Warehouse & Logistics News is proud to bring you the forty-fifth 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 45: 1964 Earls Court Show: Fiat counterbalance on show
Returning to the Earls Court show of 1964, one of the star exhibits was the Italian car maker Fiat’s new counterbalance fork lift. The model E. 12-3r battery powered machine could lift a load of 1.2 tons to a height of 118 inches. It also had contactor speed control and an emergency transmission brake, which was operated when the driver’s seat was raised.
Another Italian company, from Milan, Carrelli Elettrici Tansini launched their new man-up order picker at the show. This new battery powered machine could be both driven and controlled by the operator at heights of up to 14 feet. Picked goods to a maximum of 1,000lbs could be carried on the forks behind the driver.
Seen for the first time in Britain at the show were the Steinbock EFG 1.25 ‘Triolift’ and the ‘DFG 3.5S timber handling truck. The latter machine had a 55-b.h.p.diesel engine and could handle loads up to 7,716 lbs. Primarily designed for dealing with logs and sawn timber, the forks could be spaced to give a spread of 18-63 inches. Also to cope with the wide nature of the loads, the machine was given twin front tyres and wide front and rear track to provide extra stability. Power steering was standard and all trucks in this range, starting from 2,200 lbs were fitted with a fully synchronised, Porsche 6-speed gearbox to give 3 forward and 3 reverse speeds. The model shown, in the photograph, is a two ton brick handling machine from this range.
On a much smaller scale the Steinbock battery operated ‘Triolift’ could handle 1.25 tons at 20 inch centres and turn on a radius of 4 ft 5 1/2 inches. All three wheels were interchangeable and each of the front wheels was driven by an independent electric motor. As in some other Steinbock trucks the rear steering wheel is fitted with spring suspension.
At this time low priced trucks from Bulgaria were beginning to compete on the British market with their battery powered counterbalance and platform trucks. As part of that country’s State Commercial Enterprise these trucks were being sold at very competitive prices under the ‘SCE Machinoexport’ banner. All models looked to be quite basic in appearance, but advertised the fact that they used outstanding technology in their design. Low lift (6 ft to 10 ft 6 inches) counterbalance machines had lifting capacities ranging from 0.6 of a ton to 5 tons and the platform trucks from 0.5 tons to 3 tons.
The competition however was not all one way, as we now know that the Priestman Brothers of Hull were successful at this time in selling six major sized coal grabs to this country.
In a similar way exports to Canada were increasing for Stacatruc, with an order for £300,000 worth of equipment. This was a direct result of a visit to their Canadian distributors by Harry Hinder, the export sales manager for Stacatruc who said in an interview that “I am sure that frequent visits to the most important markets and, in this case my visit to Canada really prove worthwhile. “The late Harry Hinder will be remembered by many as a leading figure in the Fork Truck Hire Association, now renamed the Fork Lift Truck Association.
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