conveyancer-e4-rtWarehouse & Logistics News is proud to bring you the thirty-eighth instalment in our exclusive series on the history of the fork lift truck, the machine that over the decades has revolutionised the face of materials handling around the world.

Our writer is James Brindley, an acknowledged authority on fork lift trucks. James’s distinguished career has involved engineering and management roles with BT Rolatruc and serving as a Director of the Fork Lift Truck Association, before he set up the National Fork Truck Heritage Centre in 2004 as Britain’s first such collection open to the public.

The Heritage Centre continues to need your support in 2009, and if you or your company would like to help in any way, you can contact James on the number below. Now sit back and enjoy the latest part of this fascinating series.

Episode 38: 1962: Reach trucks prominent at Earls Court show

conveyancer-re2-24-reachLansing Bagnall contributed to the development of reach truck technology in 1961 with the announcement of a new reach truck with improved power unit and transmission. The model FRER 3 known as the ‘Spacemaker 3300’ had a lifting capacity of 3,300 lbs and was fitted with a revolutionary motor-in-wheel unit. The design used a compound-wound motor to drive the main road wheel through a totally enclosed epicyclic gearbox. The machine also featured the now larger sized road wheels.

A few months later, June 1962 heralded the Eighth Mechanical Handling Exhibition at Earls Court, which highlighted reach trucks’ gaining popularity. Together with those already released onto the market by Hyster-Ransomes, Lansing Bagnall, Clark and Cleco during the previous year, there were new models demonstrated by BT, Coventry Climax, Andreason-Atlas and the new American trucks made under the Conveyancer-Raymond agreement.

The first of these for Conveyancer-Raymond were known as the E4-RT and the E4R-SW, quoted at the time as the only narrow aisle trucks with power steering. The main difference between the two models was that the E4-RT had two driven steering wheels and the E4R-SW had only one, its other steerable drive wheel replaced by a spring mounted, free moving castor. The reach motion consisted of two double acting hydraulic rams connected to a scissor arm mechanism.

cc-rt4-24-reach(Pantagraph type) Both machines were heavy-duty models capable of lifting 4,500 lbs to a height of 18 ft 4 inches. They were manufactured at the Warrington factory to complement the Conveyancer home brand RE2-24 (2,000 lbs capacity) and the RE3-24 (3,000 lbs capacity) machines.

Coventry Climax chose the London event to launch their first reach truck model. With a lifting capacity of 4,000lbs at 24-inch load centre this machine was well capable of the claim that it was intended for heavy industrial duties. The model RT 4.24 had a lifting height of 10 ft 10 inches with dual lift speeds, the higher of which gave 35 ft/min fully loaded. Both of the large rear steering wheels were driven by vertically mounted electric motors and the machine had a turning radius of 70 inches.

On the Rolatruc stand, BT of Sweden launched a rider operated model where the driver was seated facing forwards. It was capable of lifting 2,600 lbs at 24-inch load centre to 132 inches but lift heights of up to 218 inches were available using a sliding scale. Hydraulic pressure for lifting was reached through the operation of twin motors and pumps. The reach mechanism consisted of the mast extending and retracting within the support arm legs under the control of a hydraulic ram, but only one of the motors and pumps was used here to help steady and moderate the action. Travel speed and direction was through a 24 volt 4 H.P motor and controlled by a system of contactors and resistances giving three speeds in forward and reverse.

bt-rt-12The Andreason-Atlas Company exhibited an unusual reach truck, with a pedestrian controlled version. It was claimed to handle a load of 23 cwt at a 20-inch load centre to a height of 89 inches and could also be fitted with a side shift without loss of capacity. The machine had a reach of 27 inches and stacked 40 x 40 pallets at right angles in an aisle only 66 inches wide.

To be continued
By James Brindley, Director, National Fork Truck Heritage Centre

If you would like to support the National Fork Truck Heritage Centre, please call James Brindley on 0780 195 4167


  1. I am a student of London Business School Sloan Fellowship. Currently I work for my end of the course project about the forklift industry. To write something about the history of the industry, your History of Forklift articles are greatly helpful. However, I cannot find the earlier episodes of the wonderful articles. Could you possibly inform me how can I get the earlier episodes?

    Best wishes,
    Takayuki Hamano

  2. Christo du Randt

    We are looking for Cleco Warehouse Forklift Spares, do you have local Suppliers in South Africa for Cleco? If so can you supply us with contact Details please? We are looking for a Cleco Steering Control Card, Cleco Drawing S3319, Part No: 21398, Portec.

  3. we still run a Conveyancer -raymond forklift and would be intrested in any copies of mechanical and electrical diagrams /workshop manuals etc that anybody has Our model is E4RSW-4D

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