Choosing the right forklift mast

The mast is perhaps the most important part of a lift truck. Various types of lifting masts are available on the market. And to make it complex, the manufacturers also give their lifting mast a different name. It is therefore high time to provide text and explanation about the features and the various designs. Below we give you an explanation to choose the right forklift mast for you however you can always contact us for professional advice.

Hydraulic system

First of all it is important to explain that a hydraulic system is responsible for the movements of the mast. There are, for example, a pump, valves (valves) and cylinders that take care of the movements. The mast itself consists of 1 or more mast parts and a fork carriage (on which the forks hang), chains and hydraulic cylinders.

Terms relating to forklift truck masts

For a better understanding of the forklift lifting mast we explain some terms.

  1. The transparency of the mast. The ability of the driver to see through the mast. The mast plays an indispensable role in the functioning of the forklift however does also obstruct the driver’s view.
  2. The lifting height: the maximum height that the forks can reach. With a forklift truck, calculations are made from the floor to the top of the fork.
  3. The height of the mast: the height of the mast when the mast is not extended. The building height is important at low underpasses. This size is directly linked to the lifting height. The height of the driver’s protective grille also determines the clearance height of the truck.
  4. The free lift: the space that is created when the forks are raised, without increasing the overall height. Free lift will stop if part of the fork or carriage rises above the mast.

The simple version forklift mast

The mast with only a mast frame in which the fork carriage moves up and down is the simplest version. A hydraulic cylinder placed in the middle ensures the movement of the fork carriage. This mast type is also called mono mast. This type is rare on lift trucks, but it is widely used on stackers.

  • Advantages: simple, good visibility and free lift as standard.
  • Disadvantages: low lifting heights, maximum 2,000 millimetres.

Choosing the right forklift mastStandard lifting forklift mast

The standard mast is equipped with two mast sections, one of which extends as soon as it is lifted. The hydraulic system pushes the inner mast section up. At the same time, the chains – which are attached to the outer mast – roll over the inner mast and thus lift the fork carriage. Other names for the standard lifting mast are: duplex, 2-part mast without free lift or telescopic mast.

  • Advantages: simple construction, good visibility.
  • Disadvantages: no free lift.
  • Lift heights: up to approximately 5,000 millimetres.

Combination of simplex and duplex mast

The combination of a simplex mast and a duplex mast brings the best of both worlds. First the fork carriage reaches maximum free lift, then the inner mast extends. This type of mast also has various names: 2-part mast with full free lift, FFL mast (full free lift), HILO mast (high-low) or NIHO mast (niedrig-hoch).

  • Advantages: optimal free levy.
  • Disadvantages: not very suitable for higher lifting heights and limited visibility due to the centre cylinder.
  • Lift heights: up to 3,700 millimetres (higher only in exceptional situations).

Mast with three mast sections and a middle cylinder

The mast with three mast sections and a central cylinder provides first of all a free lift when lifting. After this, the mast sections extend telescopically. This type of lift mast has the following names: triple masts, triplex mast or 3-stage mast.

  • Advantages: completely free lift, low overall height with relatively higher lifting heights.
  • Disadvantages: expensive, considerable visibility limitation due to the three mast profiles on both sides and the hydraulic cylinder in the middle. Capacity loss at higher lift heights due to the heavy mast construction.
  • Lift heights: up to approximately 7,000 millimetres.

The 4-part forklift mast

A 4-part mast is a rarity, but it does occur. This mast comes into its own at low clearance heights in combination with high lifting heights. With the help of an expensive construction, 4 mast sections are extended. These masts are also called Quad mast

  • Advantages: high lifting heights with a low construction height.
  • Disadvantages: very high investment, hardly any transparency through the mast and large capacity loss in the base.
  • Lift heights: up to approximately 8,000 millimetres.

Unilift South Wales Forklift Trucks

We can give you professional advice about what forklift mast to choose which suits best to your needs.

At Unilift South Wales we do not only provide you with excellent new forklift equipment or used forklifts but we can also advice you on safety in your working environment. We provide the complete package so that you are ready to use our quality forklift trucks in a safe and responsible way. Do not hesitate and contact us today for your perfect forklift solution.