Oliver Cletrac HG and OC-3

| 6/25/2013 4:56:37 PM

The Cleveland Tractor Company began in 1911, when Rollin H. White, with the help of his brother Clarence, worked to develop a farm tractor. White already had a successful steam car, as well as a line of both steam and gasoline powered trucks on the market.

After trying several unsatisfactory wheeled tractor designs, White came up with a promising crawler design, featuring his patented Controlled Differential Steering mechanism, which was used, with many improvements, until Oliver ended crawler tractor production in 1965.

The Cleveland Motor Plow Company was incorporated in January, 1916, to build the new crawler tractor. In 1917, the name was changed to the Cleveland Tractor Company, and a year later, the “Cletrac” trademark was adopted.

Between 1916 and 1944, Cletrac produced some 75 different tractor models, one of which was the HG. Introduced in 1939, the little HG crawler was powered by a Hercules IXA-3, 3” X 4” engine that developed about 14 drawbar horsepower. In Nebraska Tractor Test No. 324, of August, 1939, the 3500 pound Model HG pulled 2800 pounds, almost 80% of its own weight while using 1.5 gallons of gas per hour.

Sometime after Oliver bought out the Cleveland Tractor Company in 1944, an improved version of the HG came out. It now had a 3 1/8” X 4” Hercules IXK-3 engine, turning about 16 1/2 hp, and was available with a belt pulley and PTO shaft, as well as a variety of track pads for different applications.

The Cletrac HG could be ordered with center-to-center track widths of 31, 42, 60, or 68 inches, allowing them to be used in very limited spaces, as well as for row crop work. One interesting variation of the HG that came out in the late ‘40s was a rubber tracked version known as the HGR. It was a great idea, anticipating today’s popular Challenger and other rubber tracked machines, but back then it didn’t work. The rubber belt tracks kept stretching, while stones and other debris got between the belts and the drive wheels, tearing up the rubber. Although Oliver and the three major rubber companies tried to make it work, Oliver finally had to recall some 200 rubber treaded machines and convert them to steel tracks. A few rubber tracked HGs survived and one is occasionally seen at Oliver themed shows.

9/1/2019 5:19:25 PM

I was a young boy in the rolling hills in Southwestern Michigan when my dad purchased an Oliver HG Cletrac. There were many farmers who had them in our area as we had hills and also a very good local Oliver dealer in Cassopolis, Michigan. I remember plowing with it with a 2-14 inch trailer plow. It just clattered right along in our hills. The plow had a spring hitch when unhooked when a stone was hit by the plow (a common occurrence) and I would have to back up to the hitch to hook it up again. We also had a 2 row front mounted cultivator which was great to cultivate our corn with. It had a belt pulley to grind our cow feed with a Sears hammermill. We also used it to bale hay with it. It was a great tractor. We replaced it with an OC-3 and then with an OC-6.

8/5/2013 2:26:57 PM

Morning, Taishea. Yes, I do know southwest from southeast but sometimes my typing finger doesn't. You have a nice collection of Cletrac crawlers - thanks for exhibiting them. I won't make it to the Brownsville Show this weekend, I'm sorry to say - I always enjoy it. Sam Moore

Taishea Ross
7/9/2013 4:49:32 PM

Hi there! My family are the owners of these crawlers. The article was very factual. I just want to be sure that you know we are in southwest Pa not south east. Thank you. The little Cletrac HG42" was a crawler that was produced about the time Oliver bought Cletrac out (October 30, 1944) and the emblems are still readable as it is all original paint.The oval is still the Cletrac oval, but under Cletrac, it reads "The Oliver Corporation" not Cleveland Tractor company. I think it is a nice piece of history. Thanks again for this article..Taishea L. Ross


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