Every old tractor has a story, and they are often also the stories of our farms, our families, our communities and ourselves. That turned out to be the case when Jerry Kohl discovered a broken down old 1940s Oliver Cletrac HG in a Nebraska river bottom. Kohl got it out and set to work restoring it, while also trying to uncover a bit of its history. What he found was a big surprise.
Kohl had grown up just a couple of miles away, assisting his father -- a mechanic -- in fixing local farmers' tractors. Four decades later, he would find himself working on the very same machine he once helped repair as a young boy.
Once he had uncovered the connection, the memories came flooding back. Kohl tells The American Agriculturist that the low, wide-slung crawler tractor was pretty distinctive in that neck of the woods.
"Where I grew up, we had three or four farmers in the whole area that used crawlers and they were all on the river," Kohl says. "It wouldn't compact the dirt in the field, and it would work in fields that wheeled tractors would get stuck in."
The mechanic spent the next five years restoring the historic machine, which now resides in the Lester F. Larsen Tractor Test and Power Museum. He worked on the project with his son, grandsons and even a class of local high school students studying auto mechanics.
Kohl says the hardest part was tracking down all of the necessary tractor replacement parts, looking as far as Virginia for a radiator and Canada for the right grille. Fortunately for other tractor restoration enthusiasts, our simple online hub lets you find the parts you need with the click of a computer mouse. The digital database instantly trolls through millions of listings from reputable sellers to show you exactly who has what you are looking for, leaving you more time to focus on your machine.