Fred LaMarsna restores 150-year-old buggy over the years and now it's on display at West Kern Oil Museum
The West Kern Oil Museum’s transportation building has a new ride thanks to a labor of love that began 56 years ago.
It was 1963 when Taft native Fred LaMarsna spotted an old buggy in a yard on Main Street and bought it for $75 intending to restore it. It’s been a long, off-and-on grind but the finished product is a beauty. And, it has a featured spot in the Museum building that is the parking spot for an assortment of antique cars, trucks and other drivable equipment.
The only difference between LaMarsna’s creation and the other stuff on display at the Museum is horsepower. Literally. The buggy requires a horse to make it move, and the Museum doesn’t have a horse. But that’s fine with LaMarsna, a 1960 Taft High graduate. He likes it just where it sits so visitors can simply admire it – and the countless hours of work it took to spring it back to life.
“It’s an open air buggy with side springs,” he said. “It’s purpose was to transport people and objects.
It’s 150 years old and made from wood and metal – all of which LaMarsna restored. There are no missing parts or damage.
“I enjoyed every minute of it,” he said, admitting to a fondness “for the smell of sanded wood.”
What took him so long?
Work, including 20 years with Southern California Gas, marriage, a divorce, another marriage and three kids.
“I finally took it apart in 1975, but had to curtail things because of a tight budget” he said, and since he didn’t have a shop he took night woodworking classes at Taft High. “I started with the (wheel) spokes and worked a little at a time. Over time I did a lot of woodworking.”
LaMarsna did woodworking classes “for about 25 years” alongside good friend Jerry Tashjian, who lent a hand now and then on the buggy project, including spray painting the buggy when it was finished.
LaMarsna even ordered a book from England on how to work on wagon wheels.
“So, along the way I actually became a wheelwright.” he said. “Can you imagine that?”
The Museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and on Sunday from 1-4 p.m.