General Interest: The Cletrac General GG

A Cletrac General GG takes its place in an Oliver tractor collection.

| August 2015

One might ask what a little Cletrac General is doing sitting in a building full of Oliver green tractors. I grew up on the seat of a 1946 Oliver 70 that my father purchased new after World War II, when tractors were hard to come by.

My blood runs green, dark green that is, with red and yellow trim. My stable sports a 1948 Oliver 60 row crop, three Oliver 70s (1937, 1938 and 1946), 1951 Oliver 66, two 77s (1949 and 1952), two Super 55s (1955 and 1958), a Super 77 and a Super 88. Three of the four Supers are diesels. And of course I have one three-number series: an Oliver 440.

Rare entry in the Cletrac line

I knew that Oliver Corp. purchased Cletrac in 1944, but was unaware that Cletrac had built a wheeled tractor. One day, while checking on the progress of the restoration of my Super 88 diesel, I found the men working on a Cletrac General. It was an odd-looking little tractor with a single front wheel, little 9 x 24-inch rear tires and it was orange.

That encounter sparked my interest. After having my Oliver 44 restored and showing it at a tractor show or two, I got the urge to collect little tractors. I could find only one Cletrac General in my vicinity, but the owner was in failing health and would not show it to me. After his death, I purchased it at his estate sale.

The former owner’s sons pulled it to start it, and it sounded good. Many things were wrong with it, though. The radiator leaked like a sieve. Someone had used a torch to cut off the yoke for the front wheel. A spindle with two front wheels had been welded into its place. An International Harvester carburetor and magneto had been installed. The whole air cleaner mechanism was missing. And oh, what a nasty color: It had been painted red with a brush.

Double-checking bloodlines

The restoration process began. In researching, I learned that Montgomery Ward & Co. bought some of these, painted them red, changed the serial number plate to read Montgomery Ward and called them Twin-Rows. They sold these through their catalog. Since mine was painted red, I checked the serial number plate to be certain it was a General: It was.