Firing Up a 1-1/4 HP Baker Monitor VJ

A 1-1/4 HP Baker Monitor VJ gets a well-deserved restoration – Part 1 of 4

| December/January 2015

This is the first in a four part series on Peter Rooke's restoration of a 1-1/4 HP Baker Monitor VJ. Read part 2, part 3 and part 4 for the rest of the restoration.

A.S. Baker Company was based in Wisconsin and progressed from making rotary steam engines in the early 1870s, becoming The Baker Manufacturing Company in 1879. By the 1890s, large cylinder pumps, pine water tanks and rotary windmills were added to the production line. Monitor engines were first built around 1905 and within a few years an extensive range was offered, ranging from 1-1/4 HP pump engines to 15 HP horizontal engines.

These Little Monitor pumping engines were first made in 1911 and were extensively used in the Midwest, with thousands being sold. As a result there are many of them in restoration, although they are few and far between across the Atlantic! Production of all pumper engines ceased by 1944.

The serial number on this engine is 38,924 and it was probably made between late 1928 and early 1929.


The engine was removed from the pallet it was delivered on. Using an engine crane, it was lifted onto a small bench. This was not as easy as it sounds as there was no easy point to hook onto and the engine was top heavy and wanted to tip over. By wrapping a strap around it the lift was completed.

The first step was to remove the pump gear assembly and the eccentric. This could be looked at later once the main part of the engine had been overhauled.