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For a front end loader or fork lift, how do you know if you are trying to lift something that is too heavy for your equipment?

Do you:
1. Know the limits of the equipment, estimate the weight of the load and don't try to lift something that is at or exceeds the limit.
2. Just try to lift the load and if it works you are ok.
3. Observe how the tractor is groaning, popping or bogging down to determine that the load is too heavy.

If your answer is #3, what do you listen for?
 

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D.) All of the Above


IME, the first few times you play with any piece of equipment it's a bit of a crapshoot. You guesstimate if you don't have hard numbers. You learn pretty quickly how the piece of equipment "feels" under load. You'll notice the sounds it makes as it strains and you'll feel how the steering and the ride changes under the weight of the load. With too much load the steering gets harder and the ride tends to get bouncy. I've trained people how to run forklifts for years and I tell every single one of them the same thing - for the first month (assuming daily usage here) assume everything is twice as heavy as you think it is and operate the equipment at a max of half speed. Over time you gain the feel for the equipment as well as build confidence in what you're doing.
 

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Assuming proper ballast, if the load if too heavy to lift-then the machine simply wont lift it.


Take your time, go slow and keep the load low.
 

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For a front end loader or fork lift, how do you know if you are trying to lift something that is too heavy for your equipment?

Do you:
1. Know the limits of the equipment, estimate the weight of the load and don't try to lift something that is at or exceeds the limit.
2. Just try to lift the load and if it works you are ok.
3. Observe how the tractor is groaning, popping or bogging down to determine that the load is too heavy.

If your answer is #3, what do you listen for?
My short answer is #2, but I should explain further.
I would first ask myself:
1. Do I have enough rear ballast? I have a backhoe as my ballast and it is just about the upper limit of what I need for the limit of the FEL.
2. If I don't have enough ballast what can happen? Without enough ballast, the rear wheels can lift, and since the front axle on many tractors is not "fixed" but on a center pivot, unloading the rear wheels can be disastrous.
3. How much do I want to lift? I know the limits of my FEL ... with the backhoe as the ballast I have. On my tractor, it is about 850 lbs, more or less, depending on my bucket or forks. If I know that the load on a pallet is say, 2000 lbs, I already know I can't lift it. If I think I can lift something, I would try, but only with maximum rear ballast.
4. With max ballast, my FEL will lift only until the hydraulic system goes into bypass, and you can hear the fluid bypass or the FEL just won't lift anymore.

I have moved several large stumps with my FEL bucket (before I had forks). I knew I was at my lifting limit as I could only get it about 6" off the ground and no more. I was really careful with that load, and I had to move it down a slope. Moving on level ground, slight bouncing really unloaded my rear wheels quite a bit, so I just crept along. I went down the slope in reverse, but with GREAT care.

Experience is your best teacher with the FEL, but if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.

Just my 2 cents.
 

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....When a front tire blows off the rim.
 

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All the above, plus...When my wife has to operate the controls while I manually help the hydraulics by lifting up on the bucket or forks. The hydraulics can hold more than it can lift.
 

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I would argue against that too, but I'm not an expert on tractors.
Your loader manual will talk about proper ballast (how much weight located where on the tractor). Once the tractor is properly ballasted, you simply won't be able to lift the load above maximum capacity. The relief valve (if properly set) will open and prevent any further lifting.

This is another reason for the proper ballast on the tractor. It's much safer and keeps you within safe operating limits of a tractor.:good2:

Forklifts are a completely different animal as far as construction is concerned.
 

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That is not true for forklifts.
Generally speaking, it is an accurate statement. Forklifts and tractors both have relief valves in the hydraulic system that open at a certain pressure. That doesn't mean that if a machine is set at 2500 psi, the relief will open at 2501. There's a little "give" there. The PRV isn't meant to be a weight limiter, but to protect components of the hydraulic system from damage. It's like a circuit breaker.

It's certainly possible to overload equipment to a certain degree and get by with it in the right situation, and it's also possible for a properly ballasted machine to be unable to lift something below its rated capacity in the right circumstances. Too far out on the forks, off center when you try lifting, etc.

In any case, if something is over the capacity of the machine, the machine won't lift it. The PRV will open, or tires will come off the ground. Depending on the design of the equipment, the area you're operating in, type of load and operator experience you can have a lot of different outcomes with the same machine trying to move the same weight. A 3,000 lb capacity forklift on a flat, level warehouse floor moving pallets is a whole lot different than a 5 series tractor loading round bales on a semi truck on a rolling, hilly field.

Always pay attention to the equipment, load, and what's going on around you. If something seems wrong, stop and reevaluate. :good2:
 

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Generally speaking, it is an accurate statement.
No, it's not. I understand how relief valves work. I'm a certified master technician for the #1 selling forklift brand. A forklift will lift far more than it's rated capacity, usually to the point of the rear tires lifting. There is a very large and dangerous operating window between rated capacity and tires lifting. Besides that there are all the conditional factors that reduce capacity. The OP included tractors and forklifts in his question. As has already been pointed out they are very different machines and generalized statements should not be made about both.
 

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I thought the OP was referencing forks for a tractor, not an actual fork lift truck. :think:
 

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Part of the reason we occasionally go deeper into detail with some replies, or cover "basic" stuff for folks familiar with the equipment is that a lot of folks who may ready the thread may not be quite as experienced. My intent wasn't to over simplify because I felt like you didn't understand. I apologize if it came across that way.

As I stated in my last post, it's very possible to overload equipment and get by with it. It's not advised, but it happens at all levels from a homeowner trying to move a 5,000 lb boat with a rear engine riding lawnmower to an industrial stamping facility changing 30,000 lb press does with a forklift rated for 15k. Sometimes it's successful, sometimes it isn't.

As a forklift guy, you know there's a safety factor built into the ratings for lift equipment. While its certainly not recommended to operate in that "fringe" area, we all know folks do it. I think you and I may be trying to say the same thing different ways: it's possible to exceed the rated capacity of a machine and get by. It's certainly not advised, but it happens.
 

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Experience is your best teacher with the FEL, but if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.
This ^^^ Always follow your pucker factor.

The lay of the land can cause a tip-over in a heartbeat. A little dip or gopher hole can shift the balance and carrying a heavy load turns a dip into a flip.

I watch my front tires too - if they squat too much I worry about them rolling off the rims.
 

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I have in front of me a forklift rated to lift 3770 pounds. It has the hydraulic capacity to lift over 9000 pounds. So to give anyone the idea that a machine generally won't lift more than it's safe capacity is bad advice. Im not trying to be a jerk, but these are the kind of mistakes that get people disabled or killed.
 

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How Do You Know When the Load is Too Heavy? For a front end loader or fork lift, how do you know if you are trying to lift something that is too heavy for your equipment?
I have to wonder if the OP meant,
For a front end loader or fork, lift (I read it this way)
or
For a front end loader or forklift

:dunno:
 

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I have in front of me a forklift rated to lift 3770 pounds. It has the hydraulic capacity to lift over 9000 pounds.
I think it's safe to say that long before you reach 9,000 lbs the rear tires will come off the floor.

It would be great to always have an exact weight of the item we want to move: in warehouses and factories you have a much better opportunity for that because you're usually moving a known item. However, working with loader buckets or forks moving dirt, rock, debris, scrap metal, etc is far more difficult to determine exactly what the load will weigh. You have to develop a feel for the machine and how it responds, be it a tractor, forklift, or heavy equipment. Generally speaking, if the hydraulics will lift the load and the tires stay planted firmly, one can proceed with caution to move that load. As operators get more comfortable with the equipment they'll develop a feel for what's acceptable in what situations based on previous experience with that machine in those conditions.
 

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I think it's safe to say that long before you reach 9,000 lbs the rear tires will come off the floor.
Don't count on it.

I don't disagree with most of what you're saying, my problem is with the simple generalization that a properly ballasted machine won't lift more than it's rated capacity, implying that that is some kind of good indicator or safety feature. That's just false (and potentially dangerous) information whether relating to tractors or forklifts, as even a properly ballasted tractor with a below capacity load can go from perfectly stable to upside down with just a turn of the wheel.
 

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Don't count on it.

I don't disagree with most of what you're saying, my problem is with the simple generalization that a properly ballasted machine won't lift more than it's rated capacity, implying that that is some kind of good indicator or safety feature. That's just false (and potentially dangerous) information whether relating to tractors or forklifts, as even a properly ballasted tractor with a below capacity load can go from perfectly stable to upside down with just a turn of the wheel.
Rated capacity and actual capability are always two different things. Rated capacity takes into account things like ballast, stability, center of gravity, and potential stress on components. Forklifts -can- lift much more than they are rated for. But, the rating on them has a LOT to do with the fact that those loads are also intended to often be lifted very high overhead. Since it's imperative that the machine remain stable while doing this, the rated capacity will be well below actual capability.

With tractors, since we operate on uneven surfaces and do not have the ability to raise items twelve feet off of the ground, rated capacity and capability are MUCH more close together than on a forklift. When lifting with a FEL, the full capability is only realized at the lowest heights. Once the load comes up off of the ground, the FEL loses the ability to raise it infinitely higher to the top of the loader's range since its mechanical advantage changes as the arms raise up in height. Again, not true with forklifts.

If one wants to know important and pertinent information regarding the safe use of forklifts, they should ask on a forklift site, or at least in a forklift dedicated forum. By and large, our experience and knowledge here will be as it pertains to TRACTORS.


For the OP:

When using the FEL on my machine, I will ensure that I have appropriate pressure in the tires and appropriate ballast on the 3PH. With that, I will attempt to lift my heaviest items to a height of about 18". If I can't raise it up that high, then it's too heavy for me to lift AND transport safely. If I am able to raise it that high, I drop it back down to a lower height before moving the machine with the load on the forks and I travel slowly with my hand on the loader control, ready to drop the FEL to the ground in the event that the tractor shifts on me.
 
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