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Guide to Different Forklift Mast Types

by Ion Rotaru 29 Jan 2024 0 Comments

One of the most important considerations when choosing a forklift is its mast. Understanding the various forklift mast types is crucial for optimizing efficiency and safety in material handling operations. That's why in this blog post, we'll be exploring the different forklift mast types, their applications, names, advantages and how high they can reach. Let's get started!

What is a forklift mast?

A forklift mast, also known as upright, is the vertical assembly or framework located at the front of the forklift. It houses the lifting mechanism responsible for raising and lowering the forks that carry the load. It typically consists of a fork and an elevation mechanism, associated with the lift truck’s hydraulic assembly. 

forklift mast types

The forklift mast has vertical channels or rails that guide the upward and downward movement of the forks. The forks are attached to a carriage, which moves vertically along these channels. The design of the forklift mast determines the lift height, stability, and flexibility of the forklift in different material handling applications.

Things to consider when choosing a forklift mast 

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a forklift mast. Aside from its type, you must also take into account the lowered and extended height, lift height, and free lift. Let's explore these factors before we delve into the different types of forklift mast.

Free lift

Free lift is an important consideration when selecting a forklift mast, particularly in areas with limited overhead clearance. It refers to how high a forklift operator can elevate the forks without changing the mast height. Although having free lift is quite helpful when working in tight places, if the lift mechanism is in the middle of the mast, it may obscure your view.

Lowered height

The lowered height, sometimes referred to as the collapsed height, is an additional factor that influences the choice of forklift mast. The distance measured when the mast is lowered from the floor to its top is known as the lowered height. It is something particularly crucial to take into account if your forklift will be operating in tight areas, such as entrances.

Lowered mast height

Extended height

The extended height of a mast is at the opposite end of the spectrum. This is the length measured from the floor to the top of the mast at its maximum extension.

Forklift extended mast height

Lift height

Lift height, often referred to as maximum fork height, or MFH, is measured from the floor to the forks rather than the top of the mast or load backrest. The recommended lift height is typically six inches above your highest shelf. This allows the forklift to have enough room to maneuver.

Forklift overall lift height

What are the different forklift mast types?

Generally, there are four common types of forklift masts. Let's take a closer look at each one of them!

Forklift mast types

1. Single stage mast - The single-stage mast, also known as a simplex mast, does not have free lift and only has one channel. Because of this restriction, the mast can't stack loads unless it extends higher than other mast options. This type of mast is commonly used in outdoor applications where overhead clearance is not an issue, due to the lack of height clearance limitations.

single stage mast type

2. Two stage mast - A two stage mast or duplex mast consists of two sections. The outer stage does not move and gives the option for free lift, while the inner mast section raises up to elevate the carriage and forks. These are typically used for stacking and double stacking for indoor applications with limited overhead clearance. Its lift height is generally 157 inches or 13 feet.

two stage mast type

3. Three stage mast - The three-stage mast, also called the triplex mast, is the most common and flexible forklift mast. This mast's outer stage remains stationary. It contains an inclined stationary rail in addition to two sliding rails. The triple-stage mast is useful for warehouse applications since it can reach higher altitudes and has free lift. Its lift height is typically 189 inches or 15 feet.

three stage mast type

4. Four stage mast - A quad, or four stage mast has the highest reach of all and is designed for very high stacking. Compared to the other types of masts, this one is far more complex, with four sets of moving rails and chains. It's also critical to remember that operating a four-stage mast has limited visibility and calls for specialized driving instruction. This mast type generally offers lift height of up to 22 feet.

four stage mast type

It's important to note that the actual lift height capabilities can vary based on factors like the forklift's load capacity, design, and manufacturer specifications. Always refer to the manufacturer's specifications for accurate information on a particular forklift model's lift height capabilities.

To wrap it up

Each mast type has its unique advantages, making it important to choose the right one based on the specific needs of the application. Whether it's single, duplex, triplex or quad mast, selecting the appropriate forklift mast is essential for enhancing productivity and ensuring the smooth flow of materials in a variety of industrial settings.

Related articles: 13 Forklift TypesWhat Are The Parts of a Forklift?

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