Warehouse & Logistics News is proud to bring you the fortieth 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.
In June 1962, after the Earls Court Exhibition, Wessex Industries of Poole Dorset launched three new machines. These were an electric tractor model “E 1100,” to tow up to 7 tons, an electric platform truck model “E 600” and the fork lift truck model E 750, their first battery-operated, four-wheeled, sit on counterbalance. The main outer body of this 1 ton capacity machine was made from 1/2 inch rolled steel plate with welded cross members for the mounting of drive and hydraulic units.
The plans for the build were chalked on the floor in much the same way a blacksmith would have operated. A recent interview with an old employee also revealed that security for this model was paramount. This was carried to the degree that anyone caught transferring the floor sketch to paper, for any reason, faced instant dismissal.
Shortly after the launch of this machine the company signed an agreement with Elwell Parker to sell their Titan counterbalance range under licence in Britain. These machines’ lifting capacities ranged from 15,000-20,000lbs.
During the months following the London show Conveyancer added the model “E3” counterbalance fork lift to their battery-operated range, along with two new flameproof diesels. The latter were variants of the TC range and had lifting capacities of 4,000lb and 5,000lb at 24-inch centres. They were designated as models “FTC4-24” and “FTC5-24 respectively, both fitted with the Perkins Three/152 flameproof diesel engine.
The Brush Company of Loughborough, Leicestershire launched a new range of low lift trucks. These included the battery-operated Brush Barrett “PXG” 2 ton pallet truck and the PG-PGK 2 ton platform truck.
Other British companies making news included Matling, who had now been purchased complete with patterns, spares, jigs and tools and renamed Matling Engineering 1962 Ltd. In 1961 the Company became a subsidiary of ABC Coupler, which eventually ended up in liquidation.
Matbro purchased a former iron foundry in Frome, Somerset, and moved all fork lift production to this larger site. The reason given was to relieve pressure on the present Horley site.
In other industry developments the Slingsby Company now traded as H.C.Slingsby PLC after going public, and the sad news emerged that Harry Shelvoke, one of the founders of Shelvoke and Drewry, had died.
New machines from over the Channel included some of the Record Matral counterbalance range. Jewsbury’s Mechanical Handling Ltd introduced three models of 1 ton, 23 cwt and 28 cwt capacity. All three machines were fitted with the 845c.c. Renault Estafette engines and Dauphine gearboxes, giving travelling speeds of up to 6 mph.
Various American companies introduced new machines, and one of these was a new manufacturer to the UK. Crown, with vast market experience behind them, introduced their “Walkie” pallet truck to the market whilst NAMCO, trying the market for the first time, launched a series of battery, gasoline and propane forklifts. Primarily an agricultural machinery producer, Elmer Hanson, the owner, developed and tested these machines from a model purpose built for use in his own factory. NAMCO machines were named using the first letters of Elmer Hanson’s original business name of the North American Manufacturing Company.
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