Master Sargent Snowplow: Tackles Snowdrifts With Ease

A Sargent snowplow, in need of a full restoration, became the perfect addition to Dick Moody's 1930 Cletrac K20.

| January 2015

In 1985, when Dick Moody got a lead on a 1930 Cletrac K20, plowing snow was the last thing on his mind. But old iron has a funny way of calling the shots. “I didn’t know what a Cletrac was,” he says, “but I had always wanted a crawler, and being young – in my early 40s, and ‘can do anything’ – I went to look at it. It did look pretty sad, very rusty with no paint showing, no tin, gas tank badly dented, engine stuck, no magneto and no carburetor. Still, being young and stupid, I bought it for $450.”

When he got the crawler home, Dick – who lives in New Boston, New Hampshire – poured most of a gallon of WD-40 in the cylinders. “I got the biggest Stillson wrench I could find and a 6-foot pipe and jumped on the handle,” he says, “and nothing.” For three years, every time he walked by the Cletrac, he jumped on the wrench. Finally, one day it moved. After the engine finally turned over, he removed everything he could; then he sandblasted and primed all of it.

Next, he pulled the head, hand-lapped the valves and took shims out of the connecting rods and main bearings. The pistons weren’t broken (“where was I going to get new pistons anyway?”) so he honed the bores, cleaned the pistons and bought new rings.

Improvising as needed

Dick tracked down Cletrac literature, an owner’s manual and a sales data sheet. Photos in that material showed what type of magneto and carburetor he needed. He found a magneto at a Dublin, New Hampshire, engine show but the search for a carburetor took longer. “A year later I found a carburetor that would work,” he says, “but it wasn’t the right Cletrac carburetor, which has a square end. I turned the radiator around to improve the looks of it. It still leaks a little but black pepper keeps it under control. Actually it makes a great conversation starter.  People will ask, ‘Hey, did you know your radiator leaks?’”

At the Dublin show, Dick met Wayne Fisher, who had a Model K in excellent condition. He offered to loan his tin to use in making patterns for duplicate hood and side panels. Dick pounded out the gas tank and filled the dents with body putty. “The whole job was starting to come together and being the optimist I am, I painted the tractor and fired it up,” he says. “Whoops. No clutch.”

The clutch spring was broken and Dick despaired of finding a flat-wire spring wound in a helical shape. But he soon met a young man with a K20 with a good spring that he was willing to part out. “I beat feet over to his place and sure enough, he had already taken the spring out for me,” Dick recalls. “He wouldn’t take any money for it; he just wanted to see it run. Soon after, I found out he had just lost his job the previous week. I have never forgotten him.”