View Full Version : The Doug Veerkamp diesel conversion 60
12-30-2006, 06:09 PM
Reviewing my photos of the show at Tulare, California, which took place several years ago when Caterpillar was the featured tractor, I found some photos that I though I'd put up here. I have a diesel conversion 60 that is currently and actively undergoing restoration by Jim Zimmerman at Orchard, Iowa. I wanted to find photos of other similar tractors for his guidance. And look what I found! BTW, Doug is (I think) a cousin of Ed Akin's, for whom I just posted a tribute to his service of 6 years to the club. Hope you enjoy these photos. GWH
12-30-2006, 06:11 PM
Some more photos
12-31-2006, 07:20 AM
Wow, Quad! What an engine! Looks almost too big for the tractor frame. Who did the conversion? GWH
12-31-2006, 07:48 PM
Do I understand you right as you are having a different motor put in a 60? What model is this one above? catskinner
12-31-2006, 08:37 PM
Catskinner, I bought a diesel conversion 60 several years ago. It is now under restoration. At one time, it was a gasoline-powered 60, but in the mid thirties, the owner took it to a Cat dealer and had it converted to diesel power by removal of the gas engine and replaced with a Cat diesel 8800 engine. I bought it. The diesel 8800 engine was completely worn out. I secured one just like it, and it is in excellent condition. It will be installed in place of the 8800 engine currently in the tractor. GWH
From the artixel:
The Cat is the only surviver of tree Sixtys that were fitted with Atlas diesel engines in 1928 by the famous American industrialist and millionaire schipbuilder Henry J Kaiser- the man behind the Hoover Dam and the San Francisco Bay Bridge projects.
During the 1920s and 1930s Kaiser build most of America’s highways using Caterpillar and Le Tourneau equipment.
The story goes that Kaiser having had his requests for a diesel crawler ingnored by Caterpillar, told Cats president, RG Force, that he would build his own.
He subsequetly purchased three Sixtys and converted them to diesel during 1928 by installing four cylinder Atlas Imperial engines.
According to the records, this was the first of the three Caterpillar to have an Atlas diesel installed and was the actual first Sixty chassis off thr line in 1927.
Kaiser always claimed that it was the prototype for the Caterpillar diesel and used to greet Cat acquaintances with Caterpillar “Oh yes I put you into diesels”
Hoop this helps.
The D8800 engine was what the D7 tractors used with some changes & improvements over the years until the 17A D7 came out & then it had the D339 engine in it but still was a 4 cyl. engine. Those old 8800s had a sound of it,s own when running.They both were more or less a basic 4 cyl. version of the D8 6 cyl. engines, the early D13000 & the later D342 but had some differences.
01-01-2007, 07:31 AM
Quad, Henry Kaiser was quite a fellow. The Caterpillar diesel story has been published without any mention of Henry's role. Cat claimed that it took them some time to develop a diesel engine that was appropriate for a non-stationary application. Looks like Henry beat them to the punch, years before Cat was ready. GWH
01-01-2007, 10:03 AM
That's all real interesting GWH & Quad----I had always "heard" that Cat was somewhat forced into the diesel business by competition.
(after all----competition is what keeps the world moving forward; in conjunction with the old saying: "necessity is the mother of invention")
Your converted 60 should be a real prize winner GWH.
King of Obsolete
01-01-2007, 10:19 AM
thansk guys, learning something new everyday with this computer.
01-01-2007, 11:00 AM
This last Saturday I was banging and clanging away on some old banger, (machine that is, ) on the floor next to me was a great chunk of Iron that I kept looking at and trying to guess what it was off, now I have fiddled with Cat Sixtys, a bit so I know all about those holes around the Flywheel for the starter bar, this chunk of Iron had those same holes ,??? I poked about with this chunk a bit more to find that the Flywheel was fitted with a drive divider gear set, Later I asked the owner about it , he said yes its' off an old Cat 60 that was converted to run the 8800 four hole motor, he then said those Atlas motors were not a lot of Cop, I suppose it all depends on if your glass is half full, or half empty,???
sort of amazed tctractors
01-01-2007, 04:05 PM
Maybe Dave Smith will see this and post a copy of the Atlas conversion picture hanging on his shop wall, looks like it might be one of those Kaiser conversions.
01-02-2007, 09:09 AM
The earlier Cat conversions of the Sixties used the D7700 engine. There were about 45 or 50 of these made.
Subsequent conversions of the Sixties used the D8800 engine, of which 55 were made.
These conversions were in "kit" form, and could be done either at the dealership, or by the owner.
Interestingly, in Jim Zimmerman's experience, the earlier D7700 seem to be more numerous than the D8800. They were probably all confined to the West Coast of the U.S. (California).
Anyone with more information is welcome to post it.
01-02-2007, 11:06 AM
Did they not also offer the D9900 as a conversion kit also?
01-02-2007, 02:27 PM
In England we have a great Cat Sixty that is powered via' the Big Atlas, this tractor was one of two Sixtys' (the other gas powered) owned by Peter Thomas, he sold the gas (propane) powered tractor by Auction at the Welland Steam Rally to John Foster who takes this Cat for a run about at every show /event he can, I have driven this tractor ,also started it a few times, this is a process that you can only get better at the more times you try, Peter Thomas used the cash £££ from the sale of the one Sixty ,to enable a restoration of the Atlas tractor to go ahead, ( or did he spend it on a Race Horse, I forget??) anyhow the Atlas is a realy correct looking tractor , it is wearing the old style tracks (grouser at the back) extended header tank on the rad, also it looks as though the engine could rip itself out of the main framework without any effort, as it looks " BIG " The Atlas was at a few shows last year and is hopefully going to be making some dust this coming year,it is EX Joe Hiedrick , we do have some good toys in England!!!!!!.
David Wills Cat 60
01-02-2007, 03:19 PM
I'd just add to tc's earlier post by noting that Peter is a member of Chapter 2.
01-04-2007, 04:44 AM
The story I read about the Atlas Imperial Diesel-powered Kaiser Sixtys, was that they were not a success, because the Atlas engine was too heavy, had too much torque, and tore the Sixtys apart, making them far less reliable than the genuine article.
The Atlas was designed purely as a marine engine .. and weight, torque and vibration were not major concerns in that application.
Air start was a feature of the Atlas that was less than desirable as a tractor starting system, in Caterpillar engineers eyes .. and lack of a decent intake air cleaning system was another factor that was regarded as highly undesirable in a tractor diesel.
A 1933 Cat Diesel brochure I have, describes the factors that Cat considered paramount, for the design of a crawler tractor diesel engine .. these factors were ..
1. Ability to maintain load for long periods of time, without without a drop in power, or smoky exhaust ..
2. An ability to idle smoothly, without irregular running or missing ..
3. An ability to handle variable loads with accurate governing, and quick responsiveness, under frequent load changes ..
4. An ability to run smoothly without pounding or roughness in operation ..
5. It must be able to handle a wide variety of diesel-type, low cost fuels (as there were no set standards or benchmarks for diesel fuel, as is the case today) ..
6. It must be free from the necessity of frequent delicate checks and adjustments, and free from operating annoyances ..
7. It must have a simple, reliable and positive means of starting, easily operated, and capable of functioning continuously for whatever period was necessary (note, that air start was NOT regarded as a reliable system by Cat!) ..
8. The Cat diesels maintenance costs had to be low, to meet the expectations of Caterpillar owners .. as low operating costs were a major advantage in owning a Cat.
Needless to say, light weight was also a major consideration in the Cat diesel design .. as all other diesels up to that point, were all considered to be too heavy for crawler tractor use.
The end result was that 4 other manufacturers diesels were purchased, and their operating systems studied, and their weaknesses found (for tractor operation) .. and every type of diesel fuel injection, and combustion system, examined .. before low pressure mechanical injection, and precombustion chamber design, was decided on, as the perfect requirement ..
At that point, Cat did many thousands of hours of research into diesel fuel flame propagation and combustion .. and even designed testing equipment that did not previously exist, to examine the actual combustion process at speeds of hundredths of a second .. a pioneering feat in that era ..
The Cat diesel was one of the most expensive and thorough design developments, to be undertaken at the height of the Great Depression .. and is testament to Cat management, that they saw the project to highly successful completion, at a time when many other manufacturers were dropping like flies ..
01-04-2007, 07:29 AM
OzDozer, I found the material in the link very interesting. Thank you for posting.
By the way, I have received additional information to the effect that the conversion kits for Sixties were as follows:
45 kits were produced for the D7700;
55 kits were produced for the D8800.
01-04-2007, 10:43 AM
Been following this thread along----real interesting----so, what and when was the first diesel tractor produced as a "factory production" model by Caterpillar?? Were some of the last 60's factory diesel?
01-04-2007, 02:12 PM
The first production diesel tractor was the Diesel Sixty, produced in 1931 (only) in both San Leandro and Peoria. Total production in both shops appears to have been 14. In 1932, it became the Diesel Sixty-Five, which was produced only in Peoria, with serial numbers 1C15 through 1C157. Production was discontinued by 1933.
As I recall, the next diesel tractor produced was the Diesel Thirty-Five.
01-04-2007, 02:32 PM
There was a post on this BB a few years ago from a guy who purchased an Atlas. As I recall he was looking for a 60 and spotted an Atlas conversion parked next to it. I think i saved the post will look to dig it out. It was an interesting account an Atlas acquision.
01-04-2007, 04:12 PM
I wish to make a correction to this thread. The name of the owner of the tractor I pictured is Doug Veerkamp. My apologies to the owner. With the tools available to me as a moderator, I was able to modify the title of thread to correctly spell his surname. GWH
01-04-2007, 04:52 PM
Gentlemen, This post is very interesting. thanks for all the information. George or anybody, Didn't Cat also make a diesel conversion kit for the Gas 70? Thanks for the info.
01-04-2007, 05:12 PM
The interesting thing about the first Cat diesel, the D9900, is that the engine was a most expensive and unprofitable exercise for Cat.
The D9900 was a full 1300 lbs lighter than the Atlas, but owed much of its basic block design to the Benz diesel, which was one of the 4 ''opposition'' diesel engines purchased by Cat for study.
The D9900 owed much of its design ancestry to the late 1920's period, of corporate excesses, design extravagance (the days of silver and gold plated Marmons and 16 cyl Deusenbergs and Cadillacs), and spending, where costs were not tightly controlled.
1932 was when the realities of the Great Depression hit Caterpillar in a big way. Caterpillar sales slumped to a trickle, as the Depression really took hold .. and Cat fired nearly half its workforce .. and lost money.
For the first time in history, building tractors and producing expensive developments such as tractor diesels did not pay.
No more, would there be extravagances in design or costs.
1932 saw a massive re-organisation at Cat, as management set about realigning costs with sales, and coping in a market where deflation, in the form of severely reduced sales prices, (and wages, fortunately for them) were the order of the day.
In 1932, the Engine Sales Group was formed, as a separate entity, to sell engines .. and particularly diesel engines. It was seen that the diesel engine, could be a saviour for Cat .. because, if they could sell a heap of diesels for other uses, as well as put them in their tractors .. the cost of production for the tractors could be brought down, and profits increased at the same time.
Most important, was a total redesign of the current Cat diesel, the D9900. It was a magnificent piece of engineering .. but it was expensive to build .. and new engines had to be built that were cheaper to build, but just as reliable, and with all the features of the D9900. The writing was on the wall for the D9900.
In 1933, the new design, D11000, and D7700 were revealed to the market. These were the new line of engines, that had all the benefits of the original D9900, but were a leaner, meaner engine, as far as Caterpillars bottom line was concerned.
Markets were identified in the power unit field, for crushers, pumps, gensets, compressors .. in the marine field .. and in a host of "opposition" manufacturers machines .. which would help spread the word of Caterpillar Diesel strength, reliability, and economy. It was the new era of "better, quicker, cheaper" ..
The D9900 was doomed. It was taken out of production in 1934, as it was too expensive to produce. The 3 cyl D6100, the 4 cyl D8800, and the 6 cyl D13000, followed the D7700 and D11000 into production in late 1933 and 1934, as the D9900 fell by the wayside.
The first .. the most expensive .. and the most magnificent Cat Diesel was gone .. after barely 3 years of production .. a victim of the Great Depression, and the severe cost-cutting that came as part of the recovery from that Depression.
Cat returned to profitability in 1933 .. and never looked back, as diesel engine sales grew, and turned in more than a third of their income by the late 1930's.
Cat never lost money in any year again, until the next major world recession, in 1984 .. when it was again forced to re-organise, but in a less painful manner than in 1932.
Those engines designed and produced in the period from 1932 to around 1938, went on to provide power for tractors and other uses, up to 4, 5 and 6 decades after they were introduced to the market, and made Cat diesels a familiar sight, worldwide.
01-05-2007, 02:57 AM
Some interesting info has come to light in this thread. And I have another one to throw in the pot. I could be wrong here and so I'm only putting this forward for clarification, not as FACT, but I wouldn't be surprised if R. G. LeTourneau had something to do with those Kaiser Atlas diesel conversions.
Kaiser and LeTourneau were thicker than thieves around that time and LeTourneau makes mention in his autobiography, "Mover Of Men And Mountains", of asking Cat to consider using diesel engines in the tractors and of Cat laughing at him. R. G.'s reaction would be fairly predictable in that situation. He wrote that he put a diesel engine into a crawler tractor himself. He admitted that the diesel engine shook itself and the tractor to pieces and Cat just pointed to the result as proof that they were right.
He and/or Kaiser must have set some people at Cat to thinking with this 'failure' though. Three years later, in 1931, Cat introduced the Diesel Sixty. The first two built were 1C1 and 1C2. If my memory is right, 1C1 was fitted out somewhere during its life with a double-deck logging winch and ended its working days stacking logs in a timber mill in California. I think it was featured in Cat's blurb when they celebrated 50 years of manufacturing mobile diesel engines and diesel powered machines in 1981 and much was made of the fact that it was still working.
The same tractor is now at UC's Davis campus under restoration or maybe the restoration is finished by now.
When last heard of, 1C2 belonged to the Fred C Heidrick Museum.
Anybody got any more gems to throw in here?
01-05-2007, 08:16 AM
Rick, I'm not aware of any kits made for the gas Seventy to convert it to a diesel Seventy. Let's see. According to the Serial Number book, there were 266 Seventies made from 1933 to end of production in 1937. There were thousands of gas Sixties made from 1919 through the end of production in 1931. Much more of a market for Sixty conversions than there ever would have been for Seventies. Of course, I could be wrong.
Deas Plant, I think you are right about the first two Diesel Sixties, their locations. Not sure if the restoration of the first one has been done yet.
Talked with Lavern at Jim's shop this (Friday) morning, and learned that they are putting in replacement steering clutches in my diesel-conversion 60. Might as well do this while she is torn down.
01-05-2007, 05:04 PM
i'll have to get down and see your conversion. I need to pick up some things there anyway. Bart told me he had a converted 70 and that he thought it was a factory job. I'll try and verify at this weekends chapter 3 meeting.
Happy New Year
01-06-2007, 07:18 AM
Rick, why not take some photos of my tractor torn down and post on the bb? It is a little to far for me to go for a few pics. Besides, the roads here are icy and wretched from the third storm within 2 weeks. GWH
Photos of the Atlas Diesel in the Cat Sixty.
01-06-2007, 02:35 PM
Dave, these are very nice, clear, photographs. Look at how they had to extend the frame to attach the radiator. That radiator looks kind of insecure. GWH
01-08-2007, 02:11 PM
How many of the Atlas Powered tractors were built, also any idea of serial No's. I have a photo of the English tractor before it was restored from many years ago , I will post it on this months Bill Glenn's Classic Plant Posting "coming soon "
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