I had agreed to purchase from Mr Franck the following items for the following prices:
1. Forklift $12,000
2. Trailer $1000
3. Bee blower $250
4. Syrup pump and hose reel $1,500.
I am in Southern California approximately 2000 miles (30 hours or three solid days of driving) away from Mr. Frank’s home in Minnesota. I had to take a week off of work in order to make this journey during one of the busiest times of my year. However the price we worked out on the forklift seemed to be a pretty good deal and worth the drive. Prior to leaving and agreeing on the price I asked for a few more pictures and asked a number of questions about the items. I also spoke with him on the phone and asked questions as well.
On the phone he told me that he had purchased this forklift at an auction. He said that the previous owner had put the unit together from multiple different manufacturers. It had a body from Swinger, forklift mast I don’t recall, the steering column was Massey Fergusson and he claimed that the engine was a 153C International motor.
Below are copies of two emails and their responses in bold:
Did you ever find the year of the various components and can I get a list of what they are so I know how old this lift is?
153C International Motor - Motor was rebuilt when they put unit together
Did you find an hour meter on the forklift?
No hour meter - I maybe put 50hrs on per year for 8 years
Did the forklift have side shift?
Can it lift a full tote of syrup?
It will lift them. It is a little light on the back end. I do not remember if I used it to lift them on the truck or not. I had two forklifts.
What is the maximum lifting height?
I believe it is 14 '
The trailer looks well used. It looks like it could use some new decking. I can not tell from the photo, is the frame solid? Are there any problems with members rusting thru? How are the tires, wheel bearings and brakes?
Everything on the trailer is good including the decking. Brake system needs a new battery.
The pump looks like a nice setup. Is it mounted on a pallet? Just how big is it? Can a couple guys lift it or does it need a forklift?
Mounted to a standard pallet. I think we have lifted it by hand onto the truck but forklift would e preferred.
It also looks like you took good care of your truck. How long is the bed? How many hives do you get per layer?
Bed is 12' - but I do have a extension to make it 13'. 32 hives per layer
I am definitely interested in the forklift, trailer and pump. I will need to check on the truck on Tuesday to see what I would need to do to make it CA air quality compliant if possible. If I recall correctly you said it was a 2001 with a 7.3 diesel engine.
2002 Ford F550 7.3 Diesel - Crew Cab 4X4
I am also interested in your bee blower. Is it the Dadant blower? If so does it have the Tecumseh engine or the Briggs? Can you send me a photo of the blower? Do you also have the chute?
I have all the parts. I will check on the engine and send you pics.
Before I left I wanted something in writing as a contract from Mr. Franck to confirm the deal so I emailed him the following which as you will see he agreed in the affirmative.
Yes, I agree.
On Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 8:41 PM Sean Crowley wrote:
Good evening Brian,
Per our past two conversations you have agreed to sell the following items for the following amounts:
1. Swinger 110 forklift and trailer for $13,000
2. 1 Dadant bee blower with hoses, nozzle and sheet metal chute for $250
3. 1 Syrup pump, electric hose real, battery and hose for $1500
Per our conversation this morning I will be bringing you cash to pay for the items in person.
All items are assumed to be in working order and functional. One minor leak was noted on the forklift which may just need a slight tightening to the fitting which you said you could not get a wrench on. The break away battery for the trailer brakes you also said needed replacing.
If we are in agreement please reply to this email in the affirmative.
I look forward to coming up and getting these items in the next week and a half to two weeks.
After a three days drive I arrived at Mr. Franck’s home at about 7:30 at night on September 26, 2018. This was thirteen days after I signed the contract with him so he had plenty of time to get the various items out and confirm that they were ready for me to pick up and go. I am going to describe the series of events as they took place from then.
Mr. Franck opened up his garage where he kept the forklift to show it to me. He jumped up on it to start it. As he started it the forklift lunged forward about 3 feet. Mr. Franck said “you have to get the forward and reverse pedals in the sweet spot to start it with out it moving”. Apparently who ever put this forklift together never engineered it to make it go to neutral when you take your foot off the forward and reverse pedals. A: I found this to be very dangerous and B: I could see where this could easily damage the engine or starter by starting it essentially in gear every time. I wondered how much damage this had done already in the 8 years he had been operating like this.
Mr. Franck then turned off the unit in order to show me that it could be started without moving the unit if you had it in the “sweet spot” at which point he could not get the engine started again. As it turned out the starter switch was bad.
Mr. Franck also pointed out at that time that there was no brake on this unit. There was a disc on the driveline but no calipers or brake lever.
Neither the lack of brake nor “sweet spot” were mentioned previously in emails or verbally.
At this point Mr. Frank graciously allowed me to sleep on his couch and in the morning we went to the auto parts store to pick up a replacement ignition switch. He then changed out the switch.
We then started up the forklift with similar results of it lunging forward or backwards. I then took it for a ride up the driveway. The first thing that I noticed was that if you took your foot off either the forward or reverse pedal after you were going in one direction you better be ready to put your foot on the opposite direction pedal or it would continue moving since it did not spring back into neutral. Again I found this to be rather dangerous. I pushed the forward pedal as far as it would go and the forklift would only travel at a crawl. I asked him if it had a high gear which it did not. To take bees ¼ to ½ mile down an almond row would take forever with this forklift.
I then took a look at the engine and hydraulic pump compartments as the little hydraulic leak had produced about 6” puddle on the cement overnight. I found 2 additional hydraulic leaks and the engine appeared to be leaking oil somewhere as well as there was oil on the bottom cover plate and bottom of the engine.
The engine was a straight four International C153 gas engine. I looked up the engine and it appears to have been used on International Harvester Farmall tractors made from approximately 1961 – 1967. So the engine is approximately 51 to 57 years old. I have subsequently looked up the engine and found most people when something goes wrong with it replace it with a newer engine as getting parts is difficult and expensive. For the moment though the engine seemed to be running fine.
Next I looked at the tires. They appeared to be truck tires not tractor or forklift tires. All four tires were so old that the sidewalls were completely checked, rotten and you could tell that if you turned on rough asphalt that you would just shred what was left of the tires. So I expected to need to buy some real tractor/forklift rims and tires to replace these.
The Massey Fergusson steering column seemed to work fine it was just missing multiple cover plates.
The mast lift, side shift and tilt seemed to work fine.
Even with all of these problems I am pretty mechanical and could engineer up something to bring the forklift back to neutral, I could engineer a way to mount a brake and I could fix the leaks. I would replace the tires with tractor rims and tires and foam fill them. As for the engine I would just cross my finger that it had not been damaged and be under the realization I may need to replace it with a newer engine in the future. Mr Franck had agreed to drop the price of the unit $1000 more to $11,000 for these deficiencies.
Mr. Franck then pulled out the Dadant bee blower which he had previously said in the email above that it was functional. When he tried to start the blower the previous day he said that it would turn over but the carburetor was clogged. He had a hose and nozzle but it was covered in duct tape and there was no slide for the bees as he had told me there would be. The engine was covered in oil. He agreed to throw in chains and binders in exchange for cleaning the carburetor. I agreed.
I then looked at the syrup pump and hose reel unit. The deep cycle battery which was shown in the photo was missing and when I asked him about it he said that he would not supply one even though above he agreed that he would. The engine was again covered in oil. The pull cord handle was missing and replaced with a piece of wood. The starter rope had cut into the starter housing about 2.5”. It was a Honda engine and it actually started with him just pushing the pulley with his foot. I had asked him in the previous email if this is something two guys could lift and he said yes. Unless the two guys were incredible body builders I doubt that could be done. This unit was huge and in my mind forklift only particularly if it has syrup in the hose. The hose reel alone was probably 3’ tall and 2.5’ wide with approximately 150‘ of 1.24” OD hose. Honestly I think the big hose would be cumbersome. Yes fluid would flow faster but it would be big and heavy. I had looked up the components. Dadant sells a new pump for $1500. The hose reels are about $600 and the 300 psi hose I found for under $2.00 per foot. So with the size and condition I decided to pass on that unit. For a slight amount more I could have all new.
Next was the trailer. His son had gotten out the spare tire. Not only did the spare have a hole in the sidewall but the rim was a five lug holes rim and the trailer was a 6 lug holes rim. In searching for a rim and tire we found the rim at a trailer shop but all the tires on the trailer were passenger car tires not weight rated trailer tires. I went with Mr. Franck, his wife and daughter to the trailer shop for the rim then to Walmart for the passenger tire as neither had both. The trailer was really a lightweight rusty heap. The decking on it was all twisted, warped and in multiple pieces. The welding on it was atrocious. There was no where to bind down the forklift other than on some thin frame members which were rather iffy. It had two axles but they were both light weight with light weight springs.
I had asked if the wheel bearings were good and he said yes. I wanted to confirm this. After lifting up both sides we found two wheels wobbled. So we put it in the garage, pulled off both wheels and tightened both axle nuts, knocking off chunks of mud off first, so as to not have the wheels blow bearings on my 2000 mile journey home. I did not like this trailer but out in the middle of nowhere I still needed to get the forklift home so we loaded up the forklift. I would have driven very carefully used this to get the forklift home and then purchased another safe weight rated trailer to transport the forklift. This trailer in my mind should not be used to transport a 4000 lbs forklift. In my mind it is not safe.
We went inside and exchanged money, title and I was ready to leave.
As I was about to leave I remembered that I needed to check the lights and brakes. Both rear brake lights were slightly physically broken and it took some wire wiggling to get them working. I then wanted to check the electric brakes to confirm that all 4 brakes were working well. I had some very steep long mountains to traverse on my way home and did not want 5000 lbs of trailer and forklift pushing my 7800 lbs truck around. Mr. Franck replied in his email that all brakes were working well. The trailer was on a very slight grade concrete driveway. I put the truck in drive and applied the electric brakes with the manual lever with out putting my foot on the accelerator. This should have locked the trailer brakes stopping both vehicles. The trailer had no brakes and rolled forward freely. I then increased the gain on the controller to maximum with the same results. We jacked up one side. I applied the brakes with the controller and it would stop Mr. Franck from rotating the tire by hand, so the electric brakes were getting power. In Mr. Franck’s mind this was sufficient. It was not for me. We backed the trailer into the garage pulled off the wheel, removed the drum from the axle and checked the brakes. The shoes were thin, the drums were only making contact in maybe ¼ of the width of the brake drum and I was pulling weeds out of the back. The mechanism was completely rusted up. Basically the brakes were shot. Now I realized that I should not get completely new brakes for what I paid but at the same time he told me the brakes were functional. I offered to pay half of the cost of the brakes $250 and do the brake job myself since he and his son had other work to do. While doing the brakes I was also going to change the springs at my expense as they were also old and rusted. I did not want to be stranded out in the middle of nowhere or even worse get in an accident with faulty brakes or springs on the trailer. I had a set of springs break on a trailer once and had an axle come off and believe me it was no fun. After consulting with his wife he said no that I either take it or leave it as is. I chose to leave everything and the headaches all would entail. I unloaded my truck, unhitched the trailer got my money back, shook hands and headed home.
In retrospect it is the best thing I could have done. All of his equipment was poorly maintained and who knows how many thousands of dollars it would have cost me to fix everything in the future if I could even make it home. The last thing I would need in the future is to have a load of bees on the back of a truck with no way to get them off the truck. I am sure I can find another sound forklift from one manufacturer not put together with ancient parts on a sound trailer. I ended up taking a week off work, spending over $1200 on fuel, 6 days driving across the country sleeping in my truck and a day working on his equipment and for all of that time and money I ended up getting a flu bug from one of his 9 kids. I did get to see a lot of beautiful country though.
For those looking at purchasing any of the items above or his other equipment this was my experience. I wrote this so the next guy will not have to travel across the country to learn what I did. I hope this helps. Buyers beware and good luck.
He had a truck flatbed extension off in the yard for his truck. It was an atrocious mess of welding. I did not look at the truck itself.
His Cowan uncapper looked pretty good. The heating unit was sold so you will have to buy that separate. The tank below had standard steel runners for the frames to ride on instead of stainless steel as they should have been.
The extractors were beat up and dented but probably worked just fine.
Mr. Franck texted me and said that he got the trailer brakes to skid with no load on the trailer and that it was fine. NO NO NO! Mr. Frank is apparently unaware of how electric trailer brakes work nor how to adjust them properly. The brakes should be set so that when on a flat dry paved surface with your load on the trailer the gain should be set so the brakes are just below the skidding point for maximum braking and will stop the truck and trailer using only the trailer brakes going 25 mph. For those possibly going to purchase this trailer here is how you test and set electric brakes According to page 5 in my Tekonsha brake controller manual http://www.tekonsha.com/support/installation/N90195.pdf. Unless he has really worked over the brakes, which I doubt he has, I doubt those brakes will stop properly.