Entry-Level Tracked Lifts Travel with Ease

Compact, track-mounted aerial lifts fit through single doorways, tread lightly enough to work on finished floors, set up in only a few couple of minutes, and have the power and stability to lift 440 pounds of workers and tools up four stories or more. Is it any wonder the popularity of these versatile aerial work platforms is rising as quickly as they can set up and go to work?

Many are powerful enough to climb a flight of stairs, yet light enough on their tracks to travel over soft turf without doing any damage. They are popping up in a growing range of applications including maintenance, electrical work, pipefitting, painting, window cleaning, and more that require people to work at height in hard to reach locations.

Entry level machines in this class, including the Oil & Steel Octopus EVO 1500, Teupen LEO 18GT, BlueLift B46, Platform Basket 18.90, Niftylift TD34T, Jekko SPL17, and JLG X550AJ have maximum platform heights from 34 to 55 feet, maximum platform capacities from 440 to 500 pounds, and maximum horizontal reach of 20 to 25 feet with maximum platform load. Power often comes via a small gasoline or diesel engine, but machines also may be plugged into 110V household current and run electrically for exhaust-free indoor work. Some of the manufacturers include electric operation as standard; others offer it as an option.

This article will focus on five models that were demonstrated at the Lift and Access Showcase & Symposium, which took place in November in Phoenix, Ariz. Check out the features that make each of these lifts such a good solution for getting workers and equipment to high places in tight spaces.


Teupen LEO 18GT

Teupen’s LEO 18GT offers a 441-pound capacity throughout its working envelope, including at its full 51'9" platform height and at its 24'3" maximum outreach at an elevation of 27 feet. The turret offers 450° non-continuous rotation, and the wide turret diameter gives a solid, sturdy feel.

Compactness, power, and maneuverability enable the LEO 18GT to easily get to challenging work sites. Travel-ready, it weighs 5,291 pounds and measures 16'10" long, 31 inches wide, and 6'6" high, so it fits onto a rollback truck or small trailer and passes easily through a single doorway.

If the machine needs to be shortened for transportation or tight-space maneuvering, the basket can be taken off by removing just one pin. The platform measures 56" x 28", weighs about 40 pounds, and has rollers, so it can be walked easily to the work area, and even be used to transport tools.

The powerful travel system will climb a 36 percent (20°) grade, travel at up to 0.9 mph, and negotiate side slopes of up to 28 percent (16°). Each track can be adjusted vertically and horizontally, totally independent of the other track, by a patented system. The LEO 18GT is the only compact tracked lift at the Showcase with this feature. It enables the operator to set one track lower than the other to help the machine stay level while traveling across side slopes.

Maximum ground clearance is 7 inches. The tracks also can rotate independently to enable pivot turns. Built-in fork pockets and lifting eyes make it easy for a crane or forklift to set the LEO 18GT on an elevated work site, such as a mezzanine or roof. Non-marking treads are standard.

The LEO 18GT’s four outriggers set automatically and self-level. They form a 10'11" x 10'11" foundation, provide up to 10 inches of ground clearance, and can set up on a 10-percent slope. The Showcase unit was equipped with a 12.7-hp Kubota diesel engine, plus a 110V plug-in system for working indoors or other places that don’t allow exhaust. A gasoline-fueled Honda engine is optional.

All the LEO 18GT’s functions are operated from a cable-connected remote console. On it is a selector switch and two fully proportional joysticks for controlling major functions. The same console is used in the basket or on the ground. It is similar to the controllers used on other Teupen models, so operators can quickly become comfortable operating any model in the Teupen family. The smoothness and responsiveness of the joystick controls makes precise operation easy.

Teupen says the strength and rigidity of its boom, combined with its patented “fuzzy” electro-proportional control logic adds to controllability by minimizing or eliminating bounce and sway. In addition, all wiring, hoses, and cables are protected inside the boom to minimize risk of damage. The lift demonstrated at the Showcase featured an optional jib that provides 150° rotation to enhance platform positioning. Although the platform does not pivot, its two front corners are slanted instead of square, a design Teupen says increases the ability to maneuver the platform around obstructions.


BlueLift B46

The BlueLift B46, distributed by Reachmaster Inc., Kingwood, Texas, offers a 40-foot maximum platform height, 21 feet of outreach at a 20-foot elevation, and unrestricted 440-pound platform capacity. Swing is 360° non-continuous, and the swing system features a five-second delay when the boom aligns with the chassis, simplifying alignment for stowage. Designed for indoor or outdoor use, the B46 is rated to work in winds up to 28 mph. The platform measures 51.5" x 28.25" and is pin-connected for easy removal during travel through tight places.

Configured for travel, the BlueLift B46 measures 31 inches wide, 6'6" tall, and 14'6" long with basket, or 12'2" long without, so it can fit through a standard single doorway. The operator can control travel from within the stowed basket, or by wireless remote while moving freely on the ground.

The B46 can travel at up to 0.9 mph, climb a 28-percent (15°) grade, and pivot-turn for maximum maneuverability. Non-marking tracks come standard. Weighing just 4,000 pounds, the BlueLift B46 can be transported on a small trailer and produces just 6.7-psi ground pressure on its tracks.

The four hydraulically deployed outriggers form a 10'6" x 10'6" lifting base, one of the smallest for this class of machine. Once activated, they deploy automatically and self-level. Setup and leveling can be done on front-to-back slopes of up to 18 percent (10°), and on side slopes of up to 10 percent (5.7°). Each outrigger pad covers 48.5 square inches. Heavy covers protect the cylinder rods from debris and damage.

The BlueLift B46 is one of the compact lifts that makes extensive use of electronic controls, and is the only one of the Showcase models to use a CANbus control system.

The machine can be operated from the basket or by a wireless remote control on the ground. Wireless remote control is standard, with wired remote controls optional. A chassis-mounted charger for the wireless remote control’s battery comes standard.

All functions are operated by fully proportional controls, so the operator can decide the speed at which he or she wants to operate. Also, the electronics provide a wealth of safety features. ReachMaster says CANbus controls are more maintenance free than other kinds.

One of the B46’s unique features among the compact lift s at the Showcase is BlueLift ’s Function Memory System (FMS), which can remember a sequence of operations and then duplicate them to simplify repetitive lifts.

The standard power arrangement includes a 15-hp Honda gas engine plus a110V plug-in electrical system for work in places exhaust is not desirable. A Hatz diesel engine is optional. The Honda engine now comes with fuel-saving start-stop feature that turns engine off if no control lever is used for 30 seconds, then instantly restarts it when any control lever is moved. The feature cuts fuel usage by 30 to 40 percent, while also reducing noise and exhaust.

The two-section boom is stable and works smoothly. All moving parts and lines are protected inside. ReachMaster President and CEO Ebbe Christensen, said, “This is an entry-level machine, but one that comes well equipped with lots of great features and is extremely reliable.”


Oil & Steel Octopus EVO 1500

One of the newcomers making to the North American market is the Oil & Steel Octopus EVO 1500. The compact yet powerful EVO 1500 carries many innovative features, but one that’s truly unique in this class of lifts is its double-pantograph boom.

Stefano Ghesini, sales director of PM Group North America, which distributes the Italian-made Oil & Steel products in the United States and Canada, said the double-pantograph boom enables the EVO 1500 to automatically raise the basket straight up from the ground to a height 24 of feet, if the operator chooses to do so. This feature makes operation faster and simpler when the machine is working next to a wall. In addition, he said mounting the boom on the front of the turret, instead of the rear like most competitors, assures that the boom’s tailswing always stays inside the footprint of the outriggers. “If the footprint is clear,” said Ghesini, “the tailswing is clear, too.” But the double-pantograph boom is only the beginning of the performance and features delivered by the EVO 1500.

The EVO 1500 offers a 42'7" maximum platform height, 22'11" feet of outreach at a 22-foot elevation, and unrestricted 440-pound platform capacity. It also offers a 360° continuous swing. The hydraulically powered jib can rotate straight up, as well as 45° to either side. Coupled with the platform’s ability to rotate, the combination gives the platform 180° rotation and lets the operator position it at any angle.

The EVO 1500 can work indoors or out, and has both the power to travel on rough terrain and the compactness to fit into tight sites. The standard power plant is a quiet, 12.7-hp Honda gasoline engine. A diesel option is being planned, and an optional 110V plug-in motor lets the EVO 1500 run on standard household electrical power when working indoors or in places that don’t permit exhaust.

Configured for travel, the compact EVO 1500 measures just 31 inches wide, 6'5" tall, and 15'7" long with basket, or 12'5" long without. The crawlers can be extended sideways for more stability, or retracted to the 31-inch narrow stance so the machine can fi t through a standard single doorway. Travel can be operated by remote control, keeping the operator safe and enabling him or her to move to the best vantage point.

The EVO 1500 will travel at up to 0.93 mph, climb grades of up to 36 percent (20°), and can turn within its own axis. Its compact size and 4,960-pound weight enable moving it on a small trailer.

The four hydraulically deployed outriggers form a solid lifting base 9'0" wide x 11'6" long. The outriggers can be operated by the remote control, and each one can be placed at a different height to enable setup on uneven surfaces. A self-leveling system is optional.

An onboard computer calculates and monitors the machine’s safe working area based on the outriggers’ positions. It also monitors the outriggers’ ground pressure all the while the lift is being used and stops operation if it senses an overload or loss of outrigger ground-bearing force.

In addition to the controls in the basket, a wired remote control is standard; wireless remote control is optional. All of the function controls are fully proportional for easy operation and accurate controllability. Multiple functions can operate simultaneously for fast, productive performance. Duplicate controls are located on the side of the chassis.

The EVO 1500 platform measures 57"x 27". Its 440-pound capacity will support two workers, plus tools. An electric outlet and a line for air or water to the platform are standard.


Platform Basket 18.90

Simplicity is the cornerstone of the Platform Basket 18.90’s design, said Mike Hrycak, president of Tracked Lifts Inc., Syosset, N.Y., the exclusive distributor of Platform Basket and OMME products in North America. A live hydraulic machine, the Platform Basket 18.90 combines compactness with competitive capacity and reach, simple operation, and easy maintenance.

It works well both indoors and out, with a 13-hp Honda gasoline engine providing power outdoors and a plug to run on 110V electric power indoors. The gas engine and the plug-in electric motor each drive their own separate hydraulic pump. If either motor-and-pump system fails, the other can power the machine.

A version of the 18.90 designed for dedicated indoor use just became available in January 2012. Instead of a gasoline engine, it has a 24V battery system, plus 110V plug-in power. If the batteries run low, the plug-in electric system can power the machine while also recharging the batteries.

The Platform Basket 18.90 offers 441-pound lifting capacity throughout its working envelope, including at its 52'5" maximum platform height and its 22'9" maximum side reach at an elevation of about 17 feet. The turret provides full 360° continuous rotation.

Compactness and power let the 18.90 travel at up to 1.25 mph, climb a 51-percent (27°) grade or staircase, and negotiate a 25-percent (14°) side slope. For greater clearance between ground and platform during travel, the 18.90 can be driven with its jib fully opened.

Overall length for travel is 16'2" with platform, or 13'11" without. Its height and width can be reduced to 6'3" and 2'7", respectively, to fi t through a standard single doorway. It can also pivot turn within its own length. It weighs 5,060 pounds, but still creates ground pressure of just 6.2 psi on its tracks—about the same as a human foot.

A big factor in the 18.90’s simplicity is its use of live hydraulic controls that can be fixed by almost any mechanic. The fully proportional controls let the operator run each function as quickly or slowly as needed. Twin sets of controls are located in the basket and on the machine’s base.

The 47"x 26" platform holds 441 pounds and is equipped with a 110V receptacle and an air/water connection.

The boom articulates, telescopes, and is equipped with a jib to simplify positioning the platform.

Four outriggers form a 10'0" x 12'0" support base. Each has a 13.75-inch diameter pad and a heavy shield that protects its hydraulic cylinder from falling debris, dirt, and dust. Lifting eyes on the outriggers let a crane easily lift the unit to elevated work sites.


Niftylift TD34T

“Simple to use. Simple to maintain. Reliable. Profitable.” That’s how Jon Hedlund, Niftylift ’s vice president of U.S. sales, summed up the company’s target in designing its model TD34T compact tracked lift.

“We want rental unit owners to be able to simply pressure wash a returned unit, check it over, and get it back out for the next rental,” he said. The Niftylift TD34T is designed and built with features that make that possible.

The unit is designed to work equally well indoors or out, and to be compact, yet powerful enough to go either place.

Configured for travel, it measures 43 inches wide, 13 feet long, and 6'3" tall. It will travel at 1.0 mph, and has the power and traction to climb a 60-percent (31°) grade, including stairs. Its 4,100-pound weight enables transport on light trailers and lets it work on finished floors.

Once in place, the Niftylift TD34T delivers competitive lifting capability. It offers 500-pound basket capacity throughout its working envelope, including at its 33'6" full platform height, and its nearly 20-foot maximum outreach at an elevation of 14'6".

There are only a few grease fittings on the whole machine, thanks to Niftylift ’s extensive use of maintenance-free Teflon bushings designed to last 20,000 hours.

The standard engine is an 18-hp Kubota 722 diesel, chosen for reliability, easy maintenance, and long life. The TD34T also comes with a 110V plug-in power system, standard, so machine can work inside without creating exhaust.

Four outrigger stabilizers pivot up for travel and swing down to support the machine on a solid 11'8"-wide footprint during operation. Micro-switches in the pads tell the operator when the machine is level.

Fully proportional hydraulic controls operate all boom functions, so the operator “is always in direct control of machine” and can operate as quickly or slowly as he or she wants, said Hedlund. That lets the operator move the boom quickly to reach the work area, then creep in for accurate final placement of the basket. There are dual controls in the basket and on the chassis, and all wiring from base to basket is color coded or numbered for easy diagnosing.

The platform measures 43" x 26" and is self-leveling. The turret can rotate 406°, non-continuous, and the riser and telescoping upper boom have no tailswing when they’re erected.