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Link-Belt (1875-current) | Historical Construction Equipment Association

Name: Link-Belt (1875-current)

Historical Note:

Organizational History

Ewart Manufacturing Company was founded in 1875 to produce the detachable link chain patented on September 1, 1874 by William Dana Ewart. Two companies were subsequently organized: Link-Belt Machinery Company in 1880, and Link-Belt Engineering Company in 1888. The two Link-Belt firms were consolidated into the Link-Belt Company in Chicago, Illinois, in 1906.

Circa 1922, Link-Belt Company acquired H. W. Caldwell & Son Company of Chicago, Illinois. As of 1922, Link-Belt operated manufacturing plants in Chicago; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Indianapolis, Indiana (under the Dodge Works and Ewart Works names), and Toronto, Ontario. Machine shops were operated under the names of Link-Belt Northwest Company in Seattle, Washington, and Link-Belt Pacific Company in San Francisco, California. It also operated an office under the Link-Belt Pacific Company name in Los Angeles, California, and a Dodge Steel Company plant and the Olney Foundry in Philadelphia.

In 1939, Link-Belt Company purchased the Speeder Machinery Corporation and merged its machines with Speeder's smaller machines (3/8 to 3/4 yd.) to form the Link-Belt Speeder Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Link-Belt Company. Link-Belt Speeder eventually was located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

In 1967, the FMC Corporation merged with the Link-Belt Company, and Link-Belt Speeder later became the Construction Equipment Group of FMC Corporation, marketing Link-Belt construction equipment products worldwide.

In 1986, the Link-Belt Construction Equipment Company was formed as a joint venture between FMC Corporation and Sumitomo Heavy Industries, formalizing a relationship dating back to 1962.

In 1998, in a reorganization to focus on cranes, the excavator product line was spun off from the Link-Belt Construction Equipment Company. The LBX Company, a stand-alone, joint-venture company, was formed between Sumitomo Construction Machinery Company and Case Corporation to market and sell Link-Belt excavators. LBX operates as a board-controlled, stand-alone company and is responsible for all Link-Belt earthmoving, forestry and material handling equipment in North and South America. (Source: LBX website, http://www.lbxco.com/aboutus.html, Nov 29 2005.) Sales literature distributed at ConExpo-CON/AGG 2008 was published over both the LBX and Link-Belt names, with the machines bearing the Link-Belt name and LBX identified as standing for Link-Belt Excavator Company.

Today's Link-Belt Construction Equipment Company is headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Heavy Industries. (Source: Link-Belt website, http://www.linkbelt.com/linkbelt/about/frameabout.htm, Nov 29 2005.)

Product Information

Model nomenclature:

The number suffixes for LS-series crawler cable excavators were continued after the LS prefix was discontinued prior to 03/1999.

Link-Belt offered a branded wheel loader line from 2003 through 2005. Their discontinuance was noted by Equipment Watch at https://www.equipmentwatch.com/Navigation.do?product=BBOL&categoryName=Wheel+Loaders&subTypeId=39&subTypeName=4-WD+Articulated+Wheel+Loaders&manufacturerName=Link-Belt&manufacturerId=1742&modelInstanceId=17323&modelInstanceName=L120.

Major patents and innovations:

• Claims to have introduced the first crawler mounted cable excavator, in 1922.

• Introduced “Speed-O-Matic” hydraulic power controls for cable excavators in 1936.

• Introduced “full-function design” in 1949.

Trade names used:

Link-Belt used the following trade names for its products:

• Hylab: Cable crawler crane.

• Logmaster: Hydraulic log loader.

• Quantum: Hydraulic backhoe.

• Scrapmaster: Hydraulic scrap handler.

• Speed-O-Matic: Power hydraulic controls for cable excavators.

Note Author: Thomas Berry

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