Caterpillar Tractor Company was formed in 1925 by the merger of Hold and Best. Both made crawler type tractors.
Today Caterpillar machinery is sold around the world and is considered one of the largest manufacturers of earth moving equipment.
In 1929 Caterpillar, with plants in Peoria, Ill., and San Leandro, Cal., brought out the small Caterpillar Ten.
During the same period, about 1929 to 1933, three additional models were offered, the Fifteen, Thirty and Sixty. The numbers assigned to each crawler was approximately the rated drawbar horsepower given by the company.
Under maximum load, most tractors would produce an increased drawbar capability. For example, the Cat Ten yielded a 14.8 drawbar horsepower in low gear.
One of the advantages of crawler tractors was the small amount of slippage. The Ten indicated only 1.82 percent as compared to wheel tractors of four to six percent or more slippage.
The Model Ten weighed only 4,500 pounds. The length was 100 inches and it was 52 inches wide. The price, when introduced, was $1,125.
Caterpillar installed its own engine, a four-cylinder, cast in block, L-Head with a three and three-eighths by four inch bore and stroke, operating 1,500 RPM.
The Cat Ten and Fifteen featured a fully enclosed engine hood. The Thirty and Sixty were equipped with an overhead canopy that extended over the engine and the operator's seat.
Caterpillar was the first company to offer diesel-powered crawlers. In 1932 a twelve-ton diesel Caterpillar was tested and recorded a fuel economy of 13.8 horsepower hours per gallon of fuel, which was a record at that time.
Warner Brothers produced a movie, Earthworm Tractor in about 1936 featuring comedian Joe E. Brown using a Cat Diesel that was filmed at the Caterpillar plant in Peoria.
It was reported that about 35,000 fans gathered in Peoria to welcome Brown at the premier showing of the film.
It is of interest to note that the largest tractor tested at Nebraska was a Caterpillar D-9 in 1956. It weighed more than 33 tons.
Written by Delmer Dooley, an agricultural engineer, former high school ag teacher (Platte), expert on vintage tractors and farmer. The author lives with his wife on his parents' homestead farm near Ramona in Lake County.