The history of earth working tools

Published on 7 February 2008

The history of earth working tools is a potted history of the evolution of human culture and the inventive genius of mankind

1/ In the beginning: Brain and brawn

The muscular strength of men and animals: cattle, horses, donkeys; and the use of the elements, water, wind and gravity.
The creation of tools: hoe, spade, basket, couffin, ramp, wheel, hoist, lever, plough share
- The barrow, developed by Blaise Pascal, was first used on a construction site in 1610 by Johann Clauser Koth.
- The first animal drawn scraper appeared at the start of the 17th century.

Barrow in the mid 18th century (all rights reserved )

2/ The first excavating machinery was water-based

- In 1718, de la Balme, a Frenchman, designed a floating excavator. 12 men were needed to move it.
- In 1726, Dubois, also French, designed a bucket shovel on a chassis moved by wooden wheels. This idea of this forerunner was not to reappear until 100 years later.

Poclain TY45 shovel (all rights reserved)

3/ From the 19th century on: methods become more and more mechanised

- The excavator and steam shovel on rails appeared in 1850. They loaded wagons on railway lines.
- In 1913, the Holt 75 was a caterpillar tractor with a front steering axle.
- The towed grader appeared in 1931. It became the spearhead of highway construction.
- The towed scraper appeared in 1946
- The wheeled tractor appeared in 1947 in the form of the DW 10 Caterpillar.
- In 1960 came the first Poclain hydraulic shovel.

Liebherr T282 dump truck (all rights reserved)

Currently in 2004 , the largest dump truck in the world is the T282 from Liebherr with a 363 t payload. Its 3,650 HP engine supplies the electric motors fitted in its wheels. It travels at 65 km/h... and can brake as well!