison to this.

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Inside the hangar is a museum with numerous models.

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Most of the models were custom built.

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Models everywhere.

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All of the models had amazing detail to them.

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We headed back out into the heat to check out a few more airplanes. This one is a 7/8 scale Italian WW1 air force plane.

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The owner of this is an American Airplanes pilot. It must be strange going from 737s to a 2 seater.

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Finally it was time to fly on out (ok – drive). What a great event.

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Pittsburgh – August 2018 – Photo Antiquities Museum

On the North Side of Pittsburgh, near Allegheny Commons, is the Photo Antiquities Museum. Located upstairs near a classic old camera store, this museum is packed with great old cameras and photographs.

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As we arrived there was a sign that says ‘buzz here’ – we did and at first nobody came so we went next door to the camera shop. Someone from the shop took us back over and by then Frank from the museum was waiting at the door for us.

He lead us upstairs to a real hidden treasure of Pittsburgh.

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After a brief explanation on the history of photography, he showed us where the various rooms were located for each topic – Antique photographs – The Pittsburgh Photo History Room – and finally the Camera Collection!

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Their collection is vast. Many have small tags detailing important facts like manufacturer and date.

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Many look very different to today’s cameras.

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Most have a great look to them – imagine the memories each created over the years.

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In addition to the still photography there was an extensive collection of video recorders (aka – movie cameras).

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Kodak had a grouping by itself.

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Also included were ancillary items such as light meters.

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And film (what is film???)

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Shelves of cameras.

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An early motion picture cameras with a crank.

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A Magic Lantern viewer. It was an image projector for transparent plates.

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If you are reading this blog you must like photography – and if you like photography you will love the Photo Antiquities Museum for the camera collection alone.

And if you love vintage photographs this is the place – there are plenty to keep you occupied for hours.

A bit thanks to Frank for showing us around.

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Mansfield, OH – July 2018 – Elektro The Robot

Mansfield, Ohio is a mid sized city in north central Ohio. It is most famous for the historic Mansfield Reformatory, which was used for the filming of Shawshank Redemption.

Also in Mansfield is their local museum, housed in a 1800s Soldier’s and Sailors Home.

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Mansfield was once home to a division of Westinghouse that built home appliances. At one point in the 1950s over 8,000 people from Mansfield worked for Westinghouse.

Without a doubt the most interesting thing ever developed and built for Westinghouse in Mansfield is Elektro, the Robot.

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Elektro was designed by Joseph Barnett for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. He is credited with being the first true robot ever built.

With voice commands he could walk, talk and count on his fingers. Built out of gears, cams, motors, vacuum tubes and a photo electric cell, one of Elektro’s stranger talents was the ability to smoke a cigarette.

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When we arrived in Mansfield we were greeted by Scott Schaut the curator of the museum, and expert on Elektro. When I asked why he wasn’t in a museum in Pittsburgh, the home of Westinghouse, Scott replied ‘over his dead body’!

Scott has re-created Elektro with modern resin’s and other components. The original is on the left, with the recreation on the right. There was once a dog named Sparko but he was lost to time.

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Also within the museum are some exhibits on the Westinghouse products built in town.

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Including a roasting pan.

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The museum has other local interest items scattered throughout.

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While much of the museum has a military feel to it, they also have some local minerals on display, along with more eclectic items.

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As part of their military display they have a very large model airplane collection.

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While most are military, they have some of the early airplanes like the Wright Flyer.

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The models are very detailed in the presentation. Scott said it best when he said, we are the museum for Mansfield but 90% of the people that walk through the door are looking for Elektro – just like us.

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Zionsville, Indiana – July 2018 – A Big Fan of Fans

As you wander through the streets of an industrial park in suburban Indianapolis the last thing you would expect to find is one of the largest fan collections in the world.

So what you think – well look and be amazed at how stylish and functional these antiques are.

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Housed in the headquarters of a fan company called Fanimation, the museum has over 2000 desk and ceiling fan from more than 140 manufacturers (according to their website)

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Most are from the first few decades of the 20th century, and show that classic 20s and 30s style.

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When we arrived we asked if we could see the collection. The receptionist told us we were more than welcome to check them out, and lead us to the display room. She also indicated she would get Kim to tell us about them.

Kim is a retired Indianapolis firefighter who has been collecting fans for a long time. He is an excellent restorer of fans, having refurbished many of those in the collection.

The fan below however is in it’s original condition, after more than 80 years.

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The fans are owned by various members of the Antique Fan Collectors Association (of which Kim is a member with many of the fans in the collection being his personal ones).

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The oldest electric fans in the museum are from the 1890s, while they have non electric ones (steam and water powered ones) from the 1880s.

The Dayton fan company, represented below, is still in business today.

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They have numerous fans of different shapes.

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Fanimation was founded by Tom Frampton in Pasadena, California in the 1980s. They relocated to Indiana in the mid 1990s, opening this facility in 2003.

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Most have extensive use of brass, which adds a classic beauty to practical use of the fan.

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Numerous specialty designs are represented, such as this airplane fan – a cool way to stay cool.

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More of the collection.

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One of the non electric fans

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As a fan manufacturer their lobby fans are stylish as well.

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Even the replica terracotta soldier in the lobby has a fan! If you ever find yourself in Indianapolis, skip the art museum (although it is nice too) – check out the fan museum – ask for Kim!

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Elkart, Indiana – July 2018 – RV Capital of the World

The town of Elkhart, Indiana is where an amazing 80% of the world’s RV production occurs. What Hollywood is to movies, and Wall Street is to finance, Elkhart is to campers.

As a result the RV Hall of Fame is located here.

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While I was questioned why I would want to see the RV Hall of Fame, as soon as we entered it was obvious. The first one we saw was one of the earliest ever, built in 1913.

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The inside has a simplistic beauty.

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Next door is a Model T with a structure on the back that contained storage, but when expanded had a bed. Built on a 1915 Model T, it was a one off build known as the Telescope Apartment.

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Many of the campers were from the 1930s through the 1950s. The one below is a ‘Yellowstone’ 18 foot travel trailer from 1954.

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The vintage ones had a lot of woodwork.

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The 1937 Hunt Housecar was built by a Hollywood cinematographer named Roy Hunt.

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The Hunt Housecar has a great interior.

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Another example of the detailed woodwork.

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This weird looking camper is on a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado base. Many refer to it as the Star Trek Camper.

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The 1931 Chevrolet Housecar was built by Paramount Studios for Mae West.

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It was at this point I came to realization that there many of the numerous manufacturing facilities in the area offered tours. A bit of internet surfing revealed that the Heartland RV company was located a few miles down the road, and had tours starting in 30 minutes.

Before you knew it we were touring their facility. The outdoor inventory included these axles used for the ‘bump outs’.

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With the number of campers built daily, they go through a lot of toilets.

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We toured the factory that builds ‘Fifth Wheels’, huge campers that are towed by a ‘wheel’ in the bed of pickup trucks.

Interestingly they build the interior components, then add the shell of the camper.

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Once the sides are on, the roof is added and secured by workers using this yellow catwalk.

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A bump out ready to be installed.

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The massive backs of these campers are one large component.

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Indiana – home of mobile homes and campers.

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Bucyrus, Ohio – July 2018 – Time Warp Travel for Gas Stations Continued

Another weekend of travel has allowed us to check out not 1 or 2 restored gas stations, but 3. Two of the stations are in the same small Ohio town of Bucyrus.

First up is a Sinclair Station.

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This station is next door to a repair shop owned by Carl. We stopped by at 7 AM on a Saturday morning and Carl was just opening his business up for the morning, and invited us in. Carl has a large collection of auto related items – so much in fact that the TV show American Pickers once paid him a visit.

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Just outside of town is a small restored Marathon station called ‘Mom and Pops’. We saw someone walking out of the driveway as we drove up and asked him it if the station was his. He replied no – but yelled at ‘Bob’ who was outside the house next door if it was ok if we took some photos. Bob yelled back ‘ yep thats what it is there for’.

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In the early days the stations were tiny little buildings, unless they did service.

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This station was well restored.

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As our weekend continued we found ourselves back in Plymouth, Indiana for a stop for dinner. We have previously visited this Mobil station, but in the rain. This gave us a chance to get some photos in better weather.

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And the time warp gas station travel continued.

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On our way home from Pittsburgh we stopped in Steubenville at a auto repair shop that is actually a fully restored Sohio station.

When John Rockefeller had grown Standard Oil to be a monopoly the government forced them to break up – as a result there were a number of Standard Oil companies in different states (not a full list):

Standard Oil of New Jersey – Esso, which became Exxon

Standard Oil of New York – Socony, which became Mobil

Standard Oil of California – Socal, which became Chevron

Standard Oil of Indiana – Stanolind, which became Amoco

Standard Oil of Ohio – Sohio. In the 1980s BP bought Sohio and converted all the stations to BP.

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There are many people who are collectors of ‘petroliana’, old gas station items. Barry Robb must have been one of those people. According to their website Barry was an assistant manager of a former owner, and he took over the station in 1986, operating it as a BP station.

In 2011 their agreement with BP ran out. They restored the look of the original Sohio station, and continued in business as a repair shop only (as well as a museum).

As a side note Sunset and Wilshire looks nothing like the one in California, but still a nice neighborhood.

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Out front is a collection of pumps from various eras.

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While inside (it was closed this day – photos taken through the glass) is a collection of smaller items.

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Interestingly next door is a modern gas station/mini mart.

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After checking out my photos I realized that we have recently came across 3 fully restored stations, and all 3 times we had the same car with us.

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This spectacular Shell station is in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

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Today it serves as a tourist information center.

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Shaped like a giant scallop shell, it is the last of a handful that a local oil company owner had built in the 1930s.

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Another restored gas station – another shot with the GTI in it. This one is a Mobil station in Plymouth, Indiana.

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To add to their atmosphere they have a restored police car in the parking lot.

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Much like the Sohio station in Steubenville their interior has a collection of smalls for Mobil.

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They also have a restored tow truck.

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