Local News

Friday, Aug 15 2014 05:53 PM

Shafter man sells his handmade train after 25 years of work

  1. 1 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman's custom-made train comes through one of the buildings on his property Friday afternoon in Shafter.

    click to expand click to collapse
  2. 2 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman is all smiles as he takes his custom-made train around his property in Shafter.

    click to expand click to collapse
  3. 3 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman's custom-made train departs for the station on his property in Shafter. Merrill's wife, Adele, on the right, keeps an eye on Merrill.

    click to expand click to collapse
  4. 4 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman's custom-made train departs for the station on his property in Shafter.

    click to expand click to collapse
  5. 5 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman's custom-made train comes through the trees on his property in Shafter Friday afternoon.

    click to expand click to collapse
  6. 6 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman's custom-made train makes a turn around the trees on his property in Shafter.

    click to expand click to collapse
  7. 7 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman's custom-made train comes through the trees on his property in Shafter Friday afternoon.

    click to expand click to collapse
  8. 8 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman's custom-train passes by one of the buildings on his property in Shafter.

    click to expand click to collapse
  9. 9 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman's custom-made train passes over his bridge on his property in Shafter Friday afternoon.

    click to expand click to collapse
  10. 10 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman's wife, Adele, helps out with travel arrangements on the property via her golf cart.

    click to expand click to collapse
  11. 11 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman's custom-made train makes the final approach to the station on his property in Shafter.

    click to expand click to collapse
  12. 12 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman's custom-made train comes through the trees on his property in Shafter Friday.

    click to expand click to collapse
  13. 13 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman's custom-made train approaches the station at the end of the ride around his property in Shafter.

    click to expand click to collapse
  14. 14 of 14

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Merrill Lehman's custom-made train approaches the final structure on the ride around the property in Shafter.

    click to expand click to collapse
BY RUTH BROWN Californian staff writer rbrown@bakersfield.com

The rumble, whistle and chug of Merrill Lehman's handmade train can't be missed as it weaves its way around trees on the Shafter property he owned for 45 years, its red caboose shining in the afternoon sun.

Lehman, 78, has been building his train for the past 25 years. But after selling the property, he and his wife, Adele, are moving to a smaller house in Bakersfield next week and are the 2-6-0 Mogul. The asking price is $250,000.

"We have a lot of good memories here, but it was time," said Adele, 78.

Lehman started building the train after he purchased a general train building plan, but he made it six times larger.

With green, deep purple and brass colors, the train seats 24 people and runs on a gasoline engine. Traditionally, the Mogul type locomotives ran on steam. More than 11,000 Moguls -- named after the Mogul Empire in India -- were built between 1860 and 1910 and were generally used on freight trains.

The engine, tender, caboose, wheels and embellishments were hand cut and welded to fit. Multiple pieces of the train came from junk yards and some Lehman doesn't even remember where they came from.

The steam whistle came from an old steam boat, the engine's bell is a former ship's bell and an ornament on the front of the train was metal baby cup his children used.

The selling price includes not only the train but five switches, three signals, a sound system, a smoke stack and about a half-mile of track. He has received one offer, but is unsure how "concrete" it is.

"I have no idea how much I've spent on it over the years," Lehman said. "It was just a hobby so I never tracked the money."

The tracks around the 4.2-acre property weave around orange, pine, eucalyptus and sycamore trees, planted to give the train "a forest" to travel through, Adele said.

The route also runs across a small homemade bridge, and through a barn and tunnel.

Lehman made the tunnel out of two abandoned box cars that were on his property. He used a crane to put the two side-by-side, connected them and then opened up both ends before running tracks underneath.

He often takes family, friends, church members and garden party attendees on rides. There is no apparent weight limit, as Lehman said he has taken capacity loads of adults at a time.

The train is Lehman's favorite project, but isn't his first, despite not having any professional mechanical training.

He previously restored and sold antique cars, including a 1909 Cadillac, built a gazebo and tinkering with a variety of other items.

"He's always building something, so why not a train?" said Adele. "Whenever I see him drawing I know that something new is coming."

Lehman said he enjoys new projects, plus they keep him busy.

"I like taking something that's no good and making it into something great," he said.

Have something to share? Comment on this story
Today's Daily Deal
from
Bakersfield.com
$25
Daily Deal Image
Lit Fitness
Personal Training  WEIGHT LOSS Holiday Deals!
  • Value
    $90
  • Savings
    $65
  • Bought
    0
Buy Now