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Shortening Forklift Mast

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  • Shortening Forklift Mast

    I posted before that I recently purchased a Drexel forklift - kind of a nifty machine with the right angle swing capability but the one I got has a few problems and was new in 1989. I might be able to essentially trade mine for one that is slightly newer and has what seems to be a stronger battery but has a taller 3-stage mast that is about 10' tall when at its lowest position. My current lift has a 3-stage mast that is 93" when it is lowered.

    The fellow with the taller mast really needs one with a shorter mast to get inside his buildings but doesn't have a means of modifying the mast. I've got a backhoe to help with lifting and I've got welding and cutting equipment sufficient for the job (I used to do a lot of repair and fabrication work on heavy earth moving equipment so even 3"-4" thick plate is familiar territory). Seems like, with some careful work, I could remove the taller mast and cut it down to size. I would also have to shorten the chains and maybe make a few other changes but... seems doable, no?

    Figured I'd get some other thoughts before I make any final decisions.

    The biggest downside to these lifts, in my opinion, is that they have hard wheels and weigh about 12,500 lbs., despite having a lift capacity of only 3000/3500 lbs. Not really ideal for asphalt but even an imperfect solution is better than no solution - especially when the imperfect solution cost next to nothing. (I know, people will say I need to factor in the cost of broken up asphalt but so far it hasn't done any damage and my asphalt is pretty well trashed anyway. Big frost heaves and delamination when I bought the property).

  • #2
    Meh! Just sell it and buy one of these.
    2T Bear-Lift Pro Pallet Stacker at Grizzly.com

    Click image for larger version

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    Seriously, growing up we had a solid wheel pavement only gas forklift for our grocery store and hardware store. We had an asphalt parking lot at the grocery store and no outside pavement at the hardware store. We used it on dirt hard packed gravel, dirt, and caliche all the time. A little sand on top of the hard pack was little to no issue. The only real issue was uneven ground. A few times driving it back and forth between the stores or using it in the back yard at the hardware store I had to have somebody hang off the side of the lift to get he drive wheel engaged.

    Later we bought a big International tractor frame diesel for the grocery store at a farm auction. That thing would climb over sand hills with a load and just keep going. I wish I had that thing still, but it went with the grocery store when my dad sold it.
    *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

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    • #3
      Re: That stacker.... I think its interesting that it says 2000Kg in giant letters on the side of the unit, but the manual says capacity 4000lbs. 2000kg is 4409.24524 lbs.
      *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

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      • #4
        will the hydraulic cylinder be an issue?

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        • #5
          Why is the machine so heavy? Extended lifting center? I have 2 forklifts, a tiny towmotor that weighs about 4500 and rated to pick up a ton. And a 5k rated cat that weighs 8400lbs.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Bob La Londe View Post
            Re: That stacker.... I think its interesting that it says 2000Kg in giant letters on the side of the unit, but the manual says capacity 4000lbs. 2000kg is 4409.24524 lbs.
            Easy answer: Its chinese. Both numbers are fake and based on the 'develops X horsepower' concept, AKA 'smokes at 6hp' etc.
            Southwest Utah

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            • #7
              Originally posted by jmm03 View Post
              will the hydraulic cylinder be an issue?
              That's a forehead slapper. Probably so. I'd be looking at cutting down the tube and rod, I suppose. Luckily I have just the lathe for the job... but definitely a bit more work than anticipated.


              Originally posted by Blazemaster83 View Post
              Why is the machine so heavy? Extended lifting center? I have 2 forklifts, a tiny towmotor that weighs about 4500 and rated to pick up a ton. And a 5k rated cat that weighs 8400lbs.
              Yeah, it's because the forks rotate 90* to the body of the forklift for narrow isles or moving long stock through a doorway. See here: https://youtu.be/sah0qi5SJ0o?t=74

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              • #8
                Do both of you need that swinging mast feature on you lifts? In no way do I want to discourage you from having some fun with fabricating, I've done my fair share of it over the years, but it seems like an awful lot of work and effort that could be spent elsewhere. That said, I wonder if there are short mast lifts out there that could be cannibalized with less effort. Either swap masts or refurbish a simpler machine. Maybe a small gas powered machine with a smoked engine, or electric with fried motor and controller that needs batteries too. The lazy side of me is looking for the easy way out.

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                • #9
                  How many stages does the mast have? It could get tricky if it's a 3 or more stage unit. Not only would the rails and cylinder be in play, so would the rollers and chains.
                  I just need one more tool,just one!

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                  • #10
                    I've seen Glasgow Engineering in Tasmania have shortened a bunch of Toyota masts. But I think they were single stage.

                    It's probably something I'll have to do someday if I want a forklift. I have maybe 7 feet of clearance. Actually probably a little less with a 9x7" garage door, and I think the pipes are lower than that.
                    21" Royersford Excelsior CamelBack Drillpress Restoration
                    1943 Sidney 16x54 Lathe Restoration

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