Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Day 20 - Charles S. L. Baker - The Friction Radiator

Charles S. L. Baker  (L) and an assistant standing behind his invention



Charles S. L. Baker

1859 - 1926




Who Was He?




Charles S. L. Baker was born in Savannah, MO.

After the Civil War, he was freed from enslavement. At the age of fifteen, Baker started working with wagons and the linchpins he repaired sparked his interest in mechanical sciences.

He became yet another African American inventor who was a self-taught mechanical engineer.

The thing that fascinated Baker was friction.

Friction could produce heat without any need for an outside heating source. it made him wonder how one could harness this process.

He spent decades trying to harness the power of friction in a practical application. It took him twenty-three years of trial and error using various things before he finally perfected a good process of using friction in a practical application. He designed a device and patented his invention.


What Did He Invent?

Charles S. L. Baker created a radiator that used friction to create the heat. 



After creating and patenting this device, Baker and a few other men opened a company called The Friction Heat & Boiler Company. Baker sat on the board of directors. 

In his day, Baker was a well-to-do, famous man in his hometown. The small business that he and his friends ran was reportedly very successful. 

I found lots of municipal records of The Friction Heat and Boiler Company, but nothing more about it.


I did find a death notice for Baker. 

Baker, Charles S. L. (1860-1926)


His Legacy?

I considered not including Baker in this list because to my knowledge, nobody is using this friction radiator that he created, but he claimed it was cheaper to run than the radiators that were in use in homes of the time. That radiator, the one that is still in use, was created by Franz San Galli, a Prussian born inventor.

There was a journal called The Draftsman that looked at inventions. It has not been in print for a long time, but follow that link and you can get a copy of it if you really want to read what must be a real page-turner of a book about inventions in the early 1900s. There was even a review of Baker's radiator.

"Mr. Baker claims that the particular mode of power used in creating the friction is not essential. It may be wind, water, gasoline, or any other source of energy. The most difficult part of the inventor's assertions to prove is that his system will light or heat a house at about half the cost of methods now in use." The Draftsman 1908


It appears that methods "now in use" won out over the friction radiator...but I wonder. 
As we move into more green forms of energy and we try to find ways to lower our energy costs 
could the friction radiator make a comeback?


Celebrate Black History!

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