Cheap Drum Rotators

Posted on 27/03/2015

Fork mounted drum turners start at less than £400 up to about £1500.  In theory they all do the same job so is there really a difference?  Is it really worth paying top money?

Firstly, how is the attachment secured to the forks of the truck?  ‘T’ bolts screwed down tightly onto the forks or pins placed behind the fork heels are commonly used methods but the added precaution of a chain that can be passed around behind the carriage is useful additional security in case forward fork tilt is inadvertently used.

Secondly, how is the drum secured to the attachment?  Cheaper models sometimes use a steel chain wrapped around the drum but is this safe?  The next option is a ratchet strap which can be tightened to the required tension and has the added advantage of being safe for use with most damaged steel drums but fairly regular replacement may be necessary.  Finally, an articulated steel band with an over centre catch is probably the most expensive option but is unlikely to need replacement for a long time.

All of the above applies to traditional steel drums with rolling rings.  If the drum started to slip as it is lifted or rotated then the rolling ring should act as a brake although this is unlikely work with a chain.

Plastic and disposable steel drums made with thin gauge steel are more difficult.  Plastic drums don’t usually have rolling rings and the new lightweight steel drums tend to compress very easily.  Secondly, plastic drums by their very nature they tend to be slippery.  It is therefore wise to use an extra attachment that hooks over the top and bottom of the drum to prevent slippage.  It’s an additional cost but essential if these drums are to be handled safely.

What about the gearbox?  This is the part that will take the strain when the drum is turned so it needs to be strong – after all you’ll probably be turning at least a quarter of a ton!  What ratio is it?  Does it have a handle on the wheel?  Is it self-locking?  All are important questions for safe operation.

As so often in life, maybe the cheapest isn’t the best but then maybe the most expensive isn’t either.  A little research followed by a confident Risk Assessment may prove John Ruskin to have been right when he wrote:

“It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

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