An Exciting Find

| April/May 1993

Old Roaring Brook Road, Mount Kisco, New York 10549

The moment I opened the doors on the old storage shed in the spring of 1991, I knew that Carl Kriegeskotte and I had come on to something special. A friend of mine, a real estate developer, had bought a gentleman's farm which he was planning to turn into lots and houses.

There was a riding stable and some outbuildings on the property, but he considered these and their contents a nuisance, because he would have to remove everything as he went ahead with his development. He told me that there was some old machinery and junk in those buildings, and knowing I was a machinery buff, said I should take a look and that I could have anything I wanted.

What Carl and I saw in that shed was an old crawler tractor covered with dirt, dust, cobwebs and bird droppings. We could read the serial number. The paint was faded and dirty, the seat was worn and torn, there was grease and grime on all the running gear, and dents and bends in the sheet metal. But we were surprised at the lack of any corrosion or major rust damage. Its appearance indicated the tractor had never been stored outside.

My hobby and Carl's is steam related, and neither of us has had any experience with antique gas tractors, beyond seeing them at the shows we attend. We had no idea how old this unit was, but guessed late '40s or early '50s. We were amazed to learn, when I checked with the Caterpillar Company about the serial number, that the tractor had been built in June or July 1936.

The age clinched our decision, and we were determined to get the tractor out of there and attempt a restoration. We would chance that there was nothing major wrong with the engine. We could see no oil leaks and the pan and block had no apparent cracks. The engine had no starter and we could not turn it over with the crank. We assumed and hoped it merely had frozen pistons.