Combilift forklift assists historic ship restoration

News Story
- 13 Jun 2024 ( #1183 ) - Portsmouth, United Kingdom
2 min read
The forklift is handling historical artefacts which are often large and fragile
The forklift is handling historical artefacts which are often large and fragile

A four-way Combilift multidirectional forklift is assisting in the restoration of a 250-year-old vessel, the HMS Victory, at the National Museum of the Royal Navy at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. 

Museum staff are replacing the decayed planking and frames and stabilising the timbers on the historic ship, which has been in service with Britain’s Royal Navy for more than 250 years.

Lead Rigger Stuart Sheldon and Rigger Ben Gillett knew that it was going to take a pretty special piece of equipment to handle the extreme loads required for the project. 

“We are now at a stage where we are reorganising various storage areas within our Grade II listed building,” says Sheldon. 

“As we began planning how to reorganise the existing racking and install new, we realised that we could only manoeuvre safely and efficiently using the multidirectional capability of the Combilift, which was recommended by our handling consultants Locators. 

“We therefore centred the racking re-design around the specifications of the truck and are now moving almost 5 T of materials every day.”

“As we are handling very valuable items such as historical artefacts which are often large and fragile, we need to be vigilant to avoid any damage. The truck’s design – resting loads on the low platform as well as visibility from the cab - keeps our loads safe.”

Locators provided an interim truck and training on it whilst the new unit was in production at Combilift’s factory. 

Customised specifications included a quad mast with a closed height of 2,835 mm to enable the truck to pass under a low internal doorway and a lift height of 7,600 mm to access the top level of racking. 

A 6 m spreader bar is also on hand, which is quick and easy to install when required, and ensures utmost stability when handling the very long steel replica mast sections which weigh up to 3.5 T.  

One of the biggest challenges is moving masts from the storage area to an inspection and maintenance workshop which involves travelling in and out of narrow doorways, along a road and around parked vehicles. 

“Compared to the original shipbuilders we have been fortunate to benefit from modern technology and Combilift has been absolutely integral to the project, and will continue to be so for its duration,” says Sheldon. 

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