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Help me resolve a Cat urban legend

17 years 3 months ago #1962 by hambubba
I was hoping that someone here might have an answer to a Caterpillar question that has come up on the snopes urban legends message board. Here's the thread in question:

The question (comment) that came in was via email to snopes, and reads:

"I have heard several times that Caterpiller Inc. has a diesel
engine that has been running as a wear test, well since the 1950's."

I'm a participant there, and the board members participate in researching some of these odd comments that seem to circulate forever. I was wondering if anyone here could verify if this was true, or a rumor, and on what it might have been based.


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17 years 3 months ago #1971 by King of Obsolete
cat has lots of gensets running for years, look at the ones at the south pole and mcmurdo, those have been running a very very long time.


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17 years 3 months ago #2007 by OzDozer
The story is highly unlikely to be true. Why would Cat continue a wear test on an engine from the 1950's?
Those engines built in the 1950's, were obsolete by the 1980's. Why would Cat continue to test obsolete engines?? Technology changes yearly, and new items are regularly being tested .. however, Cat have all the wear test results they need, from decades ago, as regards known steel and alloy types.

Cat do not need to run an engine for more than 2-3 years to acquire all the wear data they need.
They also check on equipment in customers hands, that is running 24/7/365, to find out wear levels and problem patterns.

It IS likely, that SOME company has a Cat engine, that is still in everyday use, and has been since the 1950's .. but it wouldn't be Cat.
There are many Cats still in use, that are 4, 5, 6 and 7 decades old .. but as the age of the item increases, it is generally regarded as being less reliable than a newer rig, and is often used only intermittently, or as backup.

The BS in the Snopes thread about ''any part is still available, for any Cat ever made'', needs to be cleared up.
The person who posted that, obviously has little to do with Cat parts purchasing.
Cat threw out the ''no orphans'' policy in the late 1950's, when it became obvious, the cost of supplying and keeping on hand, parts for any Cat ever made, would be a burden too big to carry, for the long term.
Cat will assist with blueprints for parts that can be fabricated, if they are still available .. but overall, Cat are in business to build, sell and support new Cats, not old ones .. you have difficulty getting most parts for Cats that are older than 40 years ..

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17 years 3 months ago #2010 by OzDozer
After some thought, I think that maybe this 'urban legend' has some basis in it .. but it has become a little distorted after being repeated 10,000 times ..
I think the story might have come about, because of Cat's oil test engines .. single cylinder engines, that were designed around 1935, to test oils .. due to the huge gumming and sticking problem that the early Cat diesels had.

The Cat diesel was first produced in 1931 .. but by 1935, a large number of them were having major problems with oil consumption, ring sticking, carbon and sludge buildup .. which was only cured, by stripping and laboriously hand-cleaning every major engine component.
Cat were seriously alarmed by the problem, and set about finding the answer. It was found that a previously, naturally occurring detergent in oil, which kept engines clean, had been eliminated in a new refining process, which commenced in most U.S. refineries around the early 1930's.

Cat realised that the detergent had to be replaced to keep their diesels clean .. and chemical tests weren't enough .. so they built the oil-test engines .. and in conjunction with Standard Oil and Texaco, produced the first oil standards for diesel engine detergent oils. These oils were designed for heavy duty use in all diesels, but Cat were the first to set the standards for them.

Those oil-test engines are still built, and are still in use today ..but they are built for oil-testing, not engine wear testing, as some may have thought ..

The entire story is here .. in the Caterpillar engine history story ..

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17 years 3 months ago #2013 by Soapy
Replied by Soapy on topic Parts
They must still have some availableFor the old units. One of my good friends, went to the Cat dealer about 30 miles from home, and ordered head gaskets for his 1934 Cat 22, and they had no problem acquiring them at the local dealer for him. I can't recall what he paid for them, but I do remember it wasn't overly priced!

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17 years 3 months ago #2015 by Rowdy
I am going to Back up Oz here I do understand and do not doubt that your friend was able to get the head gasket. But at the same time the company I work for has regularly had problems getting parts for a machine that is much newer. If you don't believe me just walk into the dealership and ask for a some of the parts from a 5230 front shovel 7LL serial number you will find that "machine specific" parts for this machine are becoming obsolete and it is roughly a decade old. Cat did quit production of this machine about 2 years ago and we were assured that they would continue to make parts. about a year ago we broke the boom on one ours and if we had not acquired a repaired boom from another company that had changed their machine from a front shovel to an excavator we would have been forced to either part the machine out or sell it off. We find this to be the case with some of the older 85 ton trucks as well we run several 777 (84A) trucks mostly as spares but they still require parts and maintenance. We are finding that to get parts for a transmission or engine rebuild is getting hard.

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17 years 3 months ago #2018 by OzDozer
Yes, you certainly can get some parts for the antique Cats, from your Caterpillar dealer .. but that's a far cry from stating that .. "they keep replacement parts for every single model they have ever built .. so if you have a tractor made in 1909 .. they got pieces for it .. " :rolleyes:

Cat can certainly provide more parts for their older equipment, than any other manufacturer .. but if you can get anything more than a few basic parts for a 1930's or 1940's Cat, you're doing well .. many engine parts, such as pistons, liners, and injectors, for Cat engines of that age, are no longer obtainable from your Cat dealer ..

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