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Is this the world’s oldest operational forklift?

28 March, 2013

It’s not every day that you come across a forklift truck that has been in continuous operation for more than six decades.

The Yale model K41-4M (pictured) was manufactured at the conclusion of World War II in 1945, and was purchased second hand by J.A. Cunningham Equipment Inc in Pennsylvania, USA, in 1966. It has been in operation at the welding equipment supplier since that time.

"My father purchased the forklift used in 1966," Paul Cunningham, President of J.A. Cunningham Equipment Inc, said.

"When I took over the family business, there was never a need to replace the truck. It has always been as durable as the other models we have."

The forklift has the capacity to lift approximately 1360kgs and has carried skids of welding wires and other equipment for more than 60 years. According to Cunningham the lift truck has never required expensive repairs, and functions alongside their newer model lifts trucks.

"I first learned of this forklift back in 1986 and remember this truck quite well," Mike Edmonds, Marketing Manager of Eastern Lift Truck, the local distributor, said.

"We used to joke about our road technicians not being 'real' mechanics until they serviced this forklift: locating and lubing all 75 high-pressure grease fittings."

While the lift truck is still operational when called upon, J.A. Cunningham has mainly retired the truck. The previously oldest-known lift truck in operation was discovered at Kliegal Machine Company in New York, that was manufactured in 1953.

Outside of the United States the oldest working forklift trucks discovered so far were both manufactured in 1955. One in Sweden is being used to lift wooden details for housing construction, the other is in the United Kingdom at ThyssenKrupp Tallent, used to lift dyes into a 1000 ton press.

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