Tracked vehicle
A tracked vehicle is a vehicle that runs on continuous tracks instead of wheel
A wheel is a device that allows heavy objects to be moved easily through rotating on an axle through its center, facilitating movement or transportation while supporting a load, or performing labor in machines. Common examples found in transport applications. A wheel, together with an axle,...

s. Tracked vehicles include construction vehicles, military armored vehicles and unmanned ground vehicle
Unmanned ground vehicle
An unmanned ground vehicle is a military robot used to augment the soldiers capability. This type of robot is generally capable of operating outdoors and over a wide variety of terrain, functioning in place of humans....


The principal design advantages of tracked over wheeled vehicles are that they are in contact with a larger surface area than would generally be the case with a wheeled vehicle, and as a result exert a much lower force per unit area on the ground being traversed than a conventional wheeled vehicle of the same weight. This makes them suitable for use on soft, low friction and uneven ground such as mud, ice and snow. The principal disadvantage is that tracks are a more complex mechanism than a wheel, and relatively prone to failure modes such as snapped or derailed tracks.


A long line of patents disputes who the "originator" was of this concept.

There were a large number of designs that attempted to achieve a track laying mechanism, although these designs do not generally resemble modern tracked vehicles.


In 1877 Russian Fyodor Abramovich Blinov
Fyodor Blinov
Fyodor Abramovich Blinov was Russian inventor who introduced one of the first tracked vehicles in 1877 , and then developed his idea and built the first steam-powered continuous track tractor for farm usage...

 created tracked vehicle called "wagon
A wagon is a heavy four-wheeled vehicle pulled by draught animals; it was formerly often called a wain, and if low and sideless may be called a dray, trolley or float....

 moved on endless rails" (caterpillars). It lacked self-propelling and was horse-drawn. Blinov got a patent for his "wagon" the next year. Later, in 1881-1888 he created steam-powered caterpillar-tractor. This self-propelled crawler was successfully tested and showed at farmer's exhibition in 1896.


According to Scientific American it was Charles Dinsmoor
Charles Dinsmoor
Charles Dinsmoor was an American inventor and lawyer.-Early life:Dinsmoor's ancestors came from Ireland, however are from Scottish descent. Dinsmoor was born at Alabama Center, Genesee County, in New York state on September 19, 1834...

 of Warren, Pennsylvania
Warren, Pennsylvania
Warren is a city in Warren County, Pennsylvania, United States, located along the Allegheny River. The population was 9,710 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Warren County. It is home to the headquarters of the Allegheny National Forest and the Cornplanter State Forest...

 that invented a "vehicle" that was of endless tracks. The article gives a detailed description of the endless tracks and the illustration looks much like today's tracked vehicles. The invention has been patented as No. 351,749 on November 2, 1886.


Alvin O. Lombard of Waterville, Maine
Waterville, Maine
Waterville is a city in Kennebec County, Maine, United States, on the west bank of the Kennebec River. The population was 15,722 at the 2010 census. Home to Colby College and Thomas College, Waterville is the regional commercial, medical and cultural center....

 was issued a patent in 1901 for the Lombard Steam Log Hauler
Lombard Steam Log Hauler
The Lombard Steam Log Hauler, patented 29 May 1901, was the first successful commercial application of a continuous track for vehicle propulsion. The concept was later used for military tanks during World War I and for agricultural tractors and construction equipment following the...

 that resembles a regular railroad steam locomotive
A locomotive is a railway vehicle that provides the motive power for a train. The word originates from the Latin loco – "from a place", ablative of locus, "place" + Medieval Latin motivus, "causing motion", and is a shortened form of the term locomotive engine, first used in the early 19th...

 with sled steerage on front and crawlers in rear for hauling logs in the Northeastern United States and Canada. The haulers allowed pulp to be taken to rivers in the winter. Prior to then, horses could be used only until snow depths made hauling impossible. Lombard began commercial production which lasted until around 1917 when focus switched entirely to gasoline
Gasoline , or petrol , is a toxic, translucent, petroleum-derived liquid that is primarily used as a fuel in internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives. Some gasolines also contain...

 powered machines. A gasoline powered hauler is on display at the Maine State Museum in Augusta, Maine
Augusta, Maine
Augusta is the capital of the US state of Maine, county seat of Kennebec County, and center of population for Maine. The city's population was 19,136 at the 2010 census, making it the third-smallest state capital after Montpelier, Vermont and Pierre, South Dakota...



After Lombard began operations, Hornsby
Richard Hornsby & Sons
Richard Hornsby & Sons was an engine and machinery manufacturer in Lincolnshire, England from 1828 until 1918. The company was a pioneer in the manufacture of the oil engine developed by Herbert Akroyd Stuart and marketed under the Hornsby-Akroyd name. The company developed an early track system...

 in England manufactured at least two full length "track steer" machines, and their patent was later purchased by Holt in 1913, allowing Holt to claim to be the "inventor" of the crawler tractor. Since the "tank" was a British concept it is more likely the Hornsby, which had been built and unsuccessfully pitched to their military, was the inspiration.

In a patent dispute involving rival crawler builder Best, testimony was brought in from people including Lombard, that Holt had inspected a Lombard log hauler shipped out to a western state by people who would later build the Phoenix log hauler in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, under license from Lombard. The Phoenix Centipeed typically had a fancier wood cab, steering wheel tipped forward at a 45 degree angle and vertical instead of horizontal cylinders
Cylinder (engine)
A cylinder is the central working part of a reciprocating engine or pump, the space in which a piston travels. Multiple cylinders are commonly arranged side by side in a bank, or engine block, which is typically cast from aluminum or cast iron before receiving precision machine work...



In the meantime a gasoline powered motor home was built by Lombard for Holman Harry (Flannery) Linn of Old Town, Maine
Old Town, Maine
Old Town is a city in Penobscot County, Maine, United States. The population was 7,840 at the 2010 census. The city's developed area is chiefly located on a relatively large island, though its boundaries extend beyond that...

 to pull the equipment wagon of his dog & pony show, resembling a trolley
A tram is a passenger rail vehicle which runs on tracks along public urban streets and also sometimes on separate rights of way. It may also run between cities and/or towns , and/or partially grade separated even in the cities...

 car only with wheels in front and Lombard crawlers in rear. Linn had experimented with gasoline and steam powered vehicles and six wheel drive before this, and at some point entered Lombard's employment as a demonstrator, mechanic and sales agent. This resulted in a question of proprietorship of patent rights after a single rear tracked gasoline powered road engine of tricycle arrangement was built to replace the larger motor home in 1909 on account of problems with the old picturesque wooden bridges. This dispute resulted in Linn departing Maine and relocating to Morris, New York, to build an improved, contour following flexible lag tread or crawler with independent suspension
Independent suspension
Independent suspension is a broad term for any automobile suspension system that allows each wheel on the same axle to move vertically independently of each other. This is contrasted with a beam axle, live axle or deDion axle system in which the wheels are linked – movement on one side affects...

 of halftrack type, gasoline and later diesel
Diesel engine
A diesel engine is an internal combustion engine that uses the heat of compression to initiate ignition to burn the fuel, which is injected into the combustion chamber...

 powered. Although several were delivered for military use between 1917 and 1946, Linn never received any large military orders. Most of the production between 1917 and 1952, approximately 2500 units, was sold directly to highway departments and contractors. Steel tracks and payload capacity allowed these machines to work in terrain that would typically cause the poorer quality rubber tires that existed before the mid 1930's to spin uselessly, or shred completely.

Linn was a pioneer in snow removal before the practice was embraced in rural areas, with a nine foot steel v-plow and sixteen foot adjustable leveling wings on either side. Once the highway system became paved, snowplowing could be done by four wheel drive
Four Wheel Drive
The Four Wheel Drive Auto Company, more often known as Four Wheel Drive or just FWD, was founded in 1909 in Clintonville, Wisconsin, as the Badger Four-Wheel Drive Auto Company by Otto Zachow and William Besserdich.-History:...

 trucks equipped by improving tire designs, and the Linn became an off highway vehicle, for logging
Logging is the cutting, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or logs onto trucks.In forestry, the term logging is sometimes used in a narrow sense concerning the logistics of moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a sawmill or a lumber yard...

, mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

, dam construction, arctic exploration
Arctic exploration
Arctic exploration is the physical exploration of the Arctic region of the Earth. The region that surrounds the North Pole. It refers to the historical period during which mankind has explored the region north of the Arctic Circle...

, etc.


Once steel cleats became unpopular on paved roads, in 1938 a limited experiment began to bridge the gap between truck and tractor, a "convertible vehicle" patented by Phillip Sloan, the C5 Catruk, suffered design flaws and limited production before it was finally abandoned.

Fate of pioneer companies

Lombard gasoline production was more limited as they never managed to diversify use away from log hauling; it is believed a diesel built in 1934 was their last unit.

Phoenix, of Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Eau Claire is a city located in the west-central part of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The population was 65,883 as of the 2010 census, making it the largest municipality in the northwestern portion of the state, and the 9th largest in the state overall. It is the county seat of Eau Claire County,...

, appears to have built at least one gasoline powered machine before fading into history.

Holt and Best ended up merging. Holt had registered the trademark "Caterpillar". The merged company produced a version of the Best 60 tractor, which later became the Caterpillar 60
Caterpillar 60
The Caterpillar Sixty was a crawler tractor manufactured by the Caterpillar Tractor Company from 1925 until 1931. The Sixty was the largest tractor in Caterpillar's product line at that time....

. The new corporation took the name Caterpillar Inc.
Caterpillar Inc.
Caterpillar Inc. , also known as "CAT", designs, manufactures, markets and sells machinery and engines and sells financial products and insurance to customers via a worldwide dealer network. Caterpillar is the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas...

 in approximately 1925, and remains in business today.

Current manufacturers

For certain tasks, such as soil preparation and maintenance on very steep slopes, crawler tractors are still used. A notable example is vineyards, e.g. in Italy. Today, the pioneer manufacturers have been replaced mostly by large tractor companies such as John Deere
John Deere
John Deere was an American blacksmith and manufacturer who founded Deere & Company, one of the largest and leading agricultural and construction equipment manufacturers in the world...

, New Holland, Kubota
, is a tractor and heavy equipment manufacturer based in Osaka, Japan. One of its notable contributions was to the construction of the Solar Ark. The company was established in 1890.The company produces many products including:...

, Case
-Academia and education:* Campaign for Science and Engineering , a non-profit organization which promotes science and engineering research in the UK* Case analysis, division of a problem into separate cases...

, Caterpillar Inc.
Caterpillar Inc.
Caterpillar Inc. , also known as "CAT", designs, manufactures, markets and sells machinery and engines and sells financial products and insurance to customers via a worldwide dealer network. Caterpillar is the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas...

Claas is an agricultural machinery manufacturer founded in 1913, now based in Harsewinkel, Germany, in the state of North Rhine Westphalia. Their agricultural products are usually sold under the Claas name, except in North America where combines are distributed under the Lexion brand by Caterpillar...

. Also, there are some crawler tractor companies specialising in niche markets. Examples are Otter Mfg. Co. and Struck Corporation.


  • The crawler tractor was the basis of the first designs of tank
    A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

  • Crawlers equipped with a blade are called bulldozer
    A bulldozer is a crawler equipped with a substantial metal plate used to push large quantities of soil, sand, rubble, etc., during construction work and typically equipped at the rear with a claw-like device to loosen densely-compacted materials.Bulldozers can be found on a wide range of sites,...

    s, and used for construction and earthmoving projects.
  • tracked machines equipped with a shovel or bucket are often called a "Traxcavator
    Traxcavator was a namebrand of the Trackson Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The word "Traxcavator" came from combining "tractor" and "excavator".- Overview :...

    ", but are a Tracked Shovel or Loader. The "Traxcavator" name was a brand of the Trackson company and was bought by Caterpillar Inc.
    Caterpillar Inc.
    Caterpillar Inc. , also known as "CAT", designs, manufactures, markets and sells machinery and engines and sells financial products and insurance to customers via a worldwide dealer network. Caterpillar is the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas...

     in the 1950.
  • Crawler design have been intermittently popular for farm
    A farm is an area of land, or, for aquaculture, lake, river or sea, including various structures, devoted primarily to the practice of producing and managing food , fibres and, increasingly, fuel. It is the basic production facility in food production. Farms may be owned and operated by a single...

    • Track Marshall
      Field Marshall
      The Field-Marshalls were a range of British farm tractors manufactured by Marshall, Sons & Co. of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.Field-Marshalls were in production from 1945 to 1957. However, the first single-cylinder Marshall came into production in 1930....

       being a brand built in Britain till the 1980s.
  • The space shuttle
    Space Shuttle
    The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

     is transported to its launch site by a large crawler-transporter
    The crawler-transporters are a pair of tracked vehicles used to transport spacecraft from NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building along the Crawlerway to Launch Complex 39. They were originally used to transport the Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets during the Apollo, Skylab and Apollo–Soyuz programs....

  • One of the largest crawlers in the world is the German bagger 288
    Bagger 288
    Bagger 288 , built by the German company Krupp for the energy and mining firm Rheinbraun, is a bucket-wheel excavator or mobile strip mining machine...

    Excavators are heavy construction equipment consisting of a boom, stick, bucket and cab on a rotating platform . The house sits atop an undercarriage with tracks or wheels. A cable-operated excavator uses winches and steel ropes to accomplish the movements. They are a natural progression from the...


See also

  • Screw-propelled vehicle
  • Snowmobile
    A snowmobile, also known in some places as a snowmachine, or sled,is a land vehicle for winter travel on snow. Designed to be operated on snow and ice, they require no road or trail. Design variations enable some machines to operate in deep snow or forests; most are used on open terrain, including...

  • Tank
    A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

  • Snow Trac
    Snow Trac
    The Snow Trac is a small personal Snowcat that is roughly the size of a modern compact car.-Origins and description:In 1954, Lars Larsson, the chief design engineer for a Swedish farm equipment company, AB Westeråsmaskiner, decided to develop a tracked vehicle to take him and his brother on fishing...

  • Kristi Snowcat
    KRISTI snowcat
    KRISTI snowcats were 1950s/1960s tracked vehicles suitable for snow and other terrain and produced originally in Colorado and then later in Washington.-KRISTI - Propeller Drive before Track Drive:...

  • Sno-Cat
    The Tucker Sno-Cat is a tracked vehicle or a family of tracked vehicles for snow conditions.Different models have been used for expeditions in the Arctic and the Antarctic during the second half of the 20th century...

  • Snow coach
    Snow coach
    A snow coach is a specialized passenger transport vehicle, designed to operate over snow or ice, similar to alarge, multi-passenger snowcat that is equipped with bus style seating. These vehicles may have multiple sets of very large low pressure tires or they may have tracks...

  • Bv 202
  • Bv 206
  • Half-track
    A half-track is a civilian or military vehicle with regular wheels on the front for steering, and caterpillar tracks on the back to propel the vehicle and carry most of the load. The purpose of this combination is to produce a vehicle with the cross-country capabilities of a tank and the handling...

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.