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Cletrac Crawler Tractor Model AD (2Z032 of 1944)

This tractor was formerly used at a timber mill owned by William Cook and was donated by the Foletta family of Buxton.  It is in operable condition and is currently undergoing refurbishment to operating condition.

 

Historical Photo
Recent Photo

 

Status: Operational, static display

The crawler tractor revolutionised the logging industry.  Benjamin Holt produced the first commercially successful track-laying tractor in 1904.  This machine was fitted with independent clutches in the drive to each track and produced the manoeuvrability for which this type of tractor was to become renowned.  In 1910, Holt registered the name "Caterpillar" for his new tractor, and the fore-runner of the machine which was to revolutionise logging and road making around the world was born.  Following the 1914-1918 war, the crawler tractor made steady inroads into the displacement of steam and animal power for logging on the West Coast of the USA.  The Holt Tractor Company merged with its major rival the C. L. Best Traction Company in 1925 to form the Caterpillar Tractor Company.  This new firm, along with the Cleveland Tractor Company (Cletrac), Allis-Chalmers and McCormick-Deering supplied the majority of tractors used in Australian logging.

The major drawback of the crawler tractor was that the initial investment was relatively large.  While a double-drum steam winch and boiler could be purchased for around £1000 in 1936, a new Caterpillar tractor fitted with a blade cost between £1860 and £2590 depending on the model and "gauge" of the tractor.  The addition of a PTO winch could add between £225 and £425 to the purchase price.  Smaller tractors, such as the Cletrac and the McCormick-Deering "TracTracTor", could be purchased for around £1200.  Even so, the total purchase price of a fully-equipped crawler tractor roughly equalled the cost of equipping a small bush sawmill, so the new technology was only available to sawmill owners who commanded sufficient spare capital to make the purchase.  The first crawler tractor was introduced into the forests near Alexandra in 1933-34.  By 1937, twelve out of the twenty-three sawmills in the district were employing a crawler tractor.