Kowboy was part of the original restoration crew in the reality television series “American Restoration.” He enjoyed a bit of face and name recognition from when the show was launched in October 2010. When it was abruptly canceled after four years without any explanation by its producers, fans wondered what happened to him, especially when the show rebooted two years later and he wasn’t part of the main cast.
What is “American Restoration” all about?
Since the emergence of reality TV, the genre has taken various forms, often met with mixed reviews from traditionalists. However, a unique format emerged that captured the essence of unique and extraordinary businesses and their expertise without the use of re-enactments. This innovative approach led to the creation of a new era in TV programming. “American Restoration” chronicled the daily activities of Rick’s Restorations, where they restored practically anything under the sun.
A spin-off inspired by “Pawn Stars”
The origins of “American Restoration” can be traced back to one of History Channel’s biggest hits, “Pawn Stars.” Rick Dale, the owner of Rick’s Restorations, frequently appeared on that TV show as an expert consultant for vintage collectibles. His extensive knowledge and captivating personality quickly made him a fan favorite, and recognizing the potential, the network offered Rick his own TV series. Rick was unsure about the concept of a reality show centered around restorations, but eventually overcame his reservations and completed filming of the first season.
The original cast of the show
At the forefront of Rick’s Restorations were the dedicated individuals who brought their unique skills and expertise to the table. Many of them were Rick Dales’ family members, such as his brother Ron, and stepson Brettly, who served as the pickers in the team. His daughter Ally, and niece Michelle managed the front office, while his son Tyler was the shop’s foreman, and his wife Kelly oversaw business operations. The specialists were Rick’s core crew, and they made each restoration project doable, no matter how difficult. For instance, when a project needed an assembler and fabricator, Rick relied on Kyle Astorga. If the restoration needed a talented lettering artist to do the design, he called for Ted Hague. Lastly, if the shop needed a master woodworker and expert metal polisher, he trusted Kowboy to get the job done.
Preserving history one project at a time
One of the main reasons why “American Restoration” captured the interest of viewers was that it focused not solely on the transformation of old items but it also delved into the preservation of history itself. Each episode showcased the meticulous restoration process from addressing mechanical issues, to replicating intricate details, including restoring original finishes. The cast and crew tried their best in maintaining the authenticity and historical accuracy of every artifact they worked on. With a deep respect for craftsmanship, they aimed to breathe new life into these items, while preserving their unique stories and cultural significance.
Get to know Kowboy and his six seasons in “American Restoration”
There was little information shared publicly by History Channel about Kevin “Kowboy” Lowery, aside from being the resident grouch in “American Restoration.” Kowboy nor any of his co-stars ever talked about his personal life. The only thing that was certain then was that he was friends with Kyle Astorga, who was in charge of the assembly line in the shop. Initially, he was only seen briefly in each episode during the early seasons of the show but was eventually given more screen time.
Kowboy says you better be watching tonight’s ALL NEW episodes of American Restoration… or else!
Posted by American Restoration on Tuesday, January 28, 2014
The shop’s grumpy, cranky, and testy dude
Ever since the reality TV genre became such a huge hit, the market’s been saturated with too many TV stars, because it gave that elusive chance for people from such a huge range of backgrounds to make an appearance on the small screen. Many character types that aligned with cultural stereotypes were seen in most of the reality shows. Some of them would be known as the scrounger, the screaming bitch, the spoiled manipulative queen B, etc. Kowboy was the grumpy, bad-tempered dude who couldn’t care less what other people think of him. Whether it was a scripted character that he was tasked to play in the show, or he was the real deal, no one would know for sure. Some fans who met him personally said that he was just like that in person. There was one fan who claimed that his “American Restoration” shop tour in Vegas was ruined due to Kowboy’s rude behavior. Apparently, he told the fan that he doesn’t do pictures. However, other fans said that if that was his real personality, they didn’t think he would last in his job at Rick’s Restorations for long. Kowboy may be highly skilled, but not that extraordinarily special to have his irritable personality tolerated just like that.
Educating the younger ones
It was interesting to note that while Kowboy projected a grumpy personality and made statements intentionally or accidentally that were designed to irritate people around him, more often than not, he would impart his knowledge to the younger members of the restoration crew. When Tyler couldn’t get the metal right as it kept on bending when he was sandblasting it, Kowboy told the teen to use Walnut powder instead of sand. There were also many instances when he would remind them to be extra careful, taking out parts of the vintage objects that they were fixing. He also advised them that it would be best to be quiet on someone else’s property, when retrieving artifacts that they would be restoring.
An expert in tearing things apart
Rick said that one of Kowboy’s reliable skills aside from being great in woodworking projects was that he was exceptional in tearing things apart. It complemented well with Kyle Astorga’s talent, which was to ensure that no part would be lost so they could re-assemble it easily. Since Kowboy had excellent carpentry skills acquired through years of experience, he could easily see how an object was put together, which made it simple for him to figure out how to deconstruct it. This ability helped Rick in working on tedious projects but with strict deadlines.
Interesting restored pieces in “American Restoration”
“American Restoration” had one of the highest TV ratings on the History Channel. It achieved the record of having 6.5 million viewers of an episode entitled “Pick, Pawn, and Polish.” It averaged close to three million views per week, and was seen in about 90 countries. Clearly, restoring objects from the past was a huge thing for many people around the world. Here are some of the most notable ones that were restored in the show:
The Vintage Coca-Cola Vending Machines
These iconic vintage Coca-Cola machines, which had been a recurring theme on the show, often dating back to the mid-20th century, underwent a meticulous restoration process to reclaim their former glory. Every aspect from intricate mechanical repairs to expert repainting and rebranding was carefully executed, breathing new life into these treasured artifacts. The restoration not only revived the nostalgia and enchantment associated with these beloved pieces as part of the American culture, but also paid homage to the amazing craftsmanship of skilled workers of the bygone era. When the shop hosted a sale, most buyers went and bought these vending machines.
Colorful Neon Lights and Historic Signs
Kowboy had embraced the challenge of restoring historic signs and neon lights, rekindling the vibrant glow of bygone times. Whether it’s a timeless neon “Open” sign or a grand vintage advertisement, the crew undertook a painstaking restoration process. They expertly repaired the electrical components, provided tedious metalwork through refurbishment, which was one of Kowboy’s expertise, and applied fresh coats of paint to revive the signage’s original allure. These thoroughly restored signs served as tangible reminders of a nostalgic era. Some businesses still prefer to use this type of signage today!
Antique Toys, Bicycles, and Food Stands
The restoration of these intricate and often whimsical pieces demanded fastidious care to ensure their proper functionality while preserving their original aesthetics. Even if Kowboy rarely smiled in “American Restoration,” all the restored projects brought some sort of delight and sentimentality in him. Some people thought that they never really took anything seriously, but most of the clients they had in the show were happy with the outcome. The crew had a great time restoring toys, particularly those three-wheeled bicycles, which they all wanted to be the ones to test drive.
The cancellation of “American Restoration”
There was a popular proverb, ‘All good things must come to an end,’ but many fans were shocked that “American Restoration” was canceled back in 2016. There was considerable speculation on why it happened, as most people believed that it was doing well. Since most TV executives wouldn’t take the time to release an official statement about it, here are some of those possible reasons that the fans talked about on different social media platforms:
A declining viewership and production costs outweigh the revenue
One of the most logical reasons for canceling a TV series is if it experiences a significant drop in viewership. Ratings play a significant role in the continuation of a TV series, as networks rely quite heavily on advertising revenues, and a higher viewership would mean more advertisers paying for commercials. Network executives use ratings to determine the popularity of a program, and set advertising rates accordingly. The audience size of “American Restoration” had probably declined significantly over recent seasons, which led for History Channel to fire the original cast including Kowboy, as it would no longer be financially feasible to continue.
Creative differences between the stars and the producers
The most buzz-worthy rumor that came out when it was reported that American Restoration” was no longer coming back after its seventh season, was that Kowboy’s boss, Rick Dale, had creative differences with the producers of the show. That was a polite way of putting it, but there were talks that Rick became difficult to work, with and the network didn’t want to put up with it any longer. The producers could easily replace them with a new cast, which they eventually did after its two-year hiatus. However, some TV insiders said that sometimes the show just reached a natural conclusion and that they’d explored all the storylines or reached the threshold of concepts that they liked to tackle.
Concerns arise over restoration work quality
As loyal fans of “American Restoration” continued discussing the cancelation of the show online, more interesting rumors came out – one of them highlighted the dissatisfaction of certain clients, who claimed to have received sub-standard and shabby restoration work from Rick’s Restoration. Even those observant viewers at home noticed a decline in the level of quality control evident in the work carried out. Online comments from fans indicated instances of chipped paint on restored items and improperly installed parts on certain machinery. Many viewers expressed the belief that Rick’s crew had taken on projects that exceeded their capabilities. At times, it appeared that they approached their work carelessly, neglecting the seriousness it demanded, or that they were so pressed for time that they thought it would be close enough. A former client who was featured in the show was rumored to lodge a complaint, but Rick’s crew failed to address it until it gained traction on social media.
Rick Dale uploaded a video about it
With all the rumors that came out, no-one in the cast including Kowboy ever talked about it, even on their social media pages, until its main star broke his silence and uploaded a video talking about the whole thing. It was triggered by a reboot of the show in 2018, which featured a new cast. They were caught off guard since they all thought that the TV show was canceled for other reasons, and were shocked that all this time History Channel was cooking up a reboot. Rick detailed the emotions that he felt when he learned about it, and even encouraged their fans to leave messages on the official social media pages of the show, to support the outrage that they also felt about the whole debacle.
The show wasn’t canceled but the cast was fired
A lot of speculation was cleared up after the reboot was announced – Rick and his crew had been let go by the TV network. Rather than the show being canceled, the cast were simply replaced. Reports suggested that the production company responsible for the TV show, Leftfield Pictures, failed to reach a favorable agreement with Rick Dale – allegedly, Rick was determined to secure a new contract with a substantial increase in appearance fees. With no resolution in sight to kickstart a new season, the production company reportedly proposed a solution to the TV executives by introducing a new cast, ultimately approved by the cable network.
Change.org petition failed
The decision to upload the video proved to be unwise, as it didn’t bring any benefits to Rick and his crew, similar to what occurred with the Change.org petition allegedly started by their devoted fans, to convince History Channel to bring back the original cast. Regrettably, the petition failed to gather even 20 signatures, delivering a clear message to Rick Dale and his crew. It became evident that the public’s interest had waned considerably. It seemed that the rebooted show also didn’t capture viewers’ attention, probably because of the negative controversies surrounding it, or because people wanted something new.
2023 update on Kowboy’s whereabouts
After the cancelation and reboot controversy died down, there were no more Kowboy sightings on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter. The last time that he was featured on the official Instagram page of Rick’s Restoration was in January 2016. Initially, people thought that he was no longer part of Rick’s crew, but on the tours that were offered to fans of their Las Vegas shop after the TV show was canceled, Kowboy’s name was still in the marquee. Fans were convinced that when “American Restoration” started, he was somehow reluctant to be part of the show, but didn’t have any choice since he was truly working for Rick Dale, so was automatically included in the cast.
All hands on deck!The deadline is here to finish and deliver 3 projects to a special grand opening here in Las Vegas! Pics coming soon!
Posted by Ricks Restorations on Friday, June 28, 2019
Kowboy was seen again in 2019 via Rick Restoration’s Facebook page. He looked a little bit slimmer, and fans were ecstatic to see that he was still part of the crew. His boss, Rick Dale, announced on his Facebook page that he was to make a comeback on History Channel with a new show entitled “American Restoration Truck Edition”, but sadly, it didn’t take off. When the Vegas shop tours stopped, and Rick’s shop was officially closed, no one heard of Kowboy again. Fans could only speculate that he was probably still doing metal polishing and carpentry for another shop, since Rick was no longer in the restoration industry.
“American Restoration” enthralled audiences with its captivating exploration of the art of restoration. Through the dedicated efforts of Rick Dale and his talented team including Kowboy’s woodworking/metal polishing skills, historical artifacts were revived, and their stories were shared with the world. With its mix of family dynamics, skilled craftsmanship, and a deep respect for history, the show inspired and reminded viewers, even for just seven seasons of the importance of preserving our collective past.