LOUISVILLE — This week, Louisville-based Taylor Machine Works, Inc. is unveiling a prototype marina truck with a revolutionary front end at the annual Miami International Boat Show Feb. 14-19, hosted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
The debut of the Taylor Admiral series of marina trucks that will facilitate retrieving and storing boats in tight quarters is expected to make a splash among the 2,300 participants — the world’s leading marine industry manufacturers — at the 2002 Miami International Boat Show. About 150,000 people are expected at the six-day event, which includes sunset sails and new product demonstrations.
“We’ve been working hard to come up with this new-design front end in time for this show,” said Lex Taylor, president of Taylor Machine Works.
Cathy Johnston, southern regional manager for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, called the Miami International Boat Show “the marine industry’s premier consumer boating event…demonstrating the excitement of the boating lifestyle.”
The prototype boat handling truck, painted bright red and reflecting the Big Red Taylor Tough trademark, was designed to maximize forward visibility and improve visibility over rear and sides. A lack of visibility had been a common complaint among boat handlers, Taylor said.
The Taylor Admiral Series features models with capacities from 15,000 pounds with a 110-inch wheelbase to 22,000 pounds with a 140-inch wheelbase, all with 96-inch load centers. For super-sized boats, the largest model available has a 27,000-pound capacity and a 144-inch wheelbase. Mast heights range from 30-foot/12-foot two-stage with a center mount operator to 40-foot/10-foot three-stage with an offset operator.
The center mount operator position is slightly elevated and moved forward as much as possible. The offset operator position with three-stage mast is moved forward and offset to the left. Both operator positions provide excellent visibility to the forks in rack positions, when the unit is at the seawall and when forks are at variable negative level positions.
“Boat handlers are usually using buildings that were built decades ago,” said Taylor. “Over the years, the design and size of boats have gotten larger. At the same time, the demand for boat storage has grown, either because of regulatory issues or because of the sheer convenience to the boat owner to put his boat in its own ‘hotel.’ These older buildings are not conducive to having machines that can stack boats very high inside the cube. Even though they have doorways that are high enough to get this kind of machine in and out, you have to have a machine in boat handling that gets down low, in terms of overall height and transport of the boat, but can also stack very high. Those two things don’t go well together.”
Building a boat-handling machine with a high mast can be easily done, but the trick is maneuvering through lower doors, said Taylor.
“You have to take inventive measures, which all of us in the boat handling industry have done,” Taylor said. “However, it entails a lot of structure out front that inhibits the operator by being very intrusive and obstructive. When he goes to lift a boat to a slot or retrieve a boat, he certainly doesn’t want to scar it. After all, these are multi-thousand and multi-million dollar boats.”
Taylor said the new design front end will facilitate boat handling in storage buildings particularly in coastal areas, but will also work well on large lakes.
Taylor Machine Works, the last privately held family-owned, fully integrated manufacturer of industrial lift trucks still operating in the U.S., was established by the late W.A. Taylor Sr. in 1927 as a small automotive and machine repair business. Today, the company employs approximately 1,000 people and distributes materials handling equipment worldwide. Its third-generation leadership includes Lex Taylor, his brother, Robert Taylor, and his sister, Teresa Ktsanes.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at email@example.com</a.