Finding a 1940 Cat D6 with Wood Cab and Other Rare Specimens

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Updated May 5, 2023
1940 Caterpillar D6 crawler tractor wooden cab restored parked on driveway in front of mountains
Shay Stutsman found this rare 1940 Caterpillar D6 with wooden cab, which he had restored.
Shay Stutsman

Shay Stutsman is relatively new to collecting antique construction equipment, but in a short time he has acquired and had restored some rare specimens.

His first find was in 2016 when he came across a 1949 Cat D4 in Missouri on a used-tractor sales website. The excitement of adding that antique crawler tractor increased his desire for vintage equipment, but he also decided to focus more on the rare and hard-to-find pieces.

“As I started collecting more pieces of Caterpillar old antique tractors, I learned that there is really not a lot of significance with that particular model; there were a lot of D4s from that era made,” he says. “So as I've started my process of collecting more tractors, the goal is to go after more unique, much more rare antique tractors.”

That desire led him to a 1940 Cat D6 with a rare wooden cab that he has had beautifully restored. And though he focuses on Caterpillar equipment, he made an exception for a rare 1987 John Deere 15 mini excavator, the same model that was the first piece of construction equipment he operated – when he was 3 years old.

The wooden cab

1940 Caterpillar D6 crawler tractor wooden cab before restoration parked in mowed fieldHere's a shot of the 1940 D6 before restoration.Shay StutsmanThe 1940 D6 was being sold online out of Montana in 2020. It had been well taken care of. What’s more, it had a rare wooden cab.

Stutsman bought it and had it sent to Wyoming for restoration by Antique Crawler Parts & Restoration.

“We actually had a cabinet company in Wyoming take the old cab, and they basically took it apart piece by piece and remeasured and re-cut each piece of wood,” he says.

The cab was then rebuilt one piece at a time to the exact specs of the tractor.

Stutsman prefers his equipment to be shiny and new looking, but some markings on the D6 changed his mind for this particular project.

“What's so cool about this tractor is that there were a lot of pencil-drawn marks from when the machine was actually serviced,” he says. The markings were on the dash and air cleaner showing when it had been maintained while used as a wheatland tractor in northern Montana. “It would have been a shame to strip it and paint it and get rid of these handwritten service dates and notes.”

1940 Caterpillar D6 crawler tractor air intake with penciled in notes of service datesThe former owner of the D6 penciled in service notes, which have been preserved.Shay StutsmanAntique Crawler Parts & Restoration finished the restoration about a year later, on August 26, 2021. Along with rebuilding the cab, work included getting it running, fixing leaks, fixing the generator and lights, and new seat. This particular D6 model was produced by Caterpillar from 1937 to 1941. It had previously been introduced in 1935 as the RD6, but the “R” was later dropped. It runs on a 3-cylinder diesel engine and is started with a gasoline pony motor.

The restoration was so impressive Stutsman and his fiancée decided to use the D6 in their wedding, just weeks after it arrived at their home in Aspen, Colorado.

“We actually had a hay trailer that was towed behind, and so the whole wedding party pulled away from the church on this nice D6 tractor,” he says. “We drove around Aspen, made a few stops, had a couple of drinks here and there, and then went back to our reception.”

At first, he wasn’t sure how well his bride-to-be would react to using a tractor instead of a fancier, more traditional ride. But he was pleasantly surprised.

“She was totally for it,” he says. “It was something very rare and unique – not a lot of people can say they did it.”

“Some people use limos,” he adds. “We used the old Cat tractor.”

1940 Caterpillar D6 Shay Sutsman and bride pose on wedding day in front of while parked in front of Hotel Jerome in AspenShay and Carlie on their wedding day with the newly restored D6.Shay Stutsman

A boy and his … excavator

“I was pretty much born in a piece of heavy equipment and just kept bugging everybody to play on one,” says Stutsman.

His grandfather cofounded the family excavation company, Stutsman-Gerbaz Earthmoving, in 1960 in Aspen, Colorado. As a child, Stutsman would go to work with his father and ride in the equipment. Today he is the third-generation president of the company.

Back in 1987, when Stutsman was 3, a part of the family owned a John Deere dealership selling mostly farm tractors when a Deere 15 mini excavator arrived at the lot.

“In the late 80s, mini excavators were very rare, kind of a new thing, not really many people had them,” he says.

They brought it to his grandfather to give it a try at the excavation company.

“According to my dad and mom, when I saw that little mini machine when I was 3 years old, I wouldn't stop crying, screaming and throwing a tantrum until I got to sit in it,” he says.

His dad relented.

“So I just started running it.”

He’s got the picture to prove it:

1987 John Deere 15 operated in 1987 by Shay Stutsman at 3 years oldA veteran operator at 3 years old: Shay Stutsman in a 1987 Deere 15 mini excavator in 1987.Shay Stutsman

The lone Deere

Recently he was making his usual monthly online search for vintage equipment when he typed in “John Deere 15 for sale.” An owner in Maine had one he was willing to part with.

“Man, I’ve got to get that thing restored,” Stutsman said to himself.

So he called the owner.

“I tried to haggle with him on the price,” Stutsman says. “He did not want to budge $1. And I don't know if he could sense the excitement in my voice or whatever, but he was like, ‘No, no, no.’

“I wired him the money and had it shipped out to Colorado.”

Stutsman is a self-declared diehard Caterpillar guy. But the nostalgia kicked in when he saw the same model Deere he had operated as a child. He also loves the look of it.

“To me, it's all about body lines. And I think that this machine has really good lines,” he says. “And how John Deere did the paint back in the day, it's just really, really well done.”

It also is a rare find.

“It's extremely rare because it has a cab on it,” he says. “I'm hearing it's rare from John Deere.”

Stutsman’s Deere 15 arrived about six weeks ago, around the time his first son was born.

When asked if he plans to let his son operate it when he turns 3, he didn’t hesitate to respond.

“100 percent,” he says. “We’ve got to get the exact same pictures.”

1987 John Deere 15 operated in 2022 by Shay StutsmanThirty-five years after his first time operating a 1987 John Deere 15 mini excavator, he's back in the saddle with one he recently acquired.Shay Stutsman 

Collector's scrapbook

To see more of Stutsman’s classic Cat collection, check out the photos below:

Restored 1940 Cat D6

1940 Cat D6 front viewAntique Crawler Parts & Restoration

1940 cat d6 side viewAntique Crawler Parts & Restoration

1940-Cat-D6Antique Crawler Parts & Restoration

1940 cat d6 rear

1940 cat d6 back angleAntique Crawler Parts & Restoration

1940 cat d6Antique Crawler Parts & Restoration

1940 CAT D6 wooden interior

1940 Cat shop seat

1940 Cat D6 interior

1949 Cat D4 

1949 Cat D41949 Cat D4 before restorationShay Stutsman

cat d4 in a showroom1949 Cat D4 after restoration by Wagner Cat

1938 Cat D7

cat d7 dozerStutsman found this 1938 Cat D7 on a Caterpillar Facebook group. He plans to restore it.Shay Stutsman

1980 Cat 977L track loader

cat 977l track loader dumping load into a dump truckShay Stutsman had this early 1980s Cat 977L track loader restored and uses it as a backup loader for Stutsman-Gerbaz Earthmoving.Shay Stutsman

cat 977l track loader loading a dump truck

Cat 983B track loaders

The following photos are of three early 1980s Cat 983Bs Stutsman acquired. The 983B is the largest Cat track loader ever produced. Stutsman plans to use all three to restore one to mint condition.

cat 983b track loader

cat 983b track loader

cat 983b track loader on a trailer

two parked track loaders

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