My Caterpillar Story

By Staff
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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!

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