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Archive for Monday, June 18, 2007

Man builds stagecoach for backyard

June 18, 2007

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— Most people would enjoy Greg Punches' backyard - a nice deck, two ponds and a stream, a gazebo, a wishing well and a water wheel.

But what they wouldn't know is that he built it all.

Punches, a Burlingame resident for nearly 40 years, enjoys working with his hands, whether it is tinkering with metal or building something from wood.

His most recent project is a stagecoach.

"I've built a lot of things," Punches said. But he took on the stagecoach as "a challenge."

Punches has been working on the coach since last fall and is close to finishing it. He is building the undercarriage and hopes to start on the seats while he waits for the coach's wheels to be finished by Werner Wagon Works in Horton.

When finished, the back wheels of the stagecoach will be 5-feet tall and the front wheels 46 inches tall.

"I'm hoping that everything can go together as soon as I get the wheels," Punches said.

Although Punches said he doesn't want to get burned out on the project, he comes home from work everyday and he "can't wait to do a little something more" on the stagecoach.

Many people think of stagecoaches as red and yellow in color, but Punches said, "I just hated to cover up that pretty oak." So, instead of paint, he stained it.

The coach project came about because he wanted to build something for his two grandsons, Brandon and Harrison.

For his granddaughters, he builds personalized grandfather clocks, each with a unique design.

He is pleased with the stagecoach so far.

"It's turned out better than I thought," Punches said of neighbors who are already calling and asking for a ride.

"I'll have to quit promising people that, or I'll never get a ride in it," he said.

Punches said he plans to pull the coach with his truck.

"Horses are nice, but they're a lot of work," he said. "(They) have to be used to it."

Punches has worked for the Santa Fe Railroad for 39 years. He rekindled his interest in woodworking after making the switch from working on freight cars to business cars. He uses a variety of wood when he builds, but mostly cedar, walnut and oak.

"I love the smell of (the cedar) and I love the difference in the colors with the walnut," he said.

Although he loves his job, Punches, 57, hopes to retire when he turns 60.

"I'd rather do this," he said, referring to his woodworking hobby.

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