Monday through Wednesday I had classroom hours and the written test for the forklift class; I passed it. Now to apply the lessons to the reality; practice, practice, practice.
Monday morning when we were introduced to the electric forklift belonging to the WWCC E&V program I was nominated to get onto the machine and move the forks as we discussed applications. Short of a brief, but slow, joy ride on a tractor several years ago I have never been in a machine not designed to be on the highway. It took lots of direction to coax the correct motion from the machine that day. Biggest lesson for me: there is no visibility of the forks through the barrel-roll and side-carriage attachments!
Tuesday afternoon I practiced in a smaller electric forklift with no add-ons to block my view, so I could actually see what my forks were doing as I picked up a pallet and put it in a different place. The pallet eventually represented a wall as I attempted to control the forklift with just the accelerator on an incline and then to catch the heavy machine before it free-rolled forward while I was facing down-hill. Lets just say it is a good thing it was an old pallet and not a wall…
Observation has been my best teacher these last few days. As my classmates practice I have been able to see what is really happening out front where the forks are as various levers are pushed or pulled with empty bins or without. By the way, empty harvest bins are difficult to maneuver due to their light weight. One bin has some water added; it had to be refilled since the sloshing of the water on the suspended forks made for a sudden waterfall this morning. Yet another good lesson to learn. Thankfully, we have a fantastic instructor with a great sense of humor and a generous heart. He has certainly had to put up with lots from those of us that have not been exposed to the forklift until this week.
After clipping netting in the vineyard first thing in the morning, I go practice in the forklift. Hopefully it won’t take too much more for me to ‘get’ what I have to do and test out successfully. Last summer my patient husband and a friend of ours attempted to help me understand trailering and the logic that goes with it; I have heard many similar phrases during this weeks class. Apparently there are similarities to the driving concepts.
Wish me luck! I’ll let you know how I do next week.