Medium Wheel Loaders – Foundation of the Cat®
In December of 1959, the first production Cat wheel loader was driven off the assembly line at the Caterpillar plant in Aurora, Ilinois – the 944 Wheel Traxcavator.
The 944, fitted with a 1,5 m³ bucket and available with either a 105 hp gas or diesel engine, was the culmination of a seven-year development effort—and the beginning of Caterpillar's leadership in the worldwide market for mid-size wheel loaders.
Caterpillar's 50-year dominance in this market segment has hinged, simply, on customers recognizing the inherent value of the Cat Wheel Loader – its fundamental reliability and durability, coupled with exceptionally strong parts and service support.
The 944 was joined in 1960 by two additional models, the 80 hpmodel 922 and the 140 hp model 966, using buckets of 0,9 and 2,1 m³, respectively. A 1960 Caterpillar press release stated "these machines are operated by conveniently located controls, have a two-speed forward/two-speed reverse power-shift transmission and attain a maximum reverse speed of 30 mph."
The release also quoted W. S. Zeigler, domestic sales manager, who summed up Caterpillar's goal for developing the new wheel-loader line: "These new Traxcavators will enable operators to perform their work quickly and well, and give them safer working conditions."
Time changes most everything, but the basic qualities Mr. Zeigler noted about the first Cat wheel loaders have remained constant through 50 years of continual refinement and through the placement of more than 100,000 Cat Medium Wheel Loaders in the hands of customers.
Although the Cat Wheel Loader line today ranges from the 55 hp 904B to the 1577 hp 994F, the eight-model lineup of Medium Wheel Loaders—938H, IT38H, 950H, 962H, IT62H, 966H, 972H and 980H—remains the foundation of the line and serves the largest market segment. These models offer standard buckets from 2,3 to 6,1 m³, can be fitted with a diversity of work tools and take on the toughest jobs in applications as varied as material handling, scrap yards, quarries and forestry.
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