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Tracking Down The Tracked Tractors
Caterpillar's spectacular success with its revolutionary rubber-tracked Challenger tractor has prompted other manufacturers to get into the act.
In Australia, Waltanna a veteran tractor manufacturer has unveiled the Trac 200, a rubber-tracked tractor that, complete with steering wheel, looks suspiciously similar to Caterpillar's Challenger. And rumors are flying that Deere may have an experimental crawler under wraps.
"We know about the Trac 200 and, because of design conflicts, have asked Waltanna to stop production under a cease and desist order," Steve Newhouse, Caterpillar spokes-man, told FARM SHOW.
A recent feature story on the Trac 200 (pictured) in FARM, a leading Australian farm magazine, cites these key features: lower price ($10,000 to $15,000 less expensive than a 250 hp wheeled tractor); only 4% slippage compared to a 4-WD at 10 to 15%; less compaction (4.9 lbs. per sq. in. ground pressure, compared to 9.5 lbs under a 4-WD tractor); and row crop capability (its 20 in. belts are spaced 2 meters apart from track center to center).
The word from Deere is that the company bought a Challenger "to study the competition" but is not developing a rubber-tracked tractor of its own.
Meanwhile, Caterpillar is moving full speed ahead with its best seller. More than 600 Challengers have been sold since they were introduced in 1987, putting sales 3 years ahead of projections. A larger, longer model of the Challenger is slated for introduction soon. And, as you've been reading in previous issues of FARM SHOW, Caterpillar has licensing agreements with other companies, including Claus of America which is putting rubber tracks on its combines, and Kinze Mfg., of Williamsburg, Iowa, which is putting them on large grain carts.

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1990 - Volume #14, Issue #1