What should you look for when choosing Lift Truck Tyres?
Lift truck tyres look similar to passenger car and truck tyres. But they are different in design due to their high carrying capacity. What are the main differences between lift truck tyres, and what should you consider when choosing the tyres? Let's look for answers to these questions together.
Types of Lift Trucks
Depending on the purpose and working conditions, lift trucks are divided into the following types:
- The most widely used are forklifts, which lift palletized goods at different heights. They differ in size and carrying capacity, but are small in comparison to other types of loaders.
- Bulk loaders most often have tractor or earth mover chassis of different classes and are distinguished by larger dimensions and more powerful engines.
- Special purpose lift trucks are designed for snow cleaning, conveyor loading of grain, etc.
The above classification is not crisp, since present-day lift trucks can have several replaceable working elements to perform different tasks, it is enough just to change the “fork” to a small bucket, or a drilling machine.
Lift Truck Tyre Markings
The most important mark on any lift truck tyre designates its type:
- Solid — solid tyre;
- TT (Tube Type) — tube tyre;
- TL (Tubeless) — tubeless tyre.
Advantages and disadvantages of these types are described below.
Outer diameter, rim seat diameter and tyre section height are also indicated on tyres for special purpose lift trucks. All of these values are generally in inches. The most common sizes for forklifts are 5.00-8, 6.00-9, 6.50-10, 7.00-12, 3.00-4, 4.00-8.
Front-end loaders for bulk materials have larger wheels and heavier axle load. The popular sizes are 405 / 70-20, 405 / 70-24, 20.5-25, 23.5-25, 17.5-25, 26.5-25, 16.9-24, 16.9-28, 16.9-30.
Types of Lift Truck Tyres
1. Pneumatic tyres. These tyres are designed similar to car tyres. Tyres for special equipment are mounted on disks and inflated. As a rule, lift trucks have tubeless tyres. Tube tyres are hardly used today. Low-pressure pneumatic tyres are used in open areas, when working on imperfectly flat surfaces - gravel, asphalt, compacted soil, etc. Traditionally, pneumatic tyres have a more developed tread, and they also damp well and smooth out irregularities due to their design, which is useful for transportation cargo on uneven surfaces.
The service life of pneumatic tyres is about 2 thousand hours, but everything very much depends on the surface and the number of manoeuvres of the equipment (turns of the steered wheels in place).
2. Solid or superelastic tyres (they are also called self-sealing tyres). Such tyres have more simple design, they are cast entirely, do not have voids for air or room for an inner tube. They are mounted on the rims of the driving and steered axles. Solid tyres for front-end loaders are designed to operate on a smooth surface and usually have a less developed tread pattern. Most often they are used in indoor areas with a flat concrete floor, or plastic, wooden flooring. Also, loaders with solid tyres can freely drive into semi-trailers on a ramp for loading and unloading.
3. Solid wheels with a tread can be used in difficult conditions: on construction sites with a lot of debris, in woodworking factories and other places where pneumatic tires are likely to puncture.
Solid tyre life is 5 to 10 thousand hours on average.
4. Bandage tyres. This type of wheel consists of a steel rim, on which a thick layer of rubber is vulcanized. Such rubber for a loader is structurally similar to a solid wheel, and is applicable only on perfectly flat surfaces. Unlike the previous type, they are designed to work in more severe conditions in terms of inhomogeneous media. For example, if some fuel, acid, etc. may be spilled on the surface. Usually they do not have a tread.
Bandage tyres are completely worn out after 4 thousand hours.
Tips for how to choose tyres
1. Tyre manufacturers do not recommend changing pneumatic tyres to solid tyres and vice versa. Most trucks are designed for specific operating conditions, and the same applies to tyres. The type, size and other characteristics are usually indicated in the Operation Manual for special equipment. So, when selecting, you need to take into account recommendations of a manufacturer. But there are exceptions to which general purpose loaders fall under. They can be equipped with different tyres depending on the working conditions. The main rule is that wheels of the same design must be installed on both axles.
2. When there is a task to save money and there is no desire to spend money on new inner tubes or repair "pneumatics", some enterprises fill a tyre cavity with various materials: sealants, construction foam and others. Manufacturers of tyres and special equipment do not recommend "handicraft" repair.
The danger is that lift trucks tyres become very hot when working with heavy weights. But no one calculates the expansion coefficient of the “filled in” material, therefore, if it overheats, it can damage and even destroy a tyre.
3. In recent years, quick-fit solid forklift tyres have been very popular.
The profile of classic moulded tyres is the same as that of ordinary car tyres. They are "put on" at tyre fitting shops, or at automobile operating company. On one side of the quick-fit tyres, there is a parapet made of compacted rubber, which functions as a retaining ring. Thus, it is enough just to put a tyre on the disk, press down a little, and it will fall into its "place" without the use of special machines. Due to the low speed of lift trucks, this technology has proven itself to be reliable.
4. When it is necessary to operate on snowy areas or in open areas with partly melted ice or melted snow, lift truck tyres can be used with steel anti-skid chains. Chains affect the manoeuvrability and stability of special equipment, therefore, after the snow melts, they should be dismantled without fail.