Jump to content
ADI Forums
Nordeast Spirits

Fork lift or not fork lift

Recommended Posts

Anyone have any luck moving 53 gallon (full) barrels around and stacking them without a fork lift? Would be interested in figuring some sort of system out for doing this and saving on the costs of a fork lift.

Any info would be helpful.

Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Get a forklift.

Unless you plan to build an uber micro distillery, which if you are filling 53 gal barrels this is not the case. Get a forklift.

The only alternative is to build a rick house with a barrel elevator which will probably cost more than a forklift and is far less useful than a forklift

  • reaction_title_1 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://mac-mfg.com/

if you move barrels with a forklift and have any desire to be OSHA compliant it must be hazardous location rated....think about it before you pop for a new or used forklift

  • reaction_title_1 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have a forklift. Cant imagine life with out it. We move barrels with it.  And smoke cigarettes at the same time, and run with scissors.

  • reaction_title_1 4
  • Haha 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our basement where we store barrels is too narrow and the ceiling height too low to accommodate a forklift so we're forced to use a hydraulic pallet jack for lifting, unloading trucks, etc. It works but life would be easier with a forklift.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A material lift (used in the construction industry) may work for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our forklift is very versatile and we use it for a lot of different tasks that don't involve distillery work. I wouldn't hesitate on getting one if you can afford it and have the space 

Things to look for:

  • Side shift (this was a must for us.)
  • Mast height
  • Extended height
  • Propane vs Electric 
  • How many hours (if buying used)
  • Extra propane tank (Great to have so when you run out you have a spare tank to pop in) It runs out when it is most critical FYI

We have affectionately named ours Pepe the little mule

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had my eye on a smaller lift for tight spaces, like one of the smaller stand-behind Crown stackers.  Seems perfect for jockeying barrels in tight spaces.

Those little guys can easily do 2500lbs and 15-16 feet, pallets of grain, totes of liquid, double barrel racks all doable.  We could fit racking much closer together and get a better space utilization compared to the big forklift, which wastes a ton of space just to be able to maneuver.

We use the pallet jack to move around full 30s and 53s (they fit perfectly between the forks), but they are not really possible to stack by hand, for that we use the forklift.

15s are probably the upper limit of manageability by hand, even that is tough for 2 people.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Probably the best you would be able to do is mount a block to the ceiling and setup a kind of staging area under the block.  Manually tip the barrels up, and pick them up using the block to get them on a pallet.  Fit 4 on a pallet, and band the set together.  Use the pallet jack to move the palletized barrels around.  Like I said above, you can use a standard jack to move around a full 53 pretty easily, a set of 4 will be tough, but doable. 

Obviously, stacking is an impossibility.  It's pretty crude, but if I had to try to deal with a 53 without a forklift, this is what I'd try.

Maybe Western Square has a pallet-jackable 53g rack?  That might be an option too.  Awful use of space, but if you have no other options.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is what we use. Our barrel racks are designed to allow us to roll a barrel off the forks onto the rack where it can then be rolled into place.  Our racks have lower and upper rails and that's about as high of a lift as we can get out of this stacker.  Like I said, not the best solution but it was our only option.

PalletStacker.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No forklift for us.  We rack barrels three high on metal racks and just finished building a 4x4 wood rack that is also three barrels high.  We can lift the bottom and middle barrels with a chain hoist if needed to re-arrange, but the top barrels we fill and pump empty from on the rack.  6 barrels stacked two wide and three high on the metal racks can be pushed with the pallet jack.  Helps to weigh over 200lb if you want to get a rack of 6 barrels moving on your own with the jack and even them I try to avoid going over the floor drain grates!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, HedgeBird said:

6 barrels stacked two wide and three high on the metal racks can be pushed with the pallet jack.  Helps to weigh over 200lb if you want to get a rack of 6 barrels moving on your own with the jack and even them I try to avoid going over the floor drain grates!

I can confirm this, we fill barrels on a rack of 2 and stack 3 high with forklift. A pallet jack is used to get them in their final home by entering on the sides. We do 53s, 60s and 70 gallon barrels, even 6 70 gallon barrels can be moved this way, but it is not fun. Realistically you could manually stack the empties 2 high and fill 4 barrels on a rack, then pallet jack to place. They also offer the half racks for pallet jacking from the front, this could be used for your bottom rack if you really wanted. 

Ultimately though, if you can, and have the space, forklift is the way to go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

block and tackle for full barrels if you don't have a hydraulic lift.  if they're empty use two people.  heavy pallets (over 4000#) pretty well require two people or a forklift.  same is true if there is any grade (slope) to your facilities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hedgebird - how do you know the exact PG in the barrel if you aren't weighing them?  Do you use a flow meter?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Weigh the tank. Fill the barrel. Weigh the tank.   That's what we do. But I only have a couple 30's worth at a time.

  • reaction_title_1 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh and I use a floor jack to lift my 30's onto a rack set up. So can only go 2 high. We have a fork lift for unloading freight, but our building is to congested to bring it in. Couldn't live without the forklift even in this situation. Outside moving spent grain totes, pallets of grain into and out of shipping container, incoming freight, etc. we set pallets into the building and then switch to pallet jack inside. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Tom Lenerz said:

They also offer the half racks for pallet jacking from the front, this could be used for your bottom rack if you really wanted. 

Thats a good thing to mention Tom!  We do purchase half racks for use on the bottom of our three-high stacks.  These are nice as you can get the pallet jack under them from either end.  If you just use a normal rack on the bottom you can typically only get under them from one side with the jack and then your even more limited in where you can push them to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, nabtastic said:

hedgebird - how do you know the exact PG in the barrel if you aren't weighing them?  Do you use a flow meter?

Tare off the scale tank, fill scale tank with new make, note weight/proof, fill barrel full, subtract weight left in scale tank after filling barrel from originally noted weight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, HedgeBird said:

Tare off the scale tank, fill scale tank with new make, note weight/proof, fill barrel full, subtract weight left in scale tank after filling barrel from originally noted weight.

That's what we do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Same.  I had hoped there was an easier way. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK. Lot's of good info here. Thanks everyone. Looks like a forklift is the way to go, as I thought.  I'll keep looking for ways to cheat it but I'll be adding it to the budget for now.

 

Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing that OSHA citation - it actually contains some good information. I wasn't aware of UL ES (electrical sealed) rated electrical lifts, and just doing some digging around, while they aren't exactly common, there does appear to be a good selection of them on the used market for what are really reasonable prices.  Same goes for LPS and the other variations. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good share brian. We use an LPS rated LPG truck at our facility

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

we bought a used "EX" rated electric lift from: www.nfe-lifts.com....this lift rating is beyond the minimum safety tier required by OSHA----at least until "THE Donald" shuts OSHA down. :huh:

the machine is a brute.  got a three section mast which goes about half way to heaven.  has some crazy kind of capacity like 6000#----

one caveat of an electric lift is that you need a charger (duh!) which was not included in our deal.....bought a three-phase charger which is way cool in that it gives a lot of statistics on the charge values of each recharge (total amps loaded, etc.)   Batteries drink a lot of distilled water and you need to stay on top of the water refill regimen....new set of batteries is not cheap (think Tesla S) but there are some pulse chargers that literally blow of the charge limiting deposits off the battery plates.

so yeah, a bit of overkill but I have been found guilty of buying too many cool tools for years (just ask my partner)

The LP versions are probably easier but when we were looking i could not turn one up....

Huge knock down drag out fight with my partner that we didn't need a "rated" forklift but the misunderstanding was based on the sense that a rick house is not regulated.....this position could be argued successfully.....the problem is showing the OSHA inspector how you stacked two to three high palletized sets of 53's by hand without a rated machine (!!!)  Please get this document: http://www.discus.org/policy/fireprotection/    it could save your life and/or your distillery

so yeah....if you are moving barrels that weigh more than you can press, you are non-compliant if you don't use a rated lift mechanism.....will you ever be inspected?  probably not;   but as Clint once said "Are you filling lucky....?"

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×