International Harvester announced its 180-hp TD-24 crawler tractor in 1947. This new heavyweight of the earthmoving industry made headlines across the construction press as the world's largest crawler tractor, clipping the title from the previous largest, the 163-hp Allis-Chalmers HD-19. The TD-24 soon earned an outstanding reputation as a heavy-duty bulldozer, and a perfect prime mover for pulling the largest scrapers.
In 1954, aiming for a spectacular launch of its recently acquired earthmoving lines, International staged the "International Industrial Power Roundup" at its 4,200-acre proving grounds south of Phoenix. More than 80 pieces of equipment were put through their paces in front of contractors, dealers and bankers. Starring in the show was International's TD-24, as well as motor scrapers formerly made by Heil, purchased by International in 1953, and pull-type scrapers formerly made by Bucyrus-Erie. (The latter had just transferred its scraper designs to International.)
In launching the show, an International Harvester official said: "There's no foreseeable end to the present heavy-construction boom...and we are determined to build the machinery to meet the demand necessary for the continual economic development of America and the free world."
The TD-24 was often teamed with Bucyrus-Erie's largest scraper, the B-250. Bucyrus-Erie (now Bucyrus International) designed and built a line of tractor equipment for International tractors including dozer blades, rippers, winches and scrapers. Painted bright International red, the TD-24 scraper outfits made formidable earthmoving units and could be found in large fleets on many of the biggest earthmoving jobs of the 1950s. They became affectionately known as the "Big Red Teams." The lion's share of dozer work on the Alcan Power Project near Kitimat, British Columbia, was performed by International TD-24s working in some of the toughest conditions imaginable. Sponsored by the Aluminum Co. of Canada, this project was at that time the largest ever undertaken by private industry.
Now dwarfed by today's monster crawlers, the TD-24 remained a leader for many years. It boasted hydraulically controlled "planet power steering" which provided two speeds independently for each track. The TD-24 continued in production until 1959, by which time engine power had increased to 203 flywheel horsepower.
International produced even larger crawler tractors in the 1960s and 1970s. Then, in 1982, Dresser Industries purchased all of International's earthmoving products and continued marketing them under the Dresser name. A manufacturing agreement was established with Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW) in Poland where the former International crawler tractors, wheel loaders and graders are still manufactured and sold today under the Dressta brand name. These machines are exported worldwide, including certain models to the United States under the Komatsu brand name.
Information for this article was taken from Keith Haddock's book, "The Earthmover Encyclopedia," available in bookstores. If you're interested in historical machines, consider a membership in the Historical Construction Equipment Association. Visit HCEA's website at www.hcea.net.