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Heavy-Duty “Garbage Truck” Forklift Leads To Business
When Nathan got the idea of building a bale handling loader tractor out of a garbage truck (Vol. 31, No. 6), the idea of starting a business never entered his mind. But 12 years later, he’s building heavy duty “hay stackers”, as he calls them, out of semi trucks as well as garbage trucks. He also rebuilds other brands of forklifts and operates a thriving parts business.

    What hasn’t changed since he built his original forklift is the basic design. The forklift has 2 steering wheels, and the driver uses 2 separate sets of controls - the forward facing ones for highway use, and another set of controls for operating a 3-stage forklift mast equipped with a squeeze clamp. When using the forklift, the driver just slides across the cab into the seat on the opposite side, which faces the opposite direction and has its own set of operating controls.

    “Customers use my forklifts in their baling and hay hauling business, which often serves the export market,” says Nathan. “You can save time and haul more bales with a machine that can both load and unload bales fast. You can pick up and stack six 3 by 4-ft. big square bales 3 high on a semi truck, or 9 high in a barn.”

    The forklift is powered by a hydraulic pump that’s driven directly off the truck’s crankshaft. Hydraulic control levers for the forklift mount next to the seat. The clamp can be moved side-to-side by a hydraulic cylinder, and can also be tilted up and down. There’s a moon roof in the cab to see up above when stacking bales.

    Nathan does all the work in his shop, using CAD drawings and a CNC table to cut out many of the needed parts. “We can custom build anything the customer wants,” he says. “All our forklifts have a nice fit and finish and come with comfortable seats, a stereo, and LED lighting. We build our own cabs.”

    To build, he strips the semi truck down to the frame, then mounts another frame on top of it and joins them together. Then he adds the cab and all the other components.

    “Most of the time we look for a truck with about 300 hp.,” says Nathan. “The biggest truck we ever converted was a Kenworth equipped with a 425 hp. Cat diesel engine. We often beef up the truck’s front end so it will hold up to all the weight on the forklift.”

    Much of his rebuilding business is done on older Manteca Roadrunner forklifts made from the late 1970’s and up. “Manteca went out of business in 2008, but many owners want to keep their machines running even though they can’t find parts any more,” says Nathan. “Over the years I’ve gained quite a knowledge base, so we can source any part the customer needs. We also make our own parts and can ship them overnight.”

    New-build price for the hay stacker ranges from $220,000 to $250,000, depending on options.

    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Western Innovation, LLC, P.O. Box 38, Perkins, Okla. 74059

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2019 - Volume #43, Issue #1