Fifty-five years ago, my dad owned a Caterpillar Twenty-Two, a fairly common, gasoline-powered unit.
He figured it needed new pins, bushings and rear sprockets as they were worn to the point of climbing.
This was a fairly large expense in the days of $1-a-bushel corn and $2-a-bushel spuds. However, gas and fuel hovered around 12 cents a gallon, so we survived. A year later, this Cat responded to the new track work by dropping an intake valve all the way into the oil pan, wrecking the engine. Dad pulled the Twenty-Two out back, set it up on 3-inch bridge planks, and there it stood until the winter of 2008.
In the interim, Dad and I bought a D2 Cat, serial no. 5U2757, which translates into a 50-inch gauge unit, diesel powered with a side tank. We used the D2 for some years, plowing and discing our sandy soil.
As an aside, the Cat had so much power that we put two 16-foot single discs on an A-frame, side-by-side, and disced with them. They managed to crawl over most of the cornstalks without damaging them. The biggest challenge was when this string of beads had to be dismantled to go through a 16-foot gate. Putting it back together was often a trial. Somewhere along the way, we acquired a Balderson (Cat) dozer for the little fellow. This worked well in corncobs and silage but was of no value in dirt, unless one had lots of time.
The winter of 1969 saw many inches of snow. Weekly clearing of our long driveway with the Cat and dozer wrecked the tracks. Along the way, my brothers and I went on to different vocations: Mike owns a shop, Ted farms and I drill wells.
As it worked out, Mike ended up with the D2, which sat in his shed for 20-odd years. In 2008, I traded him an old BMW motorcycle (that had sat in my shed for 20 years) for the Cat. That winter, I did some measuring, and counted the links on both units several times. Lo and behold, they were the same pitch and the same number of links.
Once the Twenty-Two was off the planks, the tracks still rolled, which was a surprise. We then made the switch to put the “new” tracks on the D2, as the sprockets and the rest of the undercarriage were still in good shape. Mike owns an 8,000-pound capacity forklift, which greatly simplified moving trackless crawlers in and out of our shop. The Twenty-Two (and a Cat Ten I had) ended up going to a collector in Laramie, Wyo. – and I finally wound up with the family D2 Cat again, after many years. So it goes. FCJim and Joan Lacey operate Little Village Farm, a museum of farm collectibles housed in 10 buildings at their home near Dell Rapids, S.D. Contact them at (605) 428-5979.