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  • Writer's pictureRED FORKLIFTS PTE LTD

Basic Forklift Parts

Are you new to forklifts? Or just need a quick review? This blog is the first instalment of a four part series that will focus on getting you familiar with basic forklift terminology or recap on basic forklift terms that you might already know.

Today we will begin with a short introduction to the basic features of a forklift. Familiarise yourself with the picture below labelled with the important forklift features and also find a small description of them. We will now run through them individually.

  • Mast: The mast is the vertical support that permits raising and lowering the load.

  • Carriage: A support structure where the forks are attached or mounted.

  • Back Rest: Attached to the carriage and prevents the load shifting backwards, it protects the mast cylinders hoses as well as preventing any goods falling through the mast and hitting the operator.

  • Fork (Tynes): The cantilevered arms attached to the load carriage, that engage the load.

  • Lift Cylinder: Controls the amount by which the mast structure, forks and carriage may be raised or lowered in the vertical.

  • Overhead Guard: A framework/roof, providing overhead protection for the operator from falling objects.

  • Tilt Cylinder: Controls the amount by which the mast structure, forks and carriage may be tilted beyond the vertical position, forward or backward.

  • Rating Plate: This is used to inform users of the maximum load a forklift can legally carry.

  • Counter Weight: The weight installed by the manufacturer to give stability to the machine under load.

We will now continue to work through some terms specifically aimed at increasing your understanding of the types of forklift masts. Before beginning there are a number of key words you need to be aware of:

  • Lift Height: The height to which the top of the fork is raised when the mast is fully extended.

  • Free lift: Height forks can be raised before the mast extends (i.e. Without increasing mast height)

  • Lowered Height or Collapsed Height: Height from the floor to the top of the mast when it is lowered.

  • Extended Height: the height to the top of the mast or load guard when mast is fully extended.

3 common mast types:

  • Duplex (2 stage): Mast has 2 sections, one outer that does not move and an inner section that raises and elevates the carriage and forks.

  • Triplex (3 Stage): Consists of three sections (one outer and two inner rails). The 2 inner sections raise from outside to in as the mast elevates higher. The mast type provides a shorter lowered height for use through doorways.

  • Quad (4 Stage): consists of four sections (one outer and three inner rails). These sections raise from outside to in, in four sections as the mast raises. Quad masts have the shortest lowered height for its lift and are used where there are very low height restrictions such as container doors.


When discussing dimensions you must be aware of the basic dimension terms such as length, height and width to ensure your forklift fits within the parameters of your factory and floor space. Even though these terms are quite basic, you may not know how to fully apply these terms to your forklift or where to measure from.

Overall length: the measure of a forklift from the front end of the fork arm to the back end of the machine. This is important to know as you need to be aware of how much room is in your factory so the forklift can manoeuvre efficiently and safely.

Overall height: refers to the forklift’s height which is measured from the ground to the highest point on the forklift. This may be the top of the mast or the top of the overhead guard. You must be weary of specific aspects such as deflated tyres or a large overhead guard that rises above the mast. It is essential to know your forklifts overall height to ensure it fits through all doorways within your factory or location.

Overall width: the width of a forklift can vary depending on where the measurements are taken from. Measurements are taken on either side of the machines body from a variety of positions including the axles, fender, fork carriage and tyres so be sure to specify with whoever you are dealing with which point your forklift is being measured from.

The main points to take away from today are that even though these terms can be quite basic, you can never overlook or underestimate them. Even though you may think you know what they mean, if you do a little more research you may realise there’s a bit more to understand and when you are dealing with a large investment such as a forklift, you can never get enough information to make the right choice.

We hope you’ve found this week’s topic of Mast Details & Dimensions useful. Next week we will move on to Part 3: Stability & Manoeuvrability so stay tuned. If you have any questions or comments you would like to ask other readers or Adaptalift Hyster concerning the content covered, we will be happy to help whether simple or difficult please feel free to do so below.


When working with loads the stability of your forklift is one of the most important aspects you should be aware of. Below are a few features you should keep in mind.

Load Capacity

The maximum weight (materials) a forklift can carry at a given “load centre”, with the mast held in a vertical position. The load rating is usually expressed in kilograms or pounds and the standard load centre in millimetres or inches. This will be presented on the rating plate which was shown in the forklift diagram in Part 1.

Load Centre

The load centre describes the distance from the face of the forks to the centre of gravity of the load. The centre of gravity of any object is the imaginary point about which the weight of the object is evenly distributed. Forklifts do not have a fixed centre of gravity, the centre of gravity moves as the machine performs certain tasks such as:

  • Pick up or put down loads.

  • As a load is lifted and lowered, the combined centre of gravity will also move up and down.

  • As the mast is moved forward and back, the combined centre of gravity also moves forward and back.

  • As the mast is tilted forward and back, the combined centre of gravity moves forward and back.

Stability Triangle

All forklifts regardless of size, weight or wheel quantity have a ‘stability triangle’. The stability triangle is the area under the forklift which it must keep its centre of gravity within for the truck to be stable. If the centre of gravity moves outside the stability triangle, the forklift will tip.


Manoeuvrability is an extremely important topic that must be covered and understood when researching and learning about forklifts as it is typically overlooked until it is too late.

Tilting Angle:

The tilting angle is the maximum angle in which a mast can tilt forward and backward. The tilting angle varies when dealing with different forklifts, masts and attachments and is also limited at high mast to maintain truck stability. This is useful to know as depending on what materials you are carrying, you may require a higher tilt angle to ensure stable manoeuvrability and avoid any loss of loads.

Right Angle Stacking Aisle:

The right angle stacking aisle is the terminology to describe the amount of load a forklift can carry and turn to a 90 degree angle. When dealing with racking and loading your materials on to shelves this is the most important piece of information you need to know, as it will tell you the maximum load you can carry, it can also help by telling you the distance in which your shelving needs to be apart.


The angle of a ramp/slop a forklift can travel up/down on. An important factor to take in to consideration is whether you forklift is carrying a load or not which will affect the gradeability.

After reviewing or learning this basic terminology above you can begin to create questions for yourself to see what you require out of a forklift in your workplace. It is also a great starting point to learn more by perhaps asking your local forklift dealer a few questions that you have trouble answering yourself.

Forklifts Types

A forklift is also known as a lift truck essentially because it’s a truck that can lift loads using a set of forks. A forklift can be used in numerous places such as warehouses, factories, farms, shipping yards and much more. There are many types of forklifts which can be called a variety of different names; in this case we will use the basic names of the forklifts when describing their capabilities.

  1. Pallet Trucks & Walkie Stackers (Class II): Typically used for moving pallets and crates of small loads at ground height.

  2. Electric Warehouse Equipment (Class II & III): Stand-on or ride-on used in small spaces and are quite manoeuvrable and can lift small to medium loads. (i.e. Reach trucks, order pickers and turret trucks)

  3. Electric Counter Balance Forklift (Class I): Used to lift medium to large loads with a battery powered engine, making it less pollutant (more suitable for indoors) with lower operating costs.

  4. IC (Internal Combustion) Engine Trucks (Class IV & V): The most commonly used forklift normally outdoors. This type of forklift is typically cheaper to purchase and lifts heavier loads, and works in all types of weather running off liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), liquid propane, diesel and compressed natural gases (CNG).

  5. Big Trucks: can lift extremely large loads up to 48 tons (e.g. shipping containers to a very high height).

Forklift Tyres

Tyres are extremely important as they will help manoeuvrability and functionality of your forklift. Improper use and poor maintenance of tyres can lead to increased costs to your business. The tyre you choose will be dependant on the location and environment your forklift will work within for the majority of its time. There are typically three different types of tyres which include:

  • Pneumatic: Used in unpaved yards and on rough terrain surfaces.

  • Pneumatic Profile Puncture Proof (Semi-Solids): Used on sealed surfaces and areas where punctures may be an issue.

  • Cushion: Used on more compact model forklifts in warehouse applications.

  • Non-Markers: Made to eliminate black marks on the floor.

Many factors both external and internal can affect your forklifts tyre life. Problems can arise from miss treated tyres such as punctures or bursts which can result in damaged forklifts, loads or even cause injuries to employees. It can also be a hassle to order a replacement tyre as it will take time before your forklift can be in action again and your calculated budgeting will be affected. Below are some factors that you may like to take into account when choosing & maintaining the proper tyres and ensuring your tyre has a long and useful life.

External factors

  • Truck type

  • Load conditions

  • Application: working cycle

  • Floor conditions

  • Driver

  • Risk for external damage

Internal factors

  • Tyre construction

  • Thickness of thread layer

  • Profile

  • Heat build-up

  • Choice of rubber compound

  • Non marking tyres are softer and wear faster

Call us today to discuss your requirement and get answers to all your questions. Just dial 6366-4173 or email to

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