Earth Moving Machines

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There are times when acquisitions at Sandstone are sometimes a mystery and we are not always sure what we have got! Recently we acquired this interesting little scraper/drawn grader but were not sure of its history. Crushed into the paint work was a Caterpillar sticker which was a major clue. With assistance from Neil Clydsdale (who visited us at Stars of Sandstone 2019) of the Australian Caterpillar Club, it was identified as a Caterpillar No 1 Terracer with optional front truck and was manufactured sometime between 1931 and 1941.
Caterpillar provide a brief history of this implement on their website which was also supplied without a front truck and today is available as a 1:16 model from Caterpillar for $129-99.
The No. 1 Terracer was introduced in 1931 to help farmers add terraces to their fields. Terracing, a conservation practice used to help reduce soil erosion, became much more common during this time as farmers tried to combat the “Dust Bowl” conditions prevalent during the Great Depression era. Production of the No. 1 Terracer lasted until 1941, making it the most popular and longest running part of a line of Caterpillar® agriculture implements, which included a hay mower, hay rake, and multiple-implement hitch. The gooseneck hitch, coupled directly to the tractor drawbar, made the Terracer more manoeuvrable than traditional pull graders. The No. 1 excelled at filling gullies, clearing fence rows and building irrigation ditches, in addition to terracing. The 1400 lb. weight and 8’ wide blade of the No. 1 made it well suited for Caterpillar Ten, Fifteen, Twenty, Twenty-Two, Twenty-Five, R2 and D2 tractors, as well as tractors of other makes between 10 and 25 drawbar horsepower.

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Sandstone Heritage Trust has a very useful collection of earth moving equipment. This is mostly Caterpillar but it includes Foden Dump Trucks, an old Case TLB from the 1970’s, Two Ruston Bucyrus excavators and other items. However it is the Caterpillar Dozer collection that we have concentrated on. We have D2, D4, D6, D7, D8 and D9 Dozers in the collection. The latest of these is the most interesting being our 1950’s Caterpillar D9 Cable Dozer which we obtained from the estate of the late Zach van Staden in Bloemfontein. Zach was a great supporter of Sandstone and was the man who was responsible for building the initial 2ft narrow gauge railway. He built the section from the main complex all the way to Vailima and also constructed the two dams namely the Railway Dam and the Pandora Dam over which the railway goes. Without the railway there would not have been dams there.

Zach although retired from active engineering contracting work was an avid collector and he used his collection of old earth moving machinery in order to build the railway. In his later years he was more than happy to make available old earth moving machines to Sandstone and many of the items in our collection came from him. After his passing an auction was held at his premises but the reserves that have been placed on individual items is too high for us to contemplate buying them however as a result of a subsequent negotiations we managed to purchase the very old CAT D9 Cable Dozer which was still in running condition as it is now. Once if fell under the care and attention of Deon Muller, our wonderful trained Caterpillar mechanic things started to look up. Having sorted out the mechanical side it was transferred to Janki Palmer , Spray painting and panel beating division at Sandstone Estates within the Sandstone main workshops. The photographs show David, a master craftsman in this area of speciality, working on the dozer together with Janki Palmer.

The D9 is a series of heavy tracked-type tractors, carried on continuous tracks and usually used as bulldozers. The series began in 1954 with a prototype tractor called the D9X. Ten D9X prototype models were built in 1954. In 1955, the 286 hp (213 kW) D9 was introduced to compete against the more powerful Euclid TC-12. The D9 came equipped with a 1,473 cubic inch D353, which powered the D9 until the 1980 introduction of the D9L. The D9L unit featured the same new type of elevated drive sprocket undercarriage as had been introduced on the larger D10 in 1977. The new undercarriage design reduced strain and shock loads on the final drives and gave the "belly pan" more ground clearance.
Final design of the production model of the D9 incorporated suggestions from customers involved in the pilot test program. The first production D9 – and the first new track-type tractor produced by Caterpillar since 1938 – came off the assembly line in April 1955. At that time, it was the world’s largest and most powerful tractor, weighing more than 56,000 pounds with a turbocharged 286 horsepower engine. Additional features included a standard or torque converter transmission, oil-type clutch, in-seat starting, excellent operator visibility and many servicing conveniences that were previously not available in Caterpillar’s product line at the time.

In 1956, the D9 had its engine power raised to 320 hp (240 kW). The new 335 hp (250 kW) D9E replaced that model in 1959. Two years later, the legendary 385 hp (287 kW) D9G was introduced; it remained in production for 13 years; it became the main crawler on many job sites, testifying to its sturdiness and design

Today’s D9, the D9T, has a reputation for outstanding productivity, operator comfort, and robust reliability. It is a highly versatile machine flexible enough to be used in heavy construction, quarries, landfills, forestry, and mine sites.

Our Caterpillar collection has for too long been a quiet and fairly modest part of our overall Heritage programme.  

We do not like to prioritise any one category of machinery as being better than another.  Our Steam Heritage department is obviously well organised and well equipped.  The same applies to the Agricultural machinery side, and of course we have an excellent cross-section of Military vehicles.  

One of the unsung heroes though is our growing collection of Caterpillar machinery which comprises a very good cross-section of working Caterpillar tractors from the D2 right through to the D9 of various vintages.  We will be featuring an article on the complete collection quite soon.

In the meantime, we are making great progress with regard to the restoration of the bigger machines. Our D7 and D8 are now fully restored and in working order and our D9 is running but is obviously in need of a cosmetic upgrade.  The pictures below show the three machines being moved.  Obviously the D9 is the biggest of the three.

As a result of a big re-organisation of the Sandstone Heritage Trust assets at Sandstone Estates, these machines have now been given their own bespoke area which is outside of the main complex due to the fact that with their heavy tracks they cannot be moved very easily, and as a result of this re-organisation they can now be sent directly to the field to remove alien tree populations etc.  

Our HET (Heavy Equipment Transporter) has been out to play with the Cats to get them to their new home!

Again, very much part of the Sandstone philosophy ‘Don’t just create a thing of beauty but put it to work as well’


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The fully restored Cat D8 on the move!


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The yet to be restored D9 climbs aboard the HET, it weighs nearly 40 tons!


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The D7 almost on board.

Bringing an old gentleman back into working order.

The farm has a very old Scammell Dump truck reputed to date back to 1939. It has been our main workhorse with regard to the removal of materials, such as ballast etc. on the farm and the railway.

Unfortunately it had a major engine failure about 2-years ago. Such is our good fortune of Sandstone that we had an almost identical engine that came out of an old crane. Andre Smit has been working tirelessly over the past month to replace the engine. The main hydraulic ram was also worn out and that has had to be refurbished.




















Grading of road

In line with our policy of using our Heritage equipment wherever possible we have once again deployed our wonderfully reliable old CAT 12 Grader to tidy up our roads after the recent rains.




Sandstone  Heritage Trust has two Star Drilling machines and it is prioritising the rebuilding of one so that we can drill using steam power


Sandstone Heritage Trust - News

HTN 93 - CAT 12 Grader, 1953, commissioned for use on farm

23rd May 2006

The synergy between Sandstone Estates as a farming unit and the Sandstone Heritage Trust collection is always being explored and enhanced. The company has now sold its 120H CAT Grader, which was responsible for most of the work relating to railway line construction, road maintenance etc. Its place has been taken by a 1953 CAT 12 Grader that was fully restored some years back by Charles Terry for the Sandstone Heritage Trust. This machine is capable of doing all the work carried out by the CAT 120H. Although it has no hydraulics and is a tougher machine to drive our operators are up to the challenge.

This Grader was acquired and restored for less than R50,000. A new replacement for a machine like this would cost the company in excess of R850,000. Therefore the use of heritage assets in practical and realistic applications has a huge impact on company profitability and is part of an intelligent asset management strategy.

Sandstone Heritage Trust - News

HTN 121 - Out with the new and in with the old - Caterpillar 120H grader

4th August 2006

As part of its policy of putting older equipment to work Sandstone Estates has disposed off its Caterpillar 120H Grader which has done a lot of the railway construction work on behalf of the Sandstone Heritage Trust. The workload has dropped and we have therefore commissioned our CAT 12 Grader.

Dating back to the 1950's this Grader is in excellent condition. It was originally fully rebuilt by Charles Terry, a Caterpillar engineer of great experience. Here are some pictures of the work been done by Charles. More recently the machine was serviced in-depth by Zach van Staden & Associates,
also a professional Earth Moving organisation with considerable experience on the older CAT machines.

The machine now takes its rightful place as the number one road grader at Sandstone Estates.
This programme of replacing the new with the old will continue.

Sandstone Heritage Trust - News

HTN 122 - Eimco Loader

13th August 2006

The Sandstone Heritage Trust collection of old machines is fascinating because so many of them have never seen the light of day when it comes to international publicity. Our (+/- 1955) Model 105 Eimco is no exception. This unique design of an American made "Rocker" shovel designed specifically for use in tunneling, canal work and where turning is restricted or limited is in full running order and has been in the collection for nearly 10-years. It is one of the many machines that may never be restored because its condition is sound and it is in its true working clothes. Various heights of rockers (the half wheels either side of the cab attached to the bucket) were available to accomodate various truck and tunnel ceiling heights. It is equipped with a 90 HP 3 - 71 GM 2 stroke diesel engine and the 2 cu m bucket makes for very fast loading even by today's standards i.e. 3 loads to 2 of a similar sized current conventional front end loader which has to make at least two turns per cycle.

One of the reasons why the Sandstone Heritage Trust staff are somewhat weary of the machine is that they had a reputation for being dangerous. As our pictures show the machine has a fierce mechanical motion which enables the machine to drive straight into a rock face, fill the bucket, and then virtually catapult the material over the top into a truck standing at the back. The only entrance to the cab is via the roof, and so should the bucket (which is returned by impuls spring and gravity) become jammed in a vertical position the operator has the dilemma of getting out while hoping that nothing changes and he does not get sliced in two! Sadly this had been known to happen on a number of occasions.

Anyway, looking on the bright side this machine will be treated with great circumspection and we hope to have it working in a quarry on Sandstone Estates quite soon.

Sandstone Heritage Trust - News

HTN 124 - 51 year old CAT 12 working hard upgrading the roads at Sandstone Estates

18th August 2006

We werent kidding when we sold our 5 year old 120H Road Grader with the intention of bringing an elderly machine out of retirement.

Here is our 51 year old CAT 12 working hard upgrading the roads at Sandstone Estates.