Crown Equipment Corp. has been making electric lift trucks since 1957, when the company introduced its first specialty BL (battery lift) truck. Even as internal combustion (IC) vehicles dominated the lift truck industry, Crown continued to focus product development and manufacturing exclusively on electric lift trucks.

This month, however, Crown is unveiling its new C-5 series IC lift truck and officially announcing its foray into IC industrial vehicle manufacturing.

Though Crown never manufactured IC lift trucks, the company has been servicing them for 20 years, according to Jim Moran, senior vice president of Crown. Moran spoke at a recent media event held at Crown’s New Bremen, Ohio, headquarters. MHM was on hand for the official launch.

Moran explains that Crown observed, recorded and analyzed the most common maintenance issues it encountered while servicing IC trucks. Executives noticed a pattern of regularly occurring problems resulting from engine and transmission overheating, radiator clogs and high-maintenance braking systems. These costly problems often occurred in tough industrial applications, in which lift trucks log more than 2,000 operating hours per year at a minimum cost of $2.00 per hour.

“Our customers came to us with IC lift truck issues related to engine performance, overheating, operator comfort and maintenance,” explains Jim Dicke III, Crown’s president. “We saw an opportunity to help our customers move beyond the existing limitations of IC truck performance.”

Crown developed the C-5’s 2.4-liter industrial engine jointly with John Deere Power Systems to leverage John Deere’s experience in designing diesel engines for demanding agricultural and construction applications.

Andy Smith, Crown product manager, notes that engine designs for most of today’s IC lift trucks are inspired by the automotive market. However, “people generally don’t drive their cars for eight to 16 hours a day, six days a week,” he says. “In fact, running an automotive engine in a lift truck for just 2,500 hours is the equivalent of driving 100,000 miles at 40 miles per hour in a car. An automotive engine just isn’t built to withstand the demands of many material handling environments.”

The agriculturally inspired C-5 engine features a cast-iron head and robust components designed to prevent overheating and extend service intervals, according to Crown. Standard features include a dual open-core radiator with separate cooling systems for the engine and transmission.

End users can opt for on-demand cooling (ODC), which helps manage heat in tough, dirty environments. Each time the Crown C-5 starts, the ODC system reverses the fan direction to dislodge debris from the radiator. It also adjusts fan speed based on engine temperature, and the strategic placement of the fan improves cooling efficiency by pulling air evenly through the radiator, according to Crown.

The new lift truck also features a Crown-designed flexible seat to enhance operator comfort; an interlock feature to stop the forks and masts from rising above free lift; standard power brake systems on the 6,000- and 6,500- pound models; and new fuel tracking technology capable of alerting an operator 16 minutes before the truck runs out of fuel.

Most importantly, the C-5 can reduce service intervals, says Crown. In the first 2,000 hours of operation, Crown projects the lift truck will need an average of 76 routine tasks. The company says the C-5 can operate 1,000 hours between oil changes, whereas the typical service interval for IC lift trucks is 250 hours. According to Crown, this data comes from field tests at customer sites dating back to 2006.