Steam In His Blood, Merry Go-Round In Yard

article image
Mary Ellen Smith
Lloyd Lehman views the merry-go-round he recently completed as it is powered by his steam traction engine in the backyard of his home at 2201 Bloomington Rd. (Staff photo)

Staff Writer

We thank The Tazewell Courier newspaper of East Peoria, Illinois
for permission to use the following article and picture. Article
sent in by Lloyd Lehman, 2201 Bloomington, Route 5, Peoria,
Illinois 61611.

The Lloyd Lehman backyard at 2201 Bloomington Rd. is different
from others in the city. In the center of the yard is a
merry-go-round built by 74-year-old Lehman over the past three
years.

Nostalgia and his enthusiasm for building steam-powered engines
prompted Lehman to undertake the task of designing the plans for
and building the merry-go-round. ‘When I was a boy and nickels
were so scarce to ride the merry-go-rounds, I could never get my
fill of rides. I suppose I’ve always looked up to them as a
fond memory,’ said Lehman. He added, ‘When my buddies were
building with steam, I decided to start in on something like
this.’

Lehman pointed out that his ‘pride and joy’ is patterned
after the original merry-go-rounds in that it is powered by steam
with a cable running from his steam traction engine around the
base.

The merry-go-round, built upon a steel tract with four
stabilizing wheels, consists of eight horses, four of which have a
rocking motion, lighting, a red and white metal roof, and a tape
recorder disguised in what used to be a radio cabinet.

Explaining that the merry-go-round was ‘built by
memory,’ Lehman said, ‘I didn’t have any blueprints and
had to cut and then try and build and sometimes do it again to get
it right. ‘ He reported having to change the linkage on the
four moving horses about three times in order to get the proper
action.

During the winter months Lehman drew the plans for the iron
linkage and made the imitation organ from the radio cabinet.
‘I’ll be playing the tape recordings of the original
steam-powered merry-go-round organs as well as the up-to-date
calliope and band organ music,’ noted Lehman.

Although building a merry-go-round is new to Lehman, he reported
his introduction to merry-go-rounds included assembling the various
pieces of equipment when the fairs came to town.

‘I can remember when 1 was 12 years old in Astoria, Ill.,
and they would bring the merry-go-rounds to town. They told us kids
that if we wanted a ride we could help uncrate the pieces and lay
them on the ground where they directed.’

Lehman said the three-year project never became tedious even
with all of the changes he had to make. ‘I just wouldn’t
force myself. If you drive yourself with a hobby when you are
tired, you can’t do it right. And if it’s a hobby of
something you love to do, you just don’t tire out that
much.’

The merry-go-round will be featured June 20 at his home with a
variety of other steam-powered items built by Lehman and his
friends. ‘Anyone interested in seeing a steam-powered
merry-go-round is welcome to come.’ said Lehman.

After viewing Lehman’s enthusiasm with his latest project
involving the steam engine, it’s easy to agree with one of his
friends, Lewis Enderli of East Peoria, who commented, ‘If that
steam is in your blood, it will never boil out.’

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