The Baker Heater
Baker Heater Company
The Baker system offered the great advantage of steady and relatively even heat throughout the car, and George Pullman was one of its foremost exponents. But it suffered one major problem: higher first cost. One Baker system could provide much better and more efficient heating than two stoves. But two stoves were a lot cheaper.
The presence of a Baker heater in a car would be recognized by the presence of the reservoir on the roof near the smokepipe. The reservoir was shaped like a small LP gas tank, but was often covered by a sheet metal cover that made it look more rectangular.
The Baker Heater was developed by William C. Baker (1828-1901). He did not invent hot water heat, but he was the first to apply it to railroad cars. Baker came to New York from Maine in 1850, and he soon became interested in central heating. In 1851 he helped install the first steam-heat system in New York City. His interest gradually turned from heating buildings to heating railway cars. Around 1865 he was ready to test his first system and in 1866 got the first of forty patents he would eventually acquire. Within a few years the Baker heater was found on nearly every first-class car in the country. But few railroads felt they could afford to spend $500 to equip an ordinary coach with a Baker system when they could install two $10 coal stoves.
Here’s a cumulative list of Baker’s patents which we will add to as we find them. If you know of others, please share the information with us. —