Bob Buttafuso…the Relic

It’s only fitting that I share the following on the first day of April…

I first met Bob Buttafuso back in 1985 when he graciously volunteered his time to repair detectors at the FMDAC’s Treasure Weekend in Atlantic City.  He repaired any brand, any model detector, no charge. I was impressed, grateful and hopeful that he would join our effort. Today? I go out of my way to avoid the guy.  He’s keeps calling, crying in his beer, asking for money, wanting me to help him tie his shoes…..on and on.

Harry Bodofsky (first VP of Federation) and a young Bob Buttafuso….Atlantic City 1985

Some of you might remember Bob as one of the stars in the TV series American Digger, where “Boom Baby” became the keyword and lead-in to every commercial. He has taken a lot of criticism and ribbing for doing the show but has no regrets. According to Bob he got to travel, see things he might otherwise not have seen and had a helluva lot of fun along the way!

The cast from TV’s American Digger. Bob’s the old guy on the far right….



Q. Bob, I believe you live in the mid-Atlantic states but can you share where in particular or is the IRS still after you?

A. LOL. Since Tony retired, he owned Electronic Exploration, the mid-west White’s service center, we pretty much have as much of the US as the factory does. Of course we are faster than the factory, depending on where the customer lives.

DS: Note how Bob answered the question?  This is going be one helluva session (for the record Bob lives in Virginia).


Q. I know you are the owner or co-owner of Centreville Electronics, in Manassas, Virginia. Tell me a little more about it? Aside from doing White’s warranty repair what other services do you offer?

A. We sell White’s detectors, Civil War relics, detector accessories as well as magazines, display cases, books, etc.  I also make and sell custom mats for display cases as well as matted relic displays.

Used to repair most electronics like TV’s, VCRs, computers and was also a complete electronics parts store at one time. I still repair computers on the side but don’t advertise it.  A lot of my items are on my website and on Ebay my store name is cw-relics.

If you are interested y0u can also find a few YouTube videos of digging CW relics at BigBobbyButt.   I am getting ready to upload a  video showing our store in a few days. 


Q. How long have you been an authorized service center?

A. Wow, would you believe 1978? Started in my basement at home. 

DS: Hell yeah I’d believe that.  You once sent a detector back to me Pony Express….

BB: Yes, came back undeliverable…”no Dick at that address”.  I replied “Sure is, look again!”


Q. What exactly was it that got you interested in metal detecting?

A. Not sure. Always was interested in finding treasure. Can remember putting some coins in a jar and burying it in a stone wall behind my house when I was a kid. Think it is still there today.

DS: When you were a kid? Did they have coins back then?


Q. When did you start and what was your very first metal detector?

A. My first detector was a Heathkit, one I had to build myself.  Next was a Sear’s Ted Williams model made by Whites. This was in 1968. 


Q. And what was it that made you purchase that particular brand/model?

A. I liked electronics…thus the Heathkit.


Q. Do you remember what your very first signal/find was?

A. Yes, a Buffalo Head nickel. I was hooked!


Q. What was your very first good or decent find?

A.  A 1908 Barber Quarter.

Note the branches growing from Buttafuso’s head. One old and very scruffy dude…..


Q. I know you are a relic hunter but in the beginning did you always concentrate on relics or did you also hunt for coins, relics, jewelry….?

A.  Actually I first started hunting in Maryland so I knew nothing about CW relics until we moved to VA. in 1977.  I mostly hunted coins until a book came out introducing us to digging in the water. Back then the rings and jewelry were common finds.


Q. How long did it take you to find your first silver coin and do you remember what it was?

A. Don’t remember the first but do remember digging a Barber Dime.

DS: Damn do you remember anything?

BB: Who are you?


Q. How long did it take you to find your first, hard to find, valuable relic and what was it (and I know I boogered my words but I am not a relic guy….I just drink and know things)?

A. My first cool relic other than a bullet was a pretty Yankee Eagle Breast Plate. 


Q. How long did it take you to find your first “ring” and do you remember what kinds of ring was it?

A. Dug many but don’t remember that either. Old age!! 

DS: How about “beer brain” and dementia….

BB: How about bending over?


Q.  As a relic hunter I’m sure you spend a lot of time researching. Are you able to share just how you go about it? i.e., what software, books maps, you use etc..

A. The Official Atlas of the Civil War and the Official Records of the CW (along with topo maps) are what I mainly use.  Originally, the OR’s were 128 volumes plus the index.  Took an entire bookcase to hold them. Then they came out with them on a searchable CD which saved hours.


Q. Do you generally hunt alone or do you go with a partner/group?

A. I was hunting with my friend Terry Fisher for years but he recently moved 5 hours away. He comes up occasionally to hunt for a day or so. I mostly go by myself now.

DS: I can understand why your friends move away…

BB: Sometimes I even forget to put deodorant on.


Q. If you do  hunt with others how do you decide on where to go?

A. Usually it’s a mutual decision. Sometimes old camps and other times we just check out new areas.  


Q. What would you consider to be your best find so far?

A. Probably my Virginia Buckle. The one with the word “VIRGINIA” across it. 

DS: Very good Bob….how long did it take you to identify this find?

BB: Never did. There were so many women named Virginia in the phone book (should have answered “my wife” was my best find so far).


Q. Okay what is your weirdest find to date, and be careful here. This is a classy, family oriented blog, that attracts a lot of degenerates.

A. Found a starter cap pistol in a CW camp. Say’s SAMBO on the side and the head of a black person with his mouth open where the cap went.  


Q. What is your “oldest” find to date, or is that difficult to answer as a relic hunter?

A. Here in the states, a 1722 2 Reale, or at least half of it. I have dug Roman coins dating much earlier on my trips to England.


Q. How did you become part of the White’s Field Test team?

A. Came up with an idea of Video advertising for Whites. Call it “White’s World”. It since evolved into folks that used Whites that were already known in the social media circles. I’ve also helped develop and test many of their units over the years including the TDI, Blue & Gray along with the MXT. 

The White’s Field Test Team…Bob is second from right.


Q. I know you’ve been to White’s factory, many, many times but tell me about your very first trip to the factory in Sweet Home? Did they have airplanes back then?

A. No we actually rode wagons through the Oregon Trail…. keep it up Dork!

In the 80’s there were around 30 service centers. I was selected with around 11 others to service Whites. We went to the factory for class. Then in the 90’s it was cut to 4 of us including the factory. Seen many folks come and go over the years, including you. They are a great company that treats their employees like family as I am sure you know. They also treat their customers like family. You won’t find better customer service than Whites! 


Q. Okay, curious how you put up with the likes of Dave Wise? I mean he bad mouths you all the time.….you should hear the names.

A. Dave is like a grumpy old man. When we met in Oregon a few years ago I was surprised to find out that he was a lot older than he looked. Still ugly but old. Actually, like you, he is a great guy that I love to tease. And he can take it like you. I think at first he didn’t like you. He thought that most of the things you said and did were obnoxious.  He learned differently though.  He is really a fun guy to tease but also a real nice guy. I think you found that out when he set up that fund to help you and your family after the tornado. A real first class act! 

DS: He is indeed. Now if  I could only teach him how to wear a ball cap….

Bob trying to impress (and look like) Dave Wise….


Q. You obviously are a White’s user but what model are you currently using and why?

A.  I use the MXT with the 13” Detech coil mostly. My secondary unit is the TDI. Lately I have been using the MX Sport as I had to learn it to support my customers. 


Q. Can you share a few settings that you use?

A. I use the Relic mode on the MXT. Love the dual tone. Keep the Disc around 3 ½ so buttons still give a positive high pitch tone.


Q. What accessories are in your arsenal (aside from Southern Comfort)?

A. The TRX pin pointer and the White’s Digmaster. Of course I carry most of the optional coils. 

Bob, having a beer with his best (and only) friend….


Q. How often do you get out relic hunting today?

A. I hunt mostly from April through Dec. I try to get out once a week.


Q.  Again, not being a relic guy this is may sound stupid but do you have preferences as to where you hunt? i.e., camps, battleground perimeters, etc.? Set me straight.

A. Around here, most of the camps and skirmish areas are now under new developments. What’s left is the construction areas. Out of the area I prefer hunting camps where better items are normally found. Skirmish and battle areas are usually full of fired bullets which I hate digging.

Bob begging Dave Wise and Dominique Ivy Da Silva to loan him money…..


Q.  You surely have a bucket list. Care to share it?

A. I guess number one is a CW ID tag. Second is a GW Button…shut of Dave Wise and Dominique Ivy Da Silva. GW Hogs!!


Q. I know you once hunted with Jimmy Sierra in the UK…was that the only time you’ve hunted overseas?

A. Yes. Been over there 3 years. Didn’t go last year as we were moving but heading over again this September with a different group. I really can’t wait. 


Q. What would your ideal detector look like and yes I know you go through this with the factory every few months, but share your thoughts.

A. One that would pick up a CW button under a pile of nails! Other than that, one that has both knobs and menu buttons where you could select either. Older folks like knobs while younger ones are into the techie stuff with all the options.


Q. If you could pass along one or two words of advice to other detectorists, what would they be?

A. Number one is to learn your unit.  As I have always stated, the machine is only as good as the user using it. Second, always recheck your holes after finding your target. Lots of good items are left in the ground.


DS: Listen, I kid Bob a lot but he’s really a standup guy (okay, well maybe not on Saturday nights). I’m also going to be kind and not share his nickname….Bobby Butt is gross enough.  Plus Bob is now a senior citizen and deserving of our respect. How old is he? Well if you ask his friends, “he’s old enough to know better”. 

Bobs seriously, thanks for doing this and being a good sport….I really do appreciate it!


Be sure to check out Bob’s books….



For those of you who enjoy these Q&A posts Todd Hiltz has agreed to participate and if you have any particular questions you’d like to ask him let me know.






Filed under Metal Detecting

13 responses to “Bob Buttafuso…the Relic

  1. Dominique

    Great interview with a great guy by a great blogger 😊. A fun and worthwhile read!

  2. heavymetalnut

    Too funny! good job fella’s!

  3. Bigtony

    That was a fun read, I enjoyed it. It makes you want to go relic hunting…….

  4. Hahaha!

    BB: “How about bending over?” Hahahahah!

  5. Todd Hiltz

    Funny read yet very interesting. Dave and I took Bob to a few cellar holes last year and he didn’t last very long because of knee problems. I would like to get both you old timers out on a cellar hole hunt and wage bets on who lasts longer.

  6. A recent video from Bobby Butt

  7. fastfrank

    Oh what fun! Great interview again.

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