What is "Rear Ballast"? And why do you need it?
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  1. Top | #1
    Captain Hook Kennyd's Avatar
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    What is "Rear Ballast"? And why do you need it?

    Let me start by saying that this subject is often hotly debated. It is my intention to provide what I believe to be facts, and I will back them up by providing links and references when possible. It is not my intention to cause any controversy or flame wars.

    A few definitions from the Dictionary and Thesaurus - Merriam-Webster Online dictionary:

    Ballast - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    1
    : a heavy substance placed in such a way as to improve stability and control (as of the draft of a ship or the buoyancy of a balloon or submarine)

    2
    : something that gives stability (as in character or conduct)

    Fulcrum - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    a : prop; specifically : the support about which a lever turns
    So, this relates to us and our tractors how? Well, the ballast is what we use in the rear of our tractors to offset the weight that we often place on the front-usually with a FEL. The fulcrum or pivot point is the place on the tractor which balances the weight of the load on the front and the weight on the rear. I will illustrate this using example of forklifts since they are easier to find pictures of.

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    Here is rather good description of what we are talking about taken from this link: Why forklifts tip over (Sorry link is no longer active). Just substitute the word tractor for forklift:
    The forklift is basically like a child's see saw, the load that is picked up is counterbalanced by a counter weight at the other side. If the load is too heavy for the counter weight then it will pivot at the fulcrum (the forklift will tip over forwards). Careful consideration must be taken to get the load as near to the fulcrum as possible as any gap here will be exaggerated and the forklift will not be able to pick up as much.

    What we do not want on our tractors-is for all the weight of the load and tractor on the front axle, and that will happen if the rear wheels come off the ground and the front wheels become the fulcrum or pivot point as the pictures clearly show. Four main reasons we want to avoid this are:
    1) The front axle is not rated to carry that amount of weight and can fail either quickly, or slowly over time with leaking seals or worn bearings, knuckles and ties rod ends.
    2) The front axle pivots at the center, so the tractor could "fall" over to the left or right casing a tip-over condition.
    3) We only have brakes on the rear axle, so when it gets light then we loose braking ability. we also loose traction as the rear wheels get lighter.
    4) It's much harder on the steering system.

    In the forklift examples above, they show the fulcrum or pivot as the front wheels-but they are designed for that and generally the front wheels do not steer on a forklift-whereas we want to move this fulcrum or pivot further rearward so the the rear axle will carry the majority of the weight. How can that be accomplished? The ONLY way is to add weight BEHIND the rear axle. Loading the tires will help with traction, but will not necessarily properly ballast the machine because that weight is already on the ground-it will not become "ballast" until the rear tires are lifted off the ground-and by then it's to late!
    eagleeyetv, lindenj, RsZk and 5 others like this.
    Kenny

    -John Deere 3720 Deluxe Cab TLB
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  4. Top | #2
    Captain Hook Kennyd's Avatar
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    All this is just theory, show me some evidence!

    OK, here is some...

    This was posted elsewhere, but I do have written permission from the owner to use these pictures here:



    Some details/facts:

    Tractor: John Deere 4105
    Loader: John Deere 300cx
    Bucket: http://fieldquip.com.au/products-pag...4-in-1-bucket/ It is 6' wide and weights in at about 660 pounds!
    R4 tires, NOT loaded
    Rear implement: A "ripper" of unknown weight.

    So, lets analyze this a little:
    The bucket is way to heavy, it alone is about 400 pounds heavier than the stock bucket, and weighs almost half of the lift capacity alone. The ripper is probably about 150 pounds at best. You can see that when the operator started down the hill, the rear end got so light that it just went over into a endo, and the entire weight is now resting on the front axle and the FEL/bucket. Obviously during this transition ALL the weight was on the front axle for a short time, you can also see that the front wheels "folded" over. The owner/operator is very lucky the tractor did not tip over!
    Had this operator been more experienced, he could have just lowered the FEL slowly, but he panicked-and got off the machine to get help and take pictures-lucky for us . With more experience, he also probably would have had the bucket lower while traveling, or even backed down that steep hill.


    The owner is new to tractors-this is his first one. The dealer sold this setup to him, so who is really at fault? My answer is BOTH, here is why:

    Dealer: He should known better, and understand the product he sells and what's all needed to make it work properly and safely. He should have known the bucket was to heavy, and that the owner did not have proper ballast (the ripper). He should have informed the owner about the problems using that bucket and advised him not to buy it even it meant loosing a sale. A injured, paralyzed or dead customer will not be good for repeat business.

    Owner: He should have read the manuals that where included with his equipment, and stopped when things did not feel right.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_0074-2.jpg   IMG_0076-2.jpg   IMG_0079-2.jpg  
    Kenny

    -John Deere 3720 Deluxe Cab TLB
    FEL, MMM, Artillian 42" Forks and Modular Grapple, I-Match, Ballast Box, and lots of other STUFF.
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    Bolt on Grab Hooks and other cool stuff are now for sale!!

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    Captain Hook Kennyd's Avatar
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    So what does John Deere say about all this?

    Recently, a member ( Thanks Claudster! ) posted a .pdf document given to him by his dealer/salesman. It should be REQUIRED reading for every sales person and buyer IMHO.

    There is also a Ballast Calculator that JD made years ago, it runs in MS Excell.

    Both of these are attached below.




    Now, lets our owners manual-yes Let's look at the ever-so-popular 1026R with the H120 FEL for example (note that ballast information is in the loader manual, not the one for the tractor itself):

    Link to the online manual: OMW54640

    In section 15, "Prepare the Tractor" we find this chart:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    You will see that the minimum weight required is 506 pounds, and that also you should have 3 iron weights on each rear wheel! Sounds like overkill eh? Well maybe it is, but it does get the point across that you must have weight on the rear of these tractors to operate them safely and effectively. How many salesman know this information, relay it to the customers? My guess is very few.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    RsZk, Oberhaz, johnH123 and 4 others like this.
    Kenny

    -John Deere 3720 Deluxe Cab TLB
    FEL, MMM, Artillian 42" Forks and Modular Grapple, I-Match, Ballast Box, and lots of other STUFF.
    -John Deere 455 w/60" MMM


    Bolt on Grab Hooks and other cool stuff are now for sale!!

    Visit our YouTube Channel

    My Equipment:
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    Artillian 3K Forks, Grapple, Front-Hoe Bucket
    John Deere 455, 60" MMM

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    glc
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    Great job Ken!! This is just what we need. Maybe this will answer some recurring questions about 3PT ballasting.

    Greg
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    Keeper of the GTT Cookies dieselshadow's Avatar
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    Excellent article Kenny!
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    Excellent post indeed! I always fret when I see people operating tractors with limited to no weight in the back. Loaded tires/wheel weights are almost required in my book, but even that isn't close to enough for maxing out a loader.

    Thanks for the reminder!
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    Good point about the front axle piviot causing instability when the rear wheels come up, I didn't think of that. If you're used to a skid loader.... it's not as big of an issue if the rear wheels "bob" once in a while.
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    Great Stuff!
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    Kenny,

    Thanks for the detailed analysis of load vs ballast.

    When I looked at the pictures of the up-ended tractor, I thought, What does he have in that bucket? Imagine my surprise when I discovered the answer is Nothing.
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    SailorDon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adamski View Post
    When I looked at the pictures of the up-ended tractor, I thought, What does he have in that bucket? Imagine my surprise when I discovered the answer is Nothing.
    I thought the same thing when I looked at the pictures. Something like "Is he carrying a full load of pig iron in that bucket?"

    Closer inspection of the picture shows there is a lot of extra iron (or steel) in that empty bucket. There are 6 hydrualic cylinders. This design is like "2 buckets in one" and probably twice the weight of a basic bucket. It also seems like the width of the bucket extends significantly beyond the width of the wheels. That can be useful for carrying blocks of styrofoam, but not so good for a bucket full of wet sand.
    Sailor Don
    2012 1026R with ballasted R4's..................54D mower---H120 Front End Loader--- 49" Bucket

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