forklift myths

Busted! 3 Forklift Myths Exposed

There are some things that you just can’t refute. You know that gravity will always have the final word, that taxes will always be yours to pay, and that forklifts will always break down in the worst area of the site to perform repairs.
Talk to some people, and you will also hear some “truths” that are complete lunacy. From the ridiculous conspiracy theories that abound on late-night AM radio, to the beliefs that slant-six engines had mysterious abilities to defy gravity’s effects.
The forklift world has a few myths too. I thought it would be fun to poke a few of them. So, here’s a few, and what’s wrong with them.

1. Masts rails need lots of grease
I have dealt with multiple masts lately that were mis-staging because of gummy buildup in the mast rails. Well-intentioned and zealous operators and maintenance personnel had loaded on the grease, which had collected dust and dirt, gummed up, and led to service calls for me. Solvent and a scraper quickly resolve the matter, but I hate to see owners pay for easily avoidable problems.

While some environments may get away with greased rails, typically,mast rails should be kept clean. The wear strips need a light coat of extreme-pressure lubricant that dust won’t cling to. Chains require good lubrication, but that’s another post.
A dry graphite type of lubricant may be used in the rails, but will not stay around long and is unneccesary. Obviously there are possible exceptions (like fish plants), but as a general rule this is true.

2. Oil is good for (x) hours, regardless of actual calendar time.
Ok, the new breeds of oils are exceptional lubricants, but they still have some limitations. Some of my customers may only put 20 hours per year on their units, so they should be ok for 10 years, right? If you answered yes, I have some muffler bearings and blinker fluid for you to buy!

Infrequent users need their oil changed on a chronological basis. Usually twice a year should be an absolute minimum. Why? Two main reasons: oxidization and condensation.
Once oil has been heated to operating temperature, the process of chemical breakdown and oxidization begins. Newer oils have many additives to counteract this, but they can only slow it down, not stop it.
Condensation is actually a peculiar problem to these low usage units we are discussing. When the engine never gets up to a good temperature, the moisture that condenses inside the engine (from the atmosphere and as a byproduct of combustion) never get evaporated out. The resulting sludge forms acid that is hard on bearings, and rust on internal parts. I usually tell these customers to let the forklift reach full temperature every second or third usage.

3. I can add whatever I want, anywhere I want, on a forklift.
I have seen many strobe lights, mirrors, and fire extinguishers attached to the FOPS/ROPS of forklifts without proper brackets. What could be wrong with a bunch of self-drilling screws into the overhead guard? Lots. These guards are engineered to specific standards, and modification is a violation of safety codes in virtually every jurisdiction in the developed world. This includes drilling, welding, grinding, etc. Most guards are manufactured with holes for mounting lights and mirrors. If none are present, or additional accessories are to be mounted, use clamps or brackets that go around the posts. Another option is magnetic mounts (common with strobe lights). Do not modify a ROPS/FOPS unless you have an engineer sign off.

What kind of “myths” do you hear or see? Share them below!

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