The famous Gradall excavator traces its roots back to the start of the 1940s. During this time, WWII had caused a scarcity of workers since nearly all of the young men went away to war. This decline in the labor force brought a huge demand for the delicate work of grading and finishing highway projects.
A Cleveland, Ohio construction business known as Ferwerda-Werba-Ferwerda experienced this particular problem first hand. Two brothers, Ray and Koop Ferwerda had moved to the USA from the Netherlands. They were partners in the business which had become among the major highway contractors in the state of Ohio. The Ferwerdas' set out to make an equipment which will save their livelihoods and their company by making a unit which would carry out what had previously been manual slope work. This creation was to offset the gap left in the worksite when so many men had joined the military.
The brothers first invented a device which had 2 beams set on a rotating platform, which was connected on top of a second-hand truck. They used a telescopic cylinder to be able to move the beams in and out. This enabled the connected blade at the end of the beams to push or pull dirt.
After a short time, the Ferwerda brothers improved on their first design. They created a triangular boom to produce more power. Next, they added a tilt cylinder which allowed the boom to rotate forty-five degrees in either direction. This new model can be outfitted with either a bucket or a blade and the attachment movement was made possible by placing a cylinder at the rear of the boom. This design powered a long push rod and allowed much work to be done.
Not a long time later, many digging buckets were introduced on the market. These buckets came in 15 inch, 24 inch, 36 inch and 60 inch sizes. There was additionally a 47 inch heavy-duty pavement removal bucket that was also offered.
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