In the 1940s, Allis-Chalmers launched a new grader called the model 'D' to replace the former model 'W' tractor-mounted type at the lower end of its motor-grader line. The designers of that little grader could never have guessed that almost six decades later the same machine, with revisions and updates, would still be going strong. It is now known as the 65E, marketed by NorAm Construction Equipment of Palatine, Ill.
The Allis-Chalmers model D of 1949 weighed 8,500 pounds and came with a 10-foot-wide moldboard (blade). The tandem-drive machine sported a main frame of welded tubular pipe and channels. It was also the first from Allis-Chalmers to incorporate hydraulic blade lift. Its Allis-Chalmers gas engine developed 35 horsepower and drove through a 4-speed transmission providing a top speed of 18 mph. As one of the world's first compact graders, the model D's small dimensions and close-quarter capabilities opened the door to a much broader use of the motor grader. For the first time, it allowed graders to work efficiently on small projects such as housing and landscaping.
From 1954, Allis-Chalmers' compact-grader customers were given the option of diesel or gasoline power. A diesel engine of 50 horsepower was selected from the newly acquired Buda Co. to install in the diesel machine. Known as the model DD, it weighed 9,350 pounds, and top speed was boosted to 25 mph. Other features remained the same for both models, which continued in production simultaneously.
By 1964, the model DD was being built with a box-type welded frame to replace the former tubular design. Then in 1971, both the D and DD graders were superseded by the Allis-Chalmers M65 and, although retaining its 10-foot blade, weight and power increased to 10,915 pounds and 59 flywheel horsepower. Improvements over the former models included hydrostatic steering and new sheet metal. In January 1974, Allis-Chalmers and Fiat S.p.A. of Italy formed the Fiat-Allis joint venture. The M65 continued the success of its predecessors as the Fiat-Allis 65; and in 1979, as the 65-B, received a 68-flywheel-horsepower Fiat engine with powershift transmission and a weight boost to 13,315 pounds.
Noram Construction Equipment was formed in 1992 to market the Fiat-Allis 65B grader in North America. Three years later, it launched the redesigned articulated FiatAllis FG65C with New Holland 80-horsepower engine and torque proportioning rear axle drive. These machines were made in the Vermeer plant at Pella, Iowa, until 2001. Then NorAm's manufacturing partner, Five Star Industries, continued building the grader on behalf of CNH Global until 2004 when it purchased the manufacturing rights from the latter. The latest version of this compact grader is the NorAm 65E launched in 2004. Still with a 10-foot blade, it gained a 110-hp Cummins engine and another weight increase to 16,800 pounds.
You can read more about the evolution of construction equipment in Keith Haddock's latest book release, an updated version of his fully illustrated Earthmover Encyclopedia now available in bookstores. Also, consider a membership in the Historical Construction Equipment Association, www.hcea.net.