Introducing the Gradall highway speed wheel excavators with AutoDrive, combining the advantages of a six-speed push-button Allison automatic transmission and a new transfer case. Drive a Gradall highway speed wheel excavator up to 60 mph (without the need for a trailer), and then reposition the carrier on job sites from the upper cab. It`s all powered by a powerful new Tier 4i Mercedes engine. What hasn`t changed is our low-profile telescoping, tilting boom and our load-sensing, high pressure hydraulics that make Gradall the most versatile and productive excavator in the world.
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The legendary Gradall excavator traces its roots back to the early 1940s — a time when World War II created a scarcity of laborers for delicate and necessary grading and finishing work on highway projects.
That was the exact dilemma faced by Ferwerda-Werba-Ferwerda, a Cleveland, Ohio, construction company. Ray and Koop Ferwerda, brothers who had moved to the U.S. from the Netherlands, were partners in the firm that had become one of the leading highway contractors in Ohio. Because so many men had left the workforce and joined the military, the Ferwerdas set out to create a machine that would save their company by performing what had been manual slope grading work.
Their first attempt was a device created with two beams set on a rotating platform which was affixed atop a used truck. A telescopic cylinder moved the beams in and out, enabling the fixed blade at the end of the beams to push or pull dirt.
Improving on the first design, the Ferwerda brothers created a triangular boom to create more strength, and they added a tilt cylinder that allowed the boom to rotate 45 degrees in either direction. This machine could be equipped with either a blade or bucket, and attachment movement was made possible by placing a cylinder at the rear of the boom, powering a long push rod.
Soon afterward, a variety of digging buckets was introduced, available in 15, 24, 36 and 60-inch sizes. A 47-inch heavy-duty pavement removal bucket also was offered.
The first of these machines was installed in 1941 on a government-surplus truck, becoming the world's first fully hydraulic excavator. The concept was so productive and successful, three more were built on second-hand Linn half-track carriers between 1942 and 1944.