October 2005 News

Challenger, Caterpillar and NASCAR

All Three Companies Are Putting Racing and Agriculture into High Gear
 
The Challenger brand, which already graces a full line of quality tractors, combines and hay tools, will soon make its appearance in a whole new venue — on the NASCAR NEXTEL CUP racing circuit. Through an agreement with Bill Davis Racing, the Challenger brand is a new associate sponsor on the No. 22 Caterpillar NASCAR race car, driven by Scott Wimmer, through the end of the 2006 racing season — and, in addition, is the primary sponsor on the No. 23 NASCAR NEXTEL CUP entry, driven by Johnny Benson, in the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway this October.

“We are pleased that Challenger has decided to join us as one of our sponsors for the 2005/2006 racing season,” says Bill Davis, team owner and president of Bill Davis Racing. “We approached them because we believe they have the same drive and ambition toward their goals as Bill Davis Racing has toward winning on the track.”

Doug Griffin, director of Challenger sales and marketing for North America, says he’s particularly excited about seeing the No. 23 Challenger car race in front of the “home” crowd at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. However, he believes the partnership with Caterpillar on the No. 22 car will be just as fulfilling to Challenger customers and NASCAR fans.

“Since 2002, when AGCO Corporation acquired the highly respected Challenger line of track tractors from Caterpillar, there has been a strong partnership between the two brands,” he explains. “We’re proud to continue this synergy as an associate sponsor on the No. 22 Caterpillar car and are excited at the opportunity to expose the Challenger brand to millions of NASCAR fans.”

Ironically, this won’t be the first association between NASCAR and Challenger. For the past two years, HOLT CAT in Dallas has supplied the Texas Motor Speedway with several Challenger wheel tractors that are used for year-round maintenance of the 1,500-acre complex.

“In many ways, the history of NASCAR parallels that of our own company,” Griffin adds. “During its 57-year history, NASCAR has been transformed from road-going ‘stock’ cars to the sleek, high-tech machines you see today. It also has strong roots in the rural community, but has since grown to appeal to a full cross-section of America. So, we’re looking forward to an exciting and prosperous relationship in the months ahead.”


Ford Announces Safety Recall on Trucks

Ford Motor Co. recently announced that it is conducting a voluntary safety recall on 1994-2002 Ford F-150, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator and Ford Bronco vehicles to correct a systems interaction that could cause the speed control deactivation switch to overheat and lead to an underhood fire. Ford estimates that there are approximately 3.8 million of these vehicles on the road today in the United States.

The make and model years of affected vehicles include: 1994-2002 Ford F-150s, 1997-2002 Ford Expeditions, 1998-2002 Lincoln Navigators and 1994-1996 Ford Broncos equipped with factory-installed speed control.

Ford has worked closely with NHTSA to investigate this issue. Ford’s investigation found that brake fluid may leak through the speed control deactivation switch into the speed control system electrical components, potentially corroding them.

In rare cases, the corrosion in the electrical components can lead to increasing resistance and higher electrical current flow through the system. Together, these conditions could lead to overheating and, possibly, a fire at the switch. This system interaction is the result of the close proximity and orientation of the speed control components in the recalled vehicles.

To address this issue, Ford will install a fused wiring harness between the speed control deactivation switch and the speed control mechanism of the affected vehicles. This will act as a circuit breaker, eliminating the electrical current to the switch in the rare event of increased current flow through the switch.

“Our customers can be confident that this action will prevent a speed control deactivation switch fire,” said Ray Nevi, assistant director, Ford Automotive Safety Office. “Our investigation was complex because the root cause turned out to be a system interaction rather than a single component and we had very few confirmed incidents to analyze. Despite this complexity, our solution effectively addresses the cause.”

Ford is in the process of acquiring sufficient fused wiring harnesses to repair customers’ vehicles. Until replacement parts are available, customers are instructed to take their vehicles to a Ford or Lincoln Mercury dealership to have the speed control deactivated.

Owners of affected vehicles will be notified by mail immediately. Owners who have not already had their previously recalled 2000 model-year vehicles repaired should contact their dealers to make arrangements for the repair.

Customers may get further information at www.genuineservice.com or they may contact Ford’s Customer Relationship Center at (888) 222-2751. For a videotape message about the recall, customers may visit www.ford.com under the “Vehicle and Services” heading and then either the “Safety” tab or the “Owners” tab.


General Equipment Co. Celebrates 50th Anniversary

General Equipment Co. celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2005. This family-owned company began with a simple product idea and has developed into a leading small equipment manufacturer.

In the 1930s, looking for a solution to the labor-intensive job of cutting down trees, company founder Raymond Von Ruden developed a way of transferring power from a farm tractor to a standard logging saw.

The idea was the beginning of Von Ruden Mfg. Co. Von Ruden realized the potential of hydraulics and how it could be harnessed for small, powered tools. In the late 1940s, he pioneered a line of hydraulically powered chain saws, an idea that further mechanized the timber harvesting process. Von Ruden applied this technology to other tools, and hydraulically powered earth drills, pumps and winches were added to expand the company’s product line.

In 1955, Von Ruden sold his interest in Von Ruden Mfg. Co. and established a new business — General Equipment Co., which began its operation with an already established reputation for product innovation and problem solving. Von Ruden’s background in gear design technology and his instinct for design innovation led to the development of the first practical gasoline-powered auger. This unique product became remarkably successful and helped catapult ice fishing into the multi- million dollar sport it is today.

Later, the same technology that mechanized drilling through ice was applied to earth. What began as a small machine for drilling postholes on the farm has since evolved to become one of the widest and most respected lines of portable earth drilling equipment in the world.

In the 1970s, the company began a product diversification program to meet the growing challenges of the light construction equipment industry. General Equipment’s successful product lines expanded to include earth augers, portable air ventilation blowers, rotary asphalt cutting attachments and surface preparation equipment.

Then, in 2002, General Equipment built a new state-of-the-art manufacturing plant, offering ample production space for current products and room to develop new products as the company and market grow. The company is now in its second generation of family ownership, led by Dennis Von Ruden, Raymond’s son.

“I’m proud that over the years we’ve been able to grow our business and diversify our product lines,” said Dennis Von Ruden. “It’s been a pleasure to serve our customers for the last 50 years, and we look forward to fulfilling the market’s needs for many years to come.”


Hertz’s John Deere Rental Fleet Transforms Boston Landfill Into Golf Course

Quarry Hills Associates in Boston, Mass., had a tough job ahead of them, reshaping what was once a landfill and an eyesore into a recreational mecca with a beautiful golf course. Their ace in the hole? Hertz Equipment Rental of Boston and its large fleet of John Deere machinery.

Located almost eight miles south of downtown Boston and adjacent to the 7,000-acre Blue Hills Reservation and the Boston and Quincy harbors, the 259-acre recreational complex offered a beautiful setting and fantastic views. It also provided plenty of challenges. Initially backfilled to depths of 10 to 60 ft, with dirt trucked onsite, it was capped with 12 in. of Boston blue clay — like icing on a cake — before the building and sculpting of fairways and greens could begin.

“It’s part of the largest earthmoving job ever done in New England, possibly the entire eastern seaboard,” said Walter Hannon, vice president of Quarry Hills Associates. “We tested 13 million tons of soil for contamination, hauled it to the site and placed it to backfill the landfill.”

It was critically important that the right machine be on the job when it was needed. Enter Hertz and John Deere, a combination that offered the range of power and performance that Quarry Hills was seeking. Machines in use on the site include John Deere 550C, 650C and 750C crawler dozers, 270C LC and 330C LC excavators, 30-ton articulated dump trucks and John Deere loaders and 410G backhoes.

Shaping a golf course on top of clay is a very technical job, but the John Deere equipment is handling it well.

“It’s not something you do every day. We’ve heard nothing but good feedback from the operators working the equipment,” said Michael Kinsella, Hertz’s branch manager.

Service also was a key to winning the Quarry Hills contract. Hertz worked together with Schmidt Equipment, the John Deere dealer in North Oxford, Mass., to deliver service and parts availability that’s second to none.

“We knew we weren’t going to get the job on price alone. We’ve had a service technician and a service truck on the job since the start,” Kinsella said. “Warranty work on the new machines is done by Schmidt Equipment. We were comfortable making the promises we did to Quarry Hills because we know they deliver superior parts and service.”

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