624 West Monroe Street Jackson, Michigan 49202
Here are the pictures of my dad’s old steam threshing
outfit, and of the Baker threshing machine factory at Swanton, Ohio
back in the teens. I took them myself with my brother’s
About 1912 (I was about 8 years old), Dad bought an 18 HP Baker
engine. The salesman, Mr. Burt Clutts, is in the picture with 1912
model T roadster. A close look at the Ohio license plate on the
dash board reads 1912.
Bert Clutts, salesman for A. D. Baker Co. with 1912 model T Ford
roadster. The long shed in center background is where the engine
and separator were stored in winter.
That engine was run about two or three yearsone year on Case
separator and one on a new Baker that had a Garden City wing
feeder, which was too much for the 18 HP. We were threshing on the
Blake farm north of Jackson when the cross head on the engine broke
and let the piston came out through the cylinder head with a loud
bang and everything stopped. The team of horses on the water wagon
were standing right beside it and took off! Everybody started
running and yelling water was flying and the team took a big circle
and headed for that barn. I was standing on top of the separator
tending blower when it happened and had a good view of the
Dad traded the 18 HP in on a new 23 HP Baker that handled the
separator okay. It came in on a flatcar about the last of June and
school was out. I went along and helped unload the new engine and
load the old one on the flatcar. It was quite exciting for me as I
was only about twelve at the time. We had to pump water into the
new engine from the water wagon, pull the fire out of the old
engine and put it in the new one, and get up steam before we could
move it. Kids followed it all the way home.
A picture of the new 23 HP Baker engine on the Blake farm. This
is about the same spot the old engine stood when the cross head
broke and the horses ran away with the tank wagon. Walter Levengood
is the engineer firing the engine.
About 1916, my brother had to go to Swanton, where the Baker
plant is located, to get some repair parts. He had an old Brisco
roadster he had fixed up (see roadster in front of Baker plant in
picture) and he ask me to go along. We took his Kodak camera along
and I took it in the plant with me. While he did the business I
went out in the back and ran into an old man in overalls sweeping
the floor. He took me all around and even showed me a steam tractor
they had built. They were using it to pull freight cars around the
yards. I stood on an old separator and took pictures of the plant
and yard. On the way home my brother ask me if I knew who the old
gentleman was? I said no. Then he told me it was Mr. Baker. I wish
I had known at the time I would have taken his picture.
A lot of things have happened in this mechanical world we live
in today, since the days of the steam engine. I have seen the
development of the combustion, the diesel, and the jet engines.
Also the electric motor that has replaced the steam engine in the
factories. I also have a deep respect for men who take on the job
of restoring one of these old steamers that have sat out in the
open for forty years or more. Having worked on all kinds of
automotive production machines the last fifty years, I have an idea
of what it takes to restore these old machines.
Took my grandsons to Greenfield Village where they have a
machine shop with a steam engine to run it, with line shafts and
the old belt driven lathes, shapers and milling machines in place.
I explained to them that the steam engine is what started this
whole mechanical ball of wax moving. It was the first real source
of power the World had that was portable at the time.
I thought you readers would be interested in this picture of the
DeWitt Clinton reproduction. Here is the information about it taken
from the exhibit in the Museum:
1831 DeWitt Clinton: Reproduction of the third train in America
built for actual service on a railroad
On a hot day in August in 1831 hundreds of people from
communities around Albany, New York thronged to the tracks of the
Mohawk & Hudson Railroad on which only horse-drawn cars had
traveled before. Some had come to deride the new-fangled
smoke-belching ‘DeWitt Clinton’ insisting it would blow up
at any moment.
But the quaint stagecoach cars were soon filled with festive
well wishers who braved the flying sparks and dense smoke for the
historic trip from Albany to Schenectady and return. It was the
first time that a steam powered railroad train had carried
passengers in the state of New York.
The DeWitt Clinton of which this is a reproduction (built from
framents from the original locomotive and to exact original
specifications) was named for New York’s seventh governor who
had vigorously promoted the Erie Canal project. The original train
was built in West Point, New York. The locomotive was designed by
John B. Jervis and built by David Matthew. The coaches were built
by James Gould. The locomotive pulled five cars besides the tender
which carried water barrels and pine wood for fuel. The first three
cars were stages coaches with wheels flanged to keep them on track.
The last two cars were open with planks running their entire length
on which the passengers sat sideways. During its maiden trip, the
locomotive reached a top speed of 30 mph.
This reproduction of the DeWitt Clinton, built in 1893 for
exhibition at the Chicago World’s Fair, was used for
promotional purposes by New York Central until 1935, when it was
given to the Henry Ford Muesum.
Built by the New York Central Railroad New York. The length of
the locomotive was 12 feet and 10 inches, and the weight
(locomotive and cars) was 25,000 lbs.
Notice boiler made of small pieces of boiler plate and riveted
together. It must have been quite a job with the tools they had in
those days to bend the plates and make them to size and to fit
together tight. It would be great if we could wald into the shop
when they were making the first engine to see the tools they had
too work with. Just making the holes in the boiler plate for the
rivets and getting them to line up must have been a job!