Auction on a Cold November Day

Baker traction engine, steam equipment on the block at Earl Weaver auction

| September/October 1992

It was a cold Saturday that second day of November 1991, but we were at an auction held at the Earl Weaver farm near Purcell, Missouri.

Cold it was, but when you have steam in your veins and there is steam equipment for sale what’s a wind chill of 10 to 15 degrees above zero?

Sold that day, to Bill Thurman, Archie, Missouri, a 20-90 HP Baker Uniflow traction engine for $475.00 plus $25.00 thrown in by the auctioneer, Jerry Newman of Jasper, Missouri, to make the sale, because the owner would not sell for less than $500.00

The Baker is in less (much less) than ideal shape having no gearing and missing the correct rear wheels. It also is missing the steering mechanism, canopy and platform. The rear wheels under it now are off an old Keystone drilling rig. As in most old steam engines that have been sitting a long time, the smoke box is rusted out. However, the boiler looked sound and all the major engine parts and governor are there. Bill will probably love to have any help he can get in locating any parts for his 20-90 HP Baker so write him a letter.

As I talked with Bill at the auction, he said he wants to use the engine, after much restoration, on the saw mill at the Western Missouri Antique Tractor and Machinery Show at Adrian, Missouri, held the fourth weekend in July (a show one must put on their “to see list”). Bill said, “Nothing sounds better than a steam engine on a saw mill.”

There were only four other pieces of steam equipment sold that cold November day: a small homemade whistle which sold for $33.00, a large brass three tone chime whistle (the bell being 3 inches in diameter and 13 inches tall including the valve) which sold for $68.00, and a three ball 1-inch governor went for $27.00. It was broken, but in easily repairable condition.

There is no name on the governor; the only writing is “1” on the valve body and “350 REV.” Looking through some of my books I found a line drawing that looks like the governor I have. It’s in a reprint of a 1908 Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog on page 621. The catalog calls it an “Eclipse Governor.” Has anyone ever heard of or have any information on this type of governor?