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Hot Rods hypothetically speaking... mobile upholstery???

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by skipstitch, Aug 6, 2016.

  1. Welcome back. I think you could make it work, especially with some reference referrals and examples of work to show. Great way to see the USA. Are you thinking like a toy hauler or garage MH with a work area set up inside? Or pulling a trailer with the equipment and supplies inside? Having some basic supplies is required, but most bigger city areas should have plenty of basic upholstery supply businesses.

    I would not try to do work a the big shows, but rather use that as the advertising and setting up some scheduled times and routes. I bet you could be on the road as full-timer in the RV and have more than enough work to support your travels.
  2. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,617

    Rusty O'Toole

    I'm thinking if you were travelling in a motor home you could upholster its seats, etc in different styles and make it a showplace of your work, for those who were dubious about hiring an unknown upholsterer.

    In my experience good boat and car upholsterers are rare enough the customers don't ask too many questions, they are relieved to find someone to do the work. But we are in a semi rural area that is not over supplied with upholsterers.
  3. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,617

    Rusty O'Toole

    A lot of these guys have no idea how much profit a good upholsterer can make. One week's work a month would be enough to live on.
  4. Rex_A_Lott
    Joined: Feb 5, 2007
    Posts: 1,019


    Sounds like an interesting way to see the country. Everybody I've ever heard of that was any good has a huge backlog of work. You might get tired of an area and want to move on before you finished the waiting list, once the word gets out. Good Luck
  5. For those of you that signed onto the HAMB in the last 10 years......................skip is one of the best interior guys I have seen. BTW, skip, I am just getting around to using that red ultra leather I bought from you back 10=15 years ago..............going in my 51GMC daily. We have a full hookup camper pad, would be cool if you could sew the seat!
    reagen likes this.
  6. AHotRod
    Joined: Jul 27, 2001
    Posts: 11,784


    So good to hear from you Skip, there are still a lot of old guys still around here.
    Having seen your work, you will have no problem getting jobs and I know you have thought the logistics through.

    Time to see the USA in your Chevrolet !
    skipstitch likes this.
  7. A Boner
    Joined: Dec 25, 2004
    Posts: 6,626

    A Boner

    Good to see you back on here.....go for it, you are a real craftsman. There are plenty of quality cars being built, that could use one of your slick interiors!
    How's your dad his 5W.
  8. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,617

    Rusty O'Toole

    If you are good enough to upholster cars in leather you are at the top of the trade and should be able to find all the work you want anywhere in the country outside of the out and out poverty pits.
  9. My dad did mobile upholstery in the late 70's. He didn't do custom work though. Most of his clients were car dealerships that needed repair work done. I think it was a pretty good gig at the time. I wish he would have stuck with it (instead of moving on to the next big thing), I might have caught the bug and started my own mobile business.
  10. I knew you couldn't stay away, it's a talent you spent to long at perfecting..
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
  11. skipstitch
    Joined: Oct 7, 2001
    Posts: 1,178


    Thanks for all the replies! I've been tossing this idea around for awhile now and was really curious about the feedback. It's not time to post in the Hamb-O-dex just yet, but I think it's do-able! Likely would be a Motorhome w/ a trailer behind for sewing table, etc. There are plenty of supply houses all over the country for materials. Besides, UPS ships everywhere! hmmmm....

    Tman, good to see you have a use for that material!
    Aboner, dad's doing great and that 5 window is still around!
    AHotRod likes this.
  12. RoadkillCustoms
    Joined: Jul 10, 2008
    Posts: 270

    from Mesa, AZ

    Taco Truck concept. Show up at the shows...
  13. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 8,707


    How long would it take to do a car? crestlinerskirts.jpg For example my Crestliner. What would it cost?
    skipstitch likes this.
  14. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,893


    Sounds like a doable deal for some one with your chops. And it sounds like fun.
  15. wsdad
    Joined: Dec 31, 2005
    Posts: 1,258


    How would you handle warranties and complaints?

    Looking at it from your customer's point of view, it would be safer to get the job done at a local shop, with an address, where they can take it back and talk to someone face to face. Once you've finished with a job and disappeared down the road to who-knows-where, they have no recourse if anything goes wrong.

    How will you handle warranty claims? How will you overcome customer's fears of never seeing you again?
  16. wsdad
    Joined: Dec 31, 2005
    Posts: 1,258


    Sorry to sound negitive in that last post. I brought it up because if you can think of a way around it, or a way to minimize it, you should do better with your business. Hopefully, you can get enough business in spite of being itinerant.

    May I suggest trying it out on a small scale first? Rent a mobile home and a trailer (unless you already have them) and take off to another city. One test result is worth a thousand theories. That way, you won't have, "bet the farm." The trial run will give you ideas you hadn't thought of and reveal problems you haven't thought of. You may want to do two or three trial runs. Once you have the bugs worked out, you'll have a better chance of success.

    Good luck! I hope it works out for you. It sounds like a fantastic adventure.
    ClayMart likes this.
  17. I think wsdad brings up a valid point. I think one approach might be to avoid trying to do the high-end "over the top" jobs from a mobile operation. Keep it simple and basic. Limit the materials and color selection to what you can readily keep in your own inventory. Less dependence on outside suppliers and logistics.

    Some one mentioned the Taco Trucks and mobile food vendors. For the most part they succeed by making specialized, simple foods and making them well. They're not serving Chateaubriand and they're not getting calls 3 months later saying it wasn't made properly.
  18. Doc.
    Joined: Jul 16, 2005
    Posts: 3,558

    Member Emeritus

    I'd work with a mobile guy in a heartbeat,if he could show me some samples of his work. I don't have a local guy that I use any more, so my stuff would have to be sent off anyway. In fact I have a 32 sedan that will need a full interior soon. In my mind this could solve my problem of shops taking three times as long to complete my projects as they promise. If you are mobile you gotta get your work done so you can move on to the next project. My painters and upholsterers like to fill up their shops with projects and then just work a little bit each week on all of them. It drives me nuts
  19. Latigo
    Joined: Mar 24, 2014
    Posts: 683


    Sounds like a great plan. I'd much rather have the work done at my place. A brick and mortar location isn't necessary anymore. Maybe hook up with local car clubs when in their area. Give a short program and show your work at a meeting.
    Bet you can also get work right in RV parks.
  20. 65pacecar
    Joined: Sep 22, 2010
    Posts: 5,219

    from KY, AZ

    I have a couple of jobs coming up in Lexington, ky that I would be glad to have you do. Also, do you install convertible tops?
  21. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 31,298


    At least here in the Northwest there are a lot of "toy hauler" motor homes and rv trailers that have a space in the back to put several motorcycles/dirt bikes or a quad or two Most of them have fold down bunks to stick the kids or extra folks in when the toys are out of the rig. one of those would make a pretty decent shop with living quarters in the front that you could back up to a guy's shop and go to work.
    I'd think you would have a waiting list of people wanting work done once the word was out simply because you would be able to concentrate on that one rig for the days it takes to do the work and the car doesn't have to leave it's spot in it's own garage or the shop it is being worked on.
    Chavezk21 likes this.
  22. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 3,289

    The 39 guy

    It is pleasure to read a thread with so many positive and helpful comments! I think your idea could work. In my area any upholstery guy that does quality work ends up with a waiting list of customers. You can sometimes wait a year to get in to them. I imagine it is that way all around the country so if you can get the word out, maybe by doing a" some of my work" type thread as some of the panel benders do you should be on your way to a successful business and adventure. Good Luck!
  23. nailhead terry
    Joined: Mar 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,458

    nailhead terry

    Can you come to Hawkins Texas !st man I have been stalled on my car for 8 months waiting on the stiches !
  24. k9racer
    Joined: Jan 20, 2003
    Posts: 3,091


    In the 1950 thru the late 70 time frame in Birmingham Alabama a Man named Eddie ran a out fit called Eddies seat cover mobile. his sewing machine was a phaff that he used a foot petal to power. No need for electric . He did stock to custom work. His motto was I come to your work or home. He had 2 to 3 units on the road all the time. He did a lot of car lot work but most was custom work. As happens he passed away and the family did not want to carry on the buss. Great idea and it will work in this time period. Car people talk to each other so if your work is good you will have customers. . Good Luck.. Bobby
  25. dreracecar
    Joined: Aug 27, 2009
    Posts: 3,289

    from so-cal

    Are people saying its a great idea because of being mobile and living in a motorhome that somehow the job cost will be cheaper then having done at the local brick and mortar shoppe?
    There have been times with some of my projects that having to deliver them to a shoppe has presented problems with time and logistics, and would pay the same price or more just so I can still do things while its getting work done.

  26. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,617

    Rusty O'Toole

    Maybe you could buy a used trailer and set up a mobile shop and try it out. You still have a couple of months before winter sets in. If it works ok in your local area take it on the road.
  27. 65pacecar
    Joined: Sep 22, 2010
    Posts: 5,219

    from KY, AZ

    Personally I would pay the same or more for the convenience of not having to pick up and deliver plus my stuff is still at home and I'm not worrying about it getting lost, place going out of business etc.
    Atwater Mike likes this.
  28. 36DodgeRam
    Joined: Dec 16, 2008
    Posts: 505


    I had my truck upholstered by a local guy. He works out of his garage, and also has a big trailer he pulls around. Sure he does lots of cars and boats, but he says the real money is airplanes, those guys have the money, they like nice upholstery, and they can't take a plane to some ones shop...
  29. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,617

    Rusty O'Toole

    Hey ya if you can get into the plane upholstery you are set. Keep in mind the materials may be different in the interest of light weight.
  30. 57JoeFoMoPar
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 5,383


    I agree, these are fair points. I'd add that there could be some customer apprehension to having an RV parked in my driveway for long periods of time. I'd imagine complete jobs would take a considerable amount of time, this wouldn't be something that could be banged out in a day.

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