The Buried Tractor

By Staff

2265 Lincoln Farm Road, Hodgenville, Kentucky 42748

Over the past twenty years or so, I have read some short history
and stories of Cletrac’s General, Twin Row and B.F. Avery
tractors. Much of it was inaccurate according to what little
factual literature is to be found covering these tractors. Having
lived in Central Kentucky most of my life, I have firsthand
knowledge of some of the things relevant to these tractors. This
writing, most of which will be based on firsthand or ownership of
the Avery tractor, I wish to pass on to all tractor collectors,
especially, B.F. Avery owners so that they can enjoy the thrills of
collecting as I have enjoyed it, as well as the collecting of
information.

Sometime in the late 1930s, some say as early as 1937, the
General tractor made its appearance; I believe 1939. To be more
accurate, all I’ve learned about this, B.F. Avery Company
developed tools for their tractors that they called True Draft
Implements. As Avery was making a lot of tillage tools for the
tractor industry, I don’t have serial numbers to know how many
of the Generals were made. My understanding is Cleveland Tractor
Company, makers of the General, entered a sales agreement with
Montgomery Ward in late 1939 to sell the General as a Ward’s
Twin Row. They also made a few for Ward’s that are called High
Crop because of their height and clearance over row crops.

However, in 1941 B.F. Avery acquired the General Tractor from
Cleveland Tractor. For many reasons, I believe that most of the
casting for Generals were being made by Avery. Prior to this time,
B.F. Avery continued to assemble the same tractor and painted it
red instead of yellow. They called it a B.F. Avery. In 1943, Avery
made some changes, in wheels especially, and some additions. Then
it became a full fledged B.F. Avery. Most of this information was
obtained from conversation with a former dealer who began selling
Generals in 1939 and continued until the sale of B.F. Avery Company
to Minneapolis Moline in 1951.

I learned the following about B.F. Avery tractors from
ownership, others I had seen, been around and who worked with
Averys. I had not owned an Avery until about ten years ago. First,
we will discuss the ‘As.’ The early ones had cast wheels
with bolt-on rims on the rear. Later models had pressed steel, two
piece rims, cast spoked, solid or pressed steel, single front
wheels. Some had steel wheels both front and rear. They could be
bought with single front, wide front, or dual fronts. The ones that
came from the factory with dual fronts had a ‘D’ after the
serial number. I understand that many were changed to duals after
sale by dealers. ‘As’ began to be bought with hydraulics
very soon, probably in 1945. I have owned ‘As’ with serial
number in 6A Series that still had hand brakes. I would assume the
change to foot brakes was made close to that time, late 1945 or
1946. I have had ‘As’ with hydraulic pump mounted on the
drive shaft with brackets. I’m not sure when the change was
made to distributors. I’m assuming about 1945 after World War
II. The many variations and changes make them a challenge, as does
the lack of information in printed form. Service manuals and
operators manuals are available but not a lot more. Collecting and
restoring is less difficult in many instances because they had
Hercules engines and used standard bearings and seals, most of
which can be bought at a bearing house or auto supply.

The model ‘V,’ 1946 to 1952, is my favorite because of
the short time of manufacturing and many variations. I first
thought they were all alike. Having bought five at various places,
one of my sons and I were looking at them. He asked, ‘Dad, why
five, they are all alike.’ I said, ‘I just like them.’
Then, I began to really look. I had five ‘Vs’ all right.
Alike? No. All of them had different front wheels to really add to
the fun. Some had hand brakes, others front brakes, four different
rear wheels, four different front axles, all wide fronts and other
items. A real challenge if you enjoy something different. They even
became Minneapolis Molines after Avery was purchased by them for at
least 1951 and ’52.

In 1950, the ‘A’ was replaced by the Model ‘R’
with larger wheels, four speed transmission and different brakes.
After purchase of B.F. Avery by Minneapolis Moline, then these
tractors became an M.M.B.F. They made it with three front ends. It
was dropped by Minneapolis Moline because they already had an
‘R’ tractor of their own.

There is a lot of other information I could have used in this
writing. More detail, more specification and even some odd humor. I
thought this would be informative as well, arousing your curiosity.
When Minneapolis Moline closed the B.F. Avery plant in Louisville,
Kentucky, according to those who worked there, they simply took
parts, tools and machinery and even the records out in the bottoms
behind the plant and buried them, the reason for lack of positive
information.

I am including a serial number list which I found corresponds
with a list printed by Minneapolis Moline. The serial numbers on
the ‘A’ are found on the right hand side of the frame, next
to the gear shift lever. On Avery ‘Vs’ the number is found
on the right side of the frame where the engine bolts to the frame
at the flywheel cover. There was other equipment built on Avery and
more crawlers, loaders, backhoes and other equipment. Serial
numbers follow:

Model ‘A’

1943

1A845-1A1497

1944

1A1498-4A785

1945

4A786-7A304

1946

7A305-9A865

1947

9A866-13A246

1948

13A247-17A455

1949

17A456-19A365

1950

19A366-20A114

Model ‘V’

1946

1V05-1V143

1947

1V144-2V276

1948

2V277-4V276

1948

2V277-4V489

1949

4V490-5V500

1950

5V501-6V206

1951

6V207-6V421

1952

6V422-7V271

Model ‘R’

1950

R500-R1838

1951

R1839-R4459

MM-BF

1952

R-4460-R6537

1953

(BFW)R6538-R7571

1953

(BFD) 57700001-577000358

1953

(BFS) 57600001-576000047

1953

(BFH) 58000001-58000150

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