| July/August 1954

  • Valve Gear
    Center-Hung Reverse Valve Gear
  • Williamson Baker engine
    Mr. A. D. Baker in front of the Williamson Baker engine at the National Threshers Reunion a couple years ago.

  • Valve Gear
  • Williamson Baker engine

Part I

In northwestern Ohio is a town of about two thousand people, called Swanton. It is located in Fulton County and is situated on the New York Central Railroad running between Toledo on Lake Erie to the east and Chicago on Lake Michigan to the west.

In memories of many threshermen and those interested in threshing machine history the name Swanton will always be synonomous with Abner D. Baker and the A. D. Baker Company which he founded.

Abner D. Baker was born March 17th, 1861, in Knox County, Ohio. When fifteen years of age he moved with his parents to a farm located a few miles east of Swanton. Although he acquired only a common school education he developed a natural mechanical ability and an unusual interest in steam engines. When he was twenty-three years old he went to Akron where he spent the next three years as a machinist at the Empire Reaper Works. The following year he was employed by the Erie City Iron Works in Pennsylvania. Another three months were spent at the Frontier Iron Works at Detroit before he returned to his father's farm.

Here in 1888 he established a repair shop. A prosperous business developed, repairing the many new machines which were coming into use on the farms. This also included the threshing machinery used by the local custom threshermen. In 1895 he moved his shop to Swanton to be closer to required facilities.

This period was the development stage of the American Steam Traction and to A. D. Baker with his interest in steam engines, it was a period of great learning. These years of working on many makes of steam traction engines involving the ideas of many designers and inventors, gave Abner D. Baker a splendid chance to observe and distinguish the good features from the bad. So, it was only natural that he should from his own experiences and interest decide what features and designs would go to make up a most desirable steam traction engine.


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