The well-known Gradall excavator traces its roots back to the start of the 1940s. During this time, WWII had created a shortage of workers since the majority of the young men went away to war. This decline in the work force brought a huge need for the delicate work of grading and finishing highway projects.
A Cleveland, Ohio construction company known as Ferwerda-Werba-Ferwerda experienced this particular dilemma first hand. Two brothers, Ray and Koop Ferwerda had relocated to the USA from the Netherlands. They were partners in the firm which had become one of the major highway contractors in Ohio. The Ferwerdas' started to build a machinery which would save both their livelihoods and their company by inventing a model which will do what had previously been physical slope work. This invention was to offset the gap left in the workplace when lots of men had joined the army.
The brothers initially invented a device which had 2 beams set on a rotating platform, which was attached on top of a second-hand truck. They utilized a telescopic cylinder to move the beams in and out. This enabled the fixed 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 produce more strength. After that, they added a tilt cylinder that enabled the boom to rotate forty-five degrees in either direction. This new model 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 a lot of work to be completed.
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 also a 47 inch heavy-duty pavement removal bucket that was also available.