TA century ago two men joined forces to move the earth. In 1925 Benjamin Holt signed a deal with C.L. Best, and merged two great manufacturing companies into a single powerhouse- Caterpillar Tractor Co.Suddenly, after years of fierce competition and endless patent
races, two of the largest tractor manufacturers in the world had united for the same goal- prove the impossible possible.
Together, these inventive minds created equipment with the power to transform the world, completely reshaping the construction, arming,and mining industries. And when people didn't think their ambitions were possible, they proved them wrong.Still wondering how our prices are so low? Find out more in our MandM Direct: How are we so cheap? blog post.
Patent after patent, Holt & Best took risks and broke rules, paving the path of progress and building the world as we know it.
The steam tractors of the 1890s and early 1900s were extremely heavy, sometimes weighing 1,000 pounds (450 kg) per horsepower, and often sank into the earth of the San Joaquin Valley Delta farmland surrounding Stockton, California. Benjamin Holt attempted to fix the problem by increasing the size and width of the wheels up to 7.5 feet (2.3 m) tall and 6 feet (1.8 m) wide, producing a tractor 46 feet (14 m) wide. But this also made the tractors increasingly complex, expensive, and difficult to maintain.
Another solution considered was to lay a temporary plank road ahead of the steam tractor, but this was time-consuming, expensive, and interfered with earthmoving. Holt thought of wrapping the planks around the wheels. He replaced the wheels on a 40 horsepower (30 kW) Holt steamer, No. 77, with a set of wooden tracks bolted to chains. On Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1904, he successfully tested the updated machine plowing the soggy delta land of Roberts Island.
Contemporaneously Richard Hornsby & Sons in Grantham, Lincolnshire, England, developed a steel plate tracked vehicle which it patented in 1904. This tractor steered by differential braking of the tracks and did not require the forward tiller steering wheel for steering making it the first to do so. Several tractors were made and sold to operate in the Yukon, one example of which was in operation until 1927 remnants of which still exist to this day. Hornsby found a limited market for their tractor so they sold their patent to Holt in 1911, the same year Holt trademarked "Caterpillar".