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The Beginning...

Here goes......

It all started when I saw an old Struck dozer on eBay. I thought to myself "that would be cool to have one of those for my kids". I say "kids" but I really wanted it for myself. This was probably sometime in 2006 or 2007. However, I can't just buy something. To quote Ron Swanson (from Parks and Recreation) "people who buy things are suckers".

I tabled the idea for a few years. I was traveling a lot for work. I owned a townhouse with a one car garage. The only equipment I was able to collect so far was a milling machine which was at my parents house. And my wife and I weren't married yet and kids weren't even a thought.

Fast forward to November 2009, my wife and I were married. July 2010, we moved into a house with a little bit better 20' x 20' garage. I began to collect the tools that I always wanted (more on the garage build up later) with the thoughts of this grand dozer in the back on my mind.

February 2011, we found out our first was going to be a boy. I'm pretty sure the first thing I blurted out to my wife was "I'm going to build him a bulldozer". She just gave me that look. I've never mentioned my idea to her before. Gearing up for the first child still didn't give me the time to put much thought into this but I was determined. Our first son was born June 11th 2011. I knew that life was only going to get crazier as he gets older and more children are added into the mix. I had to make this happen or I felt it never would.

To start this build, I needed a few things to happen at once.
  • I needed to settle on a design.
  • What type of tracks? Metal or rubber?
  • Power source? Batteries and motors? Engine and transaxle? Engine and hydrostatics?
  • How big was it going to be?
  • What was the end goal? Just ride around? Actually do work?
  • Most of all, I needed a good plan so that I wouldn't waste time.
The Inspiration:
I have always liked the look of early Caterpillar dozers. I looked at pictures online and settled on the Model Twenty Two (mainly because I could get a diecast model of one). To get a better idea for scale, I was able to measure a Model Twenty Eight that is at the local Cat dealer. It was the only thing I had available at the time.

Early Design:
I wanted rubber tracks instead of metal. Metal would give the look but rubber would be easier on my driveway and yard. And they would save time from making metal tracks. Based on the scale I was shooting for (about half scale), I settled on some tracks from the Ditch Witch SK series of walk behind equipment.

I had a brief thought of doing batteries and motors but I knew it had to be hydrostatic drives from a zero turn mower. I immediately talked to my brother because he has a neighbor that repairs and sells used lawnmowers. $150 later, I had an old Woods ZTR mower with good hydrostatics and a bad engine and a riding mower with a good engine and a bad transaxle.

This was a start. I spent the day at my brothers house removing the engine from one and the hydrostatics from the other. I had some parts in hand so I could start using CAD to fill in the holes. This, along with the tracks, would help set the scale of the project.

By November 2011, our son was sleeping well, life was getting back to some consistency and I had a few parts and a very rough CAD model. This was the first screenshot I took. Dimensions were roughly 5 1/2' long, 3' wide and about 30" tall.

More to come......