CaterpillarĀ® History

C.L. Best was known for continual changes and improvements to his products, and, at least in the West, the Best "Tracklayer's" reputation soared. He had been using Buffalo-brand gasoline engines in his tractors, but, in 1913, Best started the manufacture of his own four-cylinder gasoline engines, and installed them in his tractors. Best's first "crawler" tractor was its C.L. Best Model 70 "Tracklayer". The "70" had some desirable features missing in Holt's products: a liberal use of high-grade steels (instead of iron), and power-assisted steering for the front tiller wheel. In 1914, Best's Model "70" became the C.L. Best Model 75 "Tracklayer", with the added power indicated by the model number. The Best Model 75 was produced through 1919.

In 1914, Best introduced its "humpback" Model 30 "Tracklayer". It was called a "humpback" because the sprockets that turned the tracks was not in contact with the ground, but rather was above the back idlers, similar to a modern Caterpillar tractor. This tractor was Best's answer to Holt's Model 18 "Midget". The Best "humpback" 30 was discontinued within a year of its introduction.

In 1914, to counter Holt's new "Caterpillar 45" without a "tiller" wheel, Best introduced his C.L. Best Model 40 "Tracklayer", also the first Best tractor without a "tiller" wheel. Since the Best Model 40 was lighter in weight, the 5 horsepower difference was unimportant. Best discontinued this model in 1919.

In 1916, Best introduced its C.L. Best Model 90 "Tracklayer" and its Model 120 "Tracklayer", both models very large tractors, and its much smaller tractor for agricultural uses, the C.L. Best Model "8-16 Tracklayer," introduced in 1915. All three tractors were discontinued in late 1917. Best released a memorandum stating, "Owing to the demand for the '40' and '75' Tracklayers we have discontinued construction of all other models."

In 1916, with a financial enticement from the city of San Leandro, C.L. Best purchased Holt's recently-vacated production plant in San Leandro, and moved his manufacturing from Elmhurst back to his father's old factory in San Leandro. Additional financing was arranged, and the old buildings were replaced by a modern factory facility.

In 1918, Best introduced its smallest tractor, the C.L. Best Model 25 "Tracklayer", of which about 300 were manufactured before production was discontinued in 1919.

In 1919, Best introduced its "Best 60 Tracklayer", the first big Best tractor without a front "tiller" wheel for steering. It was to become the best-known of all of C.L. Best's tractors, and was the finest large tractor then made. This was followed by the 1921 introduction of the Best 30 "Tracklayer", built on the same principles as the popular 60, but about one-half the size and with one-half the power. As with the Best 60, the Best 30 met huge approval in the marketplace.

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