Should I buy a Fork Lift?

giantlandscape.com

LawnSite Member
Location
Oklahoma City
I am weighing buying another machine as we already have a mini skid with forks, but it won't pick up a full pallet of mulch or sod, boulders, etc. I was thinking about getting a fork lift as I already have a shop with pallet racks, and land where semi trucks can drop off, but at the moment I am lacking the ability to unload semis. I like the mini skids for the work that we do at residences and businesses, but the lack of lifting capacity keeps us from having semi deliveries to our property. Of course, we could get large skid steer, but I am thinking the forklift would be significantly cheaper and pick up even more weight. Any thoughts are appreciated, thanks!
 

fatboynormmie

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
balto md
If your planning on taking it off of hard surfaces you would need to look for one with large pneumatic tires (air filled ,foam filled or solids ) opposed to a truck with hard small cushion tires(good for hard surfaces only). People don’t realize what those things weigh. A truck with a 5000lb cap. Will weight in the neighborhood of 10,000lbs and the pneumatics float over softer surfaces better . I would look for one with 3 hyd functions too so you have lift,tilt and side shift. They are very handy and are multi functioning .
 

Mowing monkey.

LawnSite Bronze Member
The pneumatic tire forklifts are some better off road but still pretty bad. Maybe you could drive them over grass in a drought with a load but pretty much not happening most of the time. They do pretty decent in a gravel parking lot. I like a forklift a lot better for moving pallets over a skid steer. They’re a lot smoother especially making turns. The downside is they’re a one trick pony.
 

zlandman

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Ohio
When I read the title first thought was absolutely yes! I'll be getting one the next year or two.
Like above said get big tires. Price on used forklifts is very reasonable $4-5 k should buy a pretty good one. Side shift is a nice feature to have. Most used have some sort of brake issue so just plan on doing some type of work on the brakes. A little paint can make an old one like new. Tires if needed probably have to hire out, they typically press on with a big press.

I have a hydraulic shop lift with forks now and it's great for unloading pickups and raising equipment to be worked on.

And a tractor fork attachment which is great however the thing is so dang long it needs 1/4 acre to maneuver.
 

fatboynormmie

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
balto md
Regarding the brakes there are drum type brakes and there are wet type brakes. If I was buying one I would look for a drum style as I feel they are easier to work on. Pull the wheel and axle and pop the drum off and your at the brake shoes. Wet brakes are long lasting but are harder and more technical to work on when they finally need repair as your tearing into the load axle more deeply to get to the pucks and seals etc.

The drum brake shoes last a long time too. I have seen many of truck go to 15,000 to 20,000 hrs before shoes were ready for a change. Usually it’s a blown axle seal or leaky wheel cylinder that causes brake issues and soaks the shoes with gear oil or brake fluid.
 

TomH&H

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Coopersburg, PA
What type of surface do you have on the shop floor, and outside of the shop? I have a lot of hours on forklifts, and have seen them get stuck on some stupid stuff. I could run a standard hard wheel forklift through a gravel parking lot, but not if the gravel was loose, or there was any snow. A shop I used to work for had to tear up the asphalt and put in concrete pads where we would unload flatbeds, because the weight on the rear wheels of the forklifts actually sank through the blacktop. We had to use another lift just to get the thing out of the 4 inch hole it dug. Same goes with mud, or heavy loose gravel. You will do fine if you have a hard surface in optimum conditions, but don't be suprised if it doesn't work as well as you think it will. Also, you may want to make sure the floor in your shop is thick enough not to crack under the weight. Just remember, 10,000 lbs (more or less) on 3 or 4 small wheels puts a lot more weight on a smaller area than a truck or skidsteer. You may be better off with pneumatic tires like some others have said. Or see if a lumber yard is selling an old delivery lift (the ones they put on the back of their trucks) that you may be able to get a little more life out of.
 

zlandman

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Ohio
we have a tele-handler. very useful and you can put a bucket on them. ours will lift 5500# 18' up into the air
Can't imagine how super handy that would be. But a forklift is far superior in maneuverability, especially in a building.
 

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