Gradall started producing its well-known excavator during the 1940's, during a time wherein the second World War had caused a scarcity of laborers. This decline in the labor force brought a huge demand for the delicate work of finishing and grading highway projects.
A Cleveland, Ohio construction company known as Ferwerda-Werba-Ferwerda faced this particular dilemma first hand. Two brothers, Koop and Ray Ferwerda had relocated to the USA from the Netherlands. They were partners in the company that had become amongst the leading highway contractors within the state of Ohio. The Ferwerdas' set out to build an equipment that will save their business and their livelihoods by inventing a model that would do what had before been physical slope work. This creation was to offset the gap left in the workplace when a lot of men had joined the military.
The brothers initially created an apparatus which had 2 beams set on a rotating platform, that was connected on top of a used truck. They used a telescopic cylinder to move the beams in and out. This enabled the attached blade at the end of the beams to pull or push dirt.
The Ferwerda brothers improved on their first design by creating a triangular boom to produce more strength. After that, they added a tilt cylinder that enabled the boom to turn 45 degrees in either direction. This new model can be outfitted with either a blade or a bucket and the attachment movement was made possible by placing a cylinder at the back of the boom. This design powered a long push rod and allowed a lot of work to be done.
Not a long time later, numerous digging buckets became available on the market. These buckets came in 15 inch, 24 inch, 36 inch and 60 inch sizes. There was also a 47 inch heavy-duty pavement removal bucket that was offered too.
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