David Thurman, age 11 with the 1903 20 HP A. D. Baker.
11RRl,Box226 Archie, Missouri 64725
This is my 1903 20 HP A.D. Baker steam engine. It was bought by my father at Earl Weaver's sale in November of 1991. My dad was going to part it out, but I said I would like to have it, so he said I could work it off helping him milk our cows. I have milked for four months now and have only missed one day. It takes two hours to milk over 90 cows.
My dad said the boiler was in bad shape on the engine, but he thought he could fix it. It needs a new smoke box and lots of stay bolts replaced, as my dad said it had never seen clean water, only mud!
At one time it was converted to a stationary engine and the rear wheels and gearing were taken off. I would like to find them or some that will work. My Grandpa says I didn't get hurt buying the engine as he said it would scrap out for what I gave for it. My Grandma says it makes a nice yard ornament and wants to keep it in her yard. I know it doesn't look like much but it is very special to me because it is my first steam engine.
My dad and my two brothers together have been collecting old machinery for about five years. My dad has been doing it a lot longer. We have a 1907 18 HP Peerless steam engine, McCormick Deering threshing machine, John Deere hay baler, McCormick Deering binder, 1932 F-20 tractor, a model steam engine, and a Case corn binder, I.H.C. manure spreader, John Deere Plow Works silo blower, Van Brunt drill, Hayes corn planter, and my dad is working on an 1887 Reeves clover huller which he said is the oldest of that model left. All of our machinery that's working is down at my dad's show.
We did have a model steam engine, but my dad sold it because he'd like to have another big one. We have a friend named Wilbur Flemming who has a 20 HP Advance and a 50 Case. He has helped me learn how to run a steam engine, and he let my dad and I run his last year at the show. My dad couldn't run his Peerless because he was too busy, but Wilbur told me to fire it up and he helped me run it. He did all the work, as my dad only lets me steer. He is one of Dad's and my best friends.
Thank you for letting me share my story, and if you readers have any parts to my Baker, I would like to hear from you. My dad said I'm going to need all the help I can get and might not ever get it fixed. (I said we would.) But it is one more engine saved from the scrap pile and it is mine!
The following letter is from David Thurman's father, Bill:
I bought this old engine at a sale for not much more than scrap price thinking I would part it out. Well, when the auctioneer said sold and pointed to me, my son started jumping up and down and all the rest of the month told me what he would do with the engine if I would just 'sell' it to him. So I said he would get $5.00 a week if he helped me milk, and if he would pay me $14 a month for 18 months the engine would be his. I thought he would last a day or two, as it takes me over two hours to milk. He has to get off the school bus, get the cows up, milk, eat supper and do his homework then it is bed-time. He doesn't have any time to play except for weekends. Well, it has been four months now and he hasn't missed once and he has never missed a payment as I don't remind him to pay. He knows he can quit at any time, but I don't think he will. Every night after he is done milking I see him walk around the engine and then go home with a big smile on his face! Bill Thurman.