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The Most Famous Tractor In The World. Well, maybe.

Hoyt Clagwell You start it up, and pyrotechnics go off that would shame any fireworks display. Point to one of its wheels, and it falls off. Point to a second wheel, and it falls off too. So does the steering wheel. Grab the wiring harness and the gauges fall out, saying you're flying at 3,000 feet. Whatever you do, don't call it any names or it might chase you around the barnyard.

This is a typical day in the life of a Hoyt Clagwell tractor.

We Car Lusters now travel back in time to the mid 1960s, somewhat abandon our senses, voyage about 300 miles from "Chicargo," and take the Cannonball to the town of Hooterville, which is near Crabwell Corners and Pixley. Then let's take a drive down an unnamed dusty county road and enter "The Old Haney Place," home of Lisa and Oliver Wendell Douglas, which has now been renamed "Green Acres."

We find a ramshackled country farmhouse, filled with stylish, modern furniture that looks like it came out of a Park Avenue, New York, apartment, because that's exactly what it did. Out back is gorgeous Lisa feeding Eleanor the cow and Henrietta the hen and her chicks, who also have individual names. In the nearby barn, poor Oliver and hired hand Eb Dawson (No kin to Jack) are hopelessly trying to get their old tractor going. Mr. Douglas is in his plowing suit today, so we know many of his acres need to be tilled.

The phone rings, and Oliver scrambles up the telephone pole to answer it. Then he loses his perch and falls off. This may be right after he gave his famous speech about planting seeds and watching them shoot up out of the ground, reach up to the sky, and turn into corn and wheat and alfalfa.

Hoyt Clagwell 2 In reality (If TV really has a reality), the Hoyt Clagwell was a 1918 Fordson Model F, and this tractor deserves an honored place in American farming and manufacturing history.

The Model F did for tractors what the Model T did for cars... that is, it put them into the hands of the people. It was the first mass-produced "automobile plow," using many of the same assembly line methods Henry Ford had developed for cars.

One unique design innovation was to make double use of the engine and drivetrain as the tractor's frame. This greatly reduced production time and costs, and is a feature used on virtually all tractors today.

According to Wikipedia, "It took thirty hours and forty minutes to convert the raw materials into the 4,000 parts used for the tractor assembly." The Model F cost $750 on October 8, 1917, when it was introduced; I can't remember how much Mr. Haney sold it to Oliver for. I doubt much less.

Hoyt Clagwell 3The early Fordsons were not without their faults. Just like in the show, they were hard to start, the wheels broke, and they overheated. They had a nasty tendency to flip over backwards since they were aft-end heavy. Later on, larger radiators helped cure the overheating and weight distribution problems. And like the Hoyt Clagwell, their reliability was "uneven" at best.

I don't think Oliver's tractor would have any trouble flipping over, as its steel wheels were smoothed - possibly to avoid damage to the studio's concrete floors. This also meant that it would spin on any terran surface, and would easily get stuck in soft soil.

007So it's time to fess up a little. It seems I've lived somewhat like I was on Green Acres for about 50 years now; the parallels are almost uncanny. Our house is not unlike The Old Haney Place (just reversed), as it's the typical shotgun-style farmhouse, complete with a loose front door knob and is in constant need of paint and repair.

Also like The Old Haney Place, we've been on TV a bit. The residence has been in about 30 video productions, with country music videos starring Ricky van Shelton (A Couple Of Good Years Left), Mark Chesnutt (She Was), Holly Dunn (Two Too Many), and others. Joe Diffie's national Ford Trucks ads were done here, The Judds' Oldsmobile commercial (at 16:00) used the place, and we were on Christmas with Billy Graham in 2006. We also based TNN's Road Test Magazine television show here for two years. Peter Graves even spent a day with us lensing a Fuji Film commercial the same month Airplane! was released. I'm currently working with Clarity Entertainment about shooting the first movie at "The Old Lynch Place."

We also had an antique grey tractor, a Ferguson TO-30, which is a descendant of the Model F. It served us well until a larger John Deere 2150 came along. Though the Ferguson was slow to start sometimes (It even had a hand crank), none of its wheels ever fell off. But it did chase me one time (That's another story!).

So obviously, my feelings for a Hoyt Clagwell, Green Acres, and Hooterville run deeper than most folks'.

I'd like to add that the Douglases (Douglii?) always drove a new 1960s Lincoln Continental convertible, that is as long as Ford made them. Oliver stepped down into a Mercury towards the end of the show's run; maybe Mr. Haney was finally draining Oliver of his wealth. Actually, Oliver did all of the driving until their reunion show, Return To Green Acres. By then, Lisa had mastered navigating a large classic convertible.

Hoyt clagwell credit

Getting back to tractors, I just have to laugh at this credit. The Green Acres producers frequently added funny credits, such as "Carpentry By Alf & Ralph Monroe," or painting their names on the chicken eggs. Here, at the end of one episode only (Right before Lisa says, "This has been a Filmways presentation, Dahling!"), the producers finally gave homage to the Hoyt Clagwell. The name is hyphened there, but on the radiator of the tractor, there is no hyphen.

Hoyt-clagwell model The legend lives on. ERTL made these metal scale models of the Hoyt Clagwell, and I'm sure a few are still around.

There's also a great Green Acres website, where you can learn and/or buy most anything about Hooterville and its citizens.

I wish there were new TV shows like Green Acres today. This was absolute hilarious and innocent comedy writing. Maybe the trend of well-written comedy shows will return and reprise a whole new genre of television, and we could someday see a reduction in these senseless and cheaply-produced "reality" shows.

Maybe.

--That Car (and Tractor) Guy (Chuck)

Image Credits: The dapper Oliver & Lisa photo on the Hoyt Clagwell is from Maggiore.net. The radiator image is from AntiqueRadios.com. Our Hoyt Clagwell "glamour" shot is from Maggiore.net. I took the photograph of our house on 10/20/11. The ending credit credit is from Imageshack.us. The scale model image is from Faculty.Plattsburgh.edu.

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Awesome. But you forgot the directed bys.

The other week I saw a 1970 episode on the internet and in it, Oliver was driving a two-door Lincoln convertible.
Whattheheck?
Lincoln never made a two-door convertible in the late 60s.
Since it lacked any sign of a folding roof and had a terrible looking whindshield top, I'm sure it was a cut down 68-70 Lincoln coupe.

When I'm on my lawn tractor mowing my lawn out here in the country, I can't get the Green Acres song out of my mind.
Compared to my rural neighbors, I'm a city dude, I have a glamorous wife with a foreign accent, and my basset hound thinks he's a person, not unlike Arnold the pig.
Help...I'm living in a sitcom!!!

Let's not forget that Arnold the pig fell in love with Cynthia the "basket hound" in one episode.

"Let's move to Pixley. Nobody knows us there."

Total comedy writing genius!

Oh, that might have been a Mercury convertible in the 1970 episode, since Lincoln stopped making them in 1969.

How Do You Find Yourself In Music Videos & Commericals For Mediorcre GM Sedans?

Al, there aren't many old farms left in our immediate area... we're about 20 minutes from downtown Nashville. We have the old house, barns, a tractor, and 40 acres to film on, all in one spot. Also, I have a 30+-year career in media.

Mediocre? You're being kind.

Also, The Judds were our neighbors; "Mama, He's Crazy" ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLsT0wtNGGk ) was filmed at their (then) house, about a mile from me. So were Jimmy Buffett, Kim Carnes, and Jo Dee Messina neighbors. Oops, I'm name dropping now.

Yeah, well I urinated next to Robert Reed once.

I've gone back to watch some of those old sitcoms after reaching adulthood and finally noticed a lot of the naughty stuff they put in there.

The tendency for early tractors to flip was not due to poor weight distribution, but rather to simple physics. If you were pulling a plow through the ground and hit something relatively unmoveable (rock, root), and your drive wheels had enough traction, the "equal and opposite reaction" was that the tractor rotated around the now-stationary drive axle. As this happens in about 1.5 seconds, it very often resulted in the operator's death by crushing.

Harry Fergeson (of your TO-30 fame) invented the three-point hitch, which replaced the drawbar with a triangulated system of three bars in such a way that if the implement stopped suddenly, the resulting force was transferred up the top link, and acted to not only stop the tractor tipping, but also lifted the drive wheels out of the dirt a bit.

Mr. Fergeson demonstrated the system to Henry Ford, they agreed to combine forces, literally on a handshake, and thus the Ford 9N tractor was born in the USA in 1939 along with the TO series in the UK (although they look similar, they are two completely different tractors).

Ford stopped paying royalties to Fergeson with the introduction of the 8N in 1948, which led to a lawsuit by Fergeson...

Back to the flipping issue, this still happens today when folks attempt to pull things with their tractors by attaching a chain to some large, unwieldy object and directly to some point on the tractor (which bypasses the safety feature of the three-point system).

Res, you are absolutely correct about the 3-point hitch system being a much safer way to operate a piece of farm equipment. And when we bought the 2150, for better stability, we had two large weights added to the front. They are visible in the "She Was" video.

However, I mentioned that the Ferguson TO-30 chased me one time. That's because I needed to move the tractor from one location to another, but had a motorcycle at the location as well. So I let a friend drive the tractor and I rode the bike, since he had never operated the bike. We were 14. I led the way, he hit a pile of gravel, the front end bounced, and he lost control and hit the bike I was on, knocking it out from under me. I stepped out of the way just in time and was not hurt. Surprisingly, the bike was almost undamaged.

I used to "wheelie" the TO-30 for about 50 feet at a time with no implement attached; the John Deere is too front-heavy for that. But I have certainly tried. When I was on the rescue squad, we lifted a TO-30-sized tractor off of a gentlemen it had crushed several hours earlier. Trust me, they can flip over. People think tractors are slow and cumbersome, but they can quickly get out of hand. I think they all need rollover protection, but that's yet to happen.

As far as using a chain and pulling things, you should attach it on the front, not the back, so the thing won't flip over as easily. You can't be too careful on a tractor. ;)

One of the things that always got me about the Hoyt-Clagwell is that the name "Hoyt-Clagwell" sounds perfectly plausible for a manufacturer of farm implements. It's not one of those obvious joke names like "Thrust & Parry Fence Co." or "Gozaganthsza Grain Elevator" or "Standard Gas & Intestine."

A former co-worker was crazy about The Andy Griffith Show and Green Acres (I think his TV was permanently turned to Nick at Night).

He told me that in one episode Oliver nneded to buy some parts for the Hoyt-Clagwell and they were out of Fargo, North Dakota.
So Oliver climbs the telphone pole to make a call and the local operator can't connect him because her switchboard "Doesn't have a Fargo hole".

Around the house when my wife asks me where something is, if I don't know I tell her it's "Next to the Fargo hole".
She has no idea what I'm talking about. :)

Odd, but I did a Google search for "Hooterville", and found a listing for a Hooterville, Illinois. I also typed in the name "Hooterville" on a weather-report-search page, and got a weather report for the same town, including mention of its airport! Elsewhere, I only read that "Hooterville" is fictitious. Is there a real Hooterville in Illinois?

res on October 26, 2011 at 06:26 PM said "Harry Fergeson (of your TO-30 fame) invented the three-point hitch, which replaced the drawbar with a triangulated system of three bars in such a way that if the implement stopped suddenly, the resulting force was transferred up the top link, and acted to not only stop the tractor tipping, but also lifted the drive wheels out of the dirt a bit."
This is absolute nonsense. When the top link on the 3 point hitch is pulled on, the hydraulic system tries to lift the 3 point and has NO connection to the drive train to stop forward motion. If you are plowing and hit something, it actually adds pressure downward on the drive wheels when trying to lift the plow out of the ground.

I would really like to locate the tractor used on the show. Does anyone know where it is? It would make a great exhibit for my antique tractor club in Penfield Illinois. Also, just outside of Minot AFB in North Dakota is a little town named Ruthville, but was known as "Hooterville" to us airmen in 1970. A restaurant in Minot served a dinner plate sized hamburger with everything called "The Hooterburger"....$3.95!

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