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September 28, 2011 Vol. 7, No. 20

About a million years ago I spent a lot of time digging in the dirt underneath a peach tree in my backyard, a four- or five-year-old making roads for a little fleet of tiny trucks. Always trucks, never cars, my fate apparently sealed even way back then.

And there I was yesterday, that ancient scene vivid in my mind as I watched an hour’s worth of earth-moving prowess on display at Caterpillar’s Edwards Demonstration & Learning Center just outside Peoria, Illinois. As the loaders and excavators and scrapers and a dozen other pieces of equipment did their sometimes extraordinary thing in front of me, my strongest thought was the unmeasurable thrill that show would have been for me, the long-ago kid. Fact is, moving dirt is just as fascinating now as it was then.

I was actually there for a ride-and-drive press event, the first touchy/feely exposure of Cat’s new CT660 vocational truck. I’d seen it at a couple of shows, of course, but here was a chance to drive the beast. Not on the open road, but I did manage to pilot a pair of loaded dump-truck versions along trails through the company’s lush 720-acre property. One sported an Eaton 8LL manual transmission, the other Cat’s own CX31 torque-converter automatic.

The CT660 is now being delivered to customers, by the way, declared fully ready as of Sept. 9, though it’s been in limited production since June. The first units off the line were used to validate manufacturing procedures and to ensure that Cat standards were being met.

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Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to

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