Gas or Electric? If Electric, worry about battery?
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    Default Gas or Electric? If Electric, worry about battery?

    In need of a forklift for a small shop, all flat concrete floor. Up until now, a pallet jack has fulfilled all needs of this shop for 5 years. It would just be really nice to unload something from the back of a truck. Max lift is 3200 lbs.

    I've always been a fan of propane, but my use is a couple hours, uneven floors, heavy machines, outdoor mostly...and pneumatic tires are almost a requirement.

    For this application, I think electric would be best...but I'm worried about batteries. Maximum use will realistically be 30 minutes per week, outside of the first week of ownership. It can always be parked at the charger. The quiet nature of an electric lift would be really nice.

    My concern in buying a cheap used electric is simply the battery, but I'm not sure if even the worst battery, if kept topped off, will work for the minimal requirements per week. How about chargers, are they all the same, or will the standard 24v charger overcharge the battery? I've got some 24 volt chargers from wheelchairs, will they work. Are forklifts 24volts, or 48 volts?

    Budget, given it's use, is obviously as low as possible...but the alternative is likely renting a lift on occasion, so money isn't the most important. A heavy leaker is absolutely unacceptable.

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    30 minutes of use isn't much. As long as the battery is in usable shape you should be ok and (wet) batteries can be refurbished by replacing bad cells.

    I suspect a forklift in that size will be either 36v or 48v.

    Depending on where you buy it a used electric lift is likely to come with a usable battery and a charger. Pay close attention to electrolyte levels (distilled water only) and keep the battery clean and it should be fine for use as described.

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    Is it reasonable to expect five years of life from a battery with a little life left in it?

    I'm completely ignorant on electric lifts.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by snowman View Post
    my use is a couple hours, uneven floors, heavy machines, outdoor mostly...and pneumatic tires are almost a requirement.
    That combo sez electric will not be so easy to find on the cheap. Unless it costs less to upgrade the pavement for the tires most often found on them, I'd look for an IC engine, 4K or larger, and not necessarily even propane if you want to keep the costs to the minimum.

    One nobody else very much wants, IOW. You'll still have the pallet jack, ya?

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    Default Gas or Electric? If Electric, worry about battery?

    No, that's my use...the reason I've always been preferable of ic engine. This use is strictly flat.

    Sorry...this is for a friends shop.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by snowman View Post
    Sorry...this is for a friends shop.
    LOL! Then feign ignorance until after he's made a buy. You'll take the blame, otherwise!


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    I worked at a shop that bought a used 3500# electric forklift (Yale) before I started. On average it would get used about 15 or so minutes each day. When it would get sluggish going up hill around the side of the shop, it would get plugged in (the battery meter never worked). We used the water from the 5 gallon containers of drinking water to top off the batteries. When I left 15 years later, it was still running the same.

    Bill

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    There's no doubt that batteries can be iffy--I've seen good looking electric forklifts--ones that looked like they had been well
    maintained--that had dud batteries. On the other hand I've known shops that had electrics that looked like a POS and never
    got any maintenance yet the batteries seemed to last forever. It's a crapshoot. A good forklift repair place should be able to
    run at least some minimal diagnostics to give you an idea of battery condition.

    One thing to consider is that if the battery dies you can replace the original batteries with a pack of HD auto or truck batteries.
    I've seen this done more than once. Won't generally work if it's an all day, every day kind of operation but if the usage is minimal
    and intermittent it should work fine. I haven't ever done this myself but I'm thinking that some deep cycle marine or RV batteries
    might be just the ticket. Just remember to add addition ballast to compensate for the weight of the missing battery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LKeithR View Post
    ...if the battery dies you can replace the original batteries with a pack of HD auto or truck batteries.
    I've seen this done more than once. Won't generally work if it's an all day, every day kind of operation but if the usage is minimal
    and intermittent it should work fine. I haven't ever done this myself but I'm thinking that some deep cycle marine or RV batteries
    might be just the ticket. Just remember to add addition ballast to compensate for the weight of the missing battery.
    ISTR we had at least one on PM where the old battery was left in-place AS ballast, and a few Marine/RV deep cycle ones were mounted elsewhere and served as greater ballast, yet.

    Seems safer than removing the old and re-calculating mass distribution, etc.

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    In this post I never quite saw where you came to think batteries would be best? I went with a diesel but that is another story. For an application like yours where I have seen forklifts under far less than ideal conditions I have seen propane. The propane lifts look to me like they go forever. Also you maybe store it outside?

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    There is more than batteries to go wrong in electric trucks.And if you have employees,they usually forget to charge until the motor stalls on a lift.....My pref is for diesel if you park outside ,but propane eliminates fuel theft by employees or others.

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    Is there a handy source of fuel close by ie does the place have propane? Does the place have off road diesel etc, having one that takes a fuel thats on hand is the big plus, everyone bitches about a flat - empty forklift, but having a readily available top-up source is IMHO the real must.

    I have one customer that only buys old knackered fork lifts then runs em into the ground, he thinks nothing of shorting dead battey cells out with copper links etc, professional, hell no, but it sure is a dirt cheap way of having a usable lift to hand and especially when its only used every other day at most.

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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    .And if you have employees,they usually forget to charge until the motor stalls on a lift
    Have employees.. usually forget?

    Pilgrim, that problem persists even years and tears after you've shed ever' last one of them and have taken over all their jobs yer own self.

    "Forgetting" duties included, of course!



    Another vote for Diesel, BTW.

    Many of us have to have it handy for other stuff anyway. Other vehicles. Gen sets. Fueling and returning full even rented goods we don't keep full-time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by snowman View Post
    Is it reasonable to expect five years of life from a battery with a little life left in it?

    I'm completely ignorant on electric lifts.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    A lot depends on how the battery is treated. Lead-acid cells last longest when they are lightly used between charges. Aggressive charging tends to shorten life by stressing the batteries more than more controlled charging. There are a lot of brute force chargers that are fine until the battery is nearly charged. At that point the ripple (residual ac component) can exceed safe limits (1.15V/volt per nominal battery volts) and start to over-stress the battery. More sophisticated chargers "taper off" the charge and can remain connected to the battery almost indefinitely.

    So what to do?

    Install a voltmeter so operators can see what's going on with the battery. When putting a load on it causes the voltage to drop rapidly it's time for a charge.

    Keep the cells properly filled. Use distilled water (not drinking water) and check levels frequently.

    Let the battery rest after using before connecting a charger, and let rest after charging before using again. This keeps the internal temperature down.

    If using a basic charger set a timer to know when to disconnect. That will require trial and error to get to "know" the battery.

    Is all this a PITA? Absolutely but if lowest cost is the goal some convenience must be given up. Cheap and convenient are usually at odds.

    Finally, many times a "bad" battery actually is just one or two bad cells. On a non-sealed battery individual cells can be replaced. The pros do it all the time. You would have to check around to see if having your battery done would be cheaper than trading it in on a refurbished (bad cells replaced) unit.

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    I would never have a small forklift that wasn't propane.

    You can't use diesel inside. Diesel fuel goes bad quickly now. Just like gas. Old diesel forklift parts are more expensive than gas. An injection pump rebuild is more than a grand.

    Electric forklifts seem like they don't have the lifespan of IC. I have always looked at used electric lifts as mast donors for Propane ones! Seems like the batteries die long before the mast is tired and electric lifts usually have 3 stage masts.

    Like most machine shops, I probably use a forklift less than 30 minutes a week on average. However, probably a few times a year I will use it for hours on end or all day. An electric with poor batteries will let you down.

    I have two forklifts from the early 90's- A 2500 Komatsu 3 stage, sideshift, 2.0 Nissan with air tires and a 5000 Hyster w/3 stage, sideshift, GM iron duke and cushion tires. The Komatsu is very smooth and fits in tight places. The Hyster lifts anything heavy (lifted one side of my 21 ton HBM) and has more power. The Hyster will get stuck real easily if I spin a tire in gravel. The Komatsu is real hard to get stuck.

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    Propane is good if your state and local law allows you to refill tanks at at a service station at autogas prices.Here you re stuck with deliverd prices and propane forks cost 10x to run over diesel........assess you situation locally...Electric fork prices go just about entirely on the battery,once youre above automotive sizes........usually around $7000 for a big fork battery......beware of bridged off cells,swelled ends ,black crud floating in electrolyte.....there are also chemicals marketed to "pep up" dud batteries....much used by dealers......failure guaranteed in 1 day+warranty period.

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    Propane is the simplest, most reliable forklift for the small shop.

    I have a Toyota 5k with cushion tires, purchase off-lease from the local dealer. The old girl has 25,000+ hours, but starts as soon as the key is turned, and runs like a Swiss watch.

    The lift has the famous Toyota "4Y" 4-cylinder motor, which has been built since the 60's I reckon, and is still used in cars for the 3rd world countries.

    Only problem I've had since owning it 7 years now was the distributor going bad. Rather than pay the forklift dealer $500+ for the distributor, I sourced one for $100, brand new.

    Since Toyota has made millions of the 4Y motor and variants, parts are common as dirt.

    I purchased the distributor online for a 1982 Corolla...identical to the one on the forklift. Haha!

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    If you need to use it inside a building, get a propane forklift, you and the employees will appreciate it. Only downside I see with propane is you need to have at least 2 bottles, nothing sucks like having a truck halfway unloaded and running out of fuel then having to send someone to refill the bottle, and the propane dealers are only open 9-5 M-F.

    My old forklift was a Clark gasser, it ran so stinking rich it gassed everyone out of the warehouse. Had an electric unit once, employees always tried to run it until it quit moving, usually died somewhere out in the parking lot and had to be drug back into shop to be charged, major PIA, and a new batt was like 2K.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dalmatiangirl61 View Post
    If you need to use it inside a building, get a propane forklift, you and the employees will appreciate it. Only downside I see with propane is you need to have at least 2 bottles, nothing sucks like having a truck halfway unloaded and running out of fuel then having to send someone to refill the bottle, and the propane dealers are only open 9-5 M-F.

    My old forklift was a Clark gasser, it ran so stinking rich it gassed everyone out of the warehouse. Had an electric unit once, employees always tried to run it until it quit moving, usually died somewhere out in the parking lot and had to be drug back into shop to be charged, major PIA, and a new batt was like 2K.
    The worst is when you have 6 propane bottles and you run out discovering you neglected to fill any of them.

    Luckily, all my neighbors have forklifts and extra tanks too.

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    If you have propane for shop heat you can refill your own forklift tanks. A bulk tank with a wet leg and a hose with a fill adapter is all that is required.


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