Forklift Lift Ratings
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  1. #1
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    Default Forklift Lift Ratings

    I kinda thought all forklifts of the same lift rating were somewhat equal. After picking up a new(to me) milling machine yesterday, I see that's not quite the case. The machine I moved weighed about 5300 according to the manual, and had a 5000 lb forklift on the loading end and a different 5000lb lift on the receiving end.

    Went to get the machine and the seller was weary about lifting the machine up to the level of my flatbed truck (about 42"). This was a Nissan 5000 lb rated lift. In my experience a forklift will lift a bit more than its rating. Finally got it up on the truck, but the lift had 4ft forks so it took some messing around to get the machine in the middle of the flatbed. The Nissan would only move the machine if it was close up on the forks. Got home and fired up my Cat 5000lb forklift with 5ft forks. My machine had no problem picking the mill up and moving it to the edge of the truck bed, then choked up and brought it down no issues.

    These were both hard tired, propane lifts with around the same lift height/center. I actually looked at a Nissan of the same model before I got the Cat and I'm glad I got the Cat. One thing that caught my eye rather quickly was the size of the main lift cylinder on each lift. On the Nissan it was tiny, maybe 2 inch diameter. On the cat it was around twice the size. The tilt cylinders were much larger in diameter also.

    I didn't have a point to this thread other than to share my experience, and maybe point out some things to others. Anybody else had a similar experience?

  2. #2
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    seems like my ancient 3000 lb clark would lift it without a problem, lifted the whole rear of my 10k 5th wheel up for axle flipping to put stands under it.

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    Most all fork lifts have there rated lift at 24 inches out on the forks and not on the tips of the forks ,so lifting location on the forks them self's can change lift capacity. example one fork lift lifting at the very back of the forks and the same model lifting on the very ends of the forks. That said different brands of fork lifts with the same weight rating definitely can lift more then others. Some times a lot more.

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  5. #4
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    Pretty common for no two forklifts to pick exactly the same. They will all pretty much pick their rating, but some have more cushion than others.

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    I had an OLD (early 1960s) Allis-Chalmers stand up and it was rated for 3,000. There wasn't anything that it couldn't lift. I began to wonder where its limits really were.

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    Most of the older U.S. lift trucks were very conservatively rated and many of them could have lift capacity increased by simply bolting on a heavier counterweight.

    Here is a good reference on calculating what you can lift.

    FORKLIFT CAPACITY CALCULATOR ▷ forklift lifting capacity calculator

  8. #7
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    load rating depends on how far out on forks the load is. AND how high the load is off the floor
    .
    then there is when picking max load the rear wheel is lightly loaded and steering or lack of steering and floor traction type and smoothness and level of floor can be a issue. many a time people dont slow down making turns heavily loaded and end up crashing cause of unexpected slippage. or fork truck tips over cause center of gravity is bad.

  9. #8
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    the clark ive got at home now was used since new at the shop i work for till they decided to scrap it- anyways, about 15 years ago, I was using it with a boom to pull a large lathe spindle- probably 1500 pounds- but on the boom several feet out, surely pushing things a bit. the clark lifted it easy, but wouldnt lower! the upper rollers of most three tier masts leave the carriage as 2nd stage starts up, and the rollers wouldnt re enter with all the moment load from the boom.
    we went and got our trusty 4000 pound mitsubishi, took some weight off the boom and lowered it, and from then on used the smaller mitsubishi on those, and never had any issues again... the clark carriage design was obviously not as good as the mits... the old 1963 towmotor(also was given from the scrap heap) I carried arond quite a few times with the mitsubishi- the towmotor weighs about 6500, but due to short chassis couldnt be carried from side or rear, took its forks off and carried it from the front- its 4000 pound counterweight clear out past the mitsubishi fork tips, and it carried it no problem at all. guaranteed the much bigger clark woulda had issues.
    we got the mits new back in 1989, and it has been THE best and THE favorite truck in the shop. we got a new mitsubishi-caterpillar last year, everyone still wants to drive the old mits. stronger engine, smoother hydraulics, better visibility... sometimes newer isnt necessarily better. Id love to repaint our old Mits and fab a new engine cob=ver for it- sadly the engine covers on the older mits are like car sheetmetal, it really looks like hell. we had two, the other plant destroyed theirs(drove it off a dock or something and busted the axle housing) so they scrapped it- I saved the new tires and cage off it for ours someday. think model was FG25, best darn forklift ever made in my opinion. think its had three timing belts, maybe 4 starters since 1989, and its used every single day. the new cat has mostly sat since we got it- ironically when it showed up they talked about getting rid of the beat up looking mits- after a few days use, everyone changed their minds. my clark has the same G64 mits 4 cylinder, really a strong runner for a forklift, and easy on fuel

    the old towmotor i'm redoing is 4000 rated too, but man...really light looking forks/mast/etc, and only 42" wheelbase, its so short I bet at 25" 4000 would tip it

  10. #9
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    All a forklift is, is a simple lever. The forklift front wheels are the fulcrum. The farther the center of weight is away from the mast, the less you can pick.

    As has already been mentioned, lift height also makes an difference, not so much with tipping (as long as you stay tilted back), but you can overload your tilt cylinders. Tilt cylinders are the strongest when the forks are on the floor, and are at a bad mechanical advantage when at max fork height.

    Old Clarks are bad about the mast hanging up in the air, when they get some wear on them.


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