Rescue Party Saves 22 Caterpillar

New “old” tractor makes life interesting, in this case a 22 Caterpillar crawler tractor saved from a field

| March 2011

When a new member arrives in your family, everything changes. A wise older gentleman told me that one child really didn’t make much of a change in a couple’s lifestyle. The second child, however, made major changes. The most obvious one being that finding someone to look after “children,” as opposed to one child, was much more difficult. According to the sage, the third child – and any thereafter – made the family a unit that no longer was a collection of individuals. From then on it was known as a single entity. 

The above sociological observation might be applied to the addition of a new collector vehicle to a person’s stable. We all know individuals who own one prized automotive object. Their lives pretty much go along without much change from before. A second old motorized vehicle makes a big change and each additional one molds the owner into a member of a subculture that is unique. Rarely is he still referred to by his occupation. From then on, he is described as being part of the old car world, old tractor world or other specific category of collectors.

We won’t discuss how new children arrive in a family, but one of the most common ways in which a new vehicle arrives to join others somewhat like it is the grapevine that spreads the word of an individual’s interest in old machinery. Before you know it, an appealing old object comes into view. How can it be ignored? You just about have to take it in and care for it.           

Taking in a Cat 22

For my brother and me, one example of that was the late 1930s 22 Caterpillar gasoline tractor that was offered to us out of the blue. One day, word arrived that a retired farmer had such a tractor that was available if we wanted it. It was understood that no money needed to change hands. Disposing of other farm equipment, the owner just wanted someone with the reputation of being interested in old vehicles to take the 22 Caterpillar and value it. It had been last used in the 1960s and was running at the time but, as the farmer seemed to remember, it had some mechanical problem that would need to be addressed to make it 100 percent.

We didn’t procrastinate. Within a few weeks we organized a retrieval party to save the old tractor. The group included my brother and me along with three of my sons who were old enough to be interested and capable of helping if there was anything we two adults couldn’t do.

More than fully equipped

On the appointed day my brother drove to the farm with his pickup and I took my World War II 1943 Autocar M-15 multiple gun motor carriage. The motor carriage started out as an armored half-track with a turret on the back that contained a 20 mm cannon and two .50-caliber machine guns. It was designed to protect Allied convoys from air attack first in North Africa and later in Europe. After the war the need for trucks was so great that civilians removed the turret and tracks and made it into a heavy-duty cargo truck. The front remained as built with 1/4-inch armor plate impervious to any hostile fire smaller than .50-caliber armor-piercing shells.