When I began my hobby of restoring old equipment, I realized I needed to lift heavy parts and sub assemblies. So 40 years ago or so I restored a 1950’s Clark Yardlift 40 forklift, which was free to me, since it belonged to a farmer friend, was not in running condition, and no longer had the performance he wanted. It is a relatively small machine (capable of lifting a load of 2000 pounds ten feet in the air, tilting its forks over a range of 15 degrees, traveling 9 miles per hour forward or backwards, and weighing about 6000 pounds plus load. Although it has inflatable tires up front, it is unhappy on rough or soft ground, and the forks have no sideways motion)
But of course, like most fork lifts, it is extremely maneuverable, and since it is only 42 inches wide and 11 feet long with forks attached, it is consistent with my yard and other spaces where I work. It also has the advantage of being fueled by Propane, so it does not mind being unused for long periods of time. When I want to use it, it reliably starts and does its thing.
What do I use it for? More and more as my wife and I age. The photograph (taken by a fascinated neighbor) shows my wife at low elevation and I attacking our front hedge. We hide behind ten foot tall hedges, which are a pain to trim from ladders. However, with my wife on the pallet, along with a small generator and an electric clipper (in her capable hands), no mere hedge can slow us down. Similarly I can carry anything weighing up to two tons wherever the forklift can go, and I can’t remember ever being able to lift two tons myself. In fact, I can probably do more aided by my forklift now than when I could leap tall buildings with a single bound, but was trying to live without a forklift. And, of course, it has unlimited kid-entertaining potential (see next two photos.
Unfortunately, forklifts are considered an industrial product and not designed for people messing around in their yard. And perhaps there are not that many people doing so any more. But I would think there would be a market for a cheaper, lighter, yard model, at least for those of us who are aging but still like to move heavy loads around, trim smaller trees, and work on second stories of houses. Of course, there are many boom lifts (cherry pickers etc.) used by painters, tree trimmers, utility people, and other “professionals”. But they are expensive, limited in load lifting ability, and one can get into trouble lifting large loads too far from the base. And worse yet, for people like me, it is very difficult to find one that is free because it is broken. (I am under pressure go find one again, since my foot slipped on the clutch in our last hedge trimming session, almost dumping my wife in the hedge – cherry pickers are controlled by the person in the air)