Antique Caterpillar Machines

By on March 20, 2015

GLEN SLOCOMBE, Sales Manager – Regional Government & Specialised Industries for William Adams Pty Ltd provides a report on the largest gathering of antique Caterpillar machines.

With what is believed to be the largest gathering of antique Caterpillar machines ever at a rally in Australia, (42 to 48 depending on how many shed doors you opened!) the November 2014 Lake Goldsmith Steam Rally, featuring its inaugural ‘Caterpillar’ theme, saw a rally record. 3000+ visitors braved hail and storms on day one to see first-hand Caterpillar machines from 1914 to 2014.

The permanent site at Lake Goldsmith near Beaufort Victoria, which hosts the oldest and largest steam rally in Australia since 1963, came alive with sound of pilot motors and diesels to the surprise of the usual steam enthusiast crowds. William Adams, the local Caterpillar dealer and Caterpillar of Australia along with the newly formed local Chapter of the US based Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club (ACMOC) got behind the event. 20 crawlers, 4 graders and a supercharged D337 engine were in the central display area, thanks to its own collections and those of a number of other collectors, who came from up to 6 hours away to display their equipment. William Adams has one of the longest agency associations with Caterpillar, becoming a dealer in April 1926 after Caterpillar were formed in 1925, and have
a rich history in Australia as a supplier of engineering and earthmoving equipment continuously since 1884.

The Feature of the show was Gary Williamsons’ fully restored and operational 1914 Holt 75, believed to be the first ‘Caterpillar’ tracto

r ever imported into Australia. It operated as a road train with 2 wagons hauling wool (18 tons) from Bourke to Kallara Station. A trip of 113 miles in 5 days, as reported with photographs in the November 1916 Caterpillar Times, a little magazine containing letters and photographs unsolicited from owners and operators of Caterpillar tractors. This is the only known example of this tractor in the Southern Hemisphere and is a very rare sight.

ACMOC members Neil Clydsdale had his 1C Diesel Sixty and PA5037 Sixty with cold weather package, and Mark Hutchings used the event to crack up his modified RD8 which had been repowered with a D17000 V8 stationary engine just in time for the show. Thanks also to Daryl Marshall, Howard Hillerman, Greg Hillier and others who displayed tractors amongst the banners recording Caterpillar’s history and reproductions of time period advertisements including the No 1 Caterpillar price list from October 1925.


Antique ‘Holt Caterpiller’ machine on display at Lake Goldsmith steam rally.

Special thanks to dealer veteran mechanic Eddie Bedwell, who was on hand in the weeks leading up to and during the event to assist with swinging some spanners, and some good old fashioned advice and experience (especially to the author and his RD4!). A movie night was run showing early Cat advertising footage with the feature film being “Earthworm Tractors” from 1936 on the Saturday night, and an awesome roast dinner on offer. Prior to the Sunday grand parade and tractor working displays, a 2014 Cat D7E electric drive dozer was put through its paces up against Hutchings 1952 D8 13A much to the delight of the crowd (see photo at right).

For the new South Eastern Australian Chapter 19 of ACMOC, this was the first chance to gather as group and short meeting was held at the event to discuss our future structure and direction. A number of new members were signed on the day, and this resulted in a first official meeting being hosted by William Adams on November 22nd. The meeting saw the election of a committee, comprising of President -Neil Clydsdale, Vice President – Leigh Rees, Secretary/ treasurer – Glen Slocombe and committee members Shane Steer and Daryl Robbins, who will be charged with further progressing the Chapter and the ACMOC cause. Our next Rally will be the National Historical Machinery Association’s 15th National rally, in the island state of Tasmania, during March 2015. This presents some transport challenges but the Chapter are working hard to provide support for members who wish to attend.

If you have any interest in the preservation of or appreciate the historical role Caterpillar equipment has in shaping the world, why not become an ACMOC member. You will receive 6 magazines a year recording activities of the association and its members around the world, as well as stories and information and access to memorabilia celebrating the Caterpillar brand.

Please visit our website or contact local Chapter secretary Glen Slocombe – or 0409 955 935.


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