If you've got plenty of do-it-yourself work to do for landscaping your property of junk and trees, one of the best things you can do is to rent a skid steer to help with the process. This little machine can help you do your work more quickly. The two skid steer attachments that will be most useful to you will be the bucket (for moving dirt, leveling the land, and scooping up trash and debris) and forks. Forks are useful because they allow you to keep and load things away on pallets, distributing bricks, sod, rocks, and slate tiles to various location on your property with any mess. However, if you have never used the fork attachment on a skid steer before, you're going to need some expert tips to avoid damaging your hauling vehicle, damaging the product, or injuring yourself or others. 

1. Lift and pull.

When you first go to unload a heavy pallet from your pick-up with your rented loader, it's best to lower the forks and slide them under the pallet only half-way before using your hand or foot controls to lift it only slightly from the bed of the truck. Then, tilt the forks slightly up, hooking the pallet onto the attachment, and drag it out from the truck bed partially so that the edge of pallet overhangs onto the tailgate, before inserting the forks the rest of the way. This maneuver has two advantages:

  • It allows you to have the pallet firmly packed against the back of the attachment for more secure hauling.
  • It saves you from damaging the truck with the front of the loader. It is impossible to lift a pallet securely from a normal pick-up truck without this maneuver. To have the pallet rest against the back end of the forks without lifting and pulling would result in the loader tires colliding with the truck bed to get enough reach with the forks. 

2. Test the weight of the pallet before lifting.

Once you have the fork firmly inserted into the pallet, it is time to lift it off the truck or off the ground. Be aware that your loader is normally very back heavy, like a small child wearing a large backpack. This weight distribution is what allows the loader to lift heavy pallets without falling forward; the weight of the loader balances the weight of the pallet. However, if the pallet is too heavy, it will compromise the stability of the loader and cause it to tip forward , smashing the pallet down onto the ground, or worse, onto the bed of the truck. 

To avoid this problem, lift a pallet gingerly, only with enough space to clear the ground or the bed of the truck by a few inches. Tip the forks back toward you to help the load rest closer to the machine's center of gravity and slowly reverse away from the truck. Once you are clear, lower the load as close to the ground as possible, and drive slowly to prevent any bumps from throwing off your balance. Keeping the load low helps you, as the operator, stay in control. Lifting a heavy load higher increases instability. Usually, the heaviest pallets are those that contain natural stone or wet sod. Since some sod pallets can weigh over 2500 pounds, be sure to check the weight limits of your rented skid steer before attempting any lift. 

3. Keep a roll of shrink wrap handy.

Once your job is done, you can often resell or return unused materials and empty pallets for a refund. Be sure to always shrink wrap partial pallets before you lift them up and haul them away. Never move a pallet that has an unsecured load. Bricks could fall on someone as you move them, or even fall and damage the machine or harm you. For more information on equipment rental, contact a company like Summit Tool Rentals Division Of Wirtz Rentals.