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How to Choose the Right Type of Forklift Mast

by Steve Huckbody on August 29, 2017
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how to choose the right type of forklift mastChoosing the forklift mast is an important consideration when buying a new or used forklift. The mast lifts, lowers and positions the load and there are four common types: 2 stage (V), 2 stage with free lift (FV), 3 stage (FSV) and quad mast (4 stage – QFV).

parts-of-a-forklift-diagramForklift Mast Types

When choosing a forklift mast, there are a few factors to consider in addition to type: the lowered and extended height, lift height, and freelift. Before we dig into the four types of forklift masts, let’s review those terms:

Lift Height: (also known as maximum fork height or MFH) tells you how high the forks will be with the mast fully extended. When choosing a forklift mast, add at least six inches to the height of your topmost racking shelf. This will allow your operators to safely adjust loads when the mast is fully extended.

Free lift: refers to how high a load can be lifted before the mast starts to extend. The ability to freelift is important if your lift truck will be lifting and maneuvering in areas where overhead clearance is restricted, such as double-stacking in a trailer.
- A mast with no freelift will extend upwards as soon as the forks begin to lift.
- A full freelift mast allows the forks to raise to the top of the mast’s inner section before the mast extends upward.

Lowered Height or Collapsed Height: This is the distance from from the floor to the top of the mast when the mast is lowered. If your forklift needs to travel beneath a garage or container door, the lowered height may be important.

Extended Height: This measures the height from the top of the mast (or load backrest) with the mast fully extended.

What type of forklift mast do you need?

Single Stage - A single stage mast has only one channel, and therefore a limited lifting height. Single stage masts have zero freelift and are best for outdoor applications or environments where overhead clearance is not an issue.

2-Stage - A two stage mast, also known as a duplex, has two sections. The outer stage does not move and gives the option for freelift. The inner mast section raises up to elevate the carriage and forks. A two stage mast offers great visibility and is ideal for moving loads in trailers.

3-Stage - A three stage mast, or triplex, is the most versatile forklift mast and also the most popular. The outer rails allow for free lift, and the two inner sections can lift loads higher than a two stage. This mast type is a good choice for general warehouse applications.

4-Stage - A quad, or four stage mast is designed for very high stacking. Quad masts allow for a shorter collapsed height when compared to a three stage with equivalent MFH (maximum fork height).

Our forklift experts are available by phone or online to answer any questions you may have. You can also browse our inventory of new and used forklifts online.

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Further Reading:
Selecting the Right Toyota Forklift Mast 
Forklift FAQs - Your Most Common Questions Answered
Anatomy of a Forklift for Parts and Repair

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Topics: New Equipment, Used Equipment, Forklift FAQs, Forklift

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