Remembering the A.D. Baker Company
(Page 4 of 5)
The A.D. Baker Company built about 1630 steam traction engines previous to 1921, and when they came out with their heavy duty that year, they jumped their serial numbers up to read like 16135. The middle figure indicates the year the Baker engine was built. I was told by three different former employees of the A.D. Baker Company that Abner did not invent their valve gear, but did perfect and patent it. That inventor was an employee by the name of Gifford who lived about six miles north of Swanton, or just west of Assumption, Ohio. I remember calling on him as he owned a Russell steam engine, a cider mill, and did some sawing.
The Baker valve gear was patented March 3, 1903. Their catalogue claims they get a full port opening when the piston has traveled only 3/8' from dead center. An Advance salesman, George Shannon of Battle Creek, Michigan, told me there was nothing gained by that early admission, and I said, 'How about getting rid of the exhaust quickly?' He replied, 'Well you got me there.'
The 1918 Baker catalogue states a new 19-65 HP Baker uniflow with 8%' x 10' cylinders at Ohio State University in Columbus developed 66.6 HP at 258.7 RPM with steam pressure at 177.7 pounds using 23.6 pounds water per horsepower hour, and reverse lever in 5th notch from corner. Compare this with my 24-75 HP Port Huron 'Longfellow' compound in three economy runs that averaged less than 23 pounds of water per horsepower hour when the engine was nearly 40 years old.
Abner Baker conceived the idea of making a large fan to work his new engines on in the test house, and to take to competitive events. Records show he had this Baker fan at Wichita, Kansas on April 3 and 4, 1907. Nearly a dozen steam traction engines owned by manufacturers were there for the competition. The 25 HP Russell turned the fan 716 RPM and the 18 HP Peerless 573 RPM, the 16 HP Baker 692; and the 20 HP Baker 735; the 16 HP Huber 660. Competitors claimed the Huber was carrying 250 pounds of steam when the steam gauge registered 150 pounds. This fan had a housing around it that would make it run easier, and the operator had a choice of different diameters of pulleys.
I got the specifications from Abner, and his son, Louis, to build a modern Baker fan, and had a nice one made at a welding shop in June 1954 over 20 years ago. That year 17 engines were tested on the Baker fan at the National Threshers Reunion at Montpelier, Ohio and the results were published in the May-June 1955 issue of Iron Men Album. Louis David's Avery 40 turned the fan 660 RPM developing approximately 160 HP. LeRoy Blaker's 22-65 Case turned the fan 620, or approximately 130 HP, Phil Garman's 18 HP Advance-Rumely was the lowest 452, or 66 HP with 150 pounds W.P. LeRoy Blaker's 24-75 Port Huron equipped with a Baker piston valve, operating as a simple developed 115 HP turning the Baker fan 600 RPM.
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