In 1977 the first thing everyone noticed about the Cat® D10 was it was different. It didn’t just look unusual; it was big. Fully equipped with ROPS cab, multi-shank ripper, straight dozer blade, full fuel tank, coolants, lubricant, and operator it weighed almost 180,000 pounds. It was over 31 feet long and measured 15 feet from ground to top of the exhaust stack. The Cat D10 was 12 feet wide (even without its dozer blade) and had a standard track gauge of 114 inches for dozing and ripping applications.
To understand why Caterpillar designed a machine so large and unusual looking, we must go back to the early 1970s when it became apparent there was a growing need for a tractor to do massive ripping, push-loading, and dozing work that was beyond the capabilities of what was Caterpillar’s largest tractor: the Cat D9.
After carefully considering the economics of such a tractor, Caterpillar established design goals for a Cat D10 and began work on research and development. Satisfying Caterpillar’s goals required utilizing both technology from years of prior research and development, as well as a lengthy and extensive research and development program specifically for this size of machine.
After deciding to develop the Cat D10, one of the first things the engineers determined was that they could not satisfy all of their goals by simply building a scaled-up version of existing tractors. This would have introduced many new problems with performance and reliability. Some truly new technological innovations would be required.
One of the most significant of these innovations was a brand-new and totally resilient undercarriage with an elevated sprocket. The design not only got the sprocket up and away from shock loads, mud, and rock, but it also provided for the only track-type tractor final-drive system with a common center-line between the steering clutches and brakes, similar to the arrangement found on existing Cat wheel loaders.
Today we take its physical design for granted, as it looks like many of today’s Cat track-type tractor models. The new undercarriage that made the machine look so unusual ended up such a success it was eventually deployed on many of our other tractor models. The resilient undercarriage and elevated sprocket, in fact, contributed significantly to the accomplishment of the D10’s overall design goals including:
After a series of pilot tests, our engineers were encouraged by the comments from foremen and operators alike. Job superintendents and foremen were impressed with the performance, and the operators felt the machine was easier to operate, more comfortable, and less fatiguing. The impressive results and enthusiastic user responses convinced the engineers they had met the project’s design goals.
Today, the Cat D10 remains a physically and economically attractive dozer, doing demanding jobs all over the world.