Next to buckets, skid steer pallet forks are one of the most common attachments needed and purchased by our customers.
A proper set of pallet forks should provide you with years of service when used properly. Pallet forks and their associated frames come in different sizes, style and categories. Be sure to purchase the right pallet forks and frame for your needs.
Keep reading below for more information on how to choose the right pallet forks for your skid steer.
Pallet forks and frames come in class 1, 2, 3 or 4.
Ensuring that your pallet forks and frame are of the same class is crucial to ensuring that your pallet forks will fit on your frame.
For example, a class 2 frame will not be able to couple with class 3 forks. The reason for this is that fork and frame classification will determine the “hook” or “hangar” spacing on the forks and frame.
Therefore, pallet forks should only be paired with frames of the same class.
Fork classification hangar spacing:
Class 1 inside dimensions: 13.03”
Class 2 inside dimensions: 16.00”
Class 3 inside dimensions: 20.00”
Class 4 inside dimensions: 25.00”
The class of pallet forks and frame also indicates its overall lifting capacity.
Class 1 Lift capacity: Less than 2,000 pounds
Class 2 Lift capacity: 2,000 - 5,500 pounds
Class 3 Lift Capacity: 5,500 - 11,000 pounds
Class 4 Lift Capacity: 11,000 pounds - 17,500 pounds
It’s important to consider the length of pallet fork you need for the job at hand. Common lengths are 42”, 48” 54”, 60” and 72”.
The most common skid steer pallet forks and frame are class 2 with a 48” long fork tine.
A common concern with choosing a longer than necessary pallet fork tine is the increased likelihood of operator error. That is, sliding the fork beyond the pallet being lifted and damaging products/structures behind the pallet.
Conversely, choosing a pallet fork thats too short can be dangerous. It’s important to support the entire load being lifted, and too short of a pallet fork can lead to tipped loads and broken forks.
Pallet fork thickness is set by the manufacturer and determined by the classification of fork. For example, Berlon Industries class 2 pallet fork tines are between 1.375” to 1.75” thick depending on the model and length chosen.
Too thin of a pallet fork can bend and cause fatigue and failure, while too thick of a pallet fork may restrict your ability to lift certain items without damaging them.
Your pallet forks will thin out with age and you should monitor for excessive amounts of wear.
Common pallet fork tines widths are 4” or 5”. This will again come down to your preference, as narrower forks may be advantageous when moving certain material.
Pallet fork frames can be built with different features which should also be considered before purchasing.
A common frame we sell is the “walk through pallet fork frame”. The walk through frame has a large opening in the back for the frame to allow you to enter your skid steer with ease.
Some customers may also prefer low profile pallet fork frames to increase forward visibility while operating the skid steer.
High back frames are also popular, as well as pallet fork frames with “brick guards”. These frames are designed to prevent damage to the skid steer if your load tip backwards towards the skid steer.
It’s easy to over use your pallet forks as sometimes its not perfectly obvious that they have worn out.
It is possible to purchase pallet fork wear indicators, as well, some pallet forks will come with a wear guide on them.
You should however keep an eye out for obvious signs of damage and inspect your forks and frame regularly. Follow the manufactures recommendations and OSHA requirements to keep your crew safe.
You should immediately replace your pallet forks if you notice surface cracks, bent or out of shape tines, or excessive wear.
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