Celebrating the 100-Year Anniversary of the Caterpillar Sixty Track-Type Tractor

The 100th anniversary of the 60, we talk
about the significance, the design of this machine, the DNA of this machine, it
still threads through today with our products. Absolutely. This was a game-changer and everyone knew it was a game-changer. So, how was this a modern day machine? You could say that this is the
equivalent of the D8 today. The undercarriage, the tracks, the systems our machines kind of run on today all come from C.L. Best and from this machine. He knew manufacturing, he knew design and he knew how to make a quality machine. Hi everyone, Rusty Dunn here again and
history just keeps on happening. Here with my friend and colleague Lee Fosberg, head of the Corporate Heritage Services, and our corporate archivist. Good to see
you again Lee! Thanks Rusty. We’ve got a significant anniversary coming up. Tell us what we’re celebrating… Rusty we’re celebrating the hundred year anniversary of this machine. Two companies merged to form Caterpillar in 1925. One the Holt
Manufacturing Company, the other one was the C.L. Best Tractor Company. C.L. Best
became our first chairman at the time of the merger and he created a machine
of – you would say like – high quality, very similar to our brand promise today ‘I’ll make a high quality maybe a little more expensive machine but it’ll pay for
itself through time because of how it’s built’. So he comes out with the sixty,
well what sort of reaction was there to this machine. Well the world started to change when this machine came out, you know. For example, before the majority of
our machines were used for agriculture, right? That’s how the track type tractor,
invented by Benjamin Holt, that’s what he used a [farming application that’s
common] because of the durability and the horsepower and
the strength behind it was really one of the first successful machines pushing
dirt. And that’s why we have these great stories of it working on these
great and grand projects of the era because it could do that. It had that
kind of power behind it. These machines were used to build like
Hoover Dam, they were used to build the Zuiderzee Canal. They were a global
product. They worked on projects, they built roads – well documented in India,
they built roads in China. These tractors, which we have some great photos of, they actually brought the letters of the Hollywood sign – in Hollywood – you
could say they built Hollywood. I remembering seeing that photo – it’s a really famous photo for us. This was really the future. This laid the foundation for the company that we know today. Absolutely this was what you would call
a game-changer and it really tells the story of not only C.L. Best, our first
Chairman, but it also talks about innovation and our modern tractor line,
you know, of the D Series tractors. Kind of a funny story, it’s like you know,
we’ve talked about like the track type tractor. Holt invented the first kind of
model – his first test model 1904. You know the first gas models were coming out in
1908. So when this came out in 1919 this was relatively new technology.
Well, Best used to joke before this model that you would sell a tractor to a
farmer and you’d run that check to the bank right away before it broke down.
Well this was reliability. These machines they didn’t do that, right. And that made
them easily sellable you know. Kind of just like the quality equipment that we put out today. Do you think in their minds this was the 60 – it was one of the best things they would ever accomplish in their lives? Oh absolutely. You know part of the other
little story with this is Cat Diesel. We’re powered by diesel
power today. Well that came from an idea from Best where he saw in 1915, at a
World’s Fair, Rudolf Diesel’s engines. He was like how can I apply that to one of
my machines? Well after the merger he was able to do
that and this was our big popular machine. It was the Cat 60 at that
time. So we came out in 1931 really with our first diesel engine on, you would say,
the frame of a 60. And to show you how impactful that was: literally two years
later we were making over half the horsepower in the United States with
diesel power with Cat engines. Isn’t it interesting with people like C.L.
Best, these aren’t folks who worked in the office, they were true inventors. And you think about the impact still today with our machines. Well, you know, C.L. Best’s father whose name was Daniel Best, he was a master inventor himself. He was in the tractor business. He made those big steam tractors. Well C.L. worked for him actually going back to the age of 13. He would go – they were a California company – and he’d go kind of from sales places to sales
places and he kind of learned the business from his dad. He became a head of his dad’s plant at the age of 18 but he really had very little education
other than he knew he went through some training as a draftsman. But he was,
you would say, a hands-on guy. And we’ve still got a few of these machines floating around. We do. In fact we have one as part of our archives collection. It’s actually serial number 351. So, it was a first year production it’s going
to be celebrating 100 year anniversary itself and it’s still out there and runs. And kind of another thing, Rusty, that’s really hard to believe the first machine
was sold on June 24th, 1919. That machine actually still exists and runs with the gentleman in California. Isn’t that wild? And that says something about durability and reliability. Absolutely, yeah. Lee, thanks so much. The 100th anniversary of the 60, very
cool, and we look forward to hearing and seeing more about it. Keep the stories
coming. It gets us good stuff. We’ll keep them coming Rusty. Thanks everybody for watching. More history being made all the time. We’ll talk to you soon.

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  1. Duvall Craven, son of E.F. Craven who sold best and holt Machinery, was sent out to Best mfg to learn more about their products. Later Duvall was touring around the plant and happened to peek in the one room he was not allowed…the experimental diesel testing room. Needless to say he was escorted off the property. Thanks for this clip, keep them coming!

  2. I own a 1928 Cat Model 60 Gas and a very early production 1931 Cat Model 60 Diesel. Both work as well as the day they were made.

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