Lift truck holds up its end – after 68 years

Yale designated a Pennsylvania company’s vehicle as its oldest operational lift truck in the U.S.

03/08/2013


Yale designated a Pennsylvania company’s vehicle as its oldest operational lift truck in the U.S. Courtesy: Yale Forklift Handling AssociationHow long is 68 years? It is the time span of 13 presidents—but just one lift truck.

When J.A. Cunningham Equipment Inc. purchased a used Yale lift truck in 1966, the truck already had been in operation for more than two decades. Another 47 years later, the truck shows no signs of being ready for retirement.

Yale Materials Handling Corporation has designated the trucks as the oldest-known operational Yale lift truck in the U.S. Manufactured in 1945, the Yale model K41-4M forklift has been at York, Pa.-based J.A. Cunningham Equipment Inc. since current company president Paul Cunningham’s father bought the truck.

“When I took over the family business, there was never a need to replace the truck. It has always been as durable as the other Yale models we have,” Cunningham said in a press release issued by Yale this week.

A family-owned business, J.A. Cunningham Equipment Inc. was established in 1945 as a welding supply distributorship. Now, the company specializes in welding equipment and welding supply, selling their products nationwide. Later, J.A. Cunningham Equipment also started WeldSale, a sister enterprise that sells welding platens, welding tables, acorn style tables and assorted tooling.

The Yale forklift has the capacity to lift approximately 3,000 lbs. and has carried skids of welding wires and other equipment for more than 60 years. The lift truck has never required extremely expensive repairs. J.A. Cunningham uses Eastern Lift Truck Company, a Yale dealer headquartered in Maple Shade, N.J., with a York location,  to service their lift trucks.

“I first learned of this forklift when I joined our dealership back in 1986 and remember this truck quite well,” said Mike Edmonds, marketing manager of Eastern Lift Truck. “We used to joke about our road technicians not being ‘real’ mechanics until they serviced this forklift: locating and lubing all 75 high-pressure grease fittings.”

While the lift truck is still operational when called upon, J.A. Cunningham has mainly retired the truck in lieu of another Yale lift truck.

“The fact that this lift truck has been around so long attests not only to the history and quality of Yale lift trucks, but also to the quality of our dealer service,” said Bill Pfleger, president of Yale Distribution. “We’re proud of our trucks and especially our technicians and dealers that keep our trucks in good condition for many years of dependable service. A great truck doesn’t end at the forks, but extends to the Yale team that supports it.”

The previously oldest-known lift truck in operation was discovered at Kliegal Machine Company in Big Flats, N.Y. that was manufactured in 1953. 



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