LETTERS TO THE EDITOR


| September 2002



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Howard A. BuddTractor

While traveling a side road in Woodstock, Conn., I drove by a deserted farm. The barn was rundown, with a door missing, and a bank foreclosure sign stood in the yard. I'm not ordinarily a person who trespasses on someone else's property, but curiosity took over as I wondered what piece of iron might be inside that barn.

I backed up in front of the barn but couldn't see much inside the dark opening. Determined to have a closer look, I jumped out of my pick up truck, pushed my way through the tall weeds and carefully peered into the barn. When my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I saw the familiar outline of a dusty tractor steering wheel poking out of a collection of crates, buckets and long-forgotten farm tools. Boy, was I excited! My tractor meter was pegged! This was a model I'd never seen.

The hood was missing and the tractor was so dusty that I couldn't tell what color it used to be. I wiped off the grille and saw it was a rusty orange. My first thought was that it must be an Allis-Chalmers, or maybe a Case, but the styling puzzled me. It had a strange-looking single-front wheel with a very primitive-style fork.

I looked around for more clues, and leaning against one of the old, rough barn posts was the hood, with the lettering 'The General, Cleveland Tractor Company.' I remembered. Cleveland Tractor Co. ... that's Cletrac. Cletrac made crawlers, not tractors.

This is some of what I discovered: The General was made from 1939 to 1941 by the Cleveland Tractor Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. General GG was the model designation, and it was available exclusively in tricycle configuration. A Hercules IXA-3, four-cylinder, 3- by 4-inch gasoline engine, rated at 12-15 hp, powered the unit. This was the only wheeled tractor ever offered by the Cleveland Tractor Co., makers of the once famous 'Cletrac' Crawlers. 

After 1941, the B.F. Avery Co. sold this tractor, painted red and \with a slightly larger, 3 1/8 inch-bore Hercules engine. It also was sold for two years by Massey-Harris dealers, but there, it remained Cletrac yellow and did not bear the Massey name.