Seventy-Four Ponies Seem Plenty

This week, I visited Skyjack, where I learned that the company will be introducing an 80-something foot articulating boom lift, a 5,000-lb. telehandler, and a 12,000-lb. telehandler in the next few months. Although details about the new machines were not yet available, the news that they are coming is exciting.

While I was at Skyjack, I had the opportunity to operate one of the 74-hp TH telehandlers that the company introduced earlier this year. Although I  ran the 10,000-lb.-capacity, 56-ft. SJ1056 TH for less than half an hour on a paved lot, I felt that its 74 ponies delivered plenty of oomph. In third gear with the pedal to the metal, it zipped along as fast as you’d want to go on a construction site, especially one that is unimproved. 

That’s great news, since 1 to 2 mph of top-end speed is the only tradeoff for the fistful of benefits that the 74-hp engine delivers. 

The biggest of those benefits is that you avoid the exhaust-treatment complexities that come with a diesel engine of 75 hp or more. When you can stick to an engine of 74 hp or less, you don’t have to deal with a diesel particulate filter (DPF), a selective catalytic reduction system (SCR), downtime for regeneration, or making sure your tank of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) stays filled and unfrozen.

I found the SJ1056 TH controls smooth, easy to become familiar with, and easy to use. Boom raising, extension, and retraction all seemed at least as quick as other machines I’ve had the opportunity to run, so the 74-hp engine worked as well as a higher-powered diesel on that score. 
After I’d run the machine, Skyjack’s senior project manager Barry Greenaway told me that a customer had challenged Skyjack to pit the 74-hp SJ1056 TH against a 9,000-lb. telehandler with an engine in the 100-hp range. The competition consisted of timed tests for boom extension and retraction, travel, and picking and placing loads.
Greenaway reported that although the results were close, the 74-hp 10,000-lb. Skyjack telehandler finished slightly ahead of the 100-hp 9,000-lb. unit overall.

My visit to Ontario included a stop at a construction site where a contractor was using a 74-hp SJ1056 TH on a fast-track project to build a big-box store. The job was nearly complete when I came on site, but the supervisor said the Skyjack had been the first telehandler on the job and would be the last of four to leave. He had used the machine to upright and set columns, place wall panels, set roof beams, and handle all kinds of material. The supervisor said the rig was just as fast as a higher-horsepower telehandler and the smoothest one on the job, to boot.

Skyjack was the first telehandler manufacturer to offer a 74-hp engine alternative, but other manufacturers, such as Genie and SkyTrak, now also offer telehandlers in the 8,000 – 10,000-lb. range with a diesel of that power output.

That kind of product advancement keeps the industry moving forward and offers users tools that help them do their jobs more efficiently. 

In this year’s Lift and Access Equipment Guide, you’ll notice several new or updated models of telehandler, as well as new scissor lifts, boom lifts, and compact lifts, too. The guide’s format is designed to give readers an instant overview of the offerings in major types of lifting and access equipment used in construction and material handling. We hope it makes your machinery comparisons quicker and easier.

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About the Author: 

Mike Larson

Mike Larson has been writing about heavy equipment and construction for more than 25 years. He joined Heartland Communications Group in 2011 as editor of Lift and Access. During his career, he has edited Western Builder and Midwest Construction, and has been a regular contributor to Engineering News-Record and Constructor magazines. Larson also worked in and managed marketing communications for Manitowoc Cranes. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.