Digging Up the Past

Buster Peterson ... engineering a spot in history

In 1943, R.A. "Buster" Peterson came to work for his brother, Howard and began a tradition that still carries on today. Custom Fabrication is  defining factor in who Peterson is as a company. The art meeting the customer's needs when the standards in the industry, can't.

Buster's first drawings were for a D13000 engine spinner jig - dated October 20, 1943 - just nines days after he left LeTourneau and came to Peterson Tractor Co. Subsequent designs for other shop tooling and customized pieces showed an adept mind at work. Some of his early designs included:

  • track roller grinder assembly
  • traveling crane for the Brentwood store
  • 125-ton hydraulic shop press
  • final drive wrench for removing bearings on D8s
  • service truck boom
  • electric chair for parts dept. Kardex system
  • engine dynomometer
  • cable control unit overhead stand


Many of Buster's tooling designs are still in operation today. Customizing equipment for customers, however, was Buster's real passion. "He used to sit in his car on a jobsite and just look for hours, trying to figure out how it could be done simpler," recalls Roy Barnes, an apprentice engineer under Buster who retired as Special Mfg Mgr. in 1997. Other designs would be direct responses to a customer's specific need on a job. Periodically, Caterpillar research engineers would come to Buster to work out some details on an idea they wanted to put into iron quickly. Whatever the source, Buster's designs gained worldwide acclaim as they proved themselves in the industry during the 1940s, 50s, 60s and beyond.


Buster Peterson (L), Howard's youngest brother, was the engineering genuis behind most of the innovations that came out of Peterson Tractor Co. in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.

Buster (far right) was Executive VP, pictured here with Peterson's Executive Committee - 1966.


(left) Buster Peterson field testing his SnoCAT design in the Arctic. (right) Buster checking out controls on D8.