4805 266th Street East Spanaway, Washington 98387
My interest in tractor restoration was piqued by my encounter with a co-worker, Tom Dick, who has been involved in ‘old iron’ for many years. As we were traveling together to a job site in the late winter of ’91, he spotted a rusty crawler covered with blackberry bushes in a field. This discovery prompted a ‘STOP!’ After he had made an inspection, Tom formed the opinion that this was an old tractor with potential. We were interested in trying to find the owner to inquire if the crawler was for sale. It was at this time that memories from my childhood of playing with toy construction equipment on a dirt pile prompted me to feel that I wanted this tractor.
Realizing that a restoration project on such a tractor was not for a beginner, I asked if he would be willing to provide his expertise if I undertook this project, as he was responsible for getting me interested in the first place.
After purchasing the tractor, bringing it home and removing the debris by pressure washing it, it looked much better; however, it revealed that substantial repair was needed. Trying to maintain my enthusiasm, I dismantled it and discovered a cracked block, worn gears, broken housings, and a tired, stuck motor. At this point, when it looked like the next trip for this tractor was the scrap yard, my neighbor, Will Welsch, a welder by trade, volunteered to assist in the welding work and encouraged me not to give up. Following many inquiries into the history and construction of the Cletrac, and with thanks to Bill Bechtold of Lodi, California, for his suggestions and expertise, we were able to restore the tractor after 18 months of work.
With a combination of the initial weeks of doubt followed by the months of hard work, I’m looking forward to years of enjoyment in owning and showing this tractor, as well as the gratification in watching a rusty heap of metal be reformed into an original replica of its former self.
A comment to newcomers in the field of tractor restoration, with which I think the old timers will agree, is that this is not a cheap hobby. Parts, if available, are expensive. Wives grow weary of the mess and smell of 90W gear oil. If the time comes that you sell, your labor cannot be considered in the selling price, for your own effort is your own reward. But, the rewards are many, and pride prevails when your peers say: ‘Nice job; front page!’