Classic Caterpillars working hard!

Posted by Chris Graham on 22nd November 2020

Given the Covid situation, Jeremy Rowland was delighted to see plenty of classic Caterpillars working hard at the Link Club’s recent event.

Classic Caterpillars working hard!

Classic Caterpillars working hard!: David Wills on his Cat 977L. This machine carries the serial number 48J1989, and was supplied by Bowmaker Plant to its first owner on October 9th, 1976. David is trying to find out more information about this machine’s early life, and is in the process of restoring it to its former glory.

This annual event is held in a former quarry at Sibbertoft, Northants., that’s now used by a 4×4 adventure club. As a result, the land has been contoured to provide an off-road driving course for 4x4s, so it doubles as an ideal venue at which to enjoy the impressive spectacle classic Caterpillars working hard.

Classic Caterpillars working hard!

Clive Gray brings his motor grader back towards the machine parking lot. Much work has been done on this machine, which was built in 1955. Clive nearly lost two tines from the small ripper that can just be seen in front of the machine’s blade, which came loose during a working session.

For those who are unaware, the Link Club is a UK-based group set up for Caterpillar machinery enthusiasts, and the funds raised at this particular event were being donated to the air ambulance. The weather was very kind, given the mid-September date, and the lack of rain leading up to the weekend event meant that ground conditions were perfect for the machines, and great for visitors, too.

Classic Caterpillars working hard!

Stuart Walsh on the Caterpillar D6C down in the quarry; the dozer looked like it would almost go vertical!

There was a fantastic array of machines to be seen, ranging from classic Caterpillars to newer items of plant. Chairman of the Link Club and event organiser, David Wills, brought along his 1976 Caterpillar 977L; a tracked loading shovel that tips the scales at just under 24 US tons, and is powered by a 190hp 3306 engine. It’s currently undergoing a gradual restoration.

Classic Caterpillars working hard!

Richard Hurt’s restored Komatsu D31S tracked shovel certainly looks smart. This machine made its debut at last year’s Chipping Steam Fair.

There were two other tracked loading shovels in operation of a comparable size; the nearly-new 2018 Caterpillar 963K belonging to Mapa Projects, and the Komatsu D75S owned and operated by AR Demolition. This machine is around a ton lighter than the Cat 977L, and has an engine power of 200hp. There was a smaller classic Cat crawler loader to be seen, a Cat 941B operated by Graham France. This machine weighs just under 12.5 US tons, and is powered by an 80hp engine.

Andrew Bettney at the controls of the Caterpillar D7. This classic Cat performed well and made light work of soil-shifting next to the audience viewing area.

Clive Gray, from Sussex, brought his nicely-restored, 1955 Caterpillar 212 motor grader. This machine, purchased from Sweden and brought back to the UK by Clive, was accompanied by his Caterpillar D4H high-drive dozer, and both were in action at the event. Making their first public appearance at an event like this were Clive Hurt’s Caterpillar D6C dozer, operated by Stuart Walsh, and Richard Hurt’s restored Komatsu D31S tracked loading shovel.

At the far end of the quarry, Clive Hurt’s Cat D6C and Clive Gray’s D4H dozers were seen in action. The Link Club’s machines re-profile the contours of the site for the 4×4 club that regularly uses the site.

Collins Earthworks Ltd (based near Kirkby-in-Ashfield), brought along two newer items of plant; a Volvo EC220EL 360-degree hydraulic excavator, and a Caterpillar D5K2 LGP dozer.

Charlie Burns taking the JCB for a spin around the course.

Representing another great manufacturer was Charles Burns’ 1986 JCB 3CX Turbo, which saw plenty of action in the former quarry. The machine is fitted with the ‘Extra Dig’ dipper arm on the back actor, giving it a maximum reach of around 24ft. We also enjoyed seeing the fine sight that was Andrew Bettney’s and Paul Marriott’s classic, early Cat D7 crawler dozer at work.

Old and new, side-by-side. On the left, David Wills’ 1976 Caterpillar 977L and Mapa Projects’ 2018 Caterpillar 983K shift muck together.

There were cordoned-off viewing areas for event visitors (socially-distanced) but, naturally, the occasion hadn’t been as widely advertised as usual, simply because the organisers didn’t want to be overwhelmed with visitors.

Most certainly not a classic machine; well, not yet, anyway. This 2018 Cat 963K tracked loading shovel has its engine mounted in the rear, which gives better balance and a much better view for the operator.

But, even with fewer visitors than usual on site, and some club members unable to attend due to local lockdowns, the event still raised £800 for the air ambulance.

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David Wills puts the No.6 ripper to use, right in front of the viewing area.


Classic Caterpillars working hard!

Machines swapped working areas to provide spectators with the chance to photograph them. Stuart Walsh is seen here on the D6C.


Classic Caterpillars working hard!

Graham France on the Cat 941B Traxcavator. These classic Cats were once a common sight on many a construction or demolition site.


Classic Caterpillars working hard!

This Caterpillar D6C, belonging to Clive Hurt, can regularly been seen working at different events. It tips the scales at 16 US tons, and is powered by a 140hp engine.

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