The famous Gradall excavator traces its roots back to the start of the 1940s. During this time, the second World War had created a scarcity of laborers since most of the young men went away to fight the war. This decrease in the labor force brought a huge need for the delicate work of finishing and grading highway projects.
Ferwerda-Werba-Ferwerda was a Cleveland, Ohio based construction business which faced this particular problem first hand. Koop and Ray Ferwerda were brothers who had moved from the Netherlands. They were partners in the firm that had become one of the major highway contractors in Ohio. The Ferwerdas' started to build a machine which would save both their business and their livelihoods by inventing a model that will perform what had previously been physical slope work. This creation was to offset the gap left in the worksite when lots of men had joined the military.
The initial device these brothers invented had 2 beams set on a rotating platform and was attached directly onto the top of a truck. They used a telescopic cylinder to move the beams in and out. This allowed the connected blade at the end of the beams to push or pull dirt.
The Ferwerda brothers improved on their first design by making a triangular boom to produce more strength. Next, they added a tilt cylinder which enabled the boom to turn forty-five degrees in either direction. This new unit can be equipped with either a blade or a bucket 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 a lot of work to be completed.
Numerous digging buckets became available on the market not long after. These buckets in sizes ranging from 15 inch, 24 inch, 36 inch and 60 inch buckets. There was additionally a 47 inch heavy-duty pavement removal bucket that was also offered.
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