To help prevent costly lift truck repairs and damaged loads, it is important to inspect your forklift’s front end regularly as part of your daily or pre-shift inspection. Below are some general guidelines on what to check during regular material handling fleet inspections.
- Forks. Worn or cracked forks can fail without warning, and fork damage means taking the forklift out of service immediately. Look for cracks, damage and wear in the forks, and replace them if cracks are deeper than on the surface. Other indications that you need to replace forks include wear beyond 10 percent, bent forks, uneven fork tines and modified forks due to cutting or welding near the tip.
- Forklift Mast. The mast should move up and down and tilt forward and back in a smooth motion. If the sliding surfaces are binding, you may need to lubricate the mast strip sliding surfaces and their fittings. There’s a fitting on each side of the inner mast of the forklift. Another lubrication spot is the lift bracket side rollers. Again, there’s one on each side roller. After lubricating, raise and lower the forklift mast and tilt it forward and back a few times to work the lubricant into the fittings.
- Tilt Cylinders. Oil leakage can cause uncontrolled mast movement, so your inspection should include checking for oil leaks or damage. Whether the leaks are external or inside the cylinder, the result can be cylinder drift and loss of fluid. If there are signs of leaks or damage, you may need to either replace the seals or the entire cylinder assembly.
- Chains. Ensure that the mast lift chains do not stretch beyond acceptable limits, and inspect the chains for signs of wear or damage using a chain wear gauge. Replace the chain if wear is beyond 2 percent or if the chain is kinked or rusted. The chain rollers and sheave bearings should also be inspected for signs of wear. Mast lift chains typically wear at the pin-to-link connections. If you find wear, you could experience chain failure, which can damage product and/or the other front-end components.
If you need help determining what to inspect on your forklift trucks, or if you don’t have time to regularly inspect your fleet, contact your local Cat® lift truck dealer. Their trained service technicians can perform planned maintenance (PM) inspections according to your application and scheduling needs. With proper and regular forklift front-end inspections, costly lift truck repairs can be avoided, and you’ll know that your lift truck will perform right every time when you need it.