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Free Hyster YE-40 Some Questions


Aug 17, 2016
Hi all,

The other day my neighbor gave me his small forklift (he's got a much larger lift). He was using it off an on for years when the big lift was overkill, but now he's run out of space in his barn and just wanted it out of there. He said it was getting very hard to start when he parked it, so probably very low compression. He started to pull the carb to rebuild it, but wound up needing a couple of parts for his tractor with the same engine. He swapped the distributor with the one off his tractor and borrowed the starter as well so it's been sitting for the last couple of years. At some point he put new tires on it, which look really good, and he said the hydraulics were strong. I'm going to see if he has the bad starter from the tractor lying around.

It's a Hyster YE40 (data plate says YE 40 P). Serial number A3D 6051 H which should put it as a 1964 model. The data plate says a 13ft mast with 3,600 capacity. It's got a Continental engine...pretty sure the F162 version. It has the Monotrol transmission with three pedals....I believe inching on the left, brake in the middle and F/R on the right.

First question: When we went to pull it out of his barn we couldn't get the front wheels to turn. The parking brake was not left on, but the brakes could still be frozen. He pushed it with his big loader and the front tires and eventually rotated about half a turn but the tires were still dragging and clearly something was wrong, so we stopped. I used my big skid steer to lift the front tires and we pushed it to my place that way with him steering (it must have been a funny sight!). Could it be that we should have been pushing partially on one of the brake pedals to put the transmission into neutral (sorry, I'm new to Monotrol function)?

At this point I'm expecting at least a partial engine overhaul...pistons, rings, etc, a new starter, rebuild the carb, rebuild the distributor, new plugs/wires, fluids, etc. Since I got it free I'm not worried about spending a little on it as it would be incredibly handy to have around. I'm sure there will be lots of questions going forward!
Nice score! I used to have a YT-40 but it wasnt anything like yours. Mine had an air cooled wisconsin and was manual transmission so I cant really answer any of your questions. Someone will probably chime in with an answer though. Keep us posted as to your progress. I cant imagine not having a fork around- they are so handy.

Some follow up after a bit of work.

It turns out I was able to back off the adjusters on the brakes and the wheels would rotate, so that was helpful when I pushed it into the barn and set it up on blocks. The brake backing plates have access holes and I spotted an Allen wrench sticking out of one of them...went to the manual and found that's the adjuster access but the wrench shouldn't have been left in place. I'm glad someone forgot it there!

Before I went any further I wanted to make sure the engine wasn't stuck. I pulled the plugs and sprayed penetrating fluid into each cylinder then used a pry bar carefully on the fly wheel to get the engine turning. I turned it over a couple of times then sprayed more penetrating fluid into each cylinder, turned it some more and let it sit overnight. I knew it wasn't stuck, so that was a good sign.

The starter was missing, and that became an issue. Nobody could give me a good answer on what starter was correct, and the best I got from two different forklift places was a "we think it's this, but can't guarantee it will fit" sort of answer. I found one online reference to part number HY118616A, and that's what the parts place suggested, so I ordered one. I probably should have called Hyster but heard they don't have much on older machines and figured they would come up with a $750 starter and not have a number I could cross-reference.

I got the HY118616A and it lined up properly with the bolt holes in the bell housing. Unfortunately, the teeth of the flywheel were fully engaged on the starter drive gear so the starter was sticking too far into the bell housing by a lot. There was no way that would work since the drive gear needs to disengage and spring back out of the way when the engine starts. I machined a spacer plate to move the starter back (.810") and it seems to work properly and turns the engine over nicely.

At that point I did a compression test and all four cylinders were in the 150-160psi, which was encouraging so I figured it was worth spending more $ on it.

I bought all new ignition parts...replaced the missing coil, new points, condenser, rotor, cap, plug wires and plugs. I went through the carb...disassembled, cleaned, inspected, added a new gasket and reassembled. I made new fuel lines with an in-line filter then drained the fuel tank and added some fresh non-ethanol gas. I added some fresh oil, a new battery and refilled the coolant after repairing the overflow tank and replacing the hoses. I found TDC on #1 and within a couple of minutes had it running.

The crazy thing is my neighbor said it was to the point he couldn't get it to start and now I can barely get my finger off the starter button before it's running. I really think he just didn't put any time into checking as he has another lift and could get by without it...win for me!

I still have to sort out the throttle and governor linkage somewhat and trace the wiring for the radiator fan because it's on a relay I have to sort out. I put 12V to the fan and it runs so I think that should be relatively easy. The original filter system was gone and the pressure out was just looped back to the return fitting, so I'm going to add a remote oil filter setup. I confirmed the water pump works, as does the water temp gauge, but the fuel quantity gauge does not (likely wiring). The alternator is putting out 14.4V, so another good sign (I also replaced that belt). I'm going to tidy up and redo a lot of the wiring after I'm sure everything is working as it should.

I was able to check that the F/R on the Monotrol transmission works and the wheel speed responds to throttle inputs as they should. I was also able to see that the lift raises/lowers and tilts as it should....major wins on both items.

I still have to go through the brakes from top to bottom and likely rebuild all the cylinders and replace the fluid. Once I can drive it a bit I plan to flush the cooling system since the fresh coolant is looking pretty ugly already. I'll add the remote oil filer and change the oil as well as drain and refill the hydraulic oil and transmission fluid while I'm at it.

The real test will be lifting a load and moving with that load, but I've got my fingers crossed. Video to follow...
A bit shorter video after I tweaked the idle speed a bit. I can barely get my finger off the starter button and it's running.

Why did you not get an electronic distributor since you had to buy one anyway? Sounds like you did a good job.
BilL D
There actually was a distributor with it (painted red in the first couple of pics), but I may not have explained it properly. My neighbor was working on his tractor with the same engine and swapped distributors at some point.

The distributor seemed to be okay, so I put new points, condenser, cap and a rotor on it. The parts were only $40, so a lot less expensive than going electronic. I wanted to make sure the machine/engine is sound before spending too much on it. I plan to swap it to electronic ignition at some point for sure.
Time for an update:

Once I knew the engine would run, the wheels would turn and the lift would go up/down I started going through it front to back.

The first thing I did was scrape, scrub and wire brush pound after pound of dried dirt/sawdust/oil from pretty much the whole front and underside of the machine. I think it was parked near one of my neighbor's bandsaws for a couple of years while he was building a wooden boat (serious). I lost track of how many hours I spent scraping that stuff off everything!

Once I got where it was clean enough I could pretty much see everything on the machine I decided to sort the wiring for the radiator fan so I could run it for more than a couple of minutes. It wasn't coming on as the engine got up to temperature. The culprit was a cut wire going to the relay that was keyed hot. Fixed that connection and it got the fan coming on around 190-195* F and cycling off when it gets down to something like 175* F which seems about right.

Next I pulled the wheels off, removed the axles and brake backing plates and while I was doing that noticed the master cylinder was really leaking badly. It turns out that they used the master cylinder from a Jeep CJ5. I was able to find a new replacement master cylinder for $50 so that made more sense than rebuilding the old one (parts kit would have been at least that much). The wheel cylinders cleaned up nicely and the boots, cups and pistons were all in good shape. I cleaned everything, honed the cylinders reassembled everything, installed the new master cylinder and got it all back on the truck.

I did an oil change, drain/fill on the transmission, differential and the hydraulic system as well.

The hydraulic system got me....Early on I raised the lift pretty high to get access to the front of the machine and clamped it in place. I wasn't thinking and filled the hydraulic tank with the lift raised. Sure enough, when I finally lowered it the tank overflowed and I made a nice, large mess on my shop floor....I really do know better!

Next I spent some time tracing down a few leaks/drips. I fixed a couple and I'm waiting to see on the others. It's old, so I'm expecting some leaks/drips, but don't want it to be constantly leaving puddles.

I also secured some of the hoses and added rub protection in a few spots where hydraulic hoses were hitting the frame....an old radiator hose section with some zip ties should help those spots.

I put the axles back in, bled the brakes, topped off the differential, mounted the wheels and got it back on its wheels.

At that point I figured it was time to fire it up and see what happened. Short version...it moved forward and backwards! I have to do a bit more adjusting on the brakes as the parking brake doesn't have much holding power, but that's pretty minor. The Monotrol pedal is a bit sticky getting back and forth between F/R but I think that'll be an easy fix.

The steering is a bit loose, so I'll have to look into that (I think I know the issue), I need to add the bypass oil filter (original was removed because it was leaking), I need to check the rear vertical steering shaft/bearing, and work on gauges (no oil pressure gauge and inop fuel gauge), clean/lube the chains, grease the rollers on the lift, and make a top plate for the left side of the machine over the battery. It needs a new seat as well now that I think about it. I'll tackled those over time, but it's semi-usable as is now.

It was getting dark, but I did a quick video before I put it back in the barn. Kinda hard to make a video of yourself running a forklift!