My Caterpillar Story

Crawler Tractor

Content Tools

427 Belle Street, Waterloo, Iowa 50702

Since I was about 10 years old, I've wanted to restore a tractor of the crawler type. This would be something out of the ordinary to see in Iowa, where most all of the farm tractors used are wheel type and thus are most frequently restored. Four years ago my cousin located a Caterpillar 'Ten' in a corn crib in Huxley, Iowa. This was the tractor that sparked my interest for rusty old Cats.

To my disappointment, after complete disassembly, I drew the conclusion that this was not the tractor I wanted to restore. It was worn out in every way possible. Time to find a different Cat Ten, that hadn't seen quite as many acres. This was when an ad in GEM proved very useful.

A man named Jim Baker (no relation) answered my want ad in GEM with a box of photos of a well preserved Cat Ten that he had started restoring, but had lost interest in. One problem: Jim lived in San Marcos, California, and I live in Waterloo, Iowa...only 2,000 miles away! Jim says the tractor was used in a small orchard near San Marcos and that he bought the tractor from the original owner! Definitely worth the large trucking bill to get it to my barn, right? Right!!!

This tractor had been equipped with orchard fenders manufactured by Bishop Mfg., Santa Ana, California. This type offender was very popular among Cats used in orchards, although I don't believe this to be a factory conversion. Maybe someone could tell me about this company as many old Cat ads are pictured with that type offender.

Although the tractor had been sitting outside when found, the nice southern California climate did an excellent job of keeping everything from severely rusting and sticking. The orchard fenders served as a 'garage' for the track frames and I found a considerable amount of shiny grey paint on well protected, grease covered places, such as the inside of the track rollers.

The tractor is a 1931 and I have been told that Caterpillar switched their color to yellow in late 1931. The tractor had what was left of a faded yellow paint job on it, that it received sometime in its life. Jim had already started painting much of the tractor yellow, so I finished it that way. I believe yellow is much more attractive and eye-catching for attention-getting show purposes. The decals I had custom made of 3M vinyl, so I can pressure wash the tractor after shows. It has been to four shows around Iowa and has even pulled a two bottom plow at one of them! I spent approximately one year of my spare time completely restoring the tractor to its 'original factory-sheet-metal' appearance.

The Ten was the smallest in weight and size of the Caterpillar line, weighing in at about 4,300 lbs. They were built from 1928 to 1933 and about 5,000 of these machines were made. Several variations of this model include: a wide track version, a rear seat (factory orchard) version, a high clearance version, and a Standard such as this one.

Thanks to everyone who helped in any way in the restoration of this tractor. Thanks also to everyone who promotes the wonderful hobby of restoring these relics by attending shows, volunteering time to clubs, offering advice and selling parts. A neat bunch of people!