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 workers since nearly all of the young men went away to war. This decline in the work force brought a huge demand for the delicate work of grading and finishing highway projects.
A Cleveland, Ohio construction company known as Ferwerda-Werba-Ferwerda experienced this specific dilemma first hand. Two brothers, Koop and Ray Ferwerda had relocated to the United States from the Netherlands. They were partners in the company which had become among the leading highway contractors within the state of Ohio. The Ferwerdas' started to make an equipment which will save both their livelihoods and their business by inventing a model which will perform what had previously been manual slope work. This invention was to offset the gap left in the workplace when a lot of men had joined the army.
The initial apparatus 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 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.
After a short time, the Ferwerda brothers improved on their initial design. They made a triangular boom to create more strength. Next, they added a tilt cylinder that allowed 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 much work to be done.
Numerous digging buckets became available on the market not long later. These buckets in sizes ranging from 15 inch, 24 inch, 36 inch and 60 inch buckets. There was also a 47 inch heavy-duty pavement removal bucket that was also available.