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John Deere Tractor Ballast Advice

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Lwayne
Join Date: Sep 2007
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2009-01-10          159267


Having spent quite a bit of time working with my dealer this past week I thought it worthwhile to share a few things they've advised me on correct tire pressure and ballast. I've researched these subjects before and find the answers are frequently vague; probably because of the wide amount of variables between real world conditions and research lab results. #1) My salesman regularly attends John Deere seminars and told me that customers often ignore the dead weight of loaders and cabs. This immediately throws off the 40%/60% front to back ratio for FWA tractors, especially considering how far the loader hangs forward of the front axle. Any and all weight on the back of the tractor is most beneficial to the front axle, not forcing it to become a fulcrum. In order to identify the proper traction to weight ratio the front and the back of the tractor must be scaled seperately, configured in their typical operating platform. A proper baseline can then be established for any potential need of ballast. Obviously, the USE of a loader requires additional rear ballast at all times. #2) My tire pressure was correctly set to the recommended specs. I mentioned to one of the mechanics that I'd have to let "some" air out of the tires because the tractor was riding merely on the centers of the lugs. He told me that his rule of thumb is to park with a lug directly on the concrete and let air out until the outside of that lug is pretty much touching the floor - only on the rear, though, as the front tires are supporting the loader (in my case) and whatever is in it. I know a lot of you are experienced operators and have your own ideas about these things but I also know there are a lot of Newbies surfing around that might appreciate the discussion.










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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
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2009-01-10          159269


Most JD manuals *require* loaded tires when a loader is installed, yet many dealers seem to allow the customer a choice. ....

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auerbach
Join Date: Sep 2007
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2009-01-10          159270


Questions

1. The "ballast" is liquid in the rears, right?

2. The higher the bucket is raised, the more weight is transfered from front to rear axles. Right?

3. On another topic, I use a tractor-battery-driven pump to ride around spraying. When I hold the wand vertical let's say the spray goes 10' above the reservoir level. If I raise the wand another 5' (by standing and raising the wand), how high would I expect the spray to reach? It's hard to tell by sight. ....

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Lwayne
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2009-01-10          159278


Auerbach: The ballast CAN be liquid in the rear tires. Technically, ballast is any weight you add for traction and/or stability. Most often it is fluid or cast iron for the rear and cast iron "suitcase" weights for the front. There are also various types of ballast boxes designed to be used on the 3ph (as well as any other 3ph implement with any weight). Yes, the higher you raise the bucket the more the weight is shifted to the back. But also the higher you raise the bucket the higher your center of gravity, making it easier to tip. Here again, having the proper air pressure in your rear tires can help take surplus weight off of the front differential. As far as your sprayer is concerned, my guess would be the power of the pump would determine how high you can raise your wand before the weight of the spray in the hose would overcome its spraying ability. ....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
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2009-01-10          159279


I haven't been a fan of liquid ballast for a long time. Tubes rusted to rims, repair people who would refuse to service a liqid balast tire, etc. My favorite rear ballast for a compact tractor is a box blade, easy on easy off.

Auer, your question about the sprayer wand. OK, my take on it would be if the sprayer pump were a positive displacement pump it would still spray it ten ft. above the nozzle wherever you held it but a fraction more power would be needed to run the pump. Now if the pump is a centrifigal, or however you spell it then probably the stream wouldn't push quite as high when you held the wand higher. Happy Saturday, Frank. ....

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
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2009-01-10          159281


Wayne, nice description. (But what is an FWA?)

Each tractor is a different animal though. And weight in a tire or on the axle is different than having a ballast consisting of an implement that when lowered and sitting on the ground no longer acts as a weight. Other considerations are like my 4wd machine with SuperSteer; it has the axle moved forward about 8" compared to a 2wd. New Holland says that 4wd models need 40-45% of total weight over the front axle.

And in the context of newbies, we're talking using the machine on stable, level ground. Adding weight of any kind depending on where placed can greatly affect the center of gravity. Example: driving with an implement raised whether a loader or rear box blade on an incline or side hill can result in a roll over.

Auer you are right, raising the loader does increase the weight on the rear. ....

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Lwayne
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2009-01-10          159285


EW: FWA = Front Wheel Assist. ....

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kwschumm
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2009-01-10          159286


Just because people aren't fans of loaded tires doesn't mean they are a bad idea. IIRC, the JD manual for my machine says loaded tires *and* extra suitcase weights or ballast box. You don't have to fill with calcium chloride anymore, there are noncorrosive options. ....

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earthwrks
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2009-01-10          159291


KW: Are you referring to my post? ....

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kwschumm
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2009-01-10          159295


EW, the guys with experience know about ballasting, but when new guys with their first tractor are advised to perhaps ignore what the manufacturer states as a requirement it's easy to get in trouble (LWayne, I'm not referring to you either, but lots of different people read these threads and it seems like many don't read their manual).

Personally, I like loaded tires. I'm more experienced than when I got my tractor 5-6 years ago, and understand ballasting a lot better than I did then, but have always felt stable while using the loader with loaded tires. Having a box scraper hanging off the rear of the tractor as ballast is a pain around here since it makes it more difficult to maneuver around all the trees. ....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
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2009-01-11          159299


Kwschumm,

This is a very useful discussion pertaining to ballast. I don't have much to add, but I would like to make one short comment.

Compact tractor owners use their tractors for many different projects.....some light....some heavy. The one-tractor-owner has to be able to convert his equipment to fit the job. Ballast is absolutely necessary when using the loader. But this added weight is harmful when traveling across a finished lawn.

I prefer a ballast system that's easy to remove and re-install as needed. Loaded tires don't fall into this category. I consider loaded tires as one of those things that belongs on a dedicated machine, such as a Tractor-Loader-Backhoe (TLB)........which few of us can afford, or have room for. The great majority of us need to have more flexibility with our equipment.

Joel


....

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kwschumm
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2009-01-11          159303


The JD 430 loader manual has many pages dedicated to proper ballasting, detailing many combinations of tractor models, tractor drive types, tire types and tire width settings. Nearly all of them specify that loader use is NOT APPROVED without liquid ballast. In addition to the tire loading they also specify additional rear ballast in the form of wheel weights or ballast boxes.

If I was a JD dealer and sold a tractor+loader to a customer who refused to have the tires loaded they would be signing a liability waiver. ....

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Lwayne
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2009-01-11          159321


When I was researching this topic a few years ago one website published by an ag university found the following: Cast Iron weight #1, No weight #2, Fluid weight #3. This test was done on pull type, ground engaging implements and did not pertain to loaders. They were measuring tire slippage. The thrust of the publication was that fluid adds buoyancy, making tires less flexible, thereby giving them less traction. My take on this is you HAVE to adjust your tire pressure to compensate for ballast. You can't do one without the other. If you put fluid in your tires, for example, IMHO you should adjust your tire pressure enough to allow the bottom of the tires adequate ground contact. ....

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earthwrks
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2009-01-12          159331


Wayne: You say "buoyancy". I don't think that is the right term in the context of making tires harder or not flexible. Buoyancy is defined by pressure exterting up on a body by gasses or liquids surrounding it. A filled tire is actually doing the opposite. In fact an air-filled tire would be more buoyant than a filled tire.

As far as filled tires go and horsepower, I feel there would be a drop in useable HP if only due to the added weight and the inertia required to spin the tire with all that liguid rolling around inside. ....

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hardwood
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2009-01-12          159332


The legal department at John deere likely had more to do with their suggestion of loaded tires for the 430 loader than any engeneeriung departmant did. I agree with Joel on being able to lighten a tractor up as another reason I don't like filled tires. Happy Monday. Frank. ....

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kwschumm
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2009-01-12          159333


The JD legal department made the engineers put together the detailed ballast tables in the manual, but I somehow doubt the lawyers populated the tables with data.

Frank, check your 430 manual. It specifies a *lot* more rear weight than most people use. I can't see the advantage of making a tractor so rear heavy it pulls wheelies :) ....

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DRankin
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2009-01-12          159340


Legal department not withstanding, this is why you need rear ballast.

Kids.... don't try this at home. ....

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AC5ZO
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2009-01-12          159343


I have liquid ballast in the rear tires of my tractor, and I can easily get loads on the front end loader that will make my rear wheels spin. There is not enough weight left on them to drive the tractor. 4WD is required in these marginal conditions, however this slippage is just a warning that I need to add additional ballast to the 3PH, in my case. I can attach a box scraper or a ballast box.

I have encountered this condition even while digging a hole and the bucket is working in compacted soil. You quickly understand what that unstable feeling feels like. The JD legal department has no say over the laws of physics.

With respect to tire pressure, I have R4 tires, and I can barely tell if they have air or not without a pressure gage. They are so stiff, that the air seems to be an afterthought. These tires are also very wide, so they are still "buoyant" to a degree. Ultimately this comes down to how much weight the tractor and load combined compares to the square footage of tire contact area. When I have a load that can lift most of the weight off the rear tires, all of that weight transfers onto the front tires and their much smaller contact patch. ....

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yooperpete
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2009-01-12          159348


Rear ballast is a big issue that many overlook and run into trouble or are dangerously near the edge without knowing it. I agree that liquid in the rears is good for heavy duty applications but sure can put a footprint when doing light duty jobs like mowing or when using rear implements that don't require it. (Examples) Rear ballast can overly compress the soil when doing gardening and when establishing grade and doing lawn installation.

I'm planning to offer a ballast system by springtime that is easily removeable and affordable. I'm in proto-typing and testing stages. When it is ready it will appear in my other TP Bad River ad. ....

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DRankin
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2009-01-12          159351


Another thing most folks overlook......

The tires on many compact tractors are not big enough to hold significant water weight. For example, filling the tires on a Kubota BX or comparable small tractor are a serious waste of time and money.

I memory serves, when I tried filled tires on my Deere 4100 (which are much larger than the BX type tires) they gained about 60 pounds apeice.... just enough to make them too heavy to handle by a normal human.... but not enough to seriously help with the ballast needs.

Deere says my tractor needs 1200# of ballast. Loaded tires in my case are a drop in the bucket. I would still need 1080# more ballast.

If I am going to sling 1080# off the rear end, I might as well cut to the chase and sling the whole 1200#.

Here is a simplified look at ballast needs. When I added a 600 pound empty weight loader to the tractor in the picture above, it turned it into a teeter-totter with the front end too heavy. That is why I could lift the rear end off the ground.

In order to bring the tractor back into some sort of balance, I had to add 600+ pounds to the rear end.

Now if I want to fill the bucket with 600 pounds of dirt I have just pushed the teeter-totter back to the front end.

So now I need ANOTHER 600 pounds (total 1200 pounds) of rear ballast to counter the load of dirt AND the dead weight of the loader.

Hanging a 400 pound box blade isn't going to cut the mustard here.

In fairness, I have noticed that when operating on totally flat ground it is a lot easier to get away with light ballast. I don't have that luxury.
....

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Lwayne
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2009-01-12          159369


Earthworks: Point taken - I agree. I must have been having a senior moment. The term's meaning was turned around. I should have written "less buoyant."

On a related subject, had a chance to use my 5101E for the first time today. Picked up a pallet @ around 3,000#, put her in reverse without MFWD engaged and quickly went nowhere. The rear was off the floor enough that there was no traction! That settles that. JD only recommends 2 cast weights per wheel; total 380#. No rim guard available around here. I was hoping to not use calcium chloride. Guess I'll order tubes and have them filled. 89 gallons per tire should add at least 1,000# per tire. They don't make the 542 loader any more so I had to go with the 563, which is about a foot longer so that doesn't help either. ....

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jdgreen
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2009-01-12          159372


There are other alternatives to calcium chloride for your tires. We use magnesium chloride which is just as heavy, but is less corrosive than calcium. We also use windshield washer fluid or ordinary engine antifreeze for customers that are really against the two "salt" based chlorides. you lose about 2-3 lbs per gallon with them though. Also, calculating the amount of weight needed is not really on a one-to-one ratio in comparison to the amount of weight you want to lift with the loader. As mentioned above, there is a teeter-totter effect, but the pivot point is not in the center of this equation in most cases. The pivot poin is the front tires and the load in the bucket is alot closer to the pivot point than the back wheels. Therefore, 500 lbs in the rear tires has more than a 500 lb effect on the bucket. Also, 500 lbs on the hitch has far greater effect than 500 lbs in the tires. There are too many variables to make specific recommendations for all situations. Length of loader past front wheels, tractor wheel base, Tire size, length of implement used for ballast all play into this. Not to mention type of terrain you operate on will greatly affect amount of ballast needed. Using common sense and keeping loads as low to the ground as possible are the best safety rules. ....

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DRankin
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2009-01-12          159379


Add to your list of variables wheelbase and tractor construction.

My 4115 is longer than the 4100 that preceded it and is less sensitive to light ballast because the ballast I do carry has a longer "arm" and is more effective.

And many CUT's, mine included, have transmission and axle housings cast from aluminum. Last I checked Kioti's are all cast iron. A Kioti comparable in size to my 4115 is several hundred pounds heavier in the rear due to its cast iron components.

A Kioti might get by with just a box blade. ....

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Murf
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2009-01-13          159396


It also makes a difference in what you have for an implement hanging of the 3pth.

In my case my box blade is nearly 1,100 pounds, add to that the distance that the box hangs out past the hitch and the back wheels aren't really going anywhere.

Especially with me in the drivers seat. LOL

In my case also, and without measuring but based on a picture of it I'm looking at, I'd say the distance from the center of the back wheels to the center of the front wheels is almost exactly the same as the distance from front wheels to the FEL bucket.

Best of luck. ....

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AC5ZO
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2009-01-13          159419


If I have a really heavy load to move, I install my frame mounted backhoe. I have never needed more ballast with that hunk of iron on the back of the tractor. The only problem is the increased length.

With respect to the tire tracks, I don't have a lot of grass to worry about. We all have different needs and it is nice that we can customize our tractors to suit those.

Are the sugar based ballast fluids still available? ....

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SamSpade
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2009-01-13          159427


Drankin,

You mentioned you only got an extra 60 lbs when you filled the tires on your 4100? What size tire was that? With water being 8 lbs per gallon and Calcium being 11.5 lbs per gallon, it doesn't sound like you got many gallons into the tires. I am surprised because when I checked, my 13.6-28 R1s are supposed to hold about 850 lbs of rim guard (11 lbs per gallon).[Edit: corrected weight of two 13.6-28 R1 tires filled 75% with rim guard is 920 lbs from the Rim Guard chart of tire sizes / weights]

I never take off my FEL and I don't do any finish mowing, so loaded tires make a lot of sense to me. I do need to add an impliment like a box blade or backhoe on the back to use the full capacity of my FEL. But, for many tasks, I don't need more ballast than I have in the tires. Since I don't have any reason not to want the ballast, it's more convenient for me to have the weight in the tires. It does make it more dificult to change the width of my wheel pattern though. ....


Link:   Rim Guard table of weights by tire size

 
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DRankin
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2009-01-13          159430


You have 28 inch rims? I have 16 inch rims. I basically have the same size tires you would find on a 1/2 ton pick-up.

Saying that.... my memory might be faulty. It may have been more like 80-90 pounds, but the point is that my wheel weights give me 150 pounds per wheel.

I can pull the weights off in a few minutes and handle the tires myself instead of calling a commercial tire service truck. ....

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Lwayne
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2009-01-14          159452


SamSpade: How full do you fill your tires? My 13.6 x 28 R1's were supposed to hold 43 gallons @ 75% full; that's 473# using 11# per gallon. Did you mean both tires? Just curious. ....

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hardwood
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2009-01-14          159453


A lot has been discussed on proper ballast with a FEL, but nothing has been said about proper front ballast with heavy rear mount tools. This used to be a real concern for me with farm tractors using heavy wide three point equipment. I just drop the bucket, but have never had the loader itself off the 4310 so I've always had enough front end weight for rotary cutters , tillers, etc. It's been a good discussion with many having their favorite ways of ballasting, but it all boils down to nothing more than good common sense. If it seems risky, then it likely is. Frank. ....

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SamSpade
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2009-01-14          159454


That was both tires 75% full. And I am going on the estimated weights on the Rim Guard site. I did not weigh my tires.

Have you got rim guard or calcium in yours? For 13.6 - 28s Rim Guard estimates 460 lbs per tire at 75% fluid. I may have done the math wrong in my earlier post, I think I said eight something. Should be 920 lbs, even better.

I didn't put a lot of thought into Calcium vs Rim Guard. Rim Guard is all my dealer offered. I am just as happy though. I don't like the idea of a puncture resulting in sterilizing the ground where it spills. I don't know if the calcium is safe for rims or not, but it is nice to know that rim guard is not corrosive.

Samuel ....


Link:   Rim Guard Tire size to fluid weight chart

 
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Lwayne
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2009-01-14          159456


SS: There isn't anything except calcium chloride available locally. I asked about Rim Guard but they all said nobody wants to spring for the seperate pump, tanks, etc. I just traded, so get to go through it all over again. Others have suggested anti freeze products but i'm going the c.c. route and be done with it. ....

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Murf
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2009-01-14          159457


Quote:
Originally Posted by SamSpade | view 159427
..... my 13.6-28 R1s are supposed to hold about 850 lbs of rim guard (11 lbs per gallon).


Houston, I think we have a problem here ......

A JD4100 is a little 19hp tractor that was originally equipped with 9.5-16 rear tires and 5.00-12 front tires.

A 9.5-16 tire has a rolling circumference of 99 inches.

A 13.6-28 tire has a rolling circumference of 153 inches.

That is more than 50% larger and 18 inches bigger in diameter.

My 40hp tractor only has 14.9-24's on it, and it's a MUCH bigger frame machine than a 4100 is. Normally you don't find 28 inch rubber on anything smaller than about a 85 to 100hp machine.

Better double check the numbers.


Best of luck. ....

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SamSpade
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2009-01-14          159460


Yes, my bad.

I assumed that because DRankin's 4100 was a 4XXX model # it would be a member of the same large frame compact family as my 4320 and have similar sized tires. It wasn't until later when I looked up the specs on a 4100 that I saw why his tires filled would add so much less ballast than my 13.6-28s. I should have known better than to assume similar model numbers would mean similar machines. ....

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DRankin
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 5111 Northern Nevada
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2009-01-19          159589


Well..... I pulled my rear weight stack off the 3 point hitch this weekend so I could change the tranny fluid.

Before you ask... Regular HYGard NOT Low-Vis, thank you very much......

Anyway, since I had the 400+ pounds I normally carry removed from the three point I thought I would double check my memory. I went to the bottom of the driveway where I keep a pile of crushed rock for road repair and picked up a full scoop.

Sure enough, on flat ground, in 2wd the tractor went nowhere. So I put it in 4wd, backed away from the pile to a smoother surface and tried it again in 2wd. No go. Rear tires just spun.

Oh, BTW, I still had 300 pound of wheel weights on the tractor and 300 pounds of me in the seat.

600 pounds of rear ballast is not enough for loader work, at least of my tractor. ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7190 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2009-01-19          159590


The short version of a long story is that I took the big box blade (~1,100 pounds) off the back of my tractor recently, and put in it's stead a ~500 pound block of steel that is barely further back than the lift arms themselves.

With ~500 pounds of steel, and me (225 pounds) in the seat, the tractor got really light in the rear just picking up compacted blocks of snow doing some clean up here this past weekend.

It also had next to no traction without the usual ballast while using the bucket to clear some new fallen snow.

The ballast sure makes a huge difference!

Best of luck. ....

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2009-01-19          159607


I'm not sure if Murf intended to say it or not but, that 300# over the seat (Rankin) has a different total effect than the 300# off the rear.

The weight off the rear becomes leverage which in effect becomes even more weight.

In this case there are really two fulcrums: first the front wheels. Then, when the rear wheels touch the ground and withstand compression to the point they support all the weight (including the ground resistance), then the rear wheels become a fulcrum.

That said, with relation to the rear fulcrum that 300# if moved just another foot has the effect of placing 600# there. And if you moved it another foot that would equal 900#.

And that's why Murf noticed a change when he switched out the box blade. Is that what you meant Murf ol' boy? ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
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2009-01-19          159609


Quote:
Originally Posted by earthwrks | view 159607
And if you moved it another foot that would equal 900#.And that's why Murf noticed a change when he switched out the box blade. Is that what you meant Murf ol' boy?


That and the fact that the 1,000 pound box blade was (center of mass) probably another 2' back from the steel block that only weighs HALF as much.

Hmmmmm...... maybe we should retrofit the old style tractor seats and sit behind the rear axle a few feet? LOL

Best of luck. ....

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2009-01-19          159610


Murfy--w-h-y y-o-u!

You know the old timey tractors started out that way--sitting on the rear. Some you even stood on. But that was more or less for working the levers. Safety and operator ergonomics hadn't been invented yet. I'm sure though that right after the first injury claim filed by Mr. Ima Stubnow a new industry was created of liability lawyering, followed soon after by liablity insurance salesmen LOL ....

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