A Challenging Project: General GG Tractor Restoration

Iowa youth's first tractor restoration starts as a puzzling basket case.

| November 2008

  • GeneralGG1019tractor.jpg
    The tricycle-style General GG 10-19 tractor had a single front wheel with a tire size of 5.50×16. Cameron’s tractor sports all new tires.
  • GeneralGGtractor.jpg
    The rear view of Cameron Luedtke’s General GG tractor. It’s difficult to determine what year the tractor is as it came as a true basket case.
  • GeneralGGtractor2.jpg
    The engine used in Cameron’s General GG tractor is a Hercules IXA-3 4-cylinder, 3-by-4-inch engine, the same as used in the Cleveland Tractor Co. HG crawler. The engine on this General had to be rebuilt.
  • GeneralGGtractor1.jpg
    The restored General GG tractor.
    Photo courtesy of Dee Luedtke.
  • GeneralGGtractor3.jpg
    Rear drive-wheel tires on the tricycle General GG tractor were size 9.5×24.
  • SizeofUndertaking.jpg
    This “before” picture shows the size of the undertaking.
    Photo courtesy of Cameron Luedtke.
  • BeforeFinishedTractor.jpg
    An intermediate view, after the tractor had been set together, but not finished and painted.
  • GeneralGGTractor4.jpg
    The outline of the General GG tractor built by Cleveland Tractor Co. is very similar to the Montgomery Ward & Co. twin-row tractor, which CTC also built, and to the B.F. Avery Model A.
  • GeneralGGTractor4-3.jpg
    The finished restoration.
  • GeneralGGTractor4-1.jpg
    This side view of a B.F. Avery Model A tractor shows how similar it is to the General GG. However, note the difference in the grilles.
  • GeneralGGTractor4-2.jpg
    Cameron restored the General GG tractor with his grandfather’s help.
    Photo courtesy of Jon Read, Read Photography.

  • GeneralGG1019tractor.jpg
  • GeneralGGtractor.jpg
  • GeneralGGtractor2.jpg
  • GeneralGGtractor1.jpg
  • GeneralGGtractor3.jpg
  • SizeofUndertaking.jpg
  • BeforeFinishedTractor.jpg
  • GeneralGGTractor4.jpg
  • GeneralGGTractor4-3.jpg
  • GeneralGGTractor4-1.jpg
  • GeneralGGTractor4-2.jpg

While a seventh grader in Marion, Iowa, Cameron Luedtke built his own tractor. That wasn't what he called his 4-H project, nor how he thought about it at the time. But as it turned out, that's what he did.

"My father (Kurt Luedtke) bought this tractor at an auction in 1996," says Cameron, now 19. "He was going to restore it, but never got around to it because he got too busy. He took it apart and put it in a box, but that was as far as it got."

In 2002, Cameron figured he might be able to restore the farm tractor as a 4-H project. "That's how I got started on it," he says. And that's when the learning process began.

Tractor with no name

Cameron's grandpa Willis Lillie restores tractors, so together they pulled the tractor parts out of the barn. It didn't take the pair long to discover that they didn't know what kind of tractor it was. "The parts were similar to the B.F. Avery tractor, and overall it looked something like that too," Cameron says, "but when we started looking at the fine details, we saw some parts were different."



Grandpa came to the rescue, digging up a calendar showing a tractor manufactured by Cleveland Tractor Company (Ohio) called the General GG 10-19. "We noticed some parts on our tractor were different from parts on the B.F. Avery," Cameron says, "including the grille, which was the same as the grille on the General tractor in the calendar."

Another part of the learning curve for Cameron was figuring out which parts were missing, which were unusable and which were usable. The inventory came out this way, he says: front and rear tires were rotted, clutch and motor parts were missing, and the piston rings, generator bearing, gaskets, wiring harness, clutch, hoses, decals and back rims were either suspect or unusable.



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