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The Company was formed under the name Steel Fabricators Limited in Birmingham in 1935 to manufacture Pressed and Sheet Metal work. During the 1939 to 1945 period the Company was solely engaged on Government Contracts and the factory occupied an area of 5,000 sq. ft. and there were some 50 employees.
In 1946, to meet expansion plans, the Company relocated to Pengum Road in Cardiff and won large contracts, including the British Iron and Steel Federation Fabricated House and Rigid Form Beams for the Ministry of Works.
In 1949 a licence was negotiated with Horn Brothers, U.S.A., to Manufacture and market agricultural hydraulic loaders and well over 100,000 "Horn-draulic" loaders were sold.
Many hundreds of Scout Diggers were sold, but the Unit did have its limitations and the Shawnee Warrior Digger was designed to supersede the Scout.
In 1952 a subsidiary Company was formed in Australia and this Company had a modern plant on the Moorabbin Industrial Estate near Melbourne, Victoria.
In the early 'fifties' it was decided to go into the Backhoe market, which resulted in the introduction of the Scout Digger, manufactured under licence to the Shawnee Manufacturing Company, U.S.A.
In 1954 a licence was finalized with the Shawnee Company, U.S.A., to manufacture and market Shawnee industrial loaders and diggers and those products form a major part of the Company's range.
In 1958 a licence agreement was made with H.G. Poole Limited to manufacture and market Shawnee Poole Rear Dump Haulers, which enjoyed considerable success throughout the world and were leaders in the articulated dumper field.
In 1959 Steel Fabricators (Cardiff) Ltd., was taken over by the Adamant & Western Group and became a member of the Adwest Group.
Later that year Steelfab carried out a market survey with a view to introducing a Combination Unit as opposed to the Shawnee Warrior type attachment digger. The Steelfab project started in 1960 and the Unit was designed to fall between the JCB 4 and Massey Ferguson.
Several hundred 160/180 combinations units were build but the early models were built on the light weight Fordson Dexta skid unit which was not strong enough to carry the stresses produced by a backhoe loader and units started to fail. This proved futile in the success of the product and although the larger International B2275 skid was introduced as a replacement it was too late for its reputation.
A larger 170/180 model was launched in the late 1960's utilising a much stronger and more powerful Ford 5000 skid but sales were limited and only around 60 units were sold and production ceased in approximately 1972
The Horndraulic '800' Digger was first produced during the latter part of 1965 and received considerable acceptance on the market and a larger Horndraulic '900' was later produced.
The designer of the 800 and 900 digger who had joined Steelfab from Hymac later went on to design a scissor design tipper trailer known as the Power X System and later left Steelfab and set up business building mini excavators known as Powerfab.
- Backhoe and Backhoe Excavator(also known as Loader in some countries)
- Construction Plant Manufactures
References / sources
Based on original research by Julian Carder, Founder of the Steelfab owners group.