Last year saw Penny Hydraulics launch a fully hydraulic crane called the FV500 that will slew through 360° and lift 500kg at its full extension of 1.5m. “That’s despite the fact that it weighs less than 85kg,” says Short.


Also on sale is the fully hydraulic FV1200 which is capable of hoisting 1.2 tonnes, again at 1.5m. That’s not its maximum reach, however; it will lift 250kg at a full 4.0m and will also raise 500kg at 3.4m. Weighing less than 200kg in its standard configuration, it too will slew through 360° and the optional hydraulic or electric winch enables it to raise and lower loads below ground level. Both the foregoing models form part of the company’s Swing Lift range.



Penny has also introduced a lightweight, portable 500kg-capacity davit crane designed to haul heavy items such as pumps up and down access shafts. It can be deployed if a van or pick-up cannot get close enough to a particular location.

Weighing 47kg in total it can be taken out of the vehicle, carried to the shaft and put together next to it. The largest sub-assembly weighs 24kg, the company points out, which means that all the components can be lifted physically without breaching the Manual Handling regulations. Incorporating an electric winch, the crane allows items to be lowered as much as 16m below ground level.



One of the best-known names in the vehicle-mounted crane business is of course Hiab. Although it’s mainly associated with lorry loaders designed to be fitted to heavy trucks, its range also encompasses a selection of smaller models that can be mounted on light commercials.

The 013 T-1, for instance, has a maximum lifting capacity of almost a tonne at a 1.2m outreach. At a 2.1m-plus outreach its capacity falls to a, still respectable, 565kg. Capable of slewing through 322°, it weighs 145kg. Stabilising equipment adds a further 12kg to 20kg to the total. “The stabiliser leg should be used when the crane is extended,” advises service support manager, Craig Judge. That lessens the risk of the vehicle toppling over when something heavy is being lifted.

So who employs such a crane? “It’s popular with local authorities who may want to use it to, for example, pick up or drop off an old washing machine,” he says. “Railway maintenance contractors use it too, for lifting and lowering sleepers.” It’s got more than enough capacity for both sorts of task.

An even lighter model is the 008 T-1. It will hoist a maximum 840kg, at 1.1m, and raise 480kg at.1.9m. Like its larger stablemate, it will slew through 322°. It weighs 125kg, with stabilisers bumping up that figure to from 12kg to 15kg.

Not to be outdone, HMF has a presence at the lighter end of the crane market too. Its 50-T-M will raise a maximum 430kg, at 1.2m, and 250kg at a maximum outreach of 2.0m. Weighing a modest 62kg, it can slew through 360°. HMF’s portfolio also includes tail-lifts able to handle loads of 500kg or 750kg.



An alternative to both a tail-lift and a crane may be to use a ramp, assuming of course that a load is capable of being wheeled up it and there’s sufficient room for the ramp to be deployed.

Ramp supplier WM System, for example, offers no less than 600 different models — they go up in 50mm widths and lengths — with capacities of up to no less than 1,800kg depending on the version you choose. The ramps are alloy — it’s a one-man job to deploy them, says the company — but galvanised steel is available as an alternative. They weigh from 40kg to 125kg and demountable or semi-permanent versions can be specified.

Ramps have the advantages that they won’t drain your battery and don’t need the sort of servicing that a tail-lift or a crane does. Look after them and they’ll last; they may even outlast your van.



If a tail-lift doesn’t fit the bill then there is no shortage of alternatives.