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Issue # 31: The Oliver OC-46 Crawler Tractor

The OC-46: The tractor that made a good start for us
By Landis Zimmerman

The Oliver OC-46 crawler tractor was responsible for putting us in the Oliver-Cletrac crawler tractor parts business. Everyone gets a start somewhere. Hereís how we got started.

In the mid 1980ís, I was operating a small machine and fabricating shop. I also raised some vegetables during the summer on our 6-acre hillside property. The shale-type soil we farmed was in dire need to be built up. I started by having mushroom soil hauled in here by the semi-loads, which we would spread thickly across the land and plow down. I owned a wheel-tractor with a loader on it, which was used to handle this humus. I soon learned that this tractor/loader was woefully inadequate for this job. I started to look around for a small crawler loader that might also provide some drawbar power in the field. The Oliver OC-4 caught my eye, since my neighbor, Jonas Hoover had one that he purchased when it was introduced.

Sometime in 1988, an ad appeared in the Lancaster Farming Newspaper advertising Oliver crawler tractors for sale. The advertiser was from Hackettstown, New Jersey and claimed to have quite a large selection of Oliver crawlers. He claimed to have an Oliver OC-46 crawler loader, but needed to get it ready to sell. A deal was made and a down payment was sent. One Saturday, several months later, my long awaited OC-46 arrived. Letís say, my education process started right away as far as the OC-46 was concerned. I tended to be a trusting individual and somewhat naÔve at the time. This seller took full advantage of this situation. That tractor wasnít at all like he had promised. He made it clear that I would forfeit my down payment if he had to take it back (although this might have been cheaper in the long run.) He promised to send some parts to correct some of the problems such as the bucket that had most of the bottom rusted out. This never happened.

After the seller and my money departed out of the driveway, I began to do some further inspection. In due time, I had acquired a parts book and a shop manual for this unit. Armed with this information, I started to notice some additional faults. First, there wasnít an oil filter on the engine. The engine oil was as thick as molasses. Upon calling the seller, he informed me that they had put 5 cans of STP in the oil. Upon draining this oil mess out of the engine, I refilled it with SAE 30 motor oil. Now I had little or no oil pressure. Later, we found that the standard main bearings had been installed on an undersize crankshaft.

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