The photograph shows another project that will keep me from getting in trouble. It is a model K 20 Cletrac tractor, probably manufactured about 1930. It was given to me by the family of one of my best friends, Chuck Whitcher, described here, who originally hooked me on the hobby of restoring old farm machinery, and who sadly recently died. Chuck had wanted to give it to me but I resisted because my cup is overflowing with projects of this sort.
However, I finally could not resist it, because it so perfectly fulfilled my requirements, such as:
- I have had no hands-on experience with Cletracs, a very successful run of machines made by the Cleveland Tractor company. I grew up around Caterpillar tractors, and my oldest son and I have several older models. But Cletracs have fanatic and organized fans and fan clubs, and the owners of them delight in pointing out the advantages of them over Caterpillars of the same age. Obviously a chance to learn something here.
- It is in my favorite condition – completely, but not terminally rusted, seemingly complete, and although not running, and probably not run for many many years, boasts an engine that with a large amount of effort, can be turned with the crank.
- In its present state has low value (except to me), and therefore I can happily accept it as a gift.
- It has that “Cletrac” look, from its Snoopy-doghouse engine compartment to its steering wheel (can you believe a steering wheel for a track layer?). Also lots of track wheels, which will help make up for the local loss of Jacque Littlefield’s tank collection.
- In restoring it, I will meet large numbers of very likable people, who are not only owners and restorers of these machines, but know the way to replacement parts, if necessary.
- It was owned by Chuck who was both a wonderful man and a mentor of mine.
The photograph to the left gives an indication of its present patina, and I plan to give the tractor special treatment to preserve it. Ordinarily, I tend to de-rust old machines and paint them in original colors. For this one, I will get it running well, figure out how to smooth out the rust, and give it some kind of coating to retain it. I want it to be proud of its age, just as I hope Chuck was when he died at the age of 91.