Barn Find Gold!

1949 Cletrac ADH

Cletrac created a new market segment in 1916 when it introduced the diminutive model R crawler. When Rollin H. White founded Cleveland Motor Plow Company in 1916 (which became Cleveland Tractor Company in 1917) after having founded the White Motor Company, he had an idea for a small crawler tractor that could do the job of tilling ground and other farm tasks better than wheeled tractors. He had a point. Track-layers were not brand new, with Holt having debuted its first crawlers a few years earlier, but they were proving better at putting power to the ground than wheeled tractors… albeit at a higher cost.

Gregg Ostrowski works the old Cletrac with a single tine ripper. Gregg is a farmer and can’t wait for winter to get into fixing the Cletrac up so he can work it even more.

The R was a small unit, only eight feet long, rated at 10 drawbar horsepower and 18 on the belt. It cost $1185 in 1917. One of it’s better contemporaries was the $700 Fordson F, which was rated at 10 horses on the drawbar and 20 horsepower on the PTO from a slightly larger engine. The Cletrac R morphed into the H for 1917 and the W in 1919. They were all basically the same size and had the same engine but the W was heavier and had wider tracks. Cletrac rated the W a 12 drawbar horsepower and 20 on the belt.

The difference in performance was more apparent than the manufacturer’s advertised ratings… which were often fudged. When the $750 Fordson F was tested at Nebraska in 1920, the year the Nebraska test started, it developed 9.34 maximum drawbar horsepower, less than the 10 advertised, and 2,187 maximum pounds of pull with 36 percent slip from the driving wheels. The 1920 test of the $1495 Cletrac W yielded 15.34 drawbar horses, more than the 12 hp advertised, 1,734 pounds of pull… all at 8.8 percent slip. Both tractors had similar sized engines. Which unit do you think would deliver the best fuel economy and most consistent performance?

This ‘49 Cletrac ADH was in the fresh barn find category when displayed by Gregg Ostrowski at the 2020 Portland Tri-State Show. Other than being missing the louvered engine side covers, it’s in very complete and original condition. It’s a Hillside model with a 52 inch track gauge. It’s a true barn find, rescued only a couple of days before the show and fired up. The previous owner had owned it in a collection for 15-20 years but fortunately he exercised it once a year, so it withstood the idle years pretty well.

Though they also debuted larger crawlers for both ag and earthmoving applications over the years, Cletrac maintained a line of small ag crawlers as well. In 1936, Cletrac debuted their most modern iteration of the small crawler to date, the A-Series. The AG (G for gasoline) debuted first, with the AD (D for diesel) coming out for 1937. The AD proved popular and the four-cylinder AG was discontinued in 1942. An AD2 tractor was offered from ‘37-40 that used a Buda diesel instead of a Hercules. Most sources say this was due to shortages of the Hercules engine and the popularity of the AD series crawlers. Both engines were of similar displacement and power output.

As best as can be determined, this crawler was always an ag model and never had a blade attached. It mounts the optional 540 RPM, 10 spline PTO. It could also have mounted a rear PTO with no reduction to operate industrial equipment that needed higher RPMs. A belt pulley drive was also optional and it also featured a splined shaft PTO. The swinging drawbar is incorrect, the bar having been once broken and repaired with the wrong parts.

The Cletrac A-Line had three variations. The AG, which was gas powered, the diesel AD and the AGH or ADH, which were hillside crawlers with 50 inch track centers versus the standard 42. The four-cylinder gasoline AG, basically a gas version of the diesel four, morphed to the AG6 in 1944 with the update to a 226 cubic inch, six-cylinder Continental Red Seal engine with the same displacement and power as the diesel.

This picture really shows off the 52 inch track gauge. Mounted are the standard 12-inch grousers (track shoes) but a variety of styles and sizes were optional, including 20 inchers for the Hillside model.

In 1944, the retiring Rollin White sold Cletrac to Oliver, who soon changed the marketing name to Oliver-Cletrac but largely maintained the equipment lineup. In ‘49, Oliver began marketing them under the Oliver name and giving them model designations that started with “OC.” Other than labeling, the A series stayed the same until it was phased out in 1959. That was near the end of Oliver’s involvement in crawlers and just before White Motor Company bought Oliver. Oliver had begun introducing a new OC Series (OC for “Oliver-Cletrac”) crawlers in 1953, which were essentially Oliver tractors mated to Cletrac track assemblies. Eventually, evolutions of these would replace the A-Series crawlers and most of the other legacy Cletrac equipment. You could always see the Cletrac legacy but Oliver drifted out of the crawler market and finally ceased in 1965.upith the exception of an Oliver nametag, the AD stayed as it was until it was phased out of production in 1959.

The DOO series were as much automotive engines as ag and industrial. From the onset, Hercules offered repower kits for medium trucks, one of which featured the DOO. Mentioned in the catalog specifically are ‘35-42 Ford and ‘40-42 Chevrolet trucks. The engine shown is a conversion engine. This is a pretty good looking power and torque graph considering the era.

Isn’t it ironic that the White Motor Company, founded by Rollin White, bought Oliver in 1960 and also got Cletrac, another company he  founded. And Rollin White lived to see it. He lived until September of 1962, dying at age 90.


1949 Cletrac ADH

Engine: 4-cylinder diesel, Hercules DOOC
Displacement: 226.2 ci
Bore & Stroke: 4 x 4.5-in.
Mfr. Rated Drawbar Power: 30.5 hp
Mfr. Rated Belt Power: 38
Flywheel Power: 70 hp @ 2600
Flywheel Torque: 162 lbs-ft @ 1400 rpm
Compression Ratio:     14.5:1
Transmission: 3-speed
Weight:  7,950 lbs.
LxWxH: 101.5 x 58 x 54 in.
Fuel Capacity: 18 gal.
Fuel Consumption: 2.24 gph @ 1200 rpm, full load
Mfr. Drawbar Pull:       6,500 lbs.
Top Speed:                   3.74 mph


Tri-State Engine and Tractor Association

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