As we mark the 25th anniversary of the productive and proven Cat® D9R Dozer, we celebrate the teams who have designed, manufactured and supported nearly 8,000 of them. We recognize the important role these dozers have played — and continue to play — around the world. And we thank the customers who continue to recognize the value of a dozer with an all-mechanical design that is easy to operate and easy to own.

Over the last quarter-century, the D9R has been the dozer of choice for multiple industries and customers around the world — and for good reason. Like all Cat dozers, it’s 100% designed by Caterpillar and built with all Cat components that work together to deliver top performance and high availability. 

The D9R is simple to maintain and economical to own, whether it’s handling heavy construction in the Middle East, working in coal mining and oil and gas applications in Russia, or performing a variety of mining duties in Africa.

Work on the D9R began in 1988 and the first dozer started work in 1995. The lengthy development program was initiated to meet the changing needs of Caterpillar customers, leveraging the legacy of the original elevated-sprocket tractors: the D8L and D9N. It was one of the few programs at the time not connected to reducing emissions.

D9R development had a targeted focus on differential steering — a feature that continues to be offered on current D9 models. Differential steering provides a tight turning radius and maintains a high ground speed while turning to keep productivity high.

One of the leaders of the D9R project, Engineering Technical Steward Al Kenworthy, was there for the whole program. He moved from the Track-Type Tractor design group in East Peoria to continue leading development at Peoria Proving Ground — making sure the D9R was a proven machine long before the first commercial dozer rolled off the assembly line in East Peoria, Illinois, where all Cat large dozers are made.

“As part of that initial development and subsequent refinements, we built dozens of test-bed, prototype and pilot production machines,” Kenworthy recalls. “Those tractors were validated in multiple countries in the full spectrum of D9 applications and a variety of climates.”

Testing applications included mining of coal, gypsum, sand and hard rock metal; stockpile work at mines, mills, ports and power plants; heavy construction of roads, commercial sites and major infrastructure; waste sites; and wheel tractor-scraper push-loading and scraper towing.

The D9R also had the chance to prove itself on several high-profile projects undertaken in the United States about the same time of the dozer’s launch. The Eastside Reservoir project in Southern California was the largest earthmoving project in the U.S. at the time, requiring the excavation of more than 80 million cubic yards of earth and rock to build a series of three dams and associated infrastructure.

Around the same time, the D9R was put to work in the Appalachian Mountains, where the North Carolina Department of Transportation launched its largest undertaking ever — building a new interstate highway through steep, mountainous terrain at elevations near 4,000 feet with variable and unpredictable soil conditions. The major scope of work featured 25 million cubic yards of roadway excavation.

“These major construction jobs provided feedback on early machines from multiple contractors, inspiring continuous improvement where needed,” Kenworthy says. “Both projects were in difficult terrain with demanding schedules, and progress was regularly reported direct to the Caterpillar Executive Office.”


One of the highlights of the development process for Kenworthy was meeting customers on their sites and gaining a first-person understanding of how they needed their dozers to perform.

“The chance to casually converse while watching their machines operate — and learn a little about one another while kicking some dirt clods — was gratifying,” he says. “It was a chance to understand what they really needed, and also how important our company and its products are to their success.”

Once the D9R was launched and well on its way to becoming one of Caterpillar’s most popular dozers, Kenworthy went back to the East Peoria facility for 12 years to lead ongoing design work for the D9R as well as the D9T. He has continued to lead special projects on the D9R.

“My continued involvement in D9Rs is an indication of how satisfying it was to work with such a talented design and test team,” he says. “Most of the team had vast track-type tractor experience, consistent customer focus, plus a sense of urgency and very high standards of quality. We collaborated well, learned together, and delivered a product that many customers considered the tractor of choice for decades.”

Kenworthy says few changes have been made over the last 25+ years, and this long-time experience gives customers confidence in what to expect in terms of operating costs and reliability, effectively reducing the risks to their business.

While new D9Rs are no longer rolling off the assembly line in East Peoria, this popular dozer lives on as the D9 GC — continuing to meet customer needs for reliable performance and predictable operating costs.

Caterpillar customers — and the dealers who support them — appreciate the D9 GC for its simplicity. It’s easy to operate, with a comfortable cab and familiar controls. It’s easy to diagnose, maintain and repair — even in remote locations. And it’s cost-effective to own and operate.

The result? D9 GC customers are able to move more dirt at the lowest possible cost. Just like they could with its predecessor.

Learn More about the D9

Take a look at the specs, features and updates we've made on the D9 product page.

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