The Sky Is the Limit

Sept. 28, 2010

Growth of telehandler sales has been robust, to say the least, and units with lift capacities between 9,900 and 11,000 pounds and lift heights from 50 to 59 feet have outpaced the rest of the market. Sales for 10,000- to 12,000-pound machines have increased 90 percent since 1999, compared to a 72 percent increase in all telehandler sales. As contractors recognize the opportunities and applications these larger machines present, demand will no doubt drive these machines to heights once thought impossible.

It is amazing to me how machines that are so similar in what they do can be so different in execution. Among a dozen machines participating in the Telehandler Showcase, there are three distinct design differences: the Gradall unit's pivot steering, the Lull's traversing boom and, to a lesser degree, the Manitou and Mustang machines' low-mounted booms.

High-mounted booms are best suited for pick-and-carry applications, where the forks are typically carried at least 24 to 36 inches off the ground. At this height and higher, visibility to the right front, side, and rear of the machine is optimum. On the other hand, low-mounted booms are better tool handlers. Visibility is optimal when the forks are carried low (at less than 36 inches), during attachment use, or when they are lifted much higher (above 7 or 8 feet).

Information provided in the following individual machine reviews is intended to provide background to help you make your buying or rental decisions. Many details for the individual write-ups were gathered from the Walk-Around Presentations during the Telehandler Showcase, and you can watch video of those presentations at

Rental, framing, masonry, steel erection — it really doesn't matter what type of business you are in, a key part of your purchasing decisions must be made on the machine that best fits your needs.

To learn more about what users think of 10,000- to 12,000-pound telelhandlers, we invited 19 Phoenix-area operators involved in masonry, framing, steel erection, roofing, construction, and demolition to spend an afternoon with the 12 machines at the Showcase. In total, these professionals had an average of 15.7 years of experience operating telescopic handlers.

During the Operator Event, attendees were urged to climb in each telehandler to get a feel for the cab and controls and assess the machines' features and benefits, including shooting the boom in and out, testing the turning radius, and lifting palletized loads to the deck of an elevated mast-climbing work platform.

After they had run each of the machines, we asked the operators a number of questions about telehandlers in general and this product class specifically. Survey questions included percentage of time spent in certain machine configurations; telehandler design preferences; and ranking the importance of features and options.

All but one of the 15 operators who answered the debriefing survey reported that the 10,000- to 12,000-pound capacity telehandler with 50- to 59-foot lift heights meets their capacity and lifting needs, while six respondents said the maximum forward reach and the maximum lift height falls short of their load expectations.

Six operators said they operate at full height more than 50 percent of the time, but only four operators work at full forward reach more than 50 percent of the time. On average, they spent 15 percent of the time operating in two-wheel steer, 78 percent in four-wheel steer, and only 7 percent in crab steer.

When it came to ranking the most important design elements of a telehandler, the operators rated visibility to the front, visibility of the forks at maximum height, and visibility at the right side of the carriage the three most important features. The lowest-rated features were auxiliary hydraulics, tilt steering, and additional storage. Features the operators felt were missing included LMIs, a remote gauge for tire pressure, remote controls, mirrors, and single-point service access.

Once you find the telehandlers that meet your jobsite requirements, the next step is to carefully consider the overall cost of machine ownership and operation.

Be mindful of the fact that the actual expense to maintain or repair a telehandler is often not the highest cost of a breakdown. Downtime associated with the machine out of service also must be estimated. Features and benefits must be weighed against durability and serviceability.

On the following pages, the individual machine write-ups are presented in the same order as they were shown during the Telehandler Showcase. To avoid redundancy in the write-ups, all machines are equipped with ROPS and FOPS certified cabs and two-, four-, and crab-style steering, unless otherwise noted. Also, all power shift transmissions are fully modulated, which protects the transmission and allows the telehandler to decelerate to an acceptable engine rpm before downshifting.

Max. Lift HeightCap. at Max. Height (lbs.)Max. OutreachCap. at Max. Reach* (lbs.)Outside Turn RadiusWeight (lbs.)Engine Make/PowerAxleTransmissionList Price* With outriggers** Re-launched February 2007*** With 80-inch traverseAll of the machines in the test were rated at 10,000 pounds except the 11,000-pound Mustang 1155 and the 12,000-pound Extreme XRM-1254.Gehl DL-10H/5555′ 0″5,50040′ 9″2,000146″28,460John Deere/115CarraroDana$144,000Genie GTH-105656′ 0″4,00040′ 0″2,000207″31,500John Deere/125Dana SpicerDana$149,985Gradall 544D10-5555′ 0″5,00042′ 0″3,000175″33,570John Deere/125Carraro (front)Rexroth$150,125Ingersoll Rand VR-1056C56′ 2″6,00041′ 6″3,000154″32,300Cummins/110DanaDana$134,700JLG G10-55A55′ 0″5,00042′ 0″3,000168″34,400John Deere/125DanaZF$146,340Lull 1044C-54 Series II54′ 0″4,00045′ 0″***1,500***164″31,900Cummins/110ZFZF$154,650Manitou MT-1745 HSL Turbo54′ 5″6,60039′ 9″2,000174″24,438Perkins/101Dana SpicerRexroth$125,345Mustang 115555′ 1″5,50040′ 9″2,000148″28,460John Deere/115CarraroDanaPettibone Extendo 1005656′ 6″6,00042′ 1″3,000150″32,500Cummins/110CarraroCarraro$140,460SkyTrak 1005453′ 2″4,00039′ 0″3,000164″28,123Cummins/110ZFZF$143,025Xtreme XRM125453′ 6″10,00038′ 0″3,000148″35,530Perkins/122CarraroCarraro$147,042CareLift ZoomBoom ZB1005656′ 0″4,00041′ 0″2,000158″32,400Cummins/110DanaDana$129,120Caterpillar TL105555′ 0″5,00042′ 5″3,000168″34,700Caterpillar/125DanaZF$139,210Genie GTH-1056**56′ 0″4,00040′ 0″3,000156″29,500John Deere/125 or Perkins/127$149,985JCB 550-170 Loadall54′ 9″5,00041′ 5″1,100161″26,810JCB/100JCB

Sales for 10,000- to 12,000-pound machines have increased 90 percent since 1999, compared to a 72 percent increase in all telehandler sales.

The first-ever

Telehandler Showcase, cosponsored by Lift and Access and Construction Equipment magazines, celebrated progress in the fast-growing 10,000- to 12,000-pound telehandler market. Held in Phoenix last October, the Showcase hosted 12 of the 14 brands in that weight class with 50- to 59-foot lift heights. Present at the inaugural event were Manitou, JLG, Gehl, Genie, Gradall, Ingersoll Rand, ZoomBoom, Pettibone, Mustang, Lull, Xtreme, and SkyTrak. The new Caterpillar TL 1055 was a last-minute scratch due to production delays. A JCB representative attended, but the company was unable to produce its Model 550-170 for the Showcase. Xtreme does not produce a 10,000-pound unit with a 50- to 59-foot lift height, so the 12,000-pound XRM1254 was brought instead.

The Telehandler Showcase kicked off with the Operator Event, in which 19 local operators from the framing, masonry, steel erection, roofing, and demolition industries came to run the equipment, talk to the manufacturers' reps, and report their likes and dislikes in a post-event survey.

The Telehandler Showcase's second day consisted of the Walk-Around Presentations. Each OEM presented its respective product to all of the assembled participants — component vendors, Showcase sponsors, and editorial staff from Lift and Access and Construction Equipment magazines.