30 Aug 2020

Atascadero High School Student Restores 1958 CASE Terratrac Crawler Dozer

Casey Havemann loves to get his hands dirty. He learned to ride a quad at the age of 2, and has grown up around machinery his entire life. Five years ago, his older brother got involved in the JB Dewar Tractor Restoration Education Program and entered a restored Oliver Cletrac tractor/dozer into the annual competition at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. Casey was so impressed that he wanted to restore a tractor on his own, and that year he restored a 1959 David Bradley tractor. He was only 12 years old.

“I tore down the whole thing and painted it and then put all new parts on it. I had lots of fun rebuilding that tractor,” Casey says. “One year later, I started on my 1951 Farmall Super C, which taught me so much more about motors and transmissions. I was really excited and happy I was finally a part of the Tractor Restoration Education Program.”

Most recently, Casey won first place in the 2020 competition with a restored 1958 J.I. CASE Terratrac crawler dozer as part of the annual JB Dewar Tractor Restoration Education Program in San Luis Obispo, California.

“In Paso Robles, about a mile from the fair, there's a yard that JB Dewar can store tractors that people have donated, and I went there for a cleanup day just to help out,” says Casey. “I saw it there and it just caught my eye because it was complete. It was in good enough shape to tell where everything was originally. And I thought it would just be cool because it was a good size and it was all there.”

A Rare Beast

The Terratrac crawler dozer is a bit of an oddball machine. Manufactured between 1957 and 1958, only 496 of these small crawler dozer/tractors ever came off the line. They’re rare—even more rare to find one mostly intact. The quaint machine weighs approximately 4,605 pounds, and is powered by a 2.4 Liter J.I. Case G-148 liquid-cooled 4-cylinder gasoline engine, and was manufactured at the J.I. CASE factory in Churubusco, Indiana.

This particular Terratrac is part of San Luis Obispo’s rich agricultural history. Rescued from an old family ranch that was in the process of foreclosure, the old machine sat for many years on the property of Mr. Ernie Dalidio, a well-known ranch owner in the area, before it was eventually donated to the JB Dewar restoration program. Unfortunately, any further details of the machine’s history have been lost to time.

The Terratrac needed work, but Casey was up for the challenge. “The biggest challenges were moving things around, and all the heavy parts,” he explains. “Luckily, we have a forklift and a hoist. That made it quite a bit easier, but still all the tracks and trying to preserve the paint on the tracks and keep it show-ready.”

“Some of the parts were harder to find. I found a lot of motor parts because that motor was used in so many tractors, but I couldn't find the decals or anything, so I had to get those custom made. I had to make the seat cushions myself.”

Throughout the process, Casey had to learn how to rebuild an engine. He also had to machine many of the replacement parts, since they are so difficult—if not impossible—to find. “I knew it needed motor work, so I learned quite a bit from my dad teaching me how to rebuild a motor and get the right specs of the crank and the bearings.”

“I also used my grandpa Emmett's lathe. I probably did 40 hours on it, making some parts, making the pins for the blades, the pins for the tracks, cylinder rods.”

What’s Next?

This is Casey’s Senior year at Atascadero High School, so he’s planning on taking it easy and enjoying his time there—but he is still planning more creative projects. “Next year I'm planning on building a car trailer,” he says. “And I'm just finishing up a barbecue I built on golf cart tires.”

When asked if he had a dream restoration project, Casey said “I don't know. Maybe an old Dodge Power Wagon would be pretty cool.”

Keep it in the Family

Tim Havemann, Casey’s father, has been with United Rentals for over 26 years. He grew up in a body shop, and learned everything he knows from his own father, Emmett Havemann, a life-long machinist.

After high school, Casey is thinking about carrying on the family tradition. “Next year I'm thinking about going to Reedley college,” he explains. “It's a diesel program. That's where my brother just graduated this year, so I thought it would be pretty cool to at least go check it out.”

Whatever he does, there is no doubt that Casey Havemann will have a bright, creative and interesting future.