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Antique Caterpillars

By , Patterson, CA

One day my Grandpa asked me to dust his D7 and D6 Caterpillars in the shop. I asked him why should I dust them if they would get dusty again the next time he goes out. He then told me that they were antiques. He told me the history of both the tractors, the details of each caterpillar, and the process he went through to save them from them turning into rust buckets.


The D7 caterpillar was manufactured from 1940-1961 in Peoria, Illinois
and advertised as a Agricultural Crawler Tractor. A crawler tractor is known as a tractor with wide tracks that are great for muddy terrain and move slowly. The wide tracks help this 12 ton behemoth not sink in the mud. Cat made a version of the D7 with a plow and rippers that the United States Army used in World War II and the Vietnam War to clear land or to blow up mines so soldiers can move safely. My grandpa bought the D7 in 2012 from a friend of his from Valley Tractor Modesto, named Charlie Morris. When he bought it, he had to buy a whole new drawbar pin, rebuild the carburetor, and buy a new magneto. The draw bar allows a tractor to hook up a disk or a plow, the pin holds the two together. He had to rebuild the carburetor because it wasn’t drawing in enough air so the engine didn’t have enough pressure to run. The magneto runs the current in the ignition system so they had to replace it with a brand new one.

 

The D6 Caterpillar was only made for 6 years between 1941-1947 in the same factory as the D7. The D6 is practically the same as the D7, but is much smaller and weighs about 8 tons. It wasn't that big of a tractor, but it still had its uses in the military. They would use the D6 for construction of bases and clearing land. The D6 was used for jobs that  not as tough as jobs for the D7. Think of the D6 as the D7’s little brother. They would use the D6 for plowing a small field or smoothing out the lanes in an orchard. The D6 was bought by my Grandpa 3 years later in 2015. He bought it the same company, Valley Tractor Modesto, but this time from Melvin Costa. He had to replace the whole starting motor. The starter motor starts up the combustion engine which runs the whole tractor. On both tractors though he had them serviced and painted with imron, paint that is used on aircrafts. Aircraft paint is a lot more durable, so it won’t chip or peel if in harsh weather or gets muddy.


You may wonder why spend so much money on tractors? Well my grandpa said it is totally worth the money because they are part of history in agriculture, and they are so well built that you can use them for 50 years or so if they are properly taken care of. My grandpa even uses his D6 today! He disked and flattened the rows of our almond orchard to get rid of the weeds and make it look presentable.


After I was done with dusting the D7 and D6 I knew the importance of keeping such an important piece of history alive and what it takes to make sure these Caterpillars can be used in the future. Even though the D6 was so tiny, it still had enormous value to the military, as with the D7. Even though you may say that a tractor is just a tractor I say nae. A tractor can be a part of a family tradition. My mom drove a tractor and someday my Grandpa will teach me to drive. In conclusion a tractor is a piece of equipment that should be cherished.

Works Cited
Friedrich, Paul. D6 and D7 Caterpillars Aaron Truxton. 6 March 2017. Interview.






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