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When To Replace Forklift Forks

The forklift fork is often overlooked and under-inspected. Many are unaware of how often one should inspect their forks, and how to inspect them. Federal law (OSHA Standards 29 CFR 1910.178) mandates that forklift forks which see around-the-clock use should be inspected on a per-operation basis. As part of a pre-operation inspection, forklift forks should ideally be inspected for signs of cracks, bends, excessive wear or damage to either the fork tine or the positioning lock when using an ITA mounted fork.

What to look for:

  1. Excessive wear to the forks – Forklift forks decrease in thickness over time due to normal wear. However, any wear to the fork over 10 percent of the total thickness is considered excessive. Forks that show this amount of wear should be replaced. Be sure to inspect the forks closely for fractures and gouges. The fork heel and parts of the fork closest to the machine typically receive the most wear. Even small cracks and gouges are signs forks need to be replaced.
  2. Fractures due to stress or collision – Be sure to inspect the forks closely for fractures and gouges. The fork heel and parts of the fork closest to the machine typically receive the most wear. Even small cracks and gouges are signs forks need to be replaced.
  3. Damage to the fork tip – Since fork tips are usually the first part of the fork to come in contact with material, excessive wear or damage to the tips is a clear indicator the forks should be replaced.
  4. Any bends or uneven surfaces on the fork – All forks are delivered with a 90 degree angle from the shank to the blade. If any bend or uneven surface is detected on either the blade or shank, the fork(s) need replacing.
  5. Difference in fork blade height – A difference in the height of each fork blade should stay within 3 percent of the fork length. Therefore if the forks in question are 42 inches long the allowable difference in fork height would be 1.26 inches. Any difference in fork height beyond 1.26 inches is a sign that both forks need to be replaced.
  6. Wear or damage to the fork hook – Noticeable wear, crushing, pulling, and other deformities are signs that the fork hooks need to be replaced. Furthermore, if the wear to the hook is causing an excessive amount of distance between the fork and the carriage, the hook(s) should be replaced.
  7. Wear or damage to positioning lock – If a positioning lock is no longer capable of locking completely due to wear the forks should immediately be removed from duty until the part is replaced. Operating without a fully functional positioning lock is a safety hazard and illegal.

When it does come time to replace forklift forks here are some common questions.

  1. Can a single fork be replaced or should they be replaced in pairs?
    While only a single fork might show signs of excessive wear or damage, it is not safe to replace only one fork. It is highly recommended forks be replaced only in pairs to ensure equal performance. Having two different forks with unique amounts of wear and disproportionate hourly usage is provides a number of safety concerns.
  2. Is it ok to make custom repairs or modification to the forks?
    It is typically recommended that only the fork manufacturer make repairs or modifications to ensure forks meet safety standards. Always contact your fork provider first when in need of modification.
  3. How do I determine replacement fork quality?
    Forks made from high quality boron-carbon alloy high strength steel are rated 20% stronger than those made with 40CR. In addition, forks that are fully immersed into industrial heat treatment ovens and cooling pools are the most durable. Premium quality forklift forks should meet or exceed all ANSI/ITSDF and ISO standards.

5 Essential Skid Steer Attachments for Landscapers

Buying a skid steer is often the first big investment for new landscaping owners. It’s an investment that, if done right, can both add value and provide quick return. However, the machine is only half the battle. The right attachments are the other half.

Here are the first five attachments every landscaping skid steer owner should purchase:

  1. Bucket

    What does it do? Most of the time buckets are just used to transport dirt, sand, gravel, and the like. Landscaping buckets are great for that, but also are designed to help grade and level land.

    What to look for? When grading and leveling it’s important to be able to see over the top of the bucket from the cab. As a result, landscaping buckets have a low-profile design. It’s also important that the bucket sits level with the ground. Landscaping buckets do this by using a raised hitch plate. Lastly, teeth are added to landscaping buckets to help dig into the ground when grading.

    When to buy? A Landscape bucket should be your first attachment. Other options include rock buckets for heavy rocks and gravel, bulk material buckets for large material quantity and snow removal, and grapple buckets for tree limbs and logs.

    How does this make money? The savings on labor alone will provide ROI within a couple weeks of regular use. Combine that with the ability to grade and level and it’s not hard to see the value a bucket adds.

  2. Pallet Forks

    What do they do? Loading and unloading anything too big to carry. This means sod, seed, brick, concrete bags and the rest.

    What to look for? You’ll need to know the machine make, model, and capacity rating. 48 inch forks are pretty standard. Speak with a salesperson here, but always verify the forks are fully heat treated and built with steel capable of heavy usage.

    When to buy?
    Get these when buying the bucket. These two attachments will do the majority of the work.

    How does this make money? Potential workman’s comp claims from heavy lifting aside, faster loading and unloading means time saved. Just having forks also gives you the option to add a variety of fork mounted attachments like booms, work platforms, and more.

  3. Auger Drive

    What does it do? When paired with drill bits, auger drives can make digging holes for trees, shrubs, post mounting, and fence installation faster and easier. They can save some serious time and expand business capabilities. In addition, auger drives can fit other attachments including stump planers and cement mixers.

    What to look for? Drives are pretty simple. Get a planetary drive with a sealed gearbox for less maintenance and an increased lifespan. Look for a single piece shaft assembly to eliminate shaft pull out. Also, invest in a good set of bits as different sizes are needed for different uses.

    When to buy?
    An auger drive isn’t necessary right away as most holes can be dug by hand and shovel. However, it does make life a lot easier and gets the job done faster.

    How does this make money? Augers are a fairly simple way to save a lot of hard work and time if you find yourself digging holes often. This increase in efficiency makes expanding into new services like fence and post installation an easy decision.

  4. Stump Planer

    What does it do? The stump planer attaches to the auger drive and can easily remove stumps without the need to rent a very costly stump grinder.

    What to look for? These are pretty simple, just verify information with a sales rep.

    When to buy? After purchasing an auger drive.

  5. Cement Mixer

    What does it do? The cement mixer can get where traditional cement trucks can’t by attaching directly to the auger drive. Cement mixer attachments are pretty straightforward to operate, just load cement mix and water, rotate the bowl using the auger drive, and pour cement as needed.

    What to look for? Cement mixers use an adapter to mount to the auger drive. Make sure you have the correct mounting system for optimal performance.

    When to buy? After purchasing an auger drive.

    How does this make money?  The cement mixer will save time on smaller jobs like driveway or sidewalk repair, as well as small cement foundations, and other jobs. Similar to the stump planer, the cement mixer eliminates the need for costly rentals.