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Discussion Starter #1
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.

fork_19.gif counterweight.png 56.gif see-saw.gif

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is rather good description of what we are talking about taken from this link: Why forklifts tip over (Sorry link is no longer active).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!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
All this is just theory, show me some evidence!

OK, here is some...:bash: :laugh:

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-page/front-end-loader-attachments/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.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
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 :read 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:
1023-1026 Minimum Ballast.JPG

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.
 

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Great job Ken!!:thumbup1gif: This is just what we need. Maybe this will answer some recurring questions about 3PT ballasting.

Greg
 

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Excellent article Kenny! :thumbup1gif:
 

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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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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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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.
 

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Wouldnt it also be true that the further back you have your ballast, the less weight is required. In otherwords by extending a balast box 6" more back with an imatch turns 400lbs into 450lbs or so? basically moving the fulcrum point?
 
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Wouldnt it also be true that the further back you have your ballast, the less weight is required. In otherwords by extending a balast box 6" more back with an imatch turns 400lbs into 450lbs or so? basically moving the fulcrum point?
Absolutely correct Todd, great point.
 
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Not moving the fulcrum point (your rear axle), but extending your lever. :good2:
 

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Thank you Kenny

I am receiving my 1026 r tomorrow and while my sales person said my rear tires were weighted I think I will ask a few more questions when he brings my rig in.

Great stuff

Big mike
 

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Even with just blower on the front I would not be with out rear ballast.

Doug
 

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Even with just blower on the front I would not be with out rear ballast.

Doug
Exactly. The machine might handle it fine but the stress it puts on the front axle is immense.
 

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Good start but terminology seems misused. First off loaded rear tires DO NOT have to be airborne to be ballast. Does a submarine have to be airborne for its ballast to work? This ballast will not take weight off the front axle but it will act to oppose being lifted off the ground.

The main point seems to be by making your ballast box airborne you are creating a counterweight to the FEL by virtue of two opposing levers. A counterweight will remove or balance weight from the front axle, in this case, to the fulcrum or the rear axle depending on how much counterweight is used at the other end of the lever.
 

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I finally made myself a rear ballast for my 655. Last month I had a foundation put in for my garage; 16'x24', the day they poured the walls for the foundation, I had made myself a mold out of scrap plywood & 2x4's. So with the extra concrete, I had them fill my mold. I estimate it weighs about 480 lbs. I made some brackets and bought two pins to attach to the lower arms of my three point hitch. The only mistake I made is that I didn't place those two pins high enough so that when I lower the weight I have to set it on a couple of blocks of 4x4's.

IMG_0024a.jpg
 
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I finally made myself a rear ballast for my 655. Last month I had a foundation put in for my garage; 16'x24', the day they poured the walls for the foundation, I had made myself a mold out of scrap plywood & 2x4's. So with the extra concrete, I had them fill my mold. I estimate it weighs about 480 lbs. I made some brackets and bought two pins to attach to the lower arms of my three point hitch. The only mistake I made is that I didn't place those two pins high enough so that when I lower the weight I have to set it on a couple of blocks of 4x4's.

View attachment 14121
Nice job RL. Is the top link attachment tied to the lower pins inside the concrete somehow?

Maybe this needs a new thread?
 
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I finally made myself a rear ballast for my 655. Last month I had a foundation put in for my garage; 16'x24', the day they poured the walls for the foundation, I had made myself a mold out of scrap plywood & 2x4's. So with the extra concrete, I had them fill my mold. I estimate it weighs about 480 lbs. I made some brackets and bought two pins to attach to the lower arms of my three point hitch. The only mistake I made is that I didn't place those two pins high enough so that when I lower the weight I have to set it on a couple of blocks of 4x4's.

View attachment 14121
A very nice job!
 
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