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First Rubber-Tired Grapple Skidders

Prior to developing a rubber-tired grapple skidder in 1971, various models of Caterpillar equipment were modified to serve the forestry industry. In the 1930s Caterpillar crawler tractors were used to pull cut trees and logs out of the forests using chains or modified wagons. In 1943 the Hyster Company developed a cable winch that was mounted on the top of a Cat® D7 to haul logs. Various Cat® track and wheel loaders were also used to haul logs, including the 950 Tree Harvester, which was a 950 wheel loader with a combination shear and delimber, in the late 1960s.

The recession that hit the North American timber industry in the 1980s slowed or halted development of skidders from all manufacturers. Once the forestry market recovered, Caterpillar found itself in the lead position for rubber-tired grapple skidders in the U.S. Over the past twenty years the major advancements made to Cat®skidders have seen larger, heavier, more powerful machines and the inclusion of more advanced engines, transmissions, and technology.

“I can’t imagine using anything but a rubber-tired skidder. Tracks would be slower, more expensive to operate, and rougher. We like to not skid for more than 300 yards. We skid to the closest place we can get the truck to. Still, the machines take a lot of abuse for that much travel.”

Carey Locke, Carey Locke Logging Co.

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