R4 Caterpillar at Dalmuchie, Ballater
The photograph is courtesy of Ian Cameron, Ballater, who has provided the following comment:
‘This is our former Forestry Commission 1943 Caterpillar R4 at one of our open days at the site of the Newfoundlander war-time logging camp at Dalmuchie, Pannanich Forest, Ballater. My son James, period dressed, is ground skidding larch at the Forestry Commission sponsored ‘home-coming event’ on 5th September 2009.
This 1943 tractor has a long story as it came across to work in the Scottish woods in the Timber Control period during the war. At the end of the war it was taken on as part of the Forestry Commission’s fleet of machines.
The Caterpillar was already wide gauge, fitted with wide track plates and it fortunately was well suited for the early ploughing with heavy Cuthbertson ploughs. Jim Connel remembers ploughing with, if not that one, a very similar R4. Because they had a petrol/paraffin engine they produced more power than the Diesel D4. Andrew Allan from Callander told me that he drove a R4 bulldozer during the war, and he, too, talked about the greater power from the much higher revving engine when compared to that of the D4 diesel version. As was the process in those days the engines were started and warmed up while switched to petrol feed and, once the engine temperature was suitably high, switched over on to the larger paraffin tank. Of course, the petrol also found its way into motor bikes and cars!
By the 1950’s the Forestry Commission stock of ex war-time lease-lend Caterpillar and International machines began to be replaced. The Forestry Commission’s main workshop was still in the ex Canadian Forestry Corps’ big Nissen hut at Blair Atholl (end of the mile long straight) and to save money, the new 7U series Caterpillar D4 tractors came across from the States as a bare tractor without a winch. The Hyster winches on the old R4s was removed and re-fitted onto the new D4s ending up with the tractor such as I photographed in the Black Wood of Rannoch with Bob Budge driving (Picture No 1547).
Our particular R4 was sold and moved from Blair Atholl to a farm near Scone where it did all the heavy cultivation for the next thirty five years. When the new heavy four-wheel drive tractors replaced it an Ian Beverly bought it for restoration. This never happened and then we, my son James and I, bought it and did the restoration and re-united it with the correct vintage Hyster towing winch. And that was how we ended up with the R4 old Forestry Commission number F.C.0282.
They were the last petrol engine tractors that Caterpillar ever built, they did have a 6 volt electric starter system but if that was not working, hand cranking was heavy work!’
The PDF shows the tractor on the actual site of one of the Newfoundlander's logging camp cabins.
Picture added on 19 November 2015