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Affordable Scissor Lifts for Farm Shops

While photographing shops to feature in this season’s Successful Farming Show, I noticed scissor lifts (also known as slab scissor lifts) at use in two of those shops.

When I asked why a machine that is more home in warehouses and construction sites was at use in his shop, Andy Prosser of Eldora, Iowa, explained that he’d bought his used lift to finish out the interior of his shop when it was built. “After construction was done, I immediately started finding new uses for that lift around the shop,” says Prosser, who farms with his father, Phil, and his son, Levi. “We figured that for its cost, we would keep it around to reach up when working on combines, tarps on trailers, or tractor cabs.”

The Pocket Price Guide on the next page confirms Prosser’s point. A $2,500 to $5,000 investment can get you a used lift, offering platform heights ranging from 20 to 25 feet with the capability of holding 500 to 600 pounds, depending on the make and model.

My research found that the marketplace is loaded with electric scissor lifts that fit this description. Certainly larger lifts are available with working heights reaching up to 52 feet, and greater weight capacities are available. The lion’s share of lifts fall in the 20- to 25-foot reach range.

turn on a dime

More compact and maneuverable than other models, electric lifts in this class feature a front-wheel hydraulic drive and 90° steering. That last feature allows such lifts to pivot around tight corners.

That’s a feature very much appreciated by Mondovi, Wisconsin, farmer Doug Olson. “I can steer it into tight corners or around machinery with ease,” he says, pointing out that his family keeps finding new chores to tackle with their used lifts.

Optionwise, this entry-level class of scissor lifts are option-poor. All the lifts listed in the Pocket Price Guide come with an extension that rolls out 3 feet from one end of the platform. A couple of the machines did offer options such as 12- to 110-volt converters, hydraulically extended outrigger supports, or remote control. Otherwise, lifts of this size generally all come equipped with the same features.

Likewise, lift speeds are ubiquitous among makes, ranging from 20 to 30 seconds to reach full platform heights. 

The one key difference among the lifts listed is the age of their batteries. The 12-volt batteries on lifts are like batteries on any equipment in that they lose the ability to be recharged with age. So pay close attention to the age of the batteries on the lift you are interested in buying and factor in replacement costs, if neeed. 

Beyond batteries, few of the components on a lift wear rapidly including their solid wheels, which are often nonmarking (don’t leave marks on floors).

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