While looking for information about Best tractors I came across your web site. I own tractor number S2832. It’s a top seat Best 30 built in 1924 with a cab on it. It is located in Sodus NY which is 31 miles north of the Pageant of steam in Canandaigua NY.
The story goes that in 1924 the state of NY bought 3 Best 30 tractors for plowing snow from the highways. this is one of the 3..Another one reportedly laid in pieces in a junkyard above Rt 17 outside of Wellsville NY.
The city of Canandiagua used it for about 10 years then sold it to a farmer down in Potter NY. I know the son of that farmer and he told me that they used to pull a 3 bottom plow with it but not very successfully. Eventually it was sold to another man in Hopewell NY and then to a junkyard in Waterloo NY where I bought it about 1970.
I am pretty sure that it is a factory top seat. The gas tank and support were only used on top seats also there is a cast iron support between the cylinder head and the cab firewall that would not be of use on a tailseat. The shifter is connected to the shift rails by a long rod and a cast iron L bracket running low across the top of the transmission. They are held in place by the bottom of the steering clutch handles. the shifters themselves are very low to floor of the cab- right about ankle height.
There is a picture in Bob LaVoie’s book Caterpillar Thirty photo archive on page 30 of a top seat with a cab. The door is open so the controls inside can be seen also the gas tank with the offset filler neck can be seen.
I will send you some pictures. One of them is Best plowing snow when it is almost new.
Larry Frey NY.
Jan van Eeden from the Netherlands contacted me to share some info about a D4 that they are restoring.
www.kurtcarlsen.nl shows you some impressions of the restoration project.
www.kurtcarlsen.nl/video.htm shows a impression of the use of the D4 and lifeboat combination in action.
These tractors were outfitted with a protective encloser for the engine and are very rare.
The two pics below are from 1952
I was contacted by a man in Tx. who was nice enough to share some old photos of his family back in the day and I thought I would pass them along for your enjoyment.
“While researching Russell elevating graders, I came across your (chapter 12) website. I have attached photos from an old family album. They show my dad operating a Model Sixty gas cat pulling what I think is a Russell Model B elevating grader. The location is eastern South Daklota. This was in the mid or late twenties a couple of years before my time. I also have a photo of a dragline, which I think is a Speeder, that he operated.”-Stan Hoekstra, TX.
I am the proud owner of a 1949 D2 5U 2887. It has a Cat 2A blade, Cat hydraulic unit s/n 4W8, and a PTO unit. I bought it through eBay from Washington State University. They were the original owners. They said it wouldn’t run, but it turned out that no one there was familiar with the rope start pony motor starting system. The gas tank had about an inch of dirt and crud in it. We bypassed the tank and the pony started on the second pull. Five minutes later, we had the main engine running. The tracks are almost like new and the sprockets have new rings welded on. It has been in the restoration process for about three years. The only things I would like to change would be an electric start for the pony and a “float” position valve for the hydraulic system. I am a retired machine shop owner and I made new bushings for the cylinders and rebuilt the cylinders internally.
I hope you can add this tractor to your D2 list.
Jack Hutchens, CO.
I became aware of your owners list of the 35 tractors and had a contribution to add.
I have at the present tractor # 5c1028 which I bought not running from a scrap dealer in 1978 and over a period of 1 year was able to get it running to move it from the site to my house.
The tractor has a brass tag on the frame identifying it as being in the machinery pool at Rock Island Arsenal in 1933–some traces of OD paint was on the tractor.
In picking up parts to revive 5C1028 I went to Canton Ohio in 1979 where 5C13567 was being scrapped-it had in it engine 5C1022.
I got 5C1028 running and moved it home in 1979 where it has rested since and awaits restoration.
Before me it had been used in a phosphate mining operation probably near Columbia Tn. but I have not been able to trace it’s path from military to last use.probably had seen little actual use in military–the cylinders are standard bore and crank standard size. The tractor is currently in poor condtion.
Thanks for your work with the list.
Bob Taylor , TN.
I have an RD4 for your list. It has a hyd blade. I don’t know the width. It is currently in Fromberg, Montana. I live in Peoria and work for Cat. I bought it from my sister who’s ex husband bought it from somebody- not sure who. Didn’t want her to sell it. Paid $3K. It runs and works but has some injector issues I think but otherwise it’s not in bad shape. I don’t have much time to do anything with it and would like to get it back to Peoria.
Please add my name and machine to your Serial Number List
D-4 7U 12358 Frank Gross CO; elect pony; seat tank; cat #44 hyd; Trackson HT 4 (S/N 1497 +/- 2 S/N’s) loader
Frank L. Gross
I was looking for a cable ferrule and came across your website. I own D4 2T9392SP and it is located at Treasure Creek about 100 miles NW of Anchorage, Alaska. The cat was originally owned by the military and brought in overland to Lake Chelatna for use at a rest camp there. It was abandoned by the military when the rest camp closed and I bought it in 1958 from the lodge owner Fred Richards and moved it to Treasure Creek. It is still running and operating. We spend part of our time in SD where we grew up and most of the summer in Alaska. Please add me to the register of D4 owners.
Vic Fondy , SD
I have recently purchased a D4 7U. I am in the process of restoring it using another D4 6U as a parts doner. I would like to be added to youe list. My Cat is a D47U23909. I understand it is a ’53. I have it in a high carport with a traveling hoist. I am a retired marine engineer from the Canadian Coastguard. I am really enjoying it so far. The online Car clubs are great. So is my local Cat dealer Finning Surrey. My main engine runs fine, pup runs well but hase huge main bearing slop as well as a very leaky seal, Hyster D4, not D4N winch works well as do the blade hydraulics. First rebuild will be the pup, then the steering clutches. I’m really looking forward to it. When it’s all done I intend to use it to selectivaly log and clear my property…and play!
Great to be in the club!