If the invention of the wheel was attributed to Mesopotamia 5000 years ago, it required a fairly flat and hard surface, which was not always the case since roads were rare. A lot of time spent and lost wars showed a real need to be able to move everywhere. Over time, the men were thinking. To move the heavy loads, they used rollers which they placed under the load to move it, the outgoing rollers were reinserted at the front, such as at the time of the Pyramids. In the 17th century appeared the first written reflections to improve transport on bad grounds ; these texts reflected the ideas of the moment, certainly quite old. In the 18th century, many people had attempted to add tracks for moving machines. Over 100 patents had already been issued worldwide in the 19th century, but all failed to work in practical situations. Finally, only Lombard, Hornsby, and Holt, at the beginning of the 20th century, manufactured usable versions of crawler tractors.

It is not easy to find the old patents, especially in Europe where, it seems, you have to go to different towns to do some research.

1712 D'Herman

D'Herman tracks 1713

D'Herman tracks, 1713. Mr. d’Herman filed in 1713 the first patent of a track at the Royal Academy of Sciences. "Chariots for a new apparatus with a device to reduce friction" was presented to the French Academy of Sciences by a certain d’Herman. Between the two platforms is the chain of rollers ("the rosary of rinks", as they were called by d’Herman). This is a set of rollers interconnected by slates. The roller chain rolls along the same rollers, but with a slightly smaller diameter; the rollers rotate on axles fixed in the lower platform. Heavy loads could be moved by placing rollers between the load and the ground. But here, the last rollers come back to the front.

1770 Richard Lovell Edgeworth

Richard Lovell Edgeworth Scale Model of Chenitte 18th Century

Richard Lovell Edgeworth : Scale Model of 'Chenitte', 18th century. Edgeworth invented the track but the idea was probably in minds before. A closed chain of wood bars attached to each other was placed on the front and rear wheels of the car. The chain rewinding during the movement was spread out in front of the vehicle, forming an endless path along which the vehicle easily overcome the irregularities. The appearance of the Edgeworth project is not accidental. The conduct at the end of the eighteenth century indicated the urgency of the needs of "land" transport. In 1801, in his memoirs, Edgeworth writes "Indeed, the only mortification that affected me was my discovering, many years after taking out my patent, that the rudiments of my whole scheme were mentioned in an obscure memoir of the French Academy". Woodcroft identifies pages 33 and 7 of Vol. III of the "Machines Approuvées par l'Académie Royale des Sciences" as the likely source of Edgeworth's discovery. Picture J M M Archives,

Portable Railway of R. L. Edgeworth

Portable railway, invention of R. L. Edgeworth. From the book 'The Ingenious Mr Edgeworth', Desmond Clarke, 1965,  Hazel & Viney, Bucks,,,

1801 Thomas German

Thomas German patented "a means of facilitating travel by replacing an endless chain or series of rollers with ordinary wheels".

1812 William Palmer

William Palmer proposed a similar invention in 1812. In the book of patent "Abridgements" Class 7 "Aids to Locomotion" AD 1691 - 1856 of B. Woodcroft, British patents for off-road locomotion are published, from :

1814 Gompers Wheel and Track

Gompertz Wheel, 1814

Lewis Gompertz Wheel, 1814, designed square wheels which were substitutes for wheels, keeping the carriage at the same height of the road. Four feet of a square wheel alternately came to the ground, producing a kind of walking and escaping obstacles. Gompertz, L. : "Sundry Improvements in Carriages (and Substitutes for Wheel Carriages) and Other Machines", 1814, British Patent #3,804,

Gompers Wheel Track, 1831

 Gompers Wheel Track, 1831, shows a wheel to which was attached a chain. Stacked on the ground, the links in the chain should reduce the pressure exerted by the wheel on the ground and increased its mobility on soft ground. The chain link dimensions have been calculated so that there were always two tracks on the ground under the wheel.,

1815 Józef Maria Hoene-Wroński

Józef Maria Hoene-Wroński later turned his attention to disparate and largely unsuccessful pursuits such as a fantastical design for caterpillar-like vehicles which he intended to replace railroad transportation, but did not manage to persuade anyone to give the design serious attention.

1821 John Richard Barry

1821 John Richard Barry Track

John Richard Barry track, 1821, London. This early patent looks like that of d’Herman in 1713. It was not a true track with plates. Beginnings of tracks were inspired by rollers under heavy loads. He too prefigures the Airoll built by Borg Warner in 1965.


1825 George Cayley

Georges Caley Universal Railway 1825

Sir George Cayley's Patent No. 5260, A.D. 1825 : 'Locomotive Apparatus or Revolving Railway' or an 'Application to four-wheel carriages of revolving or endless railways'. He was a pioneer of aerial navigation, the founder of aerodynamics, and is widely considered to be the 'father' of fixed-wing flight. He is also the forerunner of the caterpillar tractor. He built probably a massive tractor but originally horse-drawn. Powerful engines existed only 100 year later.
This is a splendidly detailed design, at once seen in all its essentials as the caterpillar track we know today. In this design the treads were devised to hinge, so as to allow the track to bend around the wheels, but were constrained to hinge in only one direction such that the track formed a rigid structure between the wheels, as if it were a plank or rail, along which the wheels run. It is interesting to note the crossed rollers placed on the links of the chain, which should facilitate the rotation of the vehicle which had become a stumbling block for many other pioneers in the development of tracked propulsion.,


Georges Cayley Universal Railway 1826

George Cayley Universal Railway, 1826, patent N° 10328128.




result&ct=result&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=cayley's%20patent%20universal%20railway&f=false, from "Mechanics' Magazine" for January 28th, 1826,




1836 Cabarrus track

 Cabarrus Track, 1836

  Cabarrus track, 1836,

Cabarrus wheel and track 1836

Cabarrus Wheel and track, 1836,

1837 Dmitry Zagryazhsky

A Russian inventor, the artillery Captain Dmitry Zagryazhsky designed a "carriage with mobile tracks" which he patented on March 12, 1837. He submitted a request to the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Empire for a "privilege" (as the patent was called) for a "mobile crawler crew". In an ordinary wagon, the wheels were replaced by passages consisting of a roller and a six-sided guide wheel on which an iron connecting rail was placed. The pitch of the track corresponded to the face of the steering wheel, but due to a lack of funds he was unable to build a working prototype, and his patent was voided in 1839.

1837 John Heathcoat

1837 John Heathcoat Tracked Ploughing Engine

Following the first tests in 1837, the very new Heathcoat vehicle, 30 T, 10 m long, was the first of its kind. It must drain swampy lands and was pulled by a cable. But just after one day in operation, it sank in a Scottish bog. Tyler in a 1967 article of Model Engineer says that sinking of the machine was a myth because this appeared 30 years after the public demonstration. He says problems and price made the project abandoned.

1837 John Heathcoat Tracked Ploughing Engine

John Heathcoat tracked ploughing engine, 1837. We can see on this view the great width of the plough. Reynold M. Wik in his book : "Benjamin Holt & Caterpillar - Tracks & Combines", says :
"In 1832, a British textile manufacturer, John Heathcoat, built a 30-ton steam plowing engine which rested on two 7-foot-wide belts. These tracks were intended to prevent the steam engine from sinking into marsh land. Attracting considerable attention, the engine was heralded a remarkable contribution to science and to the wealth of the country", but optimism was shattered when the monster sank and almost disappeared in a swamp. Heathcoat lost $12,000 in the venture."

1837 John Heathcoat Tracked Ploughing Engine

John Heathcoat tracked ploughing engine, 1837. Pictures from : Farmers Magazine 1837 and "Ploughing by Steam", by John Haining and Colin Tyler, and also : "Description of Heathcoat's steam plough, with illustrative drawings", by Ambrose Blacklock, written in 1837,|open

1837 John Heathcoat Tracked Ploughing Engine

John Heathcoat tracked ploughing engine, 1837.

1846 James Boydell, Frank Bottrill

1846 Boydell Tractor Dreadnaught

Boydell wheel on Steam Traction Engine, patented by James Boydell in 1846 and enhanced in 1854.
This dreadnaught wheel was fitted with articulated flat plates attached at the rim to provide a firm footing for the wheel to roll over. It was better for moving in mud but steering was difficult and speed was limited on roads.
Boydell's design saw service with the British Army in the Crimean War.

Burrell Traction Engine

Burrell traction engine with Boydell endless railway. From the excellent site :

Tuxford Steam Horse 1857

Tuxford Steam Horse, 1857, a Boydell type tractor built by Tuxford and Sons of Boston, Lincolnshire.
From: The Illustrated London News, Dec. 12, 1857 : "New Agricultural Implements".
The traction engine or ‘steam Horse’ weighed 12 Tons. As this tractor was equipped with Boydell wheels, steering was difficult. So, the power from the two cylinders could be given off equally to each of the impelling-wheels, or a greater power given to one and a less to the other, or either of the wheels could be detached from the power instantaneously.
It was sent to Central America for ploughing, moving trailers to produce from the fields to the mill, for carrying the sugar from the mill to a railway some miles distant, and also for working as stationary engines when not otherwise employed.

Big Lizzie in 1918 with Bottrill Wheels 1918

Big Lizzie, in 1918, was equipped with Bottrill wheels. Great Britain Patent 8844 of 1912 issued to Frank Bottrill, engineer, of 41 Moubray Street, Albert Park, State of Victoria, Commonwealth of Australia for ‘Improvements relating to Ped-rail Shoes for Heavy Road Vehicles’. His "Botrail" appears to be a practical simplification of Boydell's wheel. He used an arrangement of crossed wire to attach the shoes to the wheel rims. Some versions of Bottrill's wheel had two sets of bearers side by side. Movement was smoother and plates were better fixed to the wheel by cables.
Big Lizzie was built in 1915 by Frank Bottrill, the Australian inventor of the Bottrill "Dreadnaught Wheel". Mr Bottrill fitted these wheels to several traction engines from 1907-1908, also tractors and another very large tractor and wagon used for haulage in 1910, before building this huge "Desert Train", finished in 1916. These photos come from a book : 'Big Lizzie, the Story of a Man and a Machine' by Ron Malin. The engine used was a 60 hp Blackstone, single cylinder engine. Big Lizzie and one of its two 9 m trailers survive at Red Cliffs, Victoria, Australia.,

1846 1918 big lizzie with bottrill wheels

Big Lizzie with Bottrill wheels. Bottrill-Boydell-type tractors were also made by Clayton & Shuttleworth, Garrett, Tuxford, Bach and Bellhouse of Manchester.
From the book : W J Hughes’ ‘A Century of Traction Engines’ Published by David & Charles (1968).,

1857 James Welch

Welch Portable Railroad, 1857

Welch Portable Railroad. In 1857, James Welch received a patent for a "Portable Railroad Improved" (we will pay attention to the elastic suspension of the chassis to the platform of the wagon). " Hl = en & sl = ru & u = http: //

1859 Warren P. Miller

Miller Plowing Locomotive, 1859

Miller's plowing locomotive, from Official Gazette of the US Patent Office : an early invention is that of Warren P. Miller of Marysville, California, Patent No 23,853 of May 3, 1859, a ‘Locomotive Machine on Tracks for Propelling Plows’. (His invention is described and illustrated in the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents 1859 text, p. 359, and plates, p. 246.),

Miller Plowing Locomotive, 1859

Miller's plowing locomotive,1859. Patent US23853.

1859 Robert Burton

Robert Burton invented the ingenious clip drum for steam ploughing engines, patented in the names of John Fowler, David Greig, Robert Burton and Jeremiah Head in 1859,

1860 G Fuller Guy

1860 G Fuller Guy Tracked Traction Engine

Tracked traction engine invented (patented?) by G Fuller Guy. It doesn’t seem to have been built. From The Engineer of 10th Feb 1860.

1860 G Fuller Guy Tracked Traction Engine


1860 G. Grafton

1860 Grafton Apparatus for Tillage Machines

"Apparatus for tillage machines", patented by G. Grafton in 1860. The front and rear rollers on each side are rotated to change the direction of movement. It is curious that the inventor proposed to manufacture the 'rails' with 'Indian rubber or other flexible material'.

1869 Vandenvinne

1869 Vandenvinne Steam Excavator

Vandenvinne's patent steam Excavator. L'Acciato Elastico

dell'Escavatore del vapore di brevetto di 1869 Vandenvinne spinge  l'ingegneria, a page from The Engineer dated 1869.

1869 George Minniss

Georges Minnis Tracklaying 1869

George Minniss tracklaying, 1869, from Ames, Iowa. There is no patent to the name of George Minniss but rather Thomas S. Minniss of Meadville, Pennsylvania, and he held at least three patents which relate to crawlers. Minniss demonstrated his crawler at Ames, Iowa, and the results were reported to have been published in at least two contemporary publications. Perhaps the name change occurred at that time.

Georges Minnis Tracklaying 1869

First patent : N° 61231, issued to Thomas S. Minniss of Meadville, Pennsylvania, for Improvement in Locomotive for Ploughing, &c., dated January 15, 1867, dated January 15, 1867

Georges Minnis Tracklaying 1869
Georges Minnis Tracklaying 1869

Second crawler patent N° 107702 IMPROVEMENT IN FRICTION-LOCOMOTIVES September 27, 1870. An elaborate method of friction pulleys was the method of steering this machine. Each track was driven through a dog clutch, and there was a tiller wheel at the rear for additional steering.

Georges Minnis Tracklaying 1869

Third patent N° 135240 IMPROVEMENT IN TRACTION-LOCOMOTIVES January 28, 1873. Steering was made by clutches and a tiller track at front.



1872 Robert C. Parvin

Robert C Parvin Crawler

Robert C. Parvin crawler patent, 1872, N° 119878 : "Improvement in Traction-Engines" oct 10, 1871. And N° RE4753 13 February 1872. It is a tricycle model, with two guiding wheels at the front and a single wide track at the rear. In the book : 'The Caterpillar's Roots' by Jack Alexander, there is an illustration of the Parvin crawler as demonstrated in California, taken from a farm magazine published at the time (1873).

1873 Henry Stith

Henry stith traction wheels 1

Henry Stith Traction Wheels. On the 6th of May, 1873, Henry T. Stith, a Kansas farmer and American Civil War Veteran, received US patent 138707  for a "Traction Wheel". Stith put his track assembly on a horse-drawn street-car and exhibited it at a Kansas City fair in 1879. He turned down an offer of $50,000 for the rights to the brightly painted red-and-yellow Patent Traction Street Railway that he took to the fair, because he thought it was worth millions. On the 17th of February, 1880, he received the US patent 224741 for a variation on his "Traction Wheel". Then, on the 24th of July, 1900, he received the US Patent 654291 for another "Traction Wheel".
The US publication, 'Popular Science', published an article about Stith and his "Traction Wheels" in the June 1944 issue (the month of the D-Day landings in Normandy, although the author could not have known that when he wrote the article). He drew a line from Stith through Holt to the tank.
At the time of the writing of the article, Stith's son still had the bicycle that Henry Stith built for him.
Text from : Robert Graumann.

1878 Clement Ader

Endless Track of Clement Ader, 1878

Endless Track of Clement Ader, 1878. Clement Agnès Ader (1841-1925) of Muret, Haute-Garonne, filed two patents in 1875 and 1878 of an endless track. Then, on May 3, 1875 and February 19, 1878, Ader submitted additives to his "Track System for Detachable Railways", a model and a functional prototype.
After a first unsuccessful attempt with the War Ministry, Ader thought of advertising his invention in the gardens of Paris, where one sometimes saw small vehicles pulled by goats. With the help of his father, who was an intermittent coachman, he built his prototype and files a new patent, then drove his team to Paris at the Tuileries Garden or the Buttes-Chaumont Park, where he sometimes drove up to thirty children. Equipped with these caterpillars consisting, on each side of the cart, two small wheels between the two big used usually, all linked by large straps camel hairs resting on the ground, and despite the weight of children, cars did not get bogged down in the sand. Despite the cheerful reviews of the press, he still found no buyer for his invention.



Endless track of clement ader at tuilleries park 1880

Endless Track of Clement Ader at Tuilleries Park, 1879. In France, in 1871-1874, were published 36 patents for the invention of "movable rails" and "moving wheels".

1878 Stefan Mayevsky

S. Mayevsky Track, 1878

S. Mayevsky track, 1878. In 1876, Stefan Mayevsky proposed the project "a method of moving trains with a locomotive on ordinary roads". Its essence was "the movement of wagons on ordinary dirt roads by means of a special steam engine, moving with the train, on a special device consisting of an endless chain". In other words, it was already a self-propelled car. A number of pivotally connected trolleys rested with their rollers on a track. The iron caterpillar was indeed the development of the usual ring chain. Such a design would give the crawler the flexibility to rotate: it was produced by folding it in the horizontal plane by rotating the front roller. To stay on the track, each roll was provided with two ribs. A steam engine was mounted on one of the carriages. The design included an octagon-shaped drive wheel and even a stepped gearbox, recalling the shifting of a modern racing bike. There was also a device for adjusting the tension of the chain. In 1878, Mayevsky received a ten-year privilege, but no attempt was made to build a prototype.
Earlier, in March 1839, Vasily Terter received the privilege of a "transportable mobile railway with a cargo projectile rolling on a moving road", which was not exploited. At the beginning of 1863, the college evaluator Maklakov, originally from the peasants, was able to enjoy a ten-year privilege on the "road embankment" with a "roller chain". According to the description, the rolling gear of the "projectile" was a system of "rollers movable between them by means of caterpillars representing an endless chain" and "rails that could be fixed, as on railways, or mobile, located on the device."

1879 Pellatt's Tram-Plate Wagon

1879 Pellatt's Tram Plate Wagon

Pellatt's Tram-Plate Wagon, 1879. Not a crawler tractor, but this 1879 curiosity might be of historical interest. Easily moved by manpower, apparently. Not so easily steered, presumably. Pict. from : 'The Engineer', 15 August 1879. Text from R. Graumann.

1879 Pellatt's Tram Plate Wagon

Pellatt's Tram-Plate Wagon, 1879.

1879 Feodor Abramovich Blinov

Blinov Tractor, 1879

Blinov Tractor, 1879. Feodor Abramovich Blinov was a Russian inventor who introduced on the first tracked vehicles (a wagon on continuous tracks) in 1877 (patented in 1879), then developed his idea and built the first steam-powered continuous track tractor for farm usage (1881-1888). His self-propelled crawler was successfully tested and displayed at farmer's exhibition in 1896.
In 1888, the first tractor was completed. It was similar to the "car", but instead of horses, he installed a steam boiler. There were two single cylinder steam engines with a power of 10-12 horsepower at 40 rpm. Each track was driven separately by means of cast iron gears.

Feodor Abramovich Blinov Tracked Carriage, 1880

Feodor Abramovich Blinov. In early 1880, Feodor Abramovich moved to the country town of Volsk, where he worked as a mechanic. In the summer of 1880 the "car" was built, and Blinov tested it on plowed fields, dirt roads, and even marshy terrain. The tests confirmed the efficiency and advantages of crawler track compared to the wheel.

Blinov Carriage

Blinov Carriage, 1879. Drawings of the "car" and a crawler train, the corresponding privileges F. A. Blinov of 1879 in Russia. On January 8, 1881, the Saratovsky Leaf newspaper reported from Volsk: "Blinov, the inventor of endless rails, recently tested his platform. The platform, with self-propelled rails, loaded with 550 pounds (2,000 bricks and more than 30 adults), coupled with a pair of ordinary horses, has recently driven several times through the streets of our city, causing a surprise and universal approval ." After that, Blinov started to develop a self-propelled version. In 1888, he built a steam tractor with a caterpillar, four pairs of drive rollers. Each caterpillar was driven by a separate steam engine. The fuel for the steam engine was oil, the turning being done by changing the engine speed on one side by adjusting the steam supply. Suspension of the rollers to the chassis of the car was difficult. Drive wheels were at the rear, with cast iron rims.

Blinov Tracked Trailer

Blinov tracked trailer, 1877. Trailer car wagon of Blinov constructions. In his first invention, Blinov advanced the idea of using a train of 4 non-driving crawlers. From: Tracked Transport and Technology Machinery, Nizhny Novgorod State Technical University.


1884 George F. Page Crawler

George F Page Crawler, 1884

George F. Page Crawler, 1884, US patent 296998, issued to George F. Page, of Baltimore, Maryland, for a Road-Engine on April 15, 1884. The hubs of front wheels can pivot near their center line. He said in the patent : "By this construction, in turning the pilot-wheels the chain tracks are never tightened, and only slackened to a slight extent, and there is less tendency of the chains to override the edge of the pilot-wheels". But there was no steering effect because here did not appear to be any lateral movement built into the track chain.

George F Page Crawler, 1884

George F. Page Crawler, 1884, image from the review : Scientific American Magazine for June 20, 1885.

1885 Christian Baker

Baker Propeller for Vessels, 1885

Baker propeller for vessels, 1885. The rowing caterpillar for ships has been proposed several times : recall the patent of George Hart of 1884, Christian Baker of 1885, Goldsbury Bridge of 1890, the last two tracks, composed of hollow "tracks" should have provide buoyancy to the ship and also allowing moving on the ground.

1886, Charles Dinsmoor

Dinsmoor Track, 1887

Charles Dinsmoor, Warren, Pennsylvania, was also granted GB Patent No. 13651, dated October 25, 1886 and US Patent No. 351,749 was filed February 17, 1886. Also patents : Patent No 9782 May 9, 1902 Schiepatti and Izar "Wheels with portable tracks", John Bickford's GB Patent No. 3439 of 1879 in which feet were supported on linked pairs of wheels, Richard Waller's GB Patent No. 1688 of 1877 for an endless track for agricultural vehicles, which we would recognize today as a conventional endless track. Also Richard Brooman's GB Patent 1074 of 1862 : "Linked Rollers used as Wheels". In 1886, in the United States, Elkart developed a semi-tracked steam tractor, in which the track was placed on the rear wheel guide and the drive wheel, with the smaller diameter, elevated.

1886 W. Applegarth

1886 Applegarth

Applegarth, 1886. US patent N° 352385 for a Road Engine of W. Applegarth. Fuller in his book: "Tanks in the Great War" (1920) stated: "The track being raised in front gives an initial elevation when an obstacle is met with and very greatly assists in surmounting banks and other irregularities". This tractor was probably not built.

1886 Benjamin S. Benson

1886 Bensons Crawler

1886 Benson's Crawler. On January 12, 1886, Benjamin S. Benson, 52 E. Monument St., Baltimore, Maryland, received a US Patent 334333, for a Traction Engine. It was a tracked vehicle, with a vague resemblance to Diplock's Pedrail. Benson designed it as a ploughing engine. It was steered by means of a cart which ran ahead of the tractor, and pushed the front idler sprocket to one side or the other. There was a steering wheel that steered the cart, but the cart was designed to follow the previously ploughed furrows, providing a form of automatic steering.

1886 Bensons Crawler Improved Farm Locomotive

1886 Benson's Crawler Improved Farm Locomotive. The rear sprocket wheel was driven by a suitably arranged steam engine. There was a certain amount of play between the links of the track chains, so as to allow the track to be laid in a curve. The front sprocket wheel was hung in a swiveled frame, so as to lay the track to the right or left; the locomotive could be turned in a radius of twenty feet. The inventor, Mr. Benson, informs us that a twenty horse power engine of this type plowed under test three acres six inches deep in one hour. Although the ground was very wet and soft, the engine did not sink nor slip, and did the work well. Further particulars could be had by addressing the inventor. It seems this machine has been built.

1887 Guillaume (William) Fender

1887 Guillaume (William) Fender Wheel

1887 Patent issued to Guillaume (William) Fender of Buenos Ayres for a 'wheel with endless rail', US patent 373887.  It appears to be a variation on Bramah Diplock's various pedwheels.

1888 Frank Batter

Batter Tractor, 1888

Batter Tractor, 1888. US Patent 382857 for a "Traction Engine" issued to Frank Batter of Slide, California. Application filed on February 11, 1888. Hexagonal rollers are probably the sprockets.

1890 Georges H. Edwards

Edwards Crawler, 1890

Edwards H. Crawler, US patent 124042 of George H. Edwards, Lanark, Illinois was filled for 'Improvements in Braced Chains' on February 27, 1872. He used the word 'Tractor' for the first time in a later patent 232395 of 1880. His patent 425600, 1890 was filled for a tractor, which was never built.

Edward Track, 1890

Edwards Track, 1890, US Patent 232395 issued to George H. Edwards, of Lanark, Illinois for a Traction-Truck on September 21, 1890

1891 Clark

Walking Wheel of Clarke, 1891

Walking wheel of Clark. A very original project of  "traveling wheel" was proposed by Clark in 1891. It is not even a wheel in the usual sense of the term, but a complex lever mechanism in which there is no rim or spokes. The great Russian mathematician and mechanic Chebyshev has also worked on the creation of such "walking" mechanisms. There were other proposals for "walking", "jumping", wheels with "legs", etc. All these projects were not viable, because the great inequality of the movements did not allow a sufficiently high speed.

 1892 Charles H. Stratton

Stratton Traction Engine, 1892

Stratton Traction Engine,1892 : US patent 492637 for a "Traction-Engine", filed by Charles H. Stratton of Brandt, Pennsylvania, on July 25, 1892, and issued on February 28, 1893. The picture comes from a farm magazine, the 'Album of Historical Steam Traction Engines' by Floyd Clymer of 25 Marsh 1893. Probably no model built.

1898 A. & J. Smith

A j Smith Traction Wheel, 1899

Adam Smith and John Smith of Blissville, Illinois : Traction wheel, 1898 from patent  US597594. 'The object is to provide a traction wheel with mud-shoes and a simple means for automatically moving the shoes into position relatively to the rim of the wheel, to serve as teeth for engaging in mud or soft roads, to prevent slipping of the wheels, and also to employ the same means, but in a different position, to move the shoes into the rim of the wheel while traveling over hard roads'.

A J Smith Traction Wheel, 1899

Adam Smith and John Smith Traction wheel.



1899 Bramah Joseph Diplock

Pedrail Wheel Tractor, 1899

Pedrail Wheel tractor about 1900. On right, the Pedrail Wheel from the patent of 1899. Bramah Joseph Diplock filled a patent N° 14710 : ‘Improvements in Traction Engines and Other Vehicles’ on 17th July 1899. Later called the pedrail wheel, it improved locomotion on soft or uneven terrains for agricultural machinery. Feet (pedes in Latin) were articulated on the rim of a wheel. More complex systems incorporated a suspension system in the wheel.
Just before in 1893, Diplock filled his first patent for a huge 4x4 locomotive and its transmission, with large differentials, even, later, 3 differentials. From the book : 'The Development of the English Traction Engine' by Ronald H. Clark, published back in 1960.
Diplock himself wrote a book : ‘New System of Heavy Goods Transport on Common Roads', 1902 :,,

Diplock Wheel Models, 1900

Diplock Wheel models, about 1900. Pictures issued from the Book of Bramah Joseph Diplock,,

Pedrail Wheel Tractor, 1900

Pedrail Wheel Tractor, around 1900. From the classic volume 'The Development of the English Traction Engine' by Ronald H. Clark, published back in 1960. It was the second machine of Diplock, probably the same as the first picture above.,

Pedrial Wheel Tractor, 1900

Pedrial Wheel Tractor, 1900,

Diplock Tests for War Office, 1905

Diplock tests for War Office in 1905. J. B. Diplock is standing on left in the group.

Diplock Chaintrack, 1910

Diplock chain track from UK patent 3107 applied for on February 8, 1910, by Bramah Joseph Diplock, Engineer, of Fulham in the county of Middlesex, England, for "Improvements in Road Vehicles". Mr. Diplock continued to insist that his machines had feet. It appears to be a further development of his Pedrail. Other patents were filled for more and more complex tracks.

Diplock's first Chaintrack, 1911

Diplock's First Chaintrack, 1911 and his N° 3 Pedrail, 1905. Tracks were in the mood of time but that of Diplock appeared to be marvelously complicated.

Diplock Articulated Truck, 1912

Diplock articulated truck from Great Britain Patent 14491 of 1912 issued to Bramah Joseph Diplock for 'Improvements in Vehicles'. In 1912, Mr. Diplock proposed a quite advanced looking vehicle for his time. Meanwhile, the articulation had no rolls nor pitch, only yaw. These will come later.

Pedrail Truck, 1913

Pedrail truck, 1913 was presented at the Olympia Exhibition. The 20-ton and 30-horse truck put forward the new tracks of the Diplock's patents.

Pedrail Truck and Trailer, 1913

Pedrail truck and trailer (non-driven), 1913.,

Diplock Single Wide Track Cart, 1915

Diplock single wide track cart, 1915. Mr. Diplock manufactured single wide track vehicles for horse-drawn use. This is a photo of one of these small vehicles in the book 'The British Tanks 1915-19' by David Fletcher; it was a simple cart-type body on a single wide track. It was loaded with 1.5 tons of stone and Mr. Churchill, which saw it, was able to push it by hand in Feb 1915. From :

Landships Variants 1915

Landships variants 1915.

Pedrail Landship, 1915

Pedrail Landship Prototype 1915, with 2 bogies.
A large prototype, Pedrail Landship troop transport by Colonel R.E.B. Crompton, built by Stothert and Pitt of Bath, was developed as an offshoot of the Landship Committee. Probably never finished for military use, but a tram-like superstructure in place of the armored superstructure was fitted. It weighted all the same 32 T. The prototype saws tests at Salisbury Plain, in which it exceeded expectations. However, industrial problems appeared immediately, as Pedrail systems proved to be insufficiently resistant to support heavy vehicles. It was the big "fight" lost by the Pedrail systems in front of the continuous hinged metal tracks of Holt-Caterpillar moved by sprockets, used later on the 1st tank : Little Willie. Diplock had indeed patented the Pedrail wheel but in view of the tests, he then embarked on the path became classic of track Holt type caterpillars.

Pedrail Landship, 1915

Pedrail Landship, 1915. A tram cab was mounted on the Pedrial Landship.

1900 Alvin Orlando Lombard

Lombard Track Assembly Patent 1900

Lombard Track Assembly : patent US 674737 dated May 21, 1901, Application filed on November 9, 1900 for a "Logging-Engine" by Alvin Orlando Lombard of Waterville, Maine. In 1900 the Alvin Orlando Lombard Traction Company began in the Waterville Iron Works Maine. While Lombard was not the first to devise a track system, he was indeed the first to develop and put into production a tracked vehicle : the Lombard Steam Log Hauler at Waterville, Maine,  beating Holt by a wide margin : 1904 was his first tracklayer which was patented in 1907. When first Lombard was built, he hadn't figured out a steering mechanism yet. The skis were hitched to a team of horses that were used to steer the skis which will later be replaced by wheels. First used short roller chain can be seen.

Phoenix Track Assembly, 1901

Phoenix Track Assembly, 1901. As it turned out, Lombard sold the rights of his system in 1904 to Phoenix Mill Supply Company, Eau Claire, Wisconsin (over 100 built), by Jenckes and Best. Several of the Phoenix steamers survive.
Here is he "Short Chain" setup with the roller chains running tight to the runners.

Lombard Long Chain Log Hauler

Lombard  C Log Hauler with long tracks.

Lombard Long Chain Setup

Lombard 'Long Chain' setup.

Log Lauler Phoenix in Northern Saskatchewan

Phoenix in Northern Saskatchewan, picture from the McCord Museum. It is almost certainly a Phoenix, although the definition of the picture makes it hard to provide an absolute identification. It does give some idea of the pulling capacity of these machines. The terrain in Northern Saskatchewan where they were operating was relatively flat, but it's still quite a load.

Lombard Log Hauler

Lombard Log Hauler at the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, branch of the Western Development Museum.

Lombard With Road Wheels 1907

Lombard with road wheels, Patent US 854364 dated May 21, 1907, application filed November 22, 1905 for a "Log-Hauler" by Alvin O. Lombard of Waterville, Maine.

Lombard Lagbed Tractor, 1914

Lombard "lagbed" tractor, 1914,

Lombard Old Twin and Newtwin, 1922

Lombard Old Twin 1922, upper left, and New Twin, 1927. As requested by Great Northern Paper Co., the idea was to create a multi-purpose tractor with the maneuverability of the Holt and Best tractors of the period combined with the speed and power of Lombard's big 10 ton halftracks.
Known as the A.O.L. machine, it was delivered to Great Northern Paper in 1922. While considered a success, O.A. Harkness, G.N.P.'s Chief Mechanical Officer felt it could be improved upon. Thus the "Old Twin", as it became known, was dismantled and re-built by GNP's Greenville, ME.

Lombard Truck, 1927

Lombard Truck. Built in 1925 in Waterville, ME,

Lombard Truck 1926-1933

Lombard truck, 1926-1933. The grandson of Edward Lacroix operated a fleet of 30 of these beasts during the 1920's and 30's.

Lombard CS88, 1926

Lombard also used rollers on the CS 88, 1926, (Contractor's Special) and model "T", opposed to the roller chain. These were carried in a unique articulated runner. Like the full track tractor, they were not patented.



1900 Titus D. Dershimer

Dershimer Improvement for Tread Power, 1900


'Improvement for Tread Power', 1900, by Titus D. Dershimer, County of Wyoming and State of Pennsylvania, the purpose being to improve the general construction and reduce the friction to the smallest amount possible and to increase the life and capabilities of this class of motive powers.


1900 Frank Beamond

Frank Beamond Tracks, 1900

Frank Beamond tracks, 1900. Upper left is a tracked chariot in accordance with his first patent in 1900. Track had pivoted track segments, lugs and links. The other treads, in accordance of patent of 1907, is designed to be silent in use. A rubber-like material forms a continuous band.

Motor Lorry, 1908

Motor Lorry equipped with tracks in accordance with 1907 Patent, about 1908-09.

Frank Beamond Tracked Horse Drawn Vehicle, 1909

Frank Beamond Tracked Horse drawn vehicle according to 1907 patent. Frank Beamond's Patent No 908,441 "Transporting Apparatus" was filed Aug 19, 1907 and issued on January 5, 1909.

1900 Crispino Bonagente

Fiat Bonagente Track, 1900

Fiat Bonagente Track. These tracks, first patented in 1900, were invented by an Italian Artillery Major, Crispino Bonagente. They were used by Italian, French and British Armies,

Fiat 20B Semi-tracked Truck

Fiat 20B, picture from Robert Grauman site at :

Fiat 30 Artillery Tractor

Fiat 30 Artillery Tractor, 1917, was powered by a 4-cylinder 60 hp 10.6 l. engine. Tracks were laid on the mudguards when not in use.

Fiat Artillery Tractor with Tracks, 1917

Fiat Artillery Tractor with Tracks, 1917. Far right are the Bonagente tracks,

Fiat Bonagente Tracks

Fiat Bonagente tracks on a massive gun of Italian Army 'Obice da 305 D.S.' in N.E, Italy, 1918. Picture shows the Fiat ' Bonagente ' tracks fitted to the wheels of the De Stefano carriage, which come together to form a stable raised platform to support the gun's weight when standing. Bonagente tracks look like Boydell wheels.,,

1904 Benjamin Leroy Holt, Clarence Leo Best and Caterpillar Co.

Holt Steam Powered Wheeled Tractor

Holt Steam Powered wheeled tractor. Holt built his first experimental steam powered tractor in 1890. Holt manufacturing company began in 1883 at Stockton, California. Originally the company manufactured agricultural and forestry machinery : combine harvesters, very powerful steam traction engines. Holt’s tractors were popular because they could harvest large fields for one-sixth the cost of horse-drawn combines and was soon distributed internationally.

Holt Steam Traction Engine 1903

Holt steam traction engine, 1903, were built for the Delta, but machines needed had anything else than wheels for traction in soft soils. He built tractors with very large and 1.8 m wide wheels each side. These tractors were expensive, difficult to transport, difficult to maneuver in the field and could stuck all the same. Holt experimented with multiple wheels until he decided to try a track-laying technique with was known but not employed, except Lombard.,

Holt Tracklaying Patent 1907

Holt tracklaying patent, 1907. Benjamin Holt filled a patent : 'Tractor Engine' in 1907, 3 years after his first tractor was built. He was fitted with a tiller wheel for steering, which was not easy to cross obstacles.

First Holt Tractor, 1904

First Holt tractor, 1904, one of Holt’s original track-laying tractors working a field in Northern California. In 1903 Benjamin Holt paid Alvin Orlando Lombard US$60,000 for the right to produce vehicles under Lombard's patent for the Lombard Steam Log Hauler and Holt sold the first model of steam-powered tractor crawlers for US$5,500. The center of innovation was in England since most of the patents were English, and in the same year, Holt traveled to England to learn more about ongoing development. He used his knowledge along with the company’s expertise in design, metallurgy, and testing to develop a practical track layer. During that period, the chief engineer (and managing director) of Richard Hornsby & Sons in Grantham, England, David Roberts, was experimenting with a chain-track. Hornsby's design incorporated a steering clutch that varied the speed of each set of wheels, allowing the operator to turn the tractor by retarding one tread or the other.

Holt Steamer N° 77

Holt Steamer No. 77, the second prototype of a crawler-track-type tractor, on a trial run demonstrating its ability to travel across the marshy peat soil of Roberts Island. Then, his 1904 crawler tractor proved a success from the beginning, and Holt soon introduced models under the Caterpillar trademark.

Holt 75 , 1913

Holt 75, 1913. The Holt 75 was first produced from 1913 to 1924. It used two tracks for steering but had a front steering tiller-wheel. With a maximum speed of 24 km/h, it was fitted with a gasoline engine. In addition to US production, 442 Holt 75s were built in Britain by Ruston & Hornsby in Lincoln. Production of the Holt 75 was to continue post war until 1924.

First Holt Tracklayer without a Tiller Wheel

First Holt Tracklayer without a Tiller Wheel. On left : Holt 20-30 Muley, 1913. On right, Holt 45, 1914. Holt bought Hornsby patent in 1912 allowing it, with a system of clutches-brakes to withdraw the front wheel and to have two tracks only. Unlike the Holt tractor, which had a steerable tiller wheel in front of the tracks, the new Hornsby crawler was steered by controlling power to each track. The tractor could turn on itself and mobility in soft or uneven terrain was much better. From Caterpillar Chronicle by Eric C Orleman, Motorbooks International, Avril 2000.

Holt Model 45-25 Tractor right, 1916 and Holt Model 45 left 1917

Holt Model 45-25 tractor (left, 1916) and Holt Model 45 (right, 1917) . Steering was now accomplished by difference of speed of tracks. By 1915, Holt Company employed 1.000 workers in its Stockton plant. Nearly 2.000 Caterpillar crawlers had been sold in more than 20 countries before WWI. WWI allowed Holt to sell about 5.000 tractors to Allies. In England, Little Willie, 1915, Mark 1 to 5 tanks were built with the Holt hinged track system. In the same time in France, Schneider, St Chamond and Renault FT 17 tanks, and also AV7 proto in Germany used Holt Tracks like. His company became enormously profitable by making tracked vehicles for farming, road construction, and military use.

Holt 120 Tractor, 1917

Holt 120 tractor, 1917. It is thought that this is the sole surviving 120 Hp Holt. Apparently, the Heidrick Museum crawler went to France at the end of WWI, but came back to the USA. These big tractors were used by the Austrians as well as the Allies.

C. L. Best Autotractor patent, 1912

Clarence Leo Best Autotractor patent, N° 1,158,114 filled in 1912. Clarence Leo Best created his company in 1910 and introduced a crawler tractor in 1913 that was virtually a carbon copy of Holt's design. C. L. Best Tractor Company was named in 1920.

C. L. Best Autotractor, 1913

C L Best Autotractor working model, 1913, probably first prototype.

Best Model 30 Humpack High Drive Tractor First Prototype 1913

Best C.L.B. 'Humpack' 30 H.P. Tracklayer 'Model 30' tractor. High drive sprocket design was unique. It was primarily designed for orchard and vineyard cultivating work. It stays at Heidrick Museum, Woodland, CA. and is the only surviving of the 45 tractors of this type built between 1914 and 1915. and from 'Classic Caterpillar Crawlers' by Keith Haddock, Motorbook, 2001.

C. L. Best on a Tracklayer

C L Best on a tracklayer. Only known image of C. L. Best operating a track-type tractor. Best tractors had a conventional wheel at the front, which was used to steer, and crawling-type wheels on the back, but otherwise looked very similar to a traction engine. During 1914, both Best and Holt introduced models without the front "tiller" wheel.

Best 60, 1919

Best 60, 1919, from Heidrick Museum, Woodland, CA. Holt and Best were at law, very expensive. Crisis profiled, and in the mid-1920s, Holt encountered financial trouble. Rather commercial war, Best's financial backers approached Holt executives to discuss a merger. On April 15, 1925, C. L. Best Tractor Company and Holt Manufacturing Company merged to form Caterpillar Tractor Company which is now Caterpillar Inc.
Best remained chairman of the board of Caterpillar until his death in 1951.
See the book : "The Caterpillar's Roots" by Jack Alexander,


1905 David Roberts, Hornsby Tractor Co.

Hornsby Tractor, 1905

Hornsby Tractor, 1905. David Roberts filled patent in 1905 : ‘Improvements for Connected Road Locomotives and Vehicles' : GB190523736  for a tractor equipped with chain tracks which was  improved in 1909. Between these dates, a Hornsby tractor with two tracks steered by different speeds between them, was built in 1905 and tested. Demonstrations went further from 1908 to 1910 at Adelshot. Interesting evolution of the vehicle could be seen.  However, the Royal Artillery disagreed. The patent was sold to Holt Manufacturing Company.
In total, 5 Hornsby caterpillar machines were made, 3 oil powered engines for gun haulage, one small Schneider auto, and a steam crawler. One oil crawler survives in operational condition at The Tank Museum, Bovington. The first commercial film was made. Four vehicles were sold to the War Office to tow artillery.,,,

Hornsby First Built 1905

Hornsby N° 1 Caterpillar in 1905. It was the first practical chain-track to be powered, despite appearances, by an oil engine. From 'Devil's Chariots', John Glanfield, 2001.

Hornsby Little Caterpillar

Hornsby Little Caterpillar, 1909, of Bovington Museum, still theoretically in full working order although it did not run for about twenty years. Roberts's chain-track played no direct part in the development of the tank, although Lt-Col. R.E.B. Crompton, who later had an important role in its creation, had been present at some of the early trials and was influenced to some extent by the Hornsby. Nevertheless, the first British Tanks had no sprung suspension, and the track plates were an improved version of those of American vehicles, Holt or Bullock tractors.
On 11 September 1918, when employing about 3,000 people, Richard Hornsby and Sons of Grantham was bought out by Ruston & Proctor of Lincoln.

Hornsby Tractor, 1909

Hornsby Tractor of War Office, 1909. The engine starts on petrol, drawn from the little tank above the engine and then switches to paraffin carried in the three large drums at the back.,

Rochet Schneider Car with Hornsby Tracks, 1907

Rochet-Schneider car with light version of the tracks, 40 hp, 4 tons, 15 mph, in 1907. Photo shows David Roberts, inventor, standing on left. Rochet-Schneider car appears on the video mentioned above.

Mercedes Car with Hornsby Tracks 1908

It was probably the first wheel and track convertible vehicle, bought and listed by US Government.  David Fletcher states that it is a Mercedes car with a 75hp, six-cylinder engine. The chain tracks were fitted in 1908 to David Robert’s design but the car itself was probably older. It seems to have employed friction drive from the large center wheel and steering was by compressed air actuating brakes on the differential shafts. It was tested on the beach at Skegness and was clocked at 40 km/h. One thinks it was later sent out to Egypt, it was seen with an enlarged radiator and full length canopy, but after that it vanishes.

Hornsby Steam Tractor, 2010

Hornsby Steam Tractor sent in Yukon in Dawson City in 1910. This was the only Hornsby with a steam engine, because, in Yukon, coal and wood were abundant.,

Horsby Tractor in Vancouver Island at Apple Bay, 1927-1983

Horsby tractor tracks in Vancouver Island, from 1927 to 1983, in Apple Bay on Holberg Inlet. The only ‘Horsby Chain Tractor’ steam powered with wood and coal (25 tons, 7.5 mph) was shipped by the Northern Light, Power & Coal Company to Canada, Yukon at Dawson City in 1910. Called Mammoth, it hauled coal from Coal Creek, 20 km to Dawson, in two trailers. As Northern Light went bankruptcy, the Hornsby Crawler was moved in 1927 on a barge from Dawson to New Westminster, British Columbia, for many years. Then, it moved in Vancouver Island at Port Alice to be acquired by Port Alice Pulp Mill to be used hauling pulp along Holberg Inlet not far from Quatsino from 1928. He found that it burned more wood than it hauled. In the 50’s, abandoned, the boiler was ripped out to heat a workers bunkhouse, which burned down. In 1976, the area near Apple Bay on Holberg Inlet containing the Hornsby Steam Crawler was preserved as a heritage site. It sat there from about 1930 for a lot of years, five or six decades.
In 1983, the tractor was moved to the barge ramp at Stephens Bay near Coal Harbor, using local volunteer labor, machinery and equipment. This was the first step for putting it on public display. Then, in 1987, the steam crawler was transported by volunteers to the display site at Seven Hills Golf Course, where it will remain a monument to Canadian heritage. It sat here about 20 years, in a shelter.

It was in display also from 1987 to 2005 in different points. In 2005, the HCEA, Historical Construction Equipment Association, put it on display at Wetaskiwin, Alberta.
At the end of the show, it was removed, and housed in Surrey, near Vancouver.
The Hornsby returned to its original place in 2013-14 near Coal Harbour, where it worked first in B.C. and it must be displayed here at Heritage Hall. The Regional District of Mount Waddington is the owner of the Hornsby Steam Chain Tractor. Coal Harbor Community Club, supported by North Island Heritage Society and the Regional District of Mount Waddington propose the permanent display of the Hornsby Steam Crawler in Coal Harbor within a purpose built structure. In July 2018, the shelter was not still built.
The British Tanks 1915-19 by David Fletcher is a book which talks of this crawler.

Hornsby Tractor Trailer

Horsby tractor trailer. Hornsby tractor was used with wagons in Canada. Graumann says : " In the book : 'The Story of the Wellington Foundry, Lincoln'  I found that Fosters built 3 wagons for the Northern Light, Power & Coal Company for use with the Hornsby steam crawler. These wagons had a tare weight of 5 tons. There were three of these wagons supplied with the Hornsby. The remains of at least one exist somewhere on Vancouver Island near Port McNeil”, (Apple Bay).
The book also states : "Concurrently with the introduction of the traction engine, Fosters introduced the spring-mounted traction engine wagons. These were of exceptionally sturdy construction, with well-seasoned oak frames and redwood sides, mounted on iron wheels with screw-down brakes operating on the hind wheels."

Horsnby Tractor, 2001

Horsnby Tractor, probably in 2001 in its shelter at Seven Hills Golf Course,

Hornsby Arrives at Mount Waddington, 2014

Hornsby arrives at Mount Waddington in better condition, 2014.,,

1907 James B. Hill

James B Hill's Traction Apron, 1907

James B. Hill's Traction-Apron to fit to his 'Gagger' Ditching Machine. US patent 866647 filled for a 'Traction-Apron' issued to James B. Hill, of Findlay, Ohio, Patented September 24, 1907.

James B Hill's Prototype of the Traction-Apron

James B. Hill's prototype of the 'Traction-Apron'. It was a simple device, made of structural shapes, stamped parts, a few castings, and some wood.

1910 Wolseley Motor Sleigh

Wolseley MotorSsleigh, 1910

Wolseley motor sleigh, 1910. Captain Scott, in the equipment which he had devised for his forthcoming visit of exploration, included three a motor-sleds, which was recently completed by the Wolseley Tool and Motor-Car Company, Limited, at their works of Adderley Park, Birmingham. This sleigh-tractor had undergone trials on the Norwegian ice-fields, with most satisfactory results. No steering, no brakes (not needed, due to big reduction worm & wheel final drive), no reverse! Worm could be disengaged, so at least it could be pulled back from the abyss. But the motor-sleighs broke down and were abandoned.
Trip towards South Pole began on November 1, 1911. The team reached the pole on January 17, 1912, noting that Amundsen had preceded them by five weeks. They died of exhaustion, hunger and cold on return on Marsh 2012.

1912 Lancelot Eldin de Mole

Tracked Vehicle of L. E. de Mole 1912

Tracked vehicle of  L.  E. De Mole. In 1912, the Australian designer Lancelot E. de Mole proposed to the British military department to build an armored tracked vehicle. He described his invention as "a chain machine that can be easily controlled and able to withstand heavy loads on rough terrain and ditches". According to the project, the car had to have an elastic suspension with vertical cylindrical springs, special pins to overcome obstacles, rotated due to the bending of the tracks in the horizontal plane. The benefits of the De Mole project included a crawler bypass, elevated above the support surface in the front and rear sections. Part of the drawings and explanations of the 1913 Military Ministry were returned with a refusal and indicating that the experiments with tracked vehicles had already been completed.
The "construction" of the machine was limited to a model. Steering was made by pivoting the front axle.
It was after the war that the commission charged with examining the question of the "authorship" of the tank, noted that of all British pre-war projects (Australia belonging to the British Commonwealth) and  said it was the most realistic and the most promising. De Mole had not indicated the engine to be installed on his car, nor the weapons that could be installed on it, supposing that the appropriate specialists will make this choice. He received a refund of £ 965. The model of de Mole's machine is preserved in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.,,

Tracked Vehicle of L E de Mole, 1912

Tracked vehicle model of Lancelot Eldin De Mole at Australian War Memorial.

1913 Adolphe Kegresse

Kegresse Tracks on Chassis Lessner-Mercedes, 1912

Kegresse tracks on chassis Lessner - Mercedes, 1912, first proto. The belt was then made of woven camel hairs. In fact, it is the first car with flexible caterpillar carrier - leather bandage wrapping on wooden pulleys. Patent of Adolf Kégresse is filled in 1913.

Rolls Royce Silver Ghost with Kegresse Tracks, 1916

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost with Kégresse tracks, 1916. The first patent of Adolphe Kégresse N° GB 191305015 was filled on 1914-02-26 for flexible bands of various combinations of rubber, canvas, leather,  wire rope and metal pieces. He built track assemblies which were fitted to the Tsars cars from 1910. This engineer became the technical manager of the garage of the Tsar. Thereafter, he filled many other patents to enhance his system.
On the picture is a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost of 1914 converted in half-track in 1916 for Tsar Nicolas II of Russia, then used by Lenin, and staying now in the of Gorki Leninskie Museum near Moscow.

Citroen Kegresse P17 of White Cruise, 1929

Citroën Kegresse P17 of White Cruise, 1929. Here is one of Bedaux's 1929 Citroën P17, half-tracks, in the Reynolds Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada. They were used in the White Cruise. 1442 units were in service in the French Army in 1939.

Citroen Kegresse P17, 1929

Ciroën-Kegresse P17, 1929, which participated to the Croisière Jaune, 1931-32.  By 1921, Adolphe Kégresse had made his way back to France. Before he left Russia, he had received a patent from Great Britain in 1917 for what was essentially the final design for his rubber track. Events delayed the application, and he received an identical US patent in 1924, having filed for it in 1921.
He became manager of off-road Citroën vehicles department and semi-tracked vehicles Kegresse-Hinstin, GB, which will be built until 1940.
Given its performance, André Citroën was embarking on several large-scale promotional projects with international repercussions :
the Trans-Saharan Expedition in 1922 which was a success and the formation of the 'Compagnie Générale Transsaharienne Citroën' (Citracit) for the purpose of transport and tourism across the Sahara, which was however a financial failure to which André Citroën quickly ended.
-the Black Cruise in 1925;
-the Yellow Cruise in 1931, co-financed by National Geographic;
-the loan of three C6 vehicles in 1933 to Admiral Richard Byrd for his Antarctic expedition;
-the White Cruise in 1934 in Canada which was a failure.
Citroën vehicles equipped with "Kegreisz" were manufactured until 1937, then by Unic and Somua. During this period, the system was improved while retaining the original principle: the modifications concerned the drive of the track and the reinforcement thereof by a combination of metal plates and rubber blocks.,

1914 John Appleby, FB Dehn

Bullock Grip Tractor, 1914

Bullock Grip Tractor of Chicago’s Bullock Tractor Co. in 1914. John Appleby and also FB Dehn of the Bullock Tractor Company took patents. During the development of the tank, a Bullock Creeping Grip chassis was used by the British in 1915. The N° 1 Lincoln machine had lengthened Creeping Grip tracks and suspension, which served to design the first Little Willie tank. Then two creeping tractors were attached to make an articulated vehicle but tests were not good.,

1914, Atlas Metalindustri Gesellschaft

1914 Four Tracks Articulated Vehicle of Atlas Metalindustri Gesellschaft, 1914

Four tracks articulated vehicle of Atlas Metalindustri Gesellschaft, 1914. Draft design of a military tracked vehicle, presented by the Berlin company Atlas Metalindustri Gesellschaft in 1914. The tracks system for crossing obstacles was rather new and is used now for tracked robots.



1914 William Strait

William Strait Traction Machine, 1914

William Strait Traction Machine, of Killen Strait Atlas tractor, patent N° 1,254,446, July 7, 1914, of Appleton, Wisconsin. The Killen-Strait tractor's three-way chassis was one of the foundations for the first tracked armored vehicle mode.

Killen Strait Tractor, 1914

Killen-Strait tractor, 1914, was built at Appleton, Wisconsin in 1914 by William Strait. Demonstration of the Killen-Strait three-way tractor impressed Lloyd George and Winston Churchill on June 30, 1915. Nevertheless, off-road capabilities were not sufficient. The body of the Delano-Belleville armored car was fitted just after but the project was abandoned.,

1914 Phoenix Centipede

US Patent 1106595 Issued to Charles L Tolles

US Patent 1106595 issued to Charles L. Tolles, Centipede, of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, for a Traction-Machine on August 11, 1914.

Phoenix Centipede 1914

Phoenix Centipede, 1914, for agricultural and construction use. The tracks were spring suspended and could oscillate independently of each other. Phoenix manufactured under license the Lombard Log Hauler since 1903.,

Phoenix Steam Centipede Locomotive

Phoenix Steam Centipede Locomotive for lumbermen and loggers.

Allis Chalmers Centipede, 1916

Allis Chalmers Centipede Tractor Truck, 1915, built under license of the Phoenix Manufacturing Company in Eau Claire. Patents of C. L. Tolles of Phoenix, 1914, were enhanced by Charles E. Search of Allis Chalmers in Milwaukee. Ten of these vehicles were brought by Russia.,

1914 H. W. Leavitt

Leavitt Patent, 1916

H. W. Leavitt patent, 1914.

1915 A C Nestfield

1915 A C Nestfield and his Angularised Caterpillar Track

A. C. Nestfield demonstrating his 'angularized' caterpillar tracks for the Royal Commission, Lincoln's Inn, 1915.

1915 Foster-Daimler

Foster Daimler Tractor, 1915

Foster-Daimler tractor, 1915, trench-crossing men with 2.43 m diameter driving wheels and fitted with bridging apparatus was rejected as unsuitable.

1915 Schneider

Schneider Tests, 1915

Schneider tests of the chassis of the future Schneider tank, about 1915.

Schneider CD2 tractor, 1917

Schneider CD2 tractor, 1917. The Schneider CD all-terrain tractor was designed on the mechanical basis of the Schneider CA1 tank.
It could carry 4 crewmen and had a symbolic armor in the front. It was mainly used to pull heavy guns from 155 to the firing point on rough and muddy ground.
He thus commuted between the access roads and the front line and took over the Latil TAR 4x4 tractors.
The order of 500 copies was launched in October 1916 and the first models came into service in August 1917. When the Armistice was signed in November 1918, only 110 copies were available. It was powered by a Schneider 4 cylinder engine, 9.7 l, developing 65 hp at 1000 rpm. It was coupled to a mechanical 3-speed gearbox.
At the rear, a winch was connected to the drive shaft.
The Schneider weighed 1 ton and could pull a load of 3 tons. Its maximum speed was 8.2 km/h. The Schneider CD tractors continued their military career during the Second World War and then in civil engineering for their skills in bad ground.
This Schneider CD tractor model found a second life in the Barthez public works company until the 1950s: recently restored by a collector, it is the last copy still existing. Pictures and text :

1916 Holman Harry Linn

Linn Tractor 1916

First Linn tractor, 1916. H. H. Linn, of Morris, New-York, patented ‘Flexible Traction’ tracks which gave the Linn tractor a distinct advantage over a conventional motor truck enabling it to traverse rock-strewn, muddy or hilly terrain previously inaccessible by a motor vehicle. With its rather low bed for loads, it did not need trailers, which help to move off-road. Power was transmitted to the ground via the rear crawler tracks which included a spring-loaded steel triangle, pivoted at its apex, which allowed the track bed to flex and conform to the contour of whatever surface the Linn might encounter.

Linn Tractor, 1918 Patent

Holman Harry Linn, of Morris, New-York, patented N° 185786D of 12.01.1918, a "Flexible Traction" units. H. H. Linn worked with Lombard at the beginning and was inspired by him.

Linn C5 and T3 Trailer

Linn T3 Trailer, 1935 and C5 1940. The C5 had lifting tracks.

Linn Haftrak, 1950

The Linn tractor is a heavy duty civilian half-track invented by Holman Harry Linn. Approximately 2500 units were built in Morris, New York, USA from 1916 to 1952. Picture represents the last Linn built.,,,, http://ww1916

Bremer Marien-Wagen

Bremer Marien-Wagen I, 1916

Bremer Marien-Wagen I, 1916. Projections of an experienced armored vehicle on the Bremer-Wagen four-track chassis (Marien-Wagen I). The car was presented on tests without armament, with a prototype of an armored hull.

Bremer Marien-Wagen I, 1917

The four-track Marien-Wagen I of the Bremer system with an experienced box-shaped armored hull, end of 1916. On March 11, 1917, the vehicle was shown to representatives of the High Command on a sandy field near Mainz and did not impress them.

Bremer Marien-Wagen II, 1917

Bremer Marien-Wagen II, 1917. The experimental four-track chassis of the engineer X. G. Bremer (Bremer-Wagen), was presented in 1916. In the autumn of 1917 the company received an order for the release of 170 half-track machines Marien-Wagen in transport configuration. The army wanted to obtain a technique with a closed cockpit. This allowed to transport people and cargo, and to tow artillery. Until the end of the war, was built and delivered to the customer only 44 chassis in the configuration of the truck.

1916 R. Mc Fee

Mcfee Project Proposed in 1916


The design of the all-terrain vehicle R. Mc Fee, proposed in 1916, was patented in 1919.

R Mc-Fee Project of 1916

Another R. McFee project of 1916 (British patent published in 1919). Pay attention to a separate rotary track and an auxiliary track to overcome obstacles.

1918 A7V Carrier

A7V Carrier, 1918

A7V carrier, 1918. A7V Uberlandwagen carrier in Flandres, April 1918. Of the 100 A7V chassis, only 22 were used to build serial tanks. The tractor-transporter had a crew of 3 people, weighed 18 tons, with a full load, 28 tons, was almost similar to the A7V tank, the cruising range was 48 km. The assembly of tractor transporters was carried out by the Daimler plant in Marienfeld, and the assemblies were supplied by the Büssing plant in Braunschweig. Thus, about 40 A7V chassis were used for conveyor tractors.

A7V Carrier Drawing, 1918

ATV7 Carrier drawing of patent, 1918 : the design of the universal tracked chassis, patented by Deutsche Automobile-Construction Gesellschaft in 1919 (the patent application was filed as early as 1918).

1920 Yuba Tractor

Yuba Model 12-20 Tractor,1920

Yuba Model 12-20 Tractor, 1920, from Marysville, CA. It used a set of marine clutches which allowed for counter rotation, forward and reverse. They were most known for the fact that they used large ball bearings that ran between a set of channels of the track frame. This system allowed the absence of rollers and idlers, just a drive sprocket.
There are at least two Yuba Ball Tread tractors acting as "decoration" in various places in the mines town of Dawson City in the Yukon Territory. One is a tiller wheel model. There are many Holts and Cletrac, of course. The explanation may be that Yuba was a supplier of mining equipment, and the Yuba Ball Treads came in as part of a larger order of mining equipment.

1920 A. R. Blewett

First Blewett Tractor Belt, 1923

First 'Blewet tractor Belt', 1920. An earlier patent, US 1343958, issued June 22, 1920, was issued to Blewett for a "Tractor-Belt" which describes a track chain for a crawler.

Blewett Tractor, 1920

1920, An interesting picture of a Blewet Tractor made in Tacoma WA. Notice the drive sprocket in the middle of the track frame : there were a couple companies that did this at that time.

Blewett Tractor track

Blewett tractor : another US patent 1541026, for a "Tractor Machine" issued to A. R. Blewett of Tacoma, Washington on June 9, 1925. The drive sprocket is in the middle of the track., An earlier patent (US 1343958, issued June 22, 1920) was issued to Blewett for a "Tractor-Belt" which describes a track chain for a crawler.,

1922 Isaac H. Athey

Athey Track, 1922

Athey track, US Patent 1435788, issued to Isaac H. Athey of Chicago, Illinois for a Traction Mechanism on November 14, 1922. Many similar patents of tracks were filled, more or less complicated. These tracks were widely used on trailer particularly in logging industries and known as Athey Wagons, built by Athey Truss Wheel Company.,

Athey Tracked Trailer

Athey Tracked Trailer of Athey Truss Wheel Co. of Chicago, Illinois. Athey manufactured a crawler assembly that was widely used for various crawler wagons from the 1930s forward.

1924 Cuban Tractor

Cuban Tractor with Athey Wagons, 1924

Cuban tractor with Athey wagons, October, 1924, in the 'Cuba Commercial and Financial Magazine'. The wagons appear to be Athey wagons, made by the Athey Tractor Co., of Chicago. Isaac Athey secured patents for many variations of his truss tracks, and his wagons were widely used. It appears that it was a wheeled tractor with a track conversion. The track assembly looks rather light for such a large tractor. It almost looks like the truss track from an Athey wagon with some grousers welded-on.

1925 Francis Crossley and William Crossley

Crossley Tracked Car, 1925

Crossley Tracked Car. British subsidiary of the Citroën Kégresse brand converted at least one car Crossley with Kégresse tracks, about 1925. Crossley's founders were the two Crossley brothers, Francis William Crossley 1839-1897, and his younger brother William (later Sir William Crossley 1910 ) 1844-1911.



1927 Orolo tracks, Roadless Traction

1927 Wheelbarroow with Orolo Tracks

Wheel-barrow with Orolo tracks, 1927. Orolo tracks were made by Roadless Traction to about 200 units.
Roadless "Orolo" Tracks from the book : "Roadless - The Story of Roadless Traction from Tracks to Tractors" by Stuart Gibbard says : "The Orolo units were available in several different sizes, and could be used in place of the wheel in a variety of applications, including bullock and mule wagons scaled-down versions tested on Philip Johnson‘s garden wheelbarrow. So successful was this unit, that Roadless decided to put the tracked wheelbarrow into production. A couple of hundred were made towards the end of 1927. At the other end of the scale were the D8 Orolo track units, introduced in 1929 and capable of carrying 12 tons per pair. The company eventually built units during the Second World War which would carry 20 tons on each track-bogie and they equipped, among others, a searchlight. The Orolo track units remained in production until well into the 1960s." https://www.practicalmachinist.,

Orolo Track, 1927

Orolo track, 1927. The WW2 vintage searchlights were fitted with four short tracked units instead of wheels. Also, Ground Support Equipment Airport, with these tracks, can be seen at Overloon Museum, The Netherlands. Picture J M M at Overloon Museum, The Netherlands, March 2009.

Orolo Tracks on Ground Support Equipment Airport WWII

Orolo tracks on Ground Support Equipment Airport during WWII. Pict J M M at Overloon Museum, The Netherlands, Marsh 2009

Roadless G2 Orolo Tracks

Roadless G2 Orolo tracks in 1930 with rubber jointed tracks. httpwww.unusuallocomotion.compagesmore-documentation23-four-tracks-rigid-vehicles-light.html,

1928 Ford with tracks

Ford Model a with Tracks, 1928

Ford Model A, 1928, with tracks at Cumberland Township Heritage Village Museum at Ottawa, Ontario. This model on display was fitted with tracks and skis for traveling on snow. It is not sure if this was a Ford kit or a kit made by someone else to adapt to various types of cars or something made as a one of by the Empire Garage in Huntingdon Quebec.

Ford Model T with Tracks Kit, 1929

Ford Model T on display in the Reynolds Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada, with a kit : "Snow Flyer Conversion Kit, circa 1929" of the Manufacturer : Snow Flyer Corporation, New Holstein, Wisconsin. Several manufacturers made kits that turned ordinary cars into vehicles better equipped for winter travel.

1929 Richard Garrett & Sons

Garrett Tractor with Roadless Tracks

Richard Garrett & Sons of Leiston was founded in 1778 and survived until around 1979. Garrett diesel tractors were offered with Roadless tracks in the late 20’s. These tracks used rubber joints, but when the rubber began to fail in the high temperatures of Fiji, steel-jointed tracks were offered as a replacement. This one was shipped to Gambia in 1932.

Garrett Multi-Speeder, 1933

Garrett Multi-Speeder, built to 4 units, 1933.

Garrett Peat Harvester Ditcher, after 1949

Garrett peat harvester ditcher, after 1949. Around 1934, tractors were developed specially for the peat harvesting industry in Ireland. Tractors, half-tracks and massive peat harvesters, continued to be built in reasonable quantities through until 1960. Picture comes from "Garrett Diesel Tractors" by R. A. Whitehead.