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Purchasing a Tele- handler

Discussion in 'Forklifts/Telehandlers' started by Spyder1953, Oct 14, 2018.

  1. Spyder1953

    Spyder1953 New Member

    Oct 14, 2018
    Im a custom homebuilder in Colorado and Im starting to hunt for a 8000 lbs 4x4 tele handler. I have rented many ( Cat, Gehl, sky tract, gradual, Terex ) before and want to get info from mechanics about what brand has the best maintenance record. Im leaning toward Gehl and IR machines in the 1998- 2004 under 3000 hours range looking to spend $35000. Focusing on american diesel engines ( John Deere, Cummings ) and will be putting on 700-1200 hours per year. Any insight will be appreciated. Also is their a company that does inspection of Tele-handlers before I buy. I would fly in a mechanic to inspect.
  2. icestationzebra

    icestationzebra Senior Member

    Jun 21, 2009
    I haven't been that close to them since I left my last job in '09, but at that point ZF axles were having lots of issues. ZF tranny's on the other hand are pretty stout. Cummins will probably be cheaper to fix if anything is needed. Biggest issue with the pre-common rail Cummins is the main fuel pump solenoid, the pull-back coil fails and the engine wont start. Simple fix though and it can be jury-rigged with a zip tie until you get the part.

    Personally I like a high boom machine because you get good all around visibility. You can't see much to your right side when you have a low boom with the forks 2-3ft off the ground. Machine wise I'd stay away from cable controlled hydraulics, pilot lines don't corrode or freeze up. Each brand, and even model, can have different control layouts which may be a consideration if you plan to buy more than one or want to use the same layout as the rentals so the guy running it is more efficient. The Gehl and IR machines are older designs, lots of iron and not much styling. One thing that should be high on your list is dealer support. Also consider attachment availability.

    The other thing I would consider is ease of boom service/repair, but I don't have much experience here. Boom shimming and hose repair can be a pain or a MAJOR PAIN. Maybe someone could comment.

  3. 544D10

    544D10 Well-Known Member

    Sep 8, 2004
    Lucas & Mercier Construction Co.
    Oceanside, CA
    I've driven pretty much all of them and imo the most reliable and productive are the Blue rear steer Gradalls and would take the 4BT Cummins over the John Deere powered ones any day.

    I'd look for a 10K capacity machine and skip the 8K. With a 15' truss boom you can kiss crane rental good bye unless your building higher than 3 floors.
    Tengears likes this.
  4. 92U 3406

    92U 3406 Senior Member

    Jan 3, 2017
    Professional Wrench Spinner
    I've spent a fair amount of time around Skytrak and JLG G series/CAT TL "C" series telehandlers.

    Skytraks are relatively simple but they tend to have PCV freeze up problems in the cold and the driveshaft between the engine and transmission/pump is crap and failures aren't unheard of. Lose the shaft the machine is dead in the water. Very few issues with axles leaking. Boom hoses are a bit of a PITA to replace. If you don't see really low temperatures and keep a spare engine to transmission shaft handy its not a bad unit. Seem to put out decent cab heat from what I remember. Never had any with A/C so I can't comment on that.

    JLG G/CAT TL "C": Better built than the Skytrak IMO. Smoother and more precise controls. Final drive axle input seals fail often. They only take about 2-3 hours to replace each seal depending on how badly seized the kingpins are. Cab heat and A/C leave much to be desired in the climate I'm in (30C to -35C) Boom hoses tend to wrap themselves up in the chains if you don't check and maintain their tension every service. Have had some issues with blown transmission/hydraulic coolers. They usually start leaking where the tubes bond to the lower tank. The worklight circuits are maxed out with 5 halogen lights on 1 switch and they will burn out the switch and melt the connector. The lights themselves are crap and the connectors inside the housing melt all the time.

    As for inspections, any decent rental shop or dealer should know how to check them over. All of our teles are NDT inspected yearly by an engineering company. They just ensure that the welds and machine structure are still safe for use.
  5. Vetech63

    Vetech63 Senior Member

    Aug 10, 2016
    You might check out the Pettibone extendo line also. Haven't seen many issues with them over the years but parts can be expensive.
  6. crane operator

    crane operator Senior Member

    Mar 27, 2009
    sw missouri
    A IR forklift around here would be really rare, I don't think they made many, and have been bought out.

    Here we see mostly skytrak, the JLG/Cat, or lull.

    Lull is a little more complicated with the sliding carriage, but if a bricky can't break it, probably no one can. The 8k and 10k machines are really good machines.

    Skytrak's are the most popular, and they are a really simple machine.

    The JLG / Cat is a little fancier, but you can't go to napa and get a oil pressure gauge. Its kind of more dealer support needed than the simpler skytrak.

    I like a high boom machine for visibility. A 10054 skytrak is pretty hard to beat.

    The 10k and 12 k jlg/ cat are a stout machine, but they can be kind of awkward on a crowded site, their wheelbase is kind of long in a tight spot.

    I really dislike the lower boom mount machines, for just the reason icestationzebra mentions, visibility is terrible to the right, when driving with your load and forks low. Who wants to carry everything around the jobsite 8' in the air, just so you can see.