With American-label industrial trucks, your choices of power plants—gas, diesel, or
electric—will vary according to manufacturer. But in general, each manufacturer can give
you the engine brand that you request. If the manufacturer’s standard is a Ford and you ask
for a Chrysler engine, you are going to have to wait a little longer. Most fork trucks,
especially of the smaller capacities, have Continental or GM engines.
With gas engines, the choices are generally Ford, Chrysler, Continental, or GM. There are
a number of European and Japanese engine manufacturers who have entered the picture,
and their engine production is usually so large that you should consider the engine that
your plant maintenance people are most familiar with as a power plant choice.
There is a difference in power plant choices with electric trucks, and, generally speaking,
the differences rest with the manufacturer. General Electric is one of the largest of the
control manufacturers for electric trucks in the country.
Lift and Free-lift
Forklift truck masts are usually telescopic in that they are double-, triple-, or quadruple-
staged in which one section slides over another to obtain the desired lifting height. The
single-stage masts for the smaller lift trucks are also quite popular. Because the multiple-
stage mast is made in sections, they must either slide one within the other or roll one
within the other, with small roller bearing rollers. Free lift in the fork truck mast means that
the movement of the forks from the ground up can be made without the movement of any
of the other sections. In other words, the forktruck forks will elevate without any of the other
sections or stages of the mast moving. This is extremely important when the fork truck is
working in a covered van or truck, or in railcar loading, where, without sufficient free lift for
the forks, the operator would puncture a hole in the roof of the carrier with the mast every
time he tried to lift a load inside the carrier.
When drawing up the specifications for your forklift truck, you should determine the
average door height of the carriers you will be unloading. This gives you a collapsed-mast
height and, as mentioned, the free lift is very important in this situation. To obtain some
idea of what the mast height should be, see Figure 3-1 for motor truck and railroad freight
car door height dimensions.