There Are Cummins-Powered Highway-Legal Forklifts, and They Are Bonkers
Trucks come in all shapes and sizes. While most feature a cab up front and a bed in the back, that is not always the case. Some trucks are far weirder than others. Trucks are so popular because they are diverse beasts of burden made to do any sort of job. That said, one of the strangest trucks we’ve ever seen, we just found out about. While we don’t often think of forklifts as trucks, there is no other word for this insane Cummins-powered forklift that also happens to be highway-legal.
Are forklifts road-legal?
Don’t expect the forklift guy at Home Depot to bust out the Garden Center and hit the open road, but yes, there are road-legal forklifts. Not only are there road-legal Forklift trucks, but the Oregon Roadrunner Hay Squeeze (that’s what it’s actually called) is a forklift that you can legally drive on the highway. This insanely hard-working rig is built by the folks at Sunny “D” Manufacturing in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
If you, like me, are wondering how you could have missed such a massive and unique vehicle, you can cut yourself some slack. Yes, it looks like a semi-truck, but a little off, and they are bright orange. Even crazier still, these things have been lumbering around for over 50 years. That said, Sunny “D” Manufacturing only ever made fewer than 1,000 examples.
What kind of engine is in the Oregon Roadrunner Hay Squeeze?
This forklift truck can run at highway speeds. That is nuts. The Drive wrote that it manages to pull its immense weight thanks to an 8.9-liter Cummins L9 making 330 horsepower. While the monster rig has always been a fan of diesel power, it used to use pre-emissions Cummins and Detroit Diesel engines. For some reason, there is also a 370-hp version you can order. I’m not so sure who else would wonder what kind of transmission you would put in a Cummins diesel forklift, but they use the same Allison 3000 RDS six-speed auto you might find in firetrucks and some agricultural equipment. This thing is heavy-duty from toe-to-tip.
What is the point of a road-legal forklift?
I doubt many people care to drive their monster forklift a few towns over to run some errands. The idea is, for many farmers and other workers, job sites can often be split by public roads or even highways. This road-going forklift is able to forego getting loaded onto a trailer and being hauled to wherever the loads need to be delivered.
Jesse Bounds, who owns Bounds Hay Co. in Junction City, Oregon, is now firmly on team Hay Squeeze. Aside from being a fan of his crazy forklift, he exports hay to Japanese and Middle Eastern markets. If anyone cares about the efficiency with which one moves hay, it’s this guy. Bounds has a small fleet of these hay movers, which he has painted orange to match his semi-truck rigs.
In a phone interview with The Drive, Bounds sang the praises of the Hay Squeeze. “If we didn’t have them, we’d have to be moving a normal forklift-style squeeze from field to field, and they’re very slow,” Bounds continued, adding that his Roadrunners can hit 75 miles per hour on the highway. “Yesterday, for example, we left out of my place and drove an hour and a half to a field. We loaded four semi loads. Drove 20 minutes to another field and loaded 10 more. Drove a mile to another field and loaded four more. Then, when the operator’s done, he just drives home.”
Ok, but surely these aren’t equipped like a real truck
Not only do these forklifts go 75 mph, but they also have loads of real truck features. The interior looks far more like a proper truck than you might think. They have Air conditioning, power steering, and AM/FM radios with cassette decks built into every Roadrunner. Granted, a tape deck feels a little more like a harvesting combine than a modern pickup truck. That said, Bounds says that his nicest Hay Squeeze feels like a new Ford F-150.
Well, I guess they better have all these amenities because these monster forklifts cost over $100k, even for older models.