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First Tractor Designed and Built by Caterpillar To Be Displayed at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2011

First Tractor Designed and Built by Caterpillar To Be Displayed at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2011

A Caterpillar® Expo Twenty Tractor, built in 1927 and to be displayed at CONEXPO-CON/AGG, has the distinction of being the first machine wholly designed and built by what was once called Caterpillar Tractor Co. Prior to producing the Expo Twenty, Caterpillar had been manufacturing track-type tractors using the assets and designs of its two predecessor companies, the C.L. Best Tractor Co. and The Holt Manufacturing Company. But when this unit rolled off the assembly line, it received an all-new serial number, EXP 0000-L, and earned a place in company history.

Its designation as an “EXP” or “expo” machine suggests it was either built for a special occasion or used by Cat® dealers as a marketing tool at county and state fairs or other local events. The “L” in the serial number indicates it was manufactured in San Leandro, Calif.

Caterpillar is showing the vintage machine in its outdoor exhibition space, a unique venue called Generations Park. The park provides an opportunity for CONEXPO-CON/AGG visitors to learn more about the company’s longstanding commitment to customer success and sustainable progress.

A rich history
The Expo Twenty, like the company that designed and built it, has a long, interesting history. After serving as a display machine, it was painted yellow and put to work on the Traynham family ranch in California. The Traynhams are direct descendants of C.L. Best, one of the founders and the first chairman of Caterpillar Tractor Co.
Decades later, the machine was sold to the Veerkamp family of Placerville, Calif. Collectors of antique tractors, the Veerkamps began the process of restoring the Expo Twenty in 2007. As they researched the machine, the owners discovered that the inaugural tractor had not been painted with the standard gray and red color scheme, which was typical of Cat products built in the late 1920s. Instead, it had received a unique white paint job featuring black trim with brass- and nickel-plated accents. The Veerkamps not only returned the tractor to its original appearance, but also restored its original purpose. Having come full circle from its days as a show machine, the Expo Twenty is back in the public eye, displayed at antique machine shows throughout the United States where it tells the story of a brand that has endured for generations.

“Exhibiting a special machine like the Expo Twenty helps people understand and appreciate the historic role Caterpillar equipment played in shaping our world,” said Tricia Potts, executive director of the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club (ACMOC). Founded in the early 1990s and based in Peoria, Ill., ACMOC promotes the collection, preservation, restoration, display and study of products and memorabilia of Caterpillar and its related predecessors.

The Model Twenty at work
Following production of the first Expo Twenty, Caterpillar employees in San Leandro and East Peoria, Ill., built approximately 8,300 more units from the original Model Twenty design. These machines were commonly used in agricultural applications, but were also popular for road building, hauling airplanes to and from runways, and performing other tough jobs.

The production version of the Model Twenty delivered 20 horsepower (15 kilowatts) at the drawbar and weighed about 7,500 pounds (3 400 kilograms). Its initial list price was $2,375 when shipped from California or $2,502 when sent from Illinois. The Model Twenty was updated in 1932 and discontinued in 1933.

Key Specifications - Caterpillar Twenty
(1927 production version)


4-cylinder, 4-cycle
Water-cooled, valve in-head

Rating @ 1,100 rpm

20 hp (15 kW)


7,500 lbs (3 400 kg)


9’7” (2921 mm)


5’1” (1550 mm)


5’½” (1537 mm)

Track shoe width

11” (279 mm)

Gauge: standard

42” (1067 mm)
55” (1397 mm)


3 forward, 1 reverse

Max speed

4.7 mph (7.5 kph)


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