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When To Replace Forklift Forks

The forklift fork is often overlooked and under-inspected. Many are unaware of how often one should inspect their forks, and how to inspect them. Federal law (OSHA Standards 29 CFR 1910.178) mandates that forklift forks which see around-the-clock use should be inspected on a per-operation basis. As part of a pre-operation inspection, forklift forks should ideally be inspected for signs of cracks, bends, excessive wear or damage to either the fork tine or the positioning lock when using an ITA mounted fork.

What to look for:

1. Excessive wear to the forks Forklift forks decrease in thickness over time due to normal wear. However, any wear to the fork over 10 percent of the total thickness is considered excessive. Forks that show this amount of wear should be replaced.

2. Fractures due to stress or collision Be sure to inspect the forks closely for fractures and gouges. The fork heel and parts of the fork closest to the machine typically receive the most wear. Even small cracks and gouges are signs forks need to be replaced.

3. Damage to the fork tip Since fork tips are usually the first part of the fork to come in contact with material, excessive wear or damage to the tips is a clear indicator the forks should be replaced.

4. Any bends or uneven surfaces on the fork All forks are delivered with a 90 degree angle from the shank to the blade. If any bend or uneven surface is detected on either the blade or shank, the fork(s) need replacing.

5. Difference in fork blade height A difference in the height of each fork blade should stay within 3 percent of the fork length. Therefore if the forks in question are 42 inches long the allowable difference in fork height would be 1.26 inches. Any difference in fork height beyond 1.26 inches is a sign that both forks need to be replaced.

6. Wear or damage to the fork hook Noticeable wear, crushing, pulling, and other deformities are signs that the fork hooks need to be replaced. Furthermore, if the wear to the hook is causing an excessive amount of distance between the fork and the carriage, the hook(s) should be replaced.

7. Wear or damage to positioning lock If a positioning lock is no longer capable of locking completely due to wear the forks should immediately be removed from duty until the part is replaced. Operating without a fully functional positioning lock is a safety hazard and illegal.

When it does come time to replace forklift forks here are some common questions.

1. Can a single fork be replaced or should they be replaced in pairs? While only a single fork might show signs of excessive wear or damage, it is not safe to replace only one fork. It is highly recommended forks be replaced only in pairs to ensure equal performance. Having two different forks with unique amounts of wear and disproportionate hourly usage is provides a number of safety concerns. “Replacing just one fork may seem like a good idea, but can actually lead to serious safety violations.” says Terry Melvin, CEO of Arrow Material Handling Products.

2. Is it ok to make custom repairs or modification to the forks? It is typically recommended that only the fork manufacturer make repairs or modifications to ensure forks meet safety standards. Always contact your fork provider first when in need of modification.

3. How do I determine replacement fork quality? Forks made from high quality boron-carbon alloy high strength steel are rated 20% stronger than those made with 40CR. In addition, forks that are fully immersed into industrial heat treatment ovens and cooling pools are the most durable. Premium quality forklift forks should meet or exceed all ANSI/ITSDF and ISO standards.

Arrow Material Handling Products has been a leading supplier of replacement forks for over 40 years. With North America’s largest stock of forklift forks and an expert sales team, Arrow specializes in customer care and quick turnaround.

A Guide to Replacing Skid Steer Buckets

One foot on the top of the bucket, the other in the cab, turn around, roll cage down, take a seat, parking break off, ignition engaged, you peer out over the edge of the bucket…dang. There it is.

The cutting edge of the bucket is curled back, worn out, and ready to be replaced.

Sudden expenses are always frustrating and this is no different. However, with better technique, a few industry tips, and some preventative steps, forecasting future bucket issues will become easier and you can increase the lifespan of your bucket.

Proactive Purchasing

The very best way to avoid unexpected bucket issues starts with the purchase process. Matching bucket capacity and size to the machine is critical to optimal bucket performance, as is quality materials and construction.

Choosing the Right Bucket

Bucket Capacity

Bucket width should be at least as wide as the outside width of the tires or tracks loader. If not you will not be able to dig or scoop in one pass. The tires or tracks will ride up on the material and the bucket will not remove that material. In contrast, buckets that exceed the capacity rating of the machine risk imbalance and tipping due to load size. In addition, larger buckets can handicap the operator’s vision if installed on a smaller machine.

Bucket Construction

Steel is important. The quality of the steel, the thickness of the steel, and the process the steel goes through when being made are at the foundation of a good quality bucket. High-quality steel resists wear and lasts longer increasing the lifespan and productivity of a bucket. Beyond the steel, there are both some design and reinforcement elements to look out for.

Bucket Design

Certain telltale design elements can be found on high-quality buckets that will indicate the longevity of the bucket design. Tubular construction of the upper lift and hardened edges are clear indicators the bucket in question was built to last. Also look for a radius bottom. This allows for material to curl at the back of the bucket providing a more even load and increasing lifespan.

Bucket Reinforcement

In addition to the construction and design of the bucket, a variety of reinforcement plates are sometimes added to high-quality buckets to enhance durability. Look for reinforcement plates on the heel, sides, and radius of the bucket. Skid plates are also sometimes added to the bottom of a bucket to reduce wear

Choosing The Right Accessories

The Cutting Edge

The most common location of excessive wear on a skid steer bucket is at the cutting edge. When the cutting edge grinds against hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete the center wears unevenly, resulting in a scallop shape.

Option #1: Weld-On Cutting Edge – Technically, every bucket comes with a weld on cutting edge, however, when excessive wear causes the cutting edge to recede into the bucket, replacement can exceed the total cost of the bucket.

Option #2: Bolt-On Reversible Cutting Edge – These replaceable cutting edges can be reversed before the edge scallops back into the bucket. Once both sides wear completely, the edge can be replaced.

Quick tip – Don’t try to reuse the bolts when reversing the bolt on edge, as the threads get damaged in use and the bolts won’t be reusable. Instead, just cut them off with a torch and replace.

Bucket Teeth

On tooth buckets, the tooth shank is welded to the weld-on cutting edge. Here, the use of a weld-on cutting edge is common because bucket teeth receive all the wear, therefore protecting the cutting edge. Bucket Teeth attach by pin or crimp on to a shank. Pin on style teeth are typically recommended, are easy to change, and are less likely to dislodge while in use. Regular inspection of these teeth is recommended. On a general purpose tooth, if the flat is missing or worn back to the shank, it needs to be replaced.

Quick Tip – Don’t use a tooth bucket with missing teeth. This will wear out the shank and the tooth will not fit properly when replaced. It’s best to keep extra teeth on-hand and replace them as needed.

Maintenance and Technique

Bucket Inspections

Inspections are critical to the ongoing upkeep and maintenance of both your machine and attachments. Being aware of cracks, stress fractures, excessive wear, loose hoses, dirt buildup in or around hydraulic fittings, and damage to hydraulic hoses makes identifying and fixing future problems easier. The bucket coupler is the most commonly damaged part of the skid-steer bucket. Scott Clevenger, Vice President of Sales at Arrow Acquisition LLC. stated,

“This is where the bucket connects to the skid loader and requires a good solid fit. If cracked or extremely loose, don’t use it. Have a welder repair it or maybe it’s time for a new bucket. Don’t let mud or other debris build up in this area or in the pin holes at the bottom of the coupler. Keeping this area clean will only make your job a lot easier when it’s time to change out to a different attachment.”

When Grading

It’s all in the technique. Pressure is probably the most important factor when grading with a bucket. Too much pressure and you’ll find it hard to grade with any kind of finesse, also you’ll wear down the bottom of the bucket. Speed is also a factor. Grading too fast can cause unnecessary damage and wear due to collisions with unseen and sometimes immovable objects.

When Back Dragging

Similar to grading, pressure is key. Again, too much and this time the cutting edge will bear the brunt of the damage. A popular way around this snafu is to both practice, and utilize your machine’s “float” function if equipped. The float function disables hydraulic flow to the vertical lift of your machine. This means the weight of both the arms and the bucket will fall to the ground allowing the bucket to move, or float, over the contours of the terrain. Keep the speed in check and avoid impact as much as possible.

Looking for a durable high quality and heavy duty skid steer, tractor, or wheel loader bucket? Arrow Material Handling products manufactures a wide variety of buckets for multiple applications. Arrow’s high-quality materials and an expert sales staff combined with the largest inventory in North America and custom capabilities mean customers get expert advice, quality product in an industry-leading turnaround time. Call Arrow today at 913-495- 4800 or visit Arrow online at to locate your nearest Arrow Material Handling Products dealer.