A Brief History Of The Wheel Loader

Wheel loaders started their development much later than other earthmoving machines such as excavators and graders. For decades, cable operated shovels filled the earthworks niche that is today largely the domain of wheel loaders. It wasn’t until the second decade of the twentieth century that the earliest examples of what would develop into wheel loaders appeared. These were cable operated devices mounted on farm tractors, cumbersome to operate and of limited capacity.

However, this equipment heralded the birth of a class of machines whose mobility and efficiency would earn it an important role in all phases of mining, construction and road building. Of course, despite the advantage later development, being able to utilize many existing technologies, the wheel loader has nonetheless undergone an evolutionary process. Some points of interest along the evolutionary path of this reliable and rugged machine are noted below.

  • 1920’s saw simple cable operated bucket systems mounted on farm tractors.
  • 1929 English firm of E. Boydell & Company builds a .5 cu. yd. cable operated wheel loader using a 28 horsepower Fordson farm tractor.
  • 1939 Hough markets a purpose built wheel loader.
  • Post WW II – major development breakthrough when Tractomotive Corporation incorporates hydraulic systems in wheel loader design.
  • 1952 International Harvester Company purchases the Frank G. Hough Company.
  • 1953 First articulating wheel loader the Scoopmobile Model LD 5 built by Portland Oregon firm Mixermobile Manufacturers.
  • 1956 Komatsu builds the W120 – their first wheel loader.
  • The operator seating position fore or aft of the articulation is a debated design feature amongst manufacturers over many years. The aft seating position is gradually adopted by most major builders.
  • 1960’s – decade witnesses rapid growth in wheel loader capacity.
  • 1960 Caterpillar Tractor launches the iconic 966 model series – 2.75 cu. yd. with rigid frame.
  • 1963 Caterpillar Tractor introduces their first articulated wheel loader the Cat 988 – of 6 cubic yard capacity.
  • 1963 Caterpillar Tractor implements articulated steering in the 966 series – the 966B
  • 1964 International Harvester Hough Division builds their first articulated wheel loader – the HD 400 of 10 cubic yard capacity
  • 1968 Caterpillar Tractor builds Cat 992 with 10 cubic yard capacity.
  • 1970 International Harvester Company launches 580 Payloader of 18 cubic yard capacity – world’s largest wheel loader to that date.
  • 1979 General Motors builds Terex 72-81 – largest Terex loader 9 cubic yard cap.
  • 1988 Komatsu Dresser builds Haulpak 4000 – of 24 cubic yard capacity
  • 1990 Caterpillar builds the Cat 994 – 23 cubic yard capacity
  • 2000 LeTourneau builds L-2350 of 53 cubic yard capacity
  • 2011 LeTourneau L-2350 is still world’s largest wheel loader


  • Allan Carter

    I learn more information from a brief history of loader. Loader is one that responsible for load and gather the soil.