Introduced in 1960, the No.922 Traxcavator was the second Caterpillar wheel loader to be released for sale (the first was the No. 944) and proved to be a huge success. By Richard Campbell
Until 1959 Caterpillar had not offered a wheel loader of any sort and companies such as Hough, Allis-Chalmers, Scoopmobile and Michigan had achieved good market penetration with their machines. Cat had also realized the sales potential of the wheel loader but took its time before introducing the first machine to make sure that most of the bugs were ironed out of the design. The No.922 Traxcavator was an instant success.
The Traxcavator name was a direct reference to the Trackson Company of Milwaukee who Caterpillar had bought out in 1951 to obtain its loader technology. Trackson had been supplying loader equipment to Caterpillar for a number of years, principally for the D2, D4 and D6 track type tractors. References to the Traxcavator trademark were quietly removed around 1963.
Caterpillar initially offered a choice of either a petrol or diesel engine for the No.922. Customers could choose between an 80 horsepower Continental M330 six-cylinder petrol engine and a Caterpillar D320 four-cylinder naturally aspirated diesel, also rated at 80 horsepower. Most customers chose the diesel and the petrol option was withdrawn quite early in the machine’s production run.
A two speed powershift transmission with a high and low range shifter and separate forward and reverse controls made up the rest of the powertrain.
Later, during 1965 the engine was changed to a turbocharged model D330T, still rated at 80 horsepower, and this engine remained the powerplant until the 922 was discontinued. With the introduction of the turbocharged engine the machine was known as the 922B and the prefix “No.” was dropped from its name. Caterpillar also lengthened the wheelbase from 78 inches to 86 inches, which increased the static tipping load.
The 922’s standard bucket was rated at 1¼ cubic yards and many other options were available including a 4-in-1 type and a side dumping bucket, which was specially manufactured for Caterpillar by Libu. Lift arm geometry was of the parallelogram type, with two boom lift cylinders and two bucket tilt cylinders.
Of exceptionally rugged construction, the No.922 originally employed rear wheel steering as did many wheel loaders of the period. (Caterpillar did not venture into articulated wheel loaders until its 966B and 988 were introduced in 1963).
Steering was hydraulically boosted and employed two very substantial ball joints in the rear axle to achieve turns.
The operator enjoyed an excellent view all round from the clean and uncluttered workstation with all operating controls falling ready to hand. Full instrumentation was provided on a panel which was split on either side of the steering column. A full cab with heater was available at customer request.
The No.922 was an extremely well built and usefully sized machine that could be used for a multitude of jobs. It was also manufactured by Caterpillar subsidiary Caterpillar Mitsubishi in Japan from 1966 to 1970 and was finally replaced by the articulated steer model 920 in 1969.
The New Zealand connection
As was the case in the USA, the No.922 found wide acceptance in all kinds of earthmoving, aggregate and local body work throughout New Zealand. New Zealand Caterpillar distributor Gough, Gough & Hamer would have sold even more had the Government of the time not passed narrow minded legislation designed to protect locally manufactured product, which severely restricted the importation of machines such as small wheel loaders like the No.922.
Those machines which were imported served many different owners and there was always a ready market for a good used Cat 922. If you look hard enough around the country you can still see the odd machine waiting to put in a day’s work.
Operators that the author has spoken to all remember the No.922 fondly as a simple, reliable and forgiving machine to operate. Caterpillar ‘got it right’ with the 922 with over 8000 units of all series being manufactured.
Brief specifications – Caterpillar 922A
Engine: Caterpillar D320 4-cylinder, naturally aspirated diesel rated at 80 flywheel horsepower.
Transmission: Caterpillar full powershift transmission with high and low ranges giving an effective four forward speeds.
Brakes: Hydraulically actuated shoe type
Steering: Rear axle only with hydraulic power booster
Standard Tyre: 18.00×24
Turning Circle: 26 feet
Capacity: 1.25 cubic yards
Operating Weight: 8 tons (with optional cab).