During the 1800’s as road networks etched their way across the landscape the need grew for more and better maintenance to accommodate the swelling volume of wheeled traffic. The horse drawn vehicles of the day pocked and rutted the soft road surfaces especially during periods of inclement weather. Maintenance equipment of the time was mostly horse drawn, crude and inefficient with devices as simple as timber floats or wagon mounted blades with little or no adjustment.
The ancestor of we know today as the motor grader did not appear until the late 1800′s. In 1885 American businessman J.J. Adams introduced the first horse drawn grader with leaning wheels and fixed angle grading blade. Adams idea of the employing the leaning wheels to compensate for the sideways pull of the angled blade was a fundamental innovation that has been incorporated into grader design till the present time.
The early pull type graders required the combined strength and skill of both horses and operators but they did significantly increase the efficiency and quality of road surface maintenance. Horses eventually were replaced with tractors, powered first with steam, later with gasoline or diesel engines. Equipped with a variety of specialized attachments including rippers, scarifiers and snow plows the modern motor grader is now both large and small a vital machine for mining, construction and road maintenance. Like all modern equipment the motor grader is a product that has evolved through experience and innovation.
A few points of interest along the development route of modern graders are noted below:
- Industrial revolution and population growth spurs road and traffic growth creating need for surface maintenance.
- 1875 – origin of Champion graders when Samuel Pennock’s family company begins manufacturing road construction equipment.
- 1877 – Samuel Pennock patents a four wheel road scraper named the American Champion
- 1885 — American businessman J.D. Adams, inventor of the leaning wheel concept, introduces the “Little Wonder” – pull type grader with fixed angle mouldboard and leaning wheels.
- 1886 Champion builds their first grader the “Winner” – drawn by teams of two or four horses.
- 1902 Austin Western Road Machinery Company is created through merger of Austin Manufacturing Company and The Western Wheeled Scraper Company.
- 1907 Galion Iron Works Company formed in Galion, Ohio –
- 1911 Galion produces their first grader – pulled by horses.
- 1919 Russell Grader Manufacturing Company builds earliest self propelled grader
- 1920’s power assisted blade controls introduced by various grader manufacturers. Huber and Galion introduce hydraulic blade controls.
- 1922 Galion builds C Patrol – self propelled grader with rear mounted engine
- 1928 J.D. Adams Company builds their first self propelled motor grader
- 1928 Caterpillar Tractor Company purchases the Russell Grader Manufacturing Company – adding graders to their equipment line up.
- 1928 Champion builds their first self propelled grader “ the Power Maintainer”
- 1931 Caterpillar Tractor builds the “Auto Patrol”
- 1931 Allis-Chalmers enters the grader market
- 1935 J.D. Adams Company builds first mono frame motor grader enhancing blade manoeuvrability and control.
- 1937 Austin Western markets first grader with all wheel steer and all wheel drive
- 1953 J.D. Adams Company bought by LeTourneau Westinghouse.
- 1962 Letourneau Westinghouse renames product line “ Wabco”
- 1963 Caterpillar Tractor Company introduces the No. 16 grader – largest in their line up of motor graders to that date.
- 1967 John Deere markets their first grader the JD570.
- 1971 Austin Western purchased by Clark Equipment Company -
- 1973 Caterpillar replaces the No. 16 with the 16G featuring articulating body and hydraulic controls
- 1974 Galion Manufacturing Company becomes a division of Dresser Industries Inc.
- 1975 Champion builds the world’s largest production grader to date – the 100T – weighs 202,000 lbs.
- 1980-86 O&K Orenstein & Koppel builds the O&K G350 weighing in at 90,000+ lbs – world’s largest production grader during years of manufacture.
- 1981 Clark Equipment Company ceases grader production.
- 1983 Wabco (Letourneau Westinghouse) no longer produces graders.
- 1995 Caterpillar starts the H Series of motor graders.
- 1996 Caterpillar introduces the 24H – their largest production motor grader on the market to date – (51 feet long, 14 feet high, 130,902 lbs )
- 1997 Volvo purchases Champion Road Machinery Ltd.
- 2004 Champion Motor Graders name reappears with acquisition of Volvo Compact Motor Graders by Champion Industries LLC. of Charlotte North Carolina.
- 2007 Caterpillar Inc. takes motor graders to a new level replacing the H series with the M Series featuring “joystick” grader steering and attachment controls.