Auction on a Cold November Day

1 / 5
The 20-90 HP Baker with the missing platform and keystone rear wheel.
2 / 5
The Baker bought by Bill Thurman of Archie, Missouri, for $475.00, showing a very rusted out smoke box.
3 / 5
The three tone chime whistle.
4 / 5
A view of the broken fire box door showing the pride taken in putting a company name, literally, in iron.
5 / 5
A 1,200-pound boiler that sold for $15.00. It took four of us and a lot of straining to lift it in the trailer.

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?

Fifteen dollars was the price for a small vertical boiler. The author of this article bought the last three items. What do you expect from a guy who has steam in his veins?

The boiler I bought was made by the Lookout Co. of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The following information was stamped above the fire box door: NATL BOARD, 10157, OKLA 32598, 11700 LOOKOUT, 100 LBS., HS 50, 1937, OCEAN 44158.

Some of the information, I know, is the working pressure, 100 lbs., heating surface of 50 square feet, and year it was built, 1937. But the other numbers I do not understand. Anyone know what the other numbers stand for? Please let me know. Also about one-half of the fire box door is missing (the side with the latch). Does someone have a door or a picture of the door latch or know how the door latch works?

This information would be very helpful to me in getting this boiler back in working order as I would like to use this boiler on my 6-by-7 center crank horizontal steam engine. Even though the boiler is a little undersized, it will still make the engine turn over until I can find a larger boiler for it. Then I can use the boiler on one of my two small 29 HP Coppus Turbines.

If anyone knows of any steam engineer training schools in the Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma or Arkansas area, please let me know because I would like to attend.

I hope the readers of IMA will write to Bill Thurman of Archie, Missouri, or to me with help in locating parts for the 20-90 HP Baker or on a door for my boiler.

But the next best things are letters of encouragement in our steam endeavors. Keep the steam up! IMA

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