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What is a forklift carriage? Basic terms and classes

This article is by Kenny Trusnik from Toyota although I covered it a long while ago on this website. My original article can be seen here.

Did you know the forklift’s forks don’t directly connect to the mast? They actually attach to a support platform called the forklift carriage. The carriage is important because it is used to mount objects, including forks, the load backrest, and attachments, to the mast chains, allowing loads to go up and down the mast channel.

Selecting a forklift with a dependable carriage is vital to the safety of all those who work in material handling environments and for the long-term efficiency of your operation. Any place where parts of industrial machinery are attached sets and not one piece should be top-of-mind for the product’s durability. The first step in assessing the forklifts that are currently or may eventually be a part of your fleet is having a clear understanding of what each part implies for your operation. This guide will help you understand both carriage height and what that height implies for your potential lifting capacity.

Identifying fork carriage class

Understanding your forklift’s carriage class is important because it helps you understand what forks and objects will work with your forklift. There are five carriage classes. Each class can be determined by the distance between the top edge of the upper fork bar and the bottom edge of the lower fork bar. The carriage class also gives you a good idea for the lifting capacity of your forklift. Here is the carriage class guideline breakdown:

Class 1

Carriage height: 13”

Lifting Capacity: Less than 2,200 lbs.

Class 2

Carriage height: 16”

Lifting Capacity: Between 2,200 lbs. and 5,500 lbs.

Class 3

Carriage height: 20”

Lifting Capacity: Between 5,500 lbs. and 10,998 lbs.

Class 4

Carriage height: 25”

Lifting Capacity: Between 11,000 lbs. and 17,600 lbs.

Class 5

Carriage height: 28.66”

Lifting Capacity: Between 17,602 lbs. and 24,198 lbs.

There is a lot more information including detailed dimensions and specifications on the original article on wrote which can be found here