PUBLISHER’S LETTER

By Staff

Recently we heard from Ray Rice, Box 242, Rifton, New York
12471, who wrote about an article he’d read in the April 29,
1994 issue of the Times Herald Record published in Middletown, New
York.

‘On January 18, 1985, Pine Island farmer Charles Gratz lost
his balance while unloading a crawler tractor. His sleeve got
caught in the wheel tracks. He was pulled to the ground by the
moving machinery and run over by the three-ton tractor. Gratz
lives.’

A Manhattan jury awarded Gratz and his wife a combined $9
million verdict against Amerada Hess Corporation, successor to the
Oliver Corporation which manufactured the 1954 tractor. Apparently
Gratz’s attorney obtained historical documents revealing that
company officials knew of dangers attributed to the tractor, but
failed to add guards of fenders for farmers’ protection. The
trial lasted one week, but the jury only deliberated 48 minutes
before deciding that Gratz was not at fault.

Ray writes, ‘After reading this article, I couldn’t help
but think about the possibilities inherent in my old 1920 Cletac
crawler. I can’t say that the old girl has ever caused me much
physical pain (other than the normal ration of busted knuckles when
working on her or maybe a little flare up of bursitis from
cranking). But there have been occasions when I have wanted to show
her off to visitors, and she has chosen to ‘play hard to
get’ and absolutely refused to start. These occurrences have
inflicted major damage to my ego and generally diminished my
standing in the community! Now, all I have to do is find a suitably
sleazy lawyer to extract my just compensation from the folks at
Amerada Hess, for all my mental pain and anguish! (After all,
Oliver was a successor to Cletrac, therefore Amerada Hess has to be
responsible for my hard starting Cletrac!)’ We thought you
might enjoy Ray’s story.

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines