George’s Tractor

By Staff
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Restored this 1945 Cletrac to like-new condition.

7075 Rickreall Road Independence, Oregon 97351

I grew up on a small acreage in Salem, Oregon. Some of my
fondest memories are of helping my grandfather,. George Averett, in
the farming of his land. He was an orchardist, and grew filberts.
One of my main duties was helping in the maintenance of his
tractor, a Cletrac model HG-42. He purchased this tractor new on
November 14, 1945 for the sum of $760, replacing his failing
Cletrac model F. A common task for me would be to grease the
undercarriage, lower rollers and front idlers, and hook up the pump
and hoses when it came time to spray the trees. After my
grandfather passed away, the tractor was eventually sold, as the
orchard was no longer tended.

About ten years ago I set about trying to locate one of these
crawlers. I was actually able to locate my grandfather’s
tractor about ten miles from where I grew up. It had seen good care
since we sold it; the new owner had even installed a blade.
Unfortunately he was not willing to part with it. After much
searching I was able to locate another one only five miles from my
home. As it turned out, it is also a 1945 model. It was in sad
shape, the engine having been dismantled several years before and
the rest of the tractor being in various stages of disrepair. After
trailering it home I began what was to be a very long restoration
project.

Even in the process, even before I actually purchased the
tractor, I began to stockpile NOS parts. They were becoming harder
and harder to locate, and ‘no longer available’ became the
stock response from the parts man. After I located all of the
necessary parts, I began restoration by rebuilding the Hercules
engine. I had the block bored .020 over, the head, block and
manifold were resurfaced, valve seats reground, and crankshaft
turned. I replaced the main, rod and cam bearings as well as
installed new oversize cast iron pistons, pins, valves, tappets,
and cam shaft. I had the radiator recored, a necessity given that
this tractor has no water pump, relying on the thermo-syphon method
of cooling. An original optional water temperature gauge was
located and installed. I rebuilt the Tillotson carburetor and Wico
magneto with NOS parts and installed an original optional
under-hood muffler. The Autolite starter and generator were both
rebuilt using new bearings and brushes.

Having finished with the engine I turned my attention to the
remainder of the drive train. I resurfaced the flywheel and
replaced the clutch, pressure plate and throw out bearing. I
rebuilt the propeller shaft with new universal joints. Having the
transmission, PTO, and final drives open I replaced every ball
bearing, bronze bushing, gasket and seal I came across. I replaced
the steering band linings with original friction material. I
rebuilt all six rollers and both front idlers with new bushings and
seals using special jigs I had machined for that purpose. The bull
gears, pinions, drive sprockets and tracks were amazingly in as new
condition. Having restored the drive train to 100% of new I was
able to fully appreciate Cletrac’s patented ‘Controlled
Differential Steering.’ This tractor steers like butter and is
a true pleasure to drive.

Each part of the tractor was chemically stripped of paint as it
was refurbished. This worked very well until I stripped the gas
tank. The stripping process attacked the solder in the tank seams
and I had to resolder the entire perimeter of the gas tank to
eliminate leaks. I was able to locate a DuPont dealer who had an
original formula for Cletrac Orange paint in synthetic enamel. I
primed each part and applied three coats of color before
reassembly. The bucket seat is covered with an original horse-hair
seat pad and is upholstered in the same manner and material as new.
I located an original under-seat tool box and a complete set of
original wrenches for the tractor. I replaced all of the wiring
harness with cloth covered wire and cloth wire looms in the colors
and appearance of the stock pieces. I had the reflectors in all
three original lights resilvered. I was even able to locate a
company who reproduced the original tar-top six-volt battery, a
perfect complement to the stock battery cover I was able to
find.

I finished the tractor the evening before the 1992 Great Oregon
Steam-Up at Antique Powerland in Brooks, Oregon. They
coincidentally featured Oliver and Cletrac tractors at that show. I
received many compliments at the show and my entire family showed
up for the noon parade. Perhaps the greatest compliment I heard was
from my uncle, Bob Averett, stating that ‘it looked like it had
just been delivered to my grandfather’s farm in 1945.’

I’d like to thank Michael Schlag and Ron Burns of River City
Machine in Salem for their help in this project, as well as Jim
Napp of Portland, Oregon, and Landis Zimmerman of Ephrata,
Pennsylvania, for their assistance in locating needed parts.

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