Sometimes bigger really is better, especially when it comes to construction equipment. Case in point, Caterpillar’s No.16 Grader. By Richard Campbell
Authors Note: Our featured machine this month has gone through several metamorphoses since it was first introduced in 1963.
In order to retain the historical nature of these articles, we will only examine examples of the No.16 which were introduced prior to 1995.
Caterpillar did not originally manufacture graders and acquired the Russell Grader Co in 1928.
The reason for the acquisition was that Russell had been utilizing Caterpillar track type tractors as a base on which to mount their range of “motor patrols” (what we now call motor graders), and had been very successful with marketing and selling them.
So much so in fact that Caterpillar bought them outright as a logical extension to the products that they offered.
Russell’s designs were well engineered and stoutly built which added to their appeal.
Russell mounted their graders on Caterpillar’s model Ten, Fifteen, Twenty and Twenty Eight track type tractors.
Caterpillar wasted no time in reintroducing the Russell line as their own, and almost immediately began on expanding the range even further.
Use and acceptance of automobiles had expanded rapidly in the USA and therefore there were always plenty of older roads to maintain, repair or new ones to build.
Shrewd Caterpillar engineers realized that the way forward was to develop a completely integrated motor grader that did not require being an “attachment” to an existing track type tractor (whose speeds were limited to around 8 mph at best).
Such a machine could do the job faster and not disturb the surface nearly as much, and so, the rubber-tyred “Auto-Patrol” came into being.
Caterpillar’s first true motor grader was the No.11 Auto-Patrol, introduced in 1931.
Development of Motor Graders at Caterpillar gained a considerable amount of pace following WWII and new machines kept appearing in the product range on a regular basis.
These included the No.10, No.212, No.112, and the massively popular No.12.
All of these motor graders were very well suited to road maintenance, snow removal and construction jobs.
However, when it came to really large jobs such as mining sites, one really needed a fleet of No.12’s to carry out haul road maintenance which was constantly required.
At only 11½ tons, the No.12 was really a bit light for the task.
Caterpillar saw an opportunity for something a little larger to do the job and in 1959 introduced the No.14B which was larger and some 2½ tons heavier than their existing largest grader, the No.12.
The early No.14’s had some issues with frame rigidity which Caterpillar duly addressed with their No.14D, introduced in 1961.
Still the requests kept coming in for something even larger than the No.14 so the Cat engineers got out a blank sheet of paper and came up with the subject of this month’s feature, the No.16.
Tipping the scales at 22½ tons, the No.16 was a big brute of a machine and not at all designed for the fine finishing of cul-de-sacs!
It’s main design objective was heavy duty haul road maintenance.
Power was provided by a 225 flywheel horsepower Caterpillar D343T six-cylinder diesel engine connected to a powershift transmission – the first Caterpillar motor grader to feature this item.
The first No.16’s hit the market in 1963 after a period of testing and were well received.
Instead of a scarifier behind the front wheels for tearing up the road, the No.16 had a proper ripper on the back which could carry up to seven D4-sized shanks!
As well as being a hefty sized machine, the No.16 was also fast, an attribute which was to endear it to mine owners.
Top speed was just over 31 mph.
Over 1400 of the initial version, the 49G series were manufactured before Caterpillar undertook a very radical redesign of their entire grader line which was to become their articulated frame ‘G’ series. (Authors note – there were no 16A, B, C, D, E or F models of the No.16, Cat going straight to 16G).
The 16G (93U series) was introduced in 1973 and resembled its rigid frame predecessor in name only.
It was a completely new machine from the ground up, being some 2½ tons heavier and having a 275 flywheel horsepower Caterpillar 3306TA under the hood.
Where the old No.16 had mechanical controls with a hydraulic booster, the 16G was fully hydraulically controlled.
It also had a very well designed ROPS cab and light touch controls mounted on a control console which could be set at any position the operator preferred.
Caterpillar’s G series graders were beautiful machines to operate!
Why No.16 you ask?
The Caterpillar grader model numbering system goes back to the time when graders were sized by the width of their moldboard (blade).
So, a No.12 would carry a 12 foot blade, the No.14 a 14 foot blade etc.
However, somewhere along the way, this nomenclature lost its significance as the original No.16 only had a 14 foot blade (the current 16 does have a 16 foot blade), and then there were all the other Cat graders with weird model numbers i.e: 140, 212, 112, 130 and so on!
The No.16 grader continues in production today as the model 16M3.
To date, all versions of the No.16 have only been manufactured in the USA.
The NZ connection
Caterpillar’s No.16 has been well represented in New Zealand, especially in the South Island where several of the earlier (49G series) types have been put to work and some 16G’s.
The author is not sure exactly how many have been imported – perhaps someone from TerraCat can provide some information.
For the model collector
While no models exist of the original 49G series No.16 grader, there are three models of the No.16 available, all later versions, and all to 1:50 scale.
First up is a 16G by NZG in Germany. This model was first released in the mid-70s and the detailing is very sparse, however it is a good model and has been released several times over the years in different iterations of Caterpillar’s colour scheme. They are generally available on Ebay at reasonable prices.
Next issue is the 16M from CCM models. This is a highly detailed museum quality replica and was only issued in a limited run of 800 pieces.
If you can find one and afford it, it is well worth adding to your collection.
Last of the three is a 16M3 (the current production version) which was recently released by Diecast Masters.
While not quite up to the standard of the CCM No.16 model, it is still a very well detailed piece and worthy of your attention.
Brief Specifications – 1967 Cat No.16
Engine: Caterpillar D343T, 6-cylinder, turbocharged inline diesel rated at 225 flywheel horsepower at 2100 rpm.
Transmission: Caterpillar planetary powershift
Top Speed: 31 mph
Brakes: Expanding shoe type
Steering: Hydraulic booster
Turn Circle: 44’ 6”
Operation: Mechanical planetary, with hydraulic assist.
Length: 31’ 2”
Width: 9’ 10”
Wheelbase: 22’ 6”
Operating Weight: Approx. 22½ tons.