Little Dozer: 1952 Oliver OC3

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I can’t claim to know much about bulldozers, but when I came across the ad for this 1952 Oliver OC3 here on craigslist, I was intrigued solely because of the seller’s excitement about this “once in a lifetime” barn find. Is there a world of heavy equipment fanatics just as crazy as all of us here? Perhaps there is, because the asking price for this rig is $5K!

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I’d love to know why this is a once-in-your-lifetme find. I’m not poking fun; rather, it’d be interesting to get the seller’s take on why this Oliver is so special. I know there is a following for these and the undercarraige tends to be the biggest area of concern, presumably for corrosion. The underpinnings on this one are said to be in fine shape.

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From reading up on these dozers, it seems most enthusiasts agree it’s a fine workhorse for smaller jobs, as it is a bit underpowered. The drivetrain is not exotic and parts are sourced fairly easily. I’ve even seen the Oliver referred to as the “Model T” of bulldozers given how commonplace they once were.

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It’s a handsome piece of equipment, even if it’s low power. But a bulldozer like this is all about doing those smaller jobs in tight corners and crevices that larger equipment can’t get to. If you live on farmland or have a need for a handy workhorse, perhaps this Oliver is for you. It’s located in one of my favorite towns to say the name of: West Paris, Maine.

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Comments

  1. Mr. Bond

    Cute! Can you imagine letting the kids loose on the back 40 with it, building bike jumps and trails, ripping up the trails! What a blast!

  2. Richard Bird

    I’m assuming it is rare because heavy/construction equipment was not a common build for Oliver and they only got into by way of an acquisition. My great-grandfather, George Bird, is a legend in the Oliver collector community. He was the plant manager for Oliver for decades. I think the 1952 is rare because that is the year Oliver bought Cle-Trac and rebranded their heavy equipment…and yes, there is a huge heavy equipment collectors market. By huge, I mean like a couple hundred folks. But huge…

  3. Doug Towsley

    I dont know anything about this brand or model, MAYBE they are collectible but I doubt it.
    On many older Bulldozers they are often free or very close to it. In order to transport it is very expensive to pay to move them. OR you need a commercial truck and trailer. This one looks small but most require a truck and trailer that are class A lic. And then you have about 5-7 Mpg fuel, Commercial taxes and a lot of other related expenses such as million dollar plus Insurance policy. I know a LOT of commercial rigs off the road and not registered for this reason. My Gravel guy barely breaks even month to month having his equipment legal. He works part time pumping gas to eat and try and keep a roof over his head.
    My FIL owned one like this he got for $500 to work on his farm property. But it also had a dual role in stress mgmt as he had a stressful day job and some days he would drive i into the woods and work out his anger. After he retired he gave the Bulldozer away

    • Dave Wright

      In general, you are correct. But this little crawler weighs only 3500 lbs whitch actually increases the value to a collector. It is easy to load on a common car trailer and off to the tractor show. Tractor collectors are as rabid as the most ardent Porsche collector. The Cletracs (that is what this is) were difficult to operate compared with other brands, they used brakes instead of clutches to maneuver but they were cheeper to buy as well. Undercarriage looks good on this one but price seems a bit optimistic. In WW2 similar tractors were used to move aircraft on rough flight lines in remote areas.

  4. Bingo

    It’s not collectible at all, but with rubber tracks I’d be in for $4,000. Rubber tracks are too expensive so, for that reason, I’m out.

    (Shark tank reference)

  5. JW

    In the early 60’s my parents bought a new house in a subdivision which was still erecting homes, me and a friend got caught starting one of these up I was 9 yrs old on a Sunday ( Keys under seat ) but I think it was a CAT. I was hooked and wanted to be a heavy equipment operator. Sadly never happened and since this was before the government took control of the family I got one heck of a whipping, never touched one again.

    • jimbosidecar

      Funny, I have a similar story. I was about 10 and there was a big sand pit not far away. There were all kinds of heavy equipment just sitting there with the keys in it. So, a friend and I started one up, a back hoe. But the noise scaed me off. I thought everyone in town ( 5 miles away) could hear it.

      • Joe Howell

        Funny me too. Walking to afternoon kindergarten (1956-57) I went by some unattended construction equipment, the men being at lunch. There was jackhammer laying there so I went over and pulled what looked the trigger…….. it let out a machinegun like burst and I took off like a shot :)

  6. Doug Towsley

    If any of you ever travel thru Oregon, I volunteer at the Car & Motorcycle museum at a facility called “Antique Powerland”. Ours is one of 12 museums. Next door to ours in the complex is a the Heavy Equipment museum/Caterpillar. We also have tractor museum, Trolley museum (including a double decker from Hong Kong) train museums and track.
    The trucking museum will take you all day to go thru.
    The heavy Equipment folks at one point (maybe still do) offer classes and you can also get trained on each piece of equipment in their collection. Also network with owners of their own collections. One day years back I saw them with all the equipment out pushing around dirt. I asked what they were doing. “Building a off ramp”. In the middle of a field?? WTH? So what are they going to do with an offramp when done? Rebuild it into a cloverleaf was the answer. They looked like they were having fun.
    The facility is here on this website, and follow the links to which museum interests you the most.
    See: http://antiquepowerland.com/

    We are 1/4 mile off Interstate 5 at the #263 exit adjacent to the Truck stop and May Trucking company. Look for the Steam powered tractor at the entrance road. We shut down for winter but still hold events, we just are not open for general viewing but arrangements can be made for tours, events, or a visit.

  7. Greg

    When the undercarriage is talked about on a track machine it means the sprockets the rollers and how much adjustment is left in the tensioners

    Like 1
    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Thanks Greg – great info for us novices in the dozer world!

  8. geomechs geomechs Member

    I’m sure someone is going to love this machine. Looks pretty good although I’m a little concerned in the condition of the idlers. That front shot looks like they’re a little out of whack. Undercarriage is always a problem with crawlers; tracks are heavy, even on a small crawler like this one. And they sometimes require a lot of back breaking work to get them off and back on again. If I was to restore a crawler I’d pull the tracks off and take them to a shop that specializes in tracks (and has a decent conveyor) and have them done. The rollers and idlers are a lot of bull work but not impossible on a machine like this…

    Like 1
  9. Gary Fogg

    I have one as well in Eddington Maine !!!! Grandfather and father left it to me, Great rig !

  10. Clinton

    There was one of these on Craigslist in Knoxville TN about a month ago. It had/has half the paint this one does but also half of the asking price as well. Think it was listed as “small bulldozer ” selling for a friend.

  11. karld

    Same as military vehicle collectors: most of them are a little awkward to drive into town for coffee on the weekend…

    Like 1

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