Reminiscing About the A.D. Baker

Baker engine

Sam Rapp and son William with the A.D. Baker engine Sam bought in June 1923.

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505 Carter Drive Roswell, New Mexico 88201

My home was near the village of Pleasant Hill, Ohio. My father, Harley Coppock, operated a threshing outfit in this community for over thirty years. In 1929 my father bought a new 31 inch Baker grain separator.

I spent many hours on the Baker separator building straw piles for the farmers during the threshing season. I am familiar with the A.D. Baker Company.

I am retired and living in Roswell, New Mexico and I have a collection of the Iron Men Album magazines. Checking through my collection, I find many interesting articles or stories. In the 1979 May/June issue (Volume 33, No. 5), Mr. LeRoy W. Blaker, Alvordton, Ohio 43501 wrote an article on the A.D. Baker Company of Swanton, Ohio. In this article Mr. Blaker described the steam tractor the A.D. Baker Company had developed. Mr. Blaker also gave the specifications, etc., of the two models of the Baker, and he described the problems the steam tractor had due to tube failure.

'Abner Baker realized that they should have a high pressure steam tractor and came out in about 1923 with a water tube boiler (or steam generator) carrying 550 pounds water pressure. It was automatic stoker fired, radiator condenser, and low down plunger pump to pump the condensation back to the water tube boiler. It would have been a great success if the cylinder oil could have been separated from the condensation. After much use, the cylinder oil coated the inside of the water tubes and caused them to fail.

'Abner told me their first high pressure steam tractor had a double cylinder simple engine, but that was too wasteful.

'Their next engine was a vertical cross-compound, but he told me he did not like the indicator cards as they showed the low pressure piston made about one-half stroke before the high pressure cylinder released its steam. I told him he would have to admit the Reeves cross-compound was a very good economical engine. He did not answer me.

'Their next high pressure steam tractor, about 1925, was a tandem compound with piston valves, and center crank but did not use the Baker valve gear. The valve reverse gear was similar to the Grime but carried the top end of the eccentric strap on a radius link, or just like my invention that I applied for a patent on May 17, 1920. The boiler on this engine was a horizontal fire tube carrying 300 pounds water pressure with super heater in top of the firebox. This also had an automatic stoker.'

In 1923, Sam Rapp of Covington, Ohio bought a Baker steam tractor. In 1924 he bought the large model to pull a grain separator. Mr. Rapp soon discovered the steam tractor was not a dependable source of power because of the tube failure problem Mr. Baker described in his story on the A.D. Baker Company.

The pictures included with this story were a present from Mr. William Rapp.

Correction from our last issue

In the Nov/Dec 1989 issue, we ran a story on page 2, 'Steam Engines Cavorting On The Hillside.' The story came from a press release furnished to us by Domino's Farms. This month, we received word from Mrs. Hilda Harrison Willis of 9238 Columbus Road NE, Louisville, OH 44641, who requested that we set the record straight:

'It was my late husband Charlie Harrison of Fredericktown, Ohio,' she writes,' who bought the 32-120 Reeves engine from the Tyler Brothers in Moore, Montana and had it trucked to our farm in Frederick-town, Ohio.

'The late Ewart Dearing from Vancouver, BC, Canada, found an almost new boiler in northern Manitoba. He and another friend hauled the boiler out over the frozen Muskeg to a location where my husband then picked it up and hauled it home. They had to haul the boiler out, while the muskeg was still frozen and even then they broke in a couple of times.

'That boiler had been used on a sawmill, but was in an almost new condition.

'Mr. Brodbeck bought the engine from me in 1980 after my husband's death. He came prepared with lots of equipment and helpers to haul the engine, plus extra boiler and lots of other parts to his place in late summer 1980.

'The engine (Reeves 31-120) had been used in Montana as a plow engine, but had not been neglected for 41 years as stated in the article.

'Mr. Brodbeck has done a very good job in restoring the engine and I am sure my late husband would be very proud and happy to see it running and looking so good. Up to his very end he had the engine on his mind and tried to figure out how to restore it without much outside help.

'I am glad Mr. Brodbeck is the owner of the engine now and am happy to see it at the Wauseon show every year.

'But I feel the truth should be told and credit given, to whom it belongs.'