Early Road Construction with Pull-Type Graders

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Photo By Ron McGinnis
Christopher with the freshly painted Road King.

In the early days, dirt,
sand and gravel roads were leveled, shaped and planed with mostly wooden
graders pulled by draft animals. With the bicycle craze of the late 1800s,
improved road maintenance became necessary. Then, in the early 1900s,
automobiles began racing down unpaved roads at nearly 20 miles per hour.

More than 40 manufacturers
got involved, most producing pull-type graders of heavy iron. Early models were
pulled by animals; as tractor design evolved, animals were phased out.

The grader’s weight
determined how big a tractor or how many animals were needed to move as much
material efficiently with the least amount of lost motion from the blade. Large
graders were used for ditching, road construction, heavy grading and sloping.
Small models served as road maintainers. Graders of any size were used to push
snow and clear brush. The terracer was a single-axle offshoot of the pull-type
road grader, designed to excavate ditches and berms for erosion control.

Many communities purchased
light graders. In some areas, farmers worked off their taxes by hitching work
teams to a grader and pulling it over country roads. One of the last uses of
pull-type graders was by the U.S. Army’s Airborne Engineer Aviation Battalion
to make glider runways during World War II. In that application, Adams Leaning
Wheel models much like the one Christopher Hodges restored were used. FC

For Christopher Hodges’
grader story, read Adams Road King Pull Type Grader.

Source: Equipment
Echoes magazine, Spring and Summer 2012 issues, published by the
Historical Construction Equipment Assn., Bowling
Green, Ohio.

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