View Full Version : question about cat yellow
10-10-2009, 06:13 PM
i know that dec. 7 1931 was the official start of cat yellow but what was the first production machine that can off the line wearing the now famous cat yellow?
10-10-2009, 06:44 PM
chrsicokid - I don't believe that any S/No's were recorded. The change to Cat yellow was a marketing decision, not an engineering decision .. and it wasn't regarded as being of the necessary importance to record S/No's when it happened. The book "Caterpillar - Farm Crawlers and Bulldozers" gives the outline of the events behind the decision, in Chapter 9.
It was purely a drive from the salespeople .. with Walter Gardner, Cat sales manager, apparently being the initial mover. He is reported as stating at a sales or management meeting .. "Look, we're trying to get out of the Depression here. Why don't we brighten these tractors up? We're painting them this d**n dull gray with red trim. Already, two States are specifying color! MS uses silver, KS uses a kind of orange."
The idea was discussed, with the primary point being raised, that increased visibility when left parked on road projects, was a desirable move .. to prevent motorists running into parked tractors that couldn't be seen in low light conditions. This idea was already being pushed by many State bodies and safety groups, who were alarmed at the number of accidents caused by motorists running into parked, low-visibility road plant.
Herb Mee, VP in charge of sales, formed a committee, and they examined the idea in depth, and then ordered 3 x Model 30 tractors to be painted up in three paint schemes. One was deep orange with a black engine, one was yellow, and one was silver. The committee met again, inspected the three tractors .. and decided on the orange tractor with the black engine!
The Manufacturing Dept rebelled. The Manufacturing Dept had great power. If Manufacturing said they couldn't or wouldn't do it, it didn't happen. Apparently the paints chosen were a hassle, or the requirements for having two colors on hand was too much of a hassle, so the orange and black tractor idea died before it even got off the ground. Marketing then selected silver .. but Manufacturing said No, again. Apparently the silver paint was a hassle to handle or put on.
So .. Marketing settled on Hwy Yellow. A memo from management was circulated in early Dec 1931, stating that from Monday, Dec 7, 1931, all tractors and Caterpillar road machines shipped from the factories would be Highway Yellow. Thus the Yellow Cats were born. No-one apparently even thought to record S/No's on the changeover, because it wasn't deemed a recordable engineering event. However, it was a very smart marketing event, and one that has gone down in history as an event of importance .. but in the field of image-making, not engineering. Cat long ago realised the importance of corporate image and standing.
10-12-2009, 04:54 AM
yes, i understand the history of how the hi-way yellow came about but i was wondering if any one knew of the first model of cat mfg. in dec. 1931.
I guess it is safe to say that the change was announced on dec. 7 1931 but it did not go into effect untill jan, 1932?
I do know the following were mfg. in 1932, but do not know what order they were mfg?
Diesel Sixty/Sixty-five 1C
10-12-2009, 06:47 AM
chriscokid - The actual inter-office memo read ..
"Beginning Dec 7 (1931), all Caterpillar tractors and all Caterpillar road machines shipped from the factories, will have as their standard color, Hi-Way Yellow.
This is a rich golden shade of Yellow, bright and lustrous. Trademarks and trimmings are black.
A very thorough study on the subject of paint on the part of our own organisation, and the countries leading paint and color authorities, resulted in the choice of Hi-Way Yellow as the standard color.
It has been chosen with full consideration of every factor - attractiveness of appearance, the safety factor of high-visibility use, the legal requirements in certain localities for machines used on the highways, durability of paint, and protection of the surface.
Road machines can be supplied in colors other than Hi-Way Yellow at the extra cost shown in the current price list. Unless your orders specify otherwise, you will be supplied with tractors and road machines of the above color, hereafter.
Purchasers of tractors will now have the option, at no extra cost, of Silver Gray, trimmed in Black - a lighter, brighter, and more attractive shade of Gray than has been standard in the past.
However, if this color is desired, your orders must so specify - otherwise, tractors will be painted Hi-Way Yellow.
The present Gray, and and any other colors besides Hi-Way Yellow and Silver Gray, may be had at the extra charge shown in the current price list".
I think this official statement leaves no doubt that any tractor produced after Dec 7th 1931, left the assembly line, painted in Hi-Way Yellow .. unless the purchaser specified otherwise.
10-12-2009, 11:14 AM
ok then, what was the first model or tractor that was painted Hi-way yellow?
if no one knows, what would your best educated guess be?
10-12-2009, 08:42 PM
It's generally agreed that no-one knows what the type or S/N of the first Cat tractor painted Hi-Way Yellow, was .. but the law of averages would suggest that the Cat that was selling in the highest numbers at that time, would have been the first one off the assembly line in Hi-Way Yellow.
This was the height of the Great Depression, and Cat were suffering as much as any other business at the time, with sales at a trickle compared to before Oct 1929.
Small tractors were the only real sellers .. and then only in low numbers, as compared to before the start of the Great Depression.
The Ten, the "PL" Twenty, and the "PV" Fifteen were the tractors that sold in the greatest numbers in late 1931 .. but even at that, Cat had high inventory levels of tractors. The production numbers suggest that one of these model tractors could have been the first tractor off the assembly line in Hi-Way Yellow.
10-13-2009, 04:30 AM
And I was hopeing you would say that the 8C Twenty would be the first model of tractor painted Hi-way yellow since it was launched in 1932. It would be very intresting to know which tractor was the first to carry the hi-way colors, but some things we will never know( like how many R6's were made). Thanks for your input OzDozer and keep up the good work here on the BB.
10-13-2009, 06:48 AM
There were only 652, 8C Twentys built between early 1932 and early 1934 .. thus it would have been a rare sight on the production lines at less than two a day.
Add to that, the Hi-Way Yellow color change was in full swing .. probably at least 6 weeks before the 8C Twenty appeared .. thus making it well out of the question, as to whether one of the 8C Twentys, was amongst the first Cat tractors to be seen in Hi-Way Yellow.
10-13-2009, 09:30 AM
I have yet to find any information on a s/n break for the yellow paint, but have found something related to it...
Along with yellow paint came a change from red decals to black decals. New part numbers were issued for the black ones. 1B0967 was the red "Caterpillar" decal from 1931. 1B2526 was the black equivalent. 1B2526 was released on 10/28/1931 with a reason of "New Painting specifications call for Black Transfers". It lists an effectivity of:
Ten, Fifteen (PV) & Thirty: Next tractor built
Diesel Sixty: 1C1
It is interesting that at that date they were already referencing the Twenty-Five instead of the Twenty, but still included the Ten and Fifteen.
Of course 10/28 is over a month before the 12/7 yellow paint date, so it is unclear from this if there was a brief period of gray paint with black decals, or if the implementation got delayed until December.
power stroke 99
10-13-2009, 07:15 PM
Can you still buy the old yellow from Cat what is the part number if you can.
10-13-2009, 07:32 PM
One thing for sure the first was not an 8C as it was an upgraded PV15 and there were PVs that were yellow. It could have been a PT10,PV15,PL20,25,PS30,PA60,50,DIESEL60,
10-14-2009, 04:55 AM
the only reason suggested a Model 8C was that I have one.:) Thanks dave for doing some research on this matter, i think it is an important part of Caterpillar History that has yet been published.
10-14-2009, 08:51 AM
Hey Powerstroke 99. Part number for highway yellow is 4C-4185. John
10-14-2009, 11:38 AM
can one get old cat yellow in spray can? if so where? thanks.
10-14-2009, 01:29 PM
this thread was mainly about the start of Hi-Way yellow not really about the paint itself, but if you check out a previous thread I think it will answer any of your questions http://www.acmocbb.org/ACMOC_BB/showthread.php?t=7248
10-25-2009, 07:52 PM
can one get old cat yellow in spray can? if so where? thanks.
Yes, at the Cat dealer. I will hop out to the garage and grab the PN tonight.
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