Gradall began producing its famous excavator during the 1940's, during a time in which World War II had created a shortage of workers. This decline in the work force brought a huge need for the delicate work of finishing and grading highway projects.
A Cleveland, Ohio construction business referred to as Ferwerda-Werba-Ferwerda faced this specific dilemma first hand. Two brothers, Ray and Koop Ferwerda had relocated to the USA from the Netherlands. They were partners in the company which had become among the leading highway contractors in the state of Ohio. The Ferwerdas' started to make a machinery that would save both their livelihoods and their business by inventing a unit that will carry out what had previously been physical slope work. This creation was to offset the gap left in the worksite when so many men had joined the army.
The brothers first invented an apparatus that had 2 beams set on a rotating platform, which was connected on top of a second-hand 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 pull or push dirt.
After a short time, the Ferwerda brothers improved on their first design. They created a triangular boom to create more power. Then, they added a tilt cylinder which enabled the boom to turn forty-five degrees in either direction. This new unit could 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 finished.
Many digging buckets became available on the market not long after. These buckets in sizes varying from 15 inch, 24 inch, 36 inch and 60 inch buckets. There was also a 47 inch heavy-duty pavement removal bucket that was available as well.
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