The famous Gradall excavator traces its roots back to the start of the 1940s. During this time, the second World War had caused a shortage of laborers as the majority of the young men went away to war. This decrease in the work force brought a huge demand for the delicate work of finishing and grading highway projects.
A Cleveland, Ohio construction company referred to as Ferwerda-Werba-Ferwerda experienced this specific dilemma first hand. Two brothers, Ray and Koop Ferwerda had relocated to the USA from the Netherlands. They were partners in the business that had become one of the leading highway contractors in Ohio. The Ferwerdas' set out to make a machinery that will save their livelihoods and their business by making a unit which will carry out what had previously been physical slope work. This creation was to offset the gap left in the workplace when a lot of men had joined the army.
The initial apparatus these brothers created had 2 beams set on a rotating platform and was connected directly onto the top of a truck. They utilized a telescopic cylinder to be able to move the beams in and out. This allowed the fixed blade at the end of the beams to pull or push dirt.
The Ferwerda brothers improved on their first design by making a triangular boom to produce more power. After that, they added a tilt cylinder which enabled the boom to rotate forty-five degrees in either direction. This new unit could be equipped 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 completed.
Not a long time later, numerous digging buckets were introduced 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 which was also available.