Old School Equipment: The LeTourneau Rooter
Long before contractors had the luxury of hydraulic ripping options to loosen soil, humans opted for animal-driven plows for tilling the soil to plant crops. Over time, a more powerful version was invented for laborers who had to loosen dirt and rock for road building.
LeTourneau-Westinghouse Company was based in Texas and founded by R.G. LeTourneau in 1929. The company designed and supplied manufacturers with innovative attachments for their equipment. LeTourneau evolved into manufacturing heavy equipment, which became popular in the construction industry.
LeTourneau was among a handful of manufacturers to produce the towed cable rooter, called a “ripper.” Their attachment provided a low-cost method of breaking up the ground, whether soil, rock, or some combination. LeTourneau’s Rooter was pulled behind a crawler where the operator would control the rooter shank with levers connected to a steel braided cable system. Each model allowed the shanks to be adjustable and removable for different job applications.
These attachments became popular with contractors, with several often used on larger road projects. LeTourneau offered rooters in three sizes, with the K30 being the largest at 13,100 pounds.
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This article originally appeared in the bimonthly Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, Jan/Feb 2023 issue, Vol. 12, No. 1.