On Sept. 24, 2003, the United States Marine Corps 4th Combat Engineers Battalion descended on State Line Machine Inc., in Wilmington, DE, and captured a piece of history — an International Harvester (IH) TD-18 diesel crawler tractor equipped with a Bucyrus-Erie angle blade.
Fulton S. Owensby, of State Line, donated the TD-18 to the Marine Corps, which then transported it to Aberdeen, MD, where it will be refurbished and equipped with an armored cab. After the restoration is completed, the machine will go on display as a World War II and Korean War Memorial in Baltimore, MD.
In April 2001, the Marines contacted Owensby after hearing about his involvement in collecting and restoring old crawler type tractors, hoping that he could help them locate a TD-18. Of course, when Owensby said he actually had one and was willing to donate it, the marines were overjoyed.
The TD-18 had a drawbar of 70.59 hp. and a belt horsepower of 84.66. The tractor — without the blade — weighs 22,250 lbs., and the blade weighs approximately 7,000 lbs. making a total of approximately 30,000 lbs. operating weight. The diesel had two sets of valves and an ignition system. It started on gas and switched over to diesel.
When the TD-18 was added to the International crawler tractor line in 1939, it was the company’s largest tractor and remained so until 1947 when IH produced the larger TD-24.
During World War II there were four major manufacturers of crawler tractors in the United States: Allis-Chalmers, Caterpillar, Cletrac and International Harvester — all manufacturing tractors for the military. Of these four manufacturers, only Caterpillar remains.
When International Harvester went out of business, Dresser bought its crawler tractor line and sold them under the name of Dresser. Ownership changed again and now the line is produced under Dressta.
The TD-18 played a big role in equipping the military in World War II and the Korean War.
Owensby is pleased that his old TD-18 is going to be preserved and given an honorable display, which will preserve this important machine for future generations.