The 'Nimble' T-6

A ''Nimble ''International T-6? Applying a Lifetime of Experience/ One Man Shows it can be Done

| August/September 2003

Dick and Ann Holcombe and the T-6. After 66 years of marriage, Ann still puts up with Dick's mechanical experiments. The T-6, serial number 39517, is of circa 1952 vintage.

With the seat folded up the air tank, air cylinders, control valves and plumbing for Dick's air-assisted steering are clearly visible. Dick's biggest challenge was making air valves that would pull the levers back quickly while also allowing the levers to return to their normal position rapidly.

One day in 1924 I watched a red hit-and-miss engine being unloaded from a Lehigh Valley freight car at the Dushore (Pa.) railroad station. From that time on I had an almost uncontrollable desire to acquaint myself with anything that had wheels and ran on gas.

Crawlers have played an important role in my life, and over the years I've had a number of different units. My first bulldozer was a Caterpillar D2, followed by a Caterpillar RD7, an OC3 Oliver, a TD-14 International and then a T-4 International.

I had some land in Sullivan County, Pa., that had the promise of a lake site. With the help of our county agent we laid out a dam and started construction. I hired a man with a new D4 Cat to do the main breastwork, and after finishing the drainpipe and spillway we filled the lake. The 16 acres the water would cover was swamp, brush and trees. After a winter of extreme cold, with ice 24 inches thick, we drained the lake and the job of clearing and grading began.

The D2 was the first bulldozer to be put to work, and after a short time I decided a larger tractor would be necessary. My financial situation at the time precluded a more modern tractor and I had to settle for the ancient RD7 Cat, a model designation introduced in 1936. For the next three years clearing and grading took place on a schedule of convenience, with the RD7 being retired and the TD-14 doing the heavy work. I then acquired the T-4 International, and with the engine overhauled and new pins and bushings installed the T-4 became my only crawler tractor.