Pallet jacks are an essential piece of equipment for almost every warehouse or delivery truck and most pallet jacks are virtually maintenance free except in certain environments. The most important component on the pallet jack is the hydraulic pump which is the focus of this post.
The pump is filled with hydraulic fluid that is sealed into the pump with an O ring seal kit. The seals not only serve the purpose of keeping the fluid in but it also keeps contaminants out of the pump. The seals can be blown under several circumstances:
1) Overloading your pallet jack past the specified capacity
2) Attaching a chain to your pallet jack and using your forklift to pull the jack
3) Seal wear. Over time your seal will eventually become brittle and need to be replaced
4) Tilting your pallet jack on its side and resting on the handle (Typically seen in trucks so the pallet jack doesn’t move during transit)
Tilting your truck is the fastest way to blow your seals and damage your jack. When your pallet jack is on its side several things can happen. The pressure on the seals causes them to deform and allows air and contaminants inside the pump. This will cause your jack to 1) lift improperly until all the air has been released and 2) the contaminants will eventually corrupt the hydraulic fluid and will need to be replaced for a costly repair.
Tilting your truck can also cause your seals to fully blow requiring a seal kit replacement which again is a costly repair. Pump repairs generally cost around $100.00 which is practically half of the value of your jack new and is not covered under your hydraulic warranty.
There are several ways to alleviate this common problem. Some truckers use tie downs and strap the pallet jacks handle to the side of the truck stopping the jack from moving. This is a better option than tilting the truck however it can put unnecessary pressure on the handle/pump on turns and the wheels are still free to move. You can also place the jack inside a pallet, jack it up slightly (enough so the forks touch the top of the pallet but not enough to lift it) and turn the steering wheel so the jack cant roll out.
Now we come to the pallet jack stop. In my opinion this is an essential tool for all truckers and should be common place in delivery trucks. These rubber stops prevent pallet jacks from moving inside of the truck. The stops feature a ramp to help assist the entrance and exit of the jack into the stop. The steering wheels drop into a recessed square which locks the jack into place. The jack needs to be lifted slightly in order to get the jack out using the built in ramp.
Finally another alternative which is not well known is the Pallet Truck Wedge. The wedge prevents pallet truck damage in moving semi-trailers. Constructed of 100% molded urethane. Step-down design for use with all types of pallet trucks. Magnetic back for securing to pallet truck for storage. Lightweight and easy to use.
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