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Caterpillar Tractor Company – Caterpillar, Inc. (1925-) | Historical Construction Equipment Association

Name: Caterpillar Tractor Company – Caterpillar, Inc. (1925-)


Historical Note:

Organizational History

Caterpillar Tractor Company was created in 1925 by a merger of The Holt Manufacturing Company (Collection 2207) and C. L. Best Tractor (Collection 160).

Caterpillar purchased Russell Grader Manufacturing Company (Collection 507) in August, 1928, Trackson Company (Collection 1836) in 1951, and Towmotor Corporation (Collection 1480) in 1965.

Caterpillar gained entry to the Japanese market by entering an equal partnership with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (Collection 1068). In 1984, a licensing agreement with Hindustan Motors Ltd. of Calcutta, India, was signed, under which Hindustan would manufacture an initial selection of five Cat machines.

In 1985, Caterpillar made a major expansion of its product lines. Loader/backhoes and integral tool carriers were introduced. DJB Engineering Ltd. (Collection 310) was acquired, adding articulated dump trucks to the line. A branding agreement between Cat and CMI Corporation (Collection 208) was launched for paving products, to give Cat entry into the rapidly growing highway reconstruction market. Crawler hydraulic backhoes and self-propelled hydraulic backhoes manufactured by West Germany’s Franz Eder Maschinenfabrik were introduced.

Pneumatic rollers, vibratory compactors and stabilizers were also introduced in 1985 through a complex series of transactions involving CMI, Raygo, Inc. (Collection 501) and William Bros Boiler & Manufacturing Company (Collection 191). Raygo had acquired Bros between 1982 and 1985, then CMI purchased Raygo’s construction product lines c. 1985. Apparently these product lines were part of the branding agreement, as CMI never produced rollers or compactors. The PS110, PS130 and PS180 pneumatic rollers were identical to the Bros SP2500, SP3000 and SP4000, and the CP323, CP433 and CP553 padfoot vibratory compactors are identical to the Raygo 220A, 320A and 4200. Other Caterpillar vibratory compactor models of the time likely correspond to former Raygo models. Caterpillar purchased the former Raygo line from CMI in 1987.

From 1985 through c. 1989, Caterpillar also marketed a full range of asphalt and concrete paving equipment through the CMI branding agreement. The products included drum mix asphalt plants and related equipment, profilers, spreader/trimmers, asphalt pavers, windrow elevators, concrete placer/spreaders, slipform pavers, texture/cure machines and tube finishers. When the agreement ended, only the profilers, asphalt pavers and windrow elevators were retained.

Caterpillar Tractor Company was renamed Caterpillar Inc. in 1986. The same year, the Caterpillar/Mitsubishi agreement was expanded to include excavators produced by a new company, Shin Caterpillar Mitsubishi. Stabilizers were added to the product line.

In 1988, the Caterpillar paving equipment lines were consolidated under Caterpillar Paving Products Inc., and the agreement with CMI was terminated. All vibratory compactors, including those designed for earthwork, were included in the Paving Products unit.

Balderson, Inc. (Collection 134) was acquired in 1990 after many years of manufacturing attachments solely for Caterpillar. The former Barber-Greene Company (Collection 138) line of asphalt pavers was acquired from Astec Industries (Collection 349) in April 1991, and the Barber-Greene name was retained for several years afterward because of its recognition, and literature published by Cat for Barber-Greene

machines is listed under Barber-Greene.

In 1995, the Mining and Construction Equipment Division was launched, Caterpillar Elphinstone Pty. Ltd. was created in Australia to manufacture underground mining trucks (probably through acquisition of Dale B. Elphinstone Pty. Ltd., Collection 634), and Caterpillar Xuzhou was formed to manufacture excavators in China.

Caterpillar Agricultural Products Inc. was created in 1996 to design, manufacture and market that line of equipment. Vibra-Ram Wack GmbH was acquired. In 1997, the Hewitt Equipment line of attachments, Sweden’s Skögsjan AB and the intellectual property rights for wheel dozers manufactured by Tiger Engineering Pty Ltd. (Collection 1471) were purchased.

In 1998, Material Handling Crane Systems Inc., Wrightech, Wright Equipment Company, Veratech Holdings B.V. and Perkins Engine Company - Perkins Engines Ltd. - Perkins North America (Collection 495) were purchased. A joint venture was entered with Tamrock Corporation – Tamrock Voest Alpine (Collection 531) to produce hydraulic hammers.

Blount Brothers Construction Company (Collection 2067) was founded in Union Springs, Alabama in 1946, and was incorporated in Delaware in 1971. It entered manufacturing in January 1985 when it acquired the Omark Industries (Collection 1130) line of saw chain and timber harvesting equipment, and exited the construction industry in 1993. It became Blount International, and in November 2007, Caterpillar, Inc. (Collection 228) acquired its timber handling equipment lines.

Caterpillar acquired Ejection Systems (Collection 3501) and its line of hydraulic wheeled scrapers in January 2008; the line was marketed under the Caterpillar Elkader LLC name (from Ejection Systems’ home town) at ConExpo/CON-AGG 2008.

Caterpillar provides an extensive line of equipment components and assemblies to other manufacturers. Originally the Component Sales unit of Caterpillar’s Industrial Division, Caterpillar Industrial Products, Inc. was established as a subsidiary of Caterpillar, Inc. to manufacture and market these products. Records for Caterpillar Industrial Products, Inc. are filed in Collection 229.

Headquartered in Peoria, Illinois, Caterpillar has numerous plants worldwide.

Model nomenclature:

Hydraulic backhoe model numbers starting with an E or M prefix were built by the Caterpillar-Mitsubishi joint venture.

The 325, 330 and 350 hydraulic backhoes were available in a self-propelled configuration for material handling applications. Unlike self-propelled hydraulic backhoes in the 200 and E-series, the model designation did not change.

Caterpillar used numeric designations for its earliest crawler tractors, continuing the practice of Holt Manufacturing Company. The correct rendering of these model designations was to spell them out (i.e., Thirty), although they were just as often rendered as numbers. The numbers are spelled out in all references in the Archives.

Caterpillar used the D4C and 933 designations twice for crawler tractors and crawler loaders, respectively, in the early 1960s and again in the 1990s and early 2000s. The 212 designation was also used twice, first for a motor grader and then for a self-propelled hydraulic backhoe.

An SA suffix on a crawler tractor model number indicated Special Application, usually for agricultural towing.

Most versions of the 814, 824 and 834 wheel dozers were also offered as static compactors or landfill compactors. Initially, the static compactor versions of the 824B and 834 retained those designations. Circa 1969, a new nomenclature was introduced for compactor variations of wheel dozers, in which a last digit of 5 indicated a static compactor and a last digit of 6 indicated a landfill compactor.

Smooth drum and padfoot vibratory compactors used a prefix to indicate the type of drum (CS for smooth drum, CP for padfoot) and a number for the basic machine itself. Thus, the only difference between a CP551 and a CS551 would be the drum.

Off-highway truck tractor model numbers were derived from off-highway end dump model numbers by subtracting one from the end dump model; hence, a 768 was the tractor version of a 769. Coal haulers used the same model nomenclature as the off-highway truck tractors that powered them.

General product information:

Attachments and accessories for Caterpillar equipment was often discussed in both the model-specific literature and in literature specific to the attachments themselves. Caterpillar stopped publishing separate literature for crawler tractor attachments in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Caterpillar usually used the word attachments to include both actual attachments (i.e., buckets and blades) and what are defined in this Catalog as options and accessories (i.e., guards, counterweights, etc.). Some allied equipment such as pull scrapers were also considered to be attachments in some contexts. Literature referring to attachments, options and accessories is filed under Attachments.

Caterpillar conducted a Certified Rebuild program for various machines in the 1980s and early 1990s. Models included were the D8K, D9H and D9L crawler tractors; 637D motor scrapers; and 966D, 980C and 988B wheel loaders. A new serial number using the original prefix and a 75000-series number was assigned to the rebuilt machine.

A number of brochures dated c. the late 1960s include comparative resale values of equipment, based on results from auctions conducted by Forke Brothers The Auctioneers, Inc. (Collection 398).

Hydraulic backhoes were offered with short booms, short dipper sticks and larger buckets for high-production excavation applications. Caterpillar termed these arrangements Mass Excavators.

The Rip Bulldozer had a retractable ripping shank at each end of the dozer. A version of this dozer, the 7G, was produced for the D7 crawler tractor.

D4H and D5H crawler tractors were offered in a log skidder arrangement with a hydraulic grapple.

The 518 log skidder was also offered as a landfill compactor and with a feller/buncher.

The 830M wheel dozer was built for the U. S. Army for use as a wheel dozer or as a prime mover for scrapers.

The 668 was built as a prime mover with an optional dozer

The DW10, DW15, DW20 and DW21, though sold primarily as motor scrapers, were actually marketed as prime movers with separate scrapers or wagons. Scraper models evolved during the production runs of the prime movers. Tractor/scraper combinations were as follows:

• DW10, 1V series: 10 scraper.

• DW15, 45C series: 15 scraper.

• DW15C, 59C and 70C series: 15 scraper.

• DW15E and DW15F, 75D and 76D series: 428 scraper.

• DW20, 6W series: Offered with W20 bottom dump wagon only.

• DW20, 21C series: 20 scraper.

• DW20E, 57C and 67C series: 456 scraper.

• DW20F, 87E and 88E series: 456 scraper.

• DW20G, 87E and 88E series: 456B and 482B scrapers.

• DW21, 8W series: 21 scraper.

• DW21C, 58C and 69C series: 470 scraper.

• DW21D, 85E and 86E series: 470 scraper.

• DW21G, 85E and 86E series: 470B scraper.

In addition, 1N series DW10s were offered with LaPlant-Choate Manufacturing Co., Inc. (Collection 457) CW10 hydraulic scrapers. Literature pertaining only the prime movers is filed under prime movers. Literature discussing only the scrapers, apart from the prime mover, is filed under pull scrapers. Literature discussing tractor/scraper combinations is filed with motor scrapers. Literature pertaining only to tractor/wagon combinations is filed with off-highway trucks, and wagons only are under wagons.

The J619C and J621 elevating scrapers were built in a joint venture with Johnson Manufacturing Company, Lubbock, Texas (Collection 874), which built the scrapers for the Cat prime movers.

Caterpillar offered a 950 Tree Harvester, a 950 wheel loader with a combination shear and delimber, in the early 1970s. The 936E wheel loader was offered as a landfill compactor. The 910, 916, 926 and 936 were also offered as a G910, G916, G926 and G936 with higher horsepower to be offered in competitive bidding. The 980 (series C and later), 988 (series B and later) and 992 (series C and D) were available in high-lift arrangements. The 950E and 966E were also available in high-lift arrangements as custom products.

The 936 was available as an integrated tool carrier with the same model designation. For other loaders, the wheel loader and tool carrier versions usually had the same last two digits in the model number; thus, an IT18 would be a 918 wheel loader set up as a tool carrier. The 416C, 426C and 436C loader/backhoes were available in tool carrier configurations, as designated by an IT suffix.

Most literature for engines, generators and power units cannot be dated because there is no production history available for most engine models. Some records bear handwritten dates of unknown reliability. Caterpillar provided diesel engines for numerous other manufacturers.

In the late 1990s, Caterpillar built its first combine since before the 1925 merger. Shortly afterward, a VFS Trailer was introduced; designed for use with the rubber-belted agricultural tractors, it is a crawler transport wagon using rubber belts for tracks and having a flat deck for transportation of cargo.

Most literature for components and assemblies cannot be dated because there is no production history available for these products. Some records bear handwritten dates of unknown reliability.

Miscellaneous information:

Caterpillar uses a complex system for numbering its sales literature. No coherent, organized method has been discerned. Also, most brochures, especially prior to the mid-1990s, are undated. Estimated dates in this series are based on known shipping years for the machines discussed; the Archives collection includes a Caterpillar Worldwide Model Identification book dated 10/1994 that was used as the primary reference for estimating literature dates. Many of the dates can be estimated only to a couple of years. In most series and subjects, undated literature is arranged by publication number rather than estimated date because so many dates are vague.

Caterpillar used the word specalog (a contraction of specification catalog) to describe some of its sales literature in the 1990s.

Many brochures dated c. 1960s-1980s include charts comparing the productivity of Caterpillar machines over the course of their evolution.

An extensive amount of the sales literature in this collection came from the reference files of Caterpillar’s competitors, especially Euclid and Clark Equipment Company. As a result, many records are annotated. Most of the photocopied records originated from these files as well.






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