Caterpillar D4 with an overshot attachment

caterpillar D4

By HCEA Canada

Pictured here in the 1950s is a Caterpillar D4 crawler tractor equipped with an overhead (overshot) loader attachment.

This rather cumbersome attachment was developed in the 1930s to improve loading time, while also reducing wear on the crawler’s undercarriage.

The crawler would travel straight into the material to fill the bucket, and then hoist the load to a vertical position while travelling towards the target, letting gravity take over for the dumping phase. It eliminated most of the machine turning maneuvers allowing for faster load cycles.

However, the operator had to be aware of falling material, hence the steel canopy, as well as the danger of loader arms and cables passing close by his station.

Several equipment manufacturers, including Sargent, Austin and Athey, as well as Hoover Manufacturing, based in Western Canada, produced their versions of the overshot loader controlled by cable, hydraulics or a combination.

In the 1930s Eimco (Eastern Iron & Metal Corp.) was a pioneer in developing overshot mine loaders controlled by compressed air that could be rail, crawler or wheel mounted. HCEA Canada is very fortunate to have an Eimco compressed air, narrow gauge rail mounted mine loader that is a highlight at our demonstration events. 

In addition, HCEA Canada has a Caterpillar D4 with an Athey overshot loader attachment donated by Bannerman Construction. Although retired, Don and Larry Bannerman are great supporters of our efforts. In the custom crushing business for decades, they remember using their Cat D4 to feed a Goderich-built Sandy crusher in the 1940s in the Lake Huron region. Currently, their D4 is on static display, but on the list to be made operational in the near future.

A fellow from Australia contacted us online a few years ago seeking measurements as he was restoring a similar overshot attachment. He was very thankful when the information arrived. That’s how the old equipment guys work!

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, and variants thereof, HCEA Canada reluctantly cancelled the annual June event, Wheels & Tracks in Motion for the safety of all concerned. A decision on our October event, The Last Blast, will be determined early in September.  Please check our website for updates:

HCEA Canada is a Proud Community Heritage Partner of the Simcoe County Museum.