Gradall started producing its well-known excavator during the 1940's, during a time wherein WWII had caused a shortage of workers. This decrease in the labor force brought a huge demand for the delicate work of grading and finishing highway projects.
A Cleveland, Ohio construction company referred to as Ferwerda-Werba-Ferwerda faced this specific dilemma first hand. Two brothers, Ray and Koop Ferwerda had moved to the USA from the Netherlands. They were partners in the company which had become one of the leading highway contractors within Ohio. The Ferwerdas' started to build a machinery that would save their business and their livelihoods by making a model that would perform what had previously been physical slope work. This invention was to offset the gap left in the workplace when so many men had joined the army.
The brothers first invented an apparatus which had 2 beams set on a rotating platform, which was attached on top of a second-hand truck. They used a telescopic cylinder to move the beams out and in. This enabled the connected blade at the end of the beams to pull or push dirt.
After a short time, the Ferwerda brothers improved on their initial design. They created a triangular boom to create more power. After that, they added a tilt cylinder that enabled the boom to turn forty-five 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 rear of the boom. This design powered a long push rod and allowed a lot of work to be done.
Not a long time after, many digging buckets became available 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 available.
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