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      Tractor: Tractor: Specialization - CRAWLER TRACTORS
    Posted on Tuesday, October 19 @ 11:51:31 UTC by Cars
      Tractor CRAWLER TRACTORS Paralleling the developments of the steam-powered tractor were experiments with tracked machinery known as "crawlers". The first experiments involved wheeled steam engines that were converted to run with tracks.

    Benjamin Holt was a pioneer of this technology, and he tested his first converted steam tractor in November 1904 in Stockton, California. Holt gasoline-powered crawlers worked on the Los Angeles Aqueduct project in 1908. Holt viewed this as something of a development exercise and learned a lot about crawler tractor construction from it, simply because dust and heat took their toll on the machines. Downtime for repairs of all makes of crawler was considerable. World Wars I and II helped speed the development of crawler machinery in several ways. During World War I the embryonic crawler technology was soon developed as the basis of the tank, now an almost universal weapon of war. American development and use of tanks lagged behind that of Europe, partially because the United Stales remained unimolved in World War I until 1917. Prior to this date the US army was still steeped in the cavalry traditions of the fighting in the Old West; by the time America became involved in the European conflict, the European nations were using tanks on the Western Front. Orders were went back to the United States for tanks but in the meantime US soldiers used British and French machines, namely the Mark VI and Renault FT17 repectively. These taks were to be produced to take advantage of Anierira» massive industrial capacity, but they held to compete for production-line space with trucks and artillery so there was some delay. It is perhaps difficult to understand this situation when the crawler track was already well established and there had been a couple of experiments in tank development. The experi-mental machines included the Studebaker Supply Tank and the Ford 3-ton tank. The French tank produced in the United States was designated the M1917 and was the only US tank to arrive in Europe before the Armistice. Tractor and crawler technology progressed as a result of these military applications. The US army had become interested in crawlers and in half-tracks - vehicles with crawler tracks at the rear and a tyred axle at the front - and in May 1931 it acquired a Citroen-Kegresse P17 half-track for assessment. US products soon followed: James Cunningham and Son produced one in December 1932; in 1933 the Rock Island Arsenal produced an improved model; Cunningham built a converted Ford truck later in 1933; General Motors became interested and the Linn Manufacturing Company of New York produced a half-track. In 1936 Mannon-Herrington also produced a half-track, converted Ford truck for the US Ordnance Department with a driven front axle. Towards the end of the decade a half-track designated the T7 made its appearance at the Rock Island Arsenal: it was the forerunner of the Models M2 and M3 to be produced subsequently by Autocar, Diamond T, International Harvester and White. During the 1920s Robert Gilmour Le Tourneau, an American contractor who manufactured equipment for Holt, Best and later Caterpillar tractors, developed a new system of power control that began to widen tlie scope of the crawler. All the control systems featured winch and cable actuation until the development of hydraulically lifted and lowered blades. One of the first British machines to be so equipped was the Vickers Vigor, developed from the Vickers VR-series crawlers. Hydraulics was just one example of the advances in technology being applied to agricultural machinery. It was first used in the late 1930s in time for bulldozers and similar machines to make a lasting impression during World War II. During the war the bulldozer earned numerous accolades and led directly to the blade-equipped tank, a type of armoured fighting vehicle still in general use. Throughout the war years the half-track evolved and although the designs were standardized there are certain differences between the models produced by the various manufacturers. As well as the crawler conversions to wheeled tractors made by companies such County, Roadless and Doe, there were even more specialized conversions to other machines. Trackson was a crawler track conversion offered for Fordson tractors in the late 1920s by Trackson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Later, Cuthbertson and Sons of Biggar, Scotland converted Land Rovers to crawler operation through the use of bogies on a subframe assembly and sprockets driven by the conventional axles. Recently a variation of this idea has been offered by Toyota on one of its luxury four-wheel-drive vehicles. Current crawler tractor manufacturers, beside Caterpillar and Massey-Ferguson, include Claas, Track Marshall and Tractoroexport. The latter is based in the former USSR and makes the T-70 Crawler.
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