808 College Ave. Mt. Pleasant, IA 52641
During June of 1984, the city of East Peoria, Illinois celebrated its Centennial. Caterpillar Tractor Co. likewise concurrently celebrated 75 years in East Peoria. As Caterpillar keeps no collection of antique tractors, they asked several private owners to display their old crawler tractors with some new models. They gathered in old tractors such as a 75 Holt, a 20 Cat, a Diesel 50 CAT, and a D4 Cat suspended from a new Cat pipelayer boom. The central exhibit featured 1928 model 2 ton with about 15 drawbar horsepower (owned by Midwest Old Settlers & Threshers Assn. of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa) resting in the shadow of a new Cat D-10 boasting 700 horsepower.
The Iowa National Guard, 224th Engineer Battalion, of Southeast Iowa and Midwest Old Threshers have had a close association for several years. In the fall of 1977 the Guard proposed to Old Threshers that for a loan of a certain antique engineer vehicle, namely their 1928 Caterpillar 2 ton, the Guard would restore, maintain, and provide shelter for the tractor. The local Guard had been looking for an appropriate publicity and recruiting eyecatcher for parades and public gatherings which people could associate with Army National Guard Engineers. The Board of Directors accepted the proposal in almost original form except they felt the shiny original gray color was much prettier than dull green with white stars.
The tractor was sent to the National Guard Maintenance Shop in nearby Fairfeld for the winter. After six hours of steam cleaning, the lettering on the fuel tank and hood were prominent enough to trace an outline. This enabled stencils to be hand cut and then later spray painted black. The Guard troops used government facilities but not government time. They volunteered to work after hours on their own time. One guardsman took the complete seat and armrest assembly home to his upholstery shop while another found a source to duplicate an 88 page operator and service manual.
The model number 2 ton was an approximate weight class as were the later model numbers D2, D4, etc. when Caterpillar switched to diesel engines. Caterpillar first produced tractors primarily for farming. The 2 ton weighed 5100 lbs., sold for $ 1850.00, and was rated at 3 to 4-14' bottoms. A belt pulley, electric lights, and cab were optional. The 2.1 low and 5.25 mph 3rd gear seemed quite fast for a crawler tractor of that era.
The engine has an overhead camshaft with 90 degree rocker arms. The 1,000 rpm governor is mounted directly to the front of the camshaft and has no connection to the carburetor. While the carburetor is on the right side of the engine, the intake manifold is on the left side. The two are joined by a passage through the head where the governor operates a butterfly to limit engine speed. It has a Stromburg centrifugal air precleaner which is self evacuating and mixes the dirt with engine exhaust. A simple T-bar control made the rack and pinion steering as modern as any automobile today. Draining out water nightly was advised over using the not so permanent antifreeze available while the instructions for thawing a frozen water pump inferred that this was a very common action.
Because Caterpillar made farm equipment, other companies had to make allied attachments for additional type work. LaPlant-Choate Manufacturing Co. of Cedar Pvapids Iowa, which was later purchased by Allis Chalmers, made the left angle blade. The blade is hung from the front of the tractor, but push beams run full length underneath to the drawbar pin. This is just the reverse of a horse pushing a wagon while walking in front.
A large handwheel turns a worm gear drive to raise the blade ever so slowly by winding a chain around a shaft.
The State of Iowa purchased this tractor with special Firestone rubber tracks and blade, to push snow at the State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa. The late Max Shafer of Lockridge, Iowa bought it at a state auction several years ago and gave it to Old Threshers in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. The National Guard tries to use this old relic to make the public more aware of the Guard Engineers and Old Threshers too.