A lift truck pulls up to a pallet of heavy iron. As the operator inserts and then lifts the forks, he notices the back wheels coming off the ground. The smart operator sets the load back down and doesn’t lift it. Let’s look closer at what is happening in this scenario, to help you understand how lead counterweights work and why they are so important.

What is a Counterweight?

A counterweight is the stabilizing part of a balancing system for a lifting mechanism or machine. They are used in lift trucks, draw bridges, elevators, cranes, and any machine that lifts a lot of weight. A balance system has a main support or fulcrum. This is the tipping point, and by spacing a counterbalance weight on the opposite side of the load, the system balances. This prevents machines like cranes and lift trucks from tipping over when they lift heavy loads.

In the opening scenario, a lift truck operator slid his forks underneath a load that was too heavy for the truck to safely lift. The lack of sufficient weight or the use of non lead counterweights in the back of the truck could not balance out the load, and that’s why the back wheels came off the ground.

Had the operator continued to lift the load, the truck (along with load) would eventually tip over. The counterbalancing weight is just as important as any other part of the lifting machine.

Why Lead?

Most manufacturers prefer to use lead counterweights for their machines, for several reasons:

  • Lead is very dense
  • You need less volume of lead than most other materials
  • Space saving – smaller weights can be used
  • Lead is naturally anticorrosive
  • Lead can easily be formed or machined to custom configurations

Mayco Industries creates custom counterweights for large projects like drawbridges. We also make elevator, marine and aerospace applications, and shot ballast in stock or custom sizes. Call us toll-free today at 800-749-6061 for more info.