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The Diesel Engine

The diesel engine got its name from its German inventor, Rudolph Diesel, who developed the engine in 1893. Five years later, the first practical diesel engines were sold in the United States by August Busch, who had secured manufacturing rights from Diesel. Early models of the engine were large, slow-speed units useful primarily in heavy stationary and marine installations.


Caterpillar Tractor Company

Caterpillar Tractor Company was formed in 1925 upon the merger of the C.L. Best Tractor Company and the Holt Manufacturing Company. Both firms were leading manufacturers of agricultural tractors and supplied much of the heavy equipment used in the development of California's agricultural areas. The most popular were large vehicles with endless tracks that were particularly useful on soft ground, but their success was limited by the shortcomings of the gasoline and oil engines that powered them. The idea of diesel-powered heavy equipment was first proposed in 1924, not long before the two companies merged. It was felt that a new engine was needed, one that could use a wide range of fuels, all less refined and cheaper than gasoline. As the engine was to be used in a mobile vehicle and would be called on to perform a wide variety of work, it thus had to operate equally well under different loads and speeds. Other concerns included compactness and ease of field maintenance. In short, the engine had to be powerful, versatile, and dependable. After several years and the expenditure of more than a million dollars, the prototype was finished. The first Caterpillar diesel engine (shown here) was completed on June 28, 1930, and was given the serial number 1-A-14.


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