Box Car Forklift Guide

Share Button

A forklift that is designed to fit into box cars has a few unique features you won’t see on other forklifts.  A box car is a rail car or a shipping container that has low vertical clearance and limited horizontal clearance.  Many forklifts that are over 6,000lbs in capacity have difficulty maneuvering in these tight spaces unless the forklift is specifically designed to fit into a box car. Many shipments, especially heavy materials like marble, require a lift truck with capacity around 8,000 lbs.  The chassis of an 8,000lbs capacity forklift is usually too large to work in a box car unless some modifications are made.

shipping container

The first thing a box car forklift will need is a mast with a collapsed height that does not exceed the height of standard box car or shipping container.  The door opening of a typical 20′ or 40′ shipping container is 7′ 5 3/4″ or 89.75″ tall.  Many forklifts’ overall lowered height can be taller than 90″ so it is important that a box car forklift have an overall lowered height of less than 90″ so that it can fit thru the container door.  Notice how the mast in the picture below would easily clear a container door.

The forklift mast should also have free lift.  Free lift allows the carriage and forks to be lifted without the mast lifting.  Instead, a hydraulic cylinder does the lifting which prevents the mast from staging.  Since height is restricted inside of a shipping container, being able to lift without the forklift gaining height is a big advantage.

U177916 cat GC40K used forklift

Another prominent feature of a box car forklift is an angled and stacked counterweight.  Width is also restricted in a box car and shipping container.  A typical 20′ or 40′ shipping container is little more than 92″ wide inside.  This leaves little room for 8,000 – 10,000lb capacity forklifts that are more than 140″ long including 48″ forks. Forklift manufacturers help with this space constraint by building forklifts with shorter counterweights that are angled on the side for easier turning in tight spaces.  You will see this counterweight denoted in forklift models such as Caterpillar’s GC40K-STR.  “STR” stands for short turn radius in this instance.  Or you might recognize Toyota’s “BCS” nomenclature on models like 8FG35U-BCS.  “BCS” stands for box car special.  Notice how the forklift below has a stacked and angled counterweight.

t10537 used cat forklift


If you need help finding a box car special forklift, don’t hesitate to call us at 888-492-5573.  We’re experts and we’re happy to help!

Tags: , , ,