Carver Equipment, Hwy 301 South, Dunn, NC  28334
                                          910-892-7171    910-891-7171(fax) 
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Why add weight to the tractor? Tell me more.

A tractor can use its HORSEPOWER only if it can put the power to use on the ground.  If tires are slipping and spinning -- the horsepower is being "wasted" and becomes a "negative factor."

"Negative factor" - If your tires are slipping and/or spinning:

You will prematurely wear off the tire tread.  You are using fuel that is not producing "work/task achievement" value.  You are not as safe as you would be if the tractor had a firm footing with the surface.  You are doing serious damage to the turf grass because tire slippage causes the tire tread to "twist up" the ground surface area under the tread. Tire spinning actually "burns" the grass and causes bear spots very quickly.

Weight stabilizes tractor when on slopes and when three point hitch implements are raised. In other words, it helps keep the tractor tires "on the ground."


Example of benefit: There are always exceptions -- but it is my experience... A tractor with loader, doing a demanding bucket filling and dumping task , with proper weighting will OUTPERFORM a non weighted tractor by approximately 100%. "Yep"
.
If you measure the payload material moved vs. the time (alone) you'll be amazed. Benefit: 50% less hours on the meter = less investment depreciation, service/maintenance expense, tire wear, operator time at the wheel.  The same benefits are experience with tillage tools and in all adverse weather and step slope situations.  Remember, There are always exceptions. 

Slippage / Spinning Tires
Tire slippage is a difficult occurrence to recognize. Often times an operator does not know that SLIPPAGE is occurring. I have been told that most tractor are experiencing 10% to 20% tire slippage most of the time they are pulling any type load. Very few operators (except framers) understand this point and take careful "Weighting" measures to correct it. If you'll take a look at most tractors at the farm -- you'll see lots of weights on the front bumper, front tires, rear wheels (of cast iron) and ballast inside tie tires (including the big dual wheels).

  Compacting Issues
Lots of folks argue that you should keep your tractor "as light" as possible to avoid soil compacting. My response is: In a perfect "mowing" world where to lawn is always level -- never a slope; always dry -- never any dew, rain, wet spots; always plenty of time to go real slow -- never a need to "get the job done now"; and when you may have a "mowing grass unit" that will never do another task -- maybe the argument is valid. My experience dictates to advise -- "BULL." The positive aspects of a properly weighted tractor will help you avoid many more turf grass and lawn care issues than a "light spinning tires tractor causes." If you do have compacting -- get a core aerator and you'll have enough traction to pull it properly.

  How to add weight to a tractor.
1. Sit in the seat. Fill the fuel tank.

2. Add wheels weights, front and rear.
3. Add ballast inside the tires.

4. Add front bumpers, grille guards.

5. Install loader and mounting frame as well as other implements and 
attachments.

6. Add weight boxes, drums or carriers to the rear of the tractor on the 
three point hitch. If this is done, I like to caution folks to adequately protect their 
hydraulic system, housings and tires. This may be accomplished with good 
(swing side to side) stabilizers and an extra "lock up" chain or bracket 
protecting the lift cylinders.

7. Solid Rubber Tires. These are not practical in most homeowner situations 
because of a very rough-stiff ride, far less traction because of "no flexibility at the surface." Advantage is very heavy and never a flat.


Why use ballast?
Adds weight to the tractor at the ground level, inexpensive, does not increase the size dimensions of the tractors as it increases performance. Weight at ground level serves to increase traction on every pulling tire/wheel.  Weight at ground level enhances "lower center of gravity" for safety consideration.

What is ballast inside the tires?

Water. Very inexpensive but only used in NO FREEZE zones. Add a little 
automotive ant-freeze as corrosion fighter.

Water and antifreeze. Inexpensive, little or no corrosion issues.

"Calcium chloride type mix". (costly - most density = most weight, corrosive 
(if leakage occurs) - advantage NO FREEZE, MOST WEIGHT or

Foam. Expensive, reduces traction, stiffens ride. Foam is used often on 
construction sites in all rubber tired construction equipment where flat tire 
are a major production problem.

Who installs ballast inside the tires?
A professional who is fully equipped and knowledgeable and trained about the safety, freezing, filling, pressure, chemical issues related to the practice.  This professional is usually found at a tire sales/service company that serves farmers and contractors. Many farm equipment dealerships have "on board" staff who are trained in the practice.  Most suburban automotive tire stores in metro areas will have NO STAFF familiar with the practice. Some farmers and contractors have service staff to perform the installation of ballast at the work site.

   Cost to install ballast?

We use local tire service centers. They come to our store with a truck equipped with a tank of mixed liquid. The operator uses a pump to install ballast into the tires as requested and bleeds the air "off" as it is filling. The process usually take 45 minutes per tractor and cost from $50. to $200. Depending on their sizes and mix. The more antifreeze the higher the cost.

How is ballast installed ?
1. The valve stem is removed from the tire. 

2. The air is allowed is escape and the tire goes "nearly" flat, but not so 
much as to "break the seal" around the inside rime of wheel.

3. An adapter fitting is used to connect the tire valve stem to a garden hose 
female end.

4. Antifreeze is then poured or pumped into the tire, followed by water being added by the hose pressure or a pump. This process takes a long long time if done with out a pump and requires constant attention. The air being trapped inside the tire, as it is filling, has to be "bled off" frequently to avoid "too much pressure inside the tire". The liquid displaces the escaping air. The tire is filled to 70%-80% therefore leaving enough air space inside the tire to adjust and change air pressures, to improve traction and to protect the tire. Tire pressures with ballast filled tires should be monitored very carefully to insure that the best traction "roll/shape at the bottom of the tire" is achieved to perform the required task of the tractor. Pressure is usually less than tires without ballast and should be determined by tire professional consulting with the tire specification and manufactures guides. 

  Disadvantages and cautions of adding ballast inside tires
FIRST and FOREMOST-Ballast is not recommended by some tractor manufactures on certain model and with use with some implements. They may even say it OK for the rear but not for the front. Some treads are OK, others not. Consult your operators manual for detail as warranty issues may be applicable.

1. Heavier load to manhandle when changing or adjusting tire width/track 
settings.  Heavier load to trailer.  Compacting issue arguments.

2. If you puncture the tire ---- "a liquid leak," Note usually a plug works.
If you have lots of flats, I suggest that you 1. Clean up your yard or 2. Do 
not install ballast and 3. add weight in other forms.

3. With "calcium chloride" -- If you do not take extra good care of your 
wheels,  watch for leaks. Rim/Wheel corrosion will appear and begin a slow 
process of eating away at the wheel metal.

4. With water and antifreeze -- If you do not have the proper mix. Tires 
will freeze solid. If you move the tractor with frozen tires - you will 
destroy the tires from within by the ice cutting up or bursting through the 
inside wall of the tires. We have never had a corrosive issue when we use 
automotive type antifreeze. Some tire professionals use "alcohol" type 
antifreeze (it cost less than automotive type) but has no corrosion 
preventing additives. We have not had any problems with "the alcohol" type 
either.

5. Tires should never be 100% filled with ballast. This would cause loss of 
traction and tire damage. They should be filled to approx. 70%-80% leaving 
ample room for tire flexibility and "grab power" of the treads.

6. Always have an experience tire profession fill tires with ballast and 
advise them to the temperature freeze protection level you desire.

What If I Change My Mind and Don't Want Ballast - after it is installed?

Remove the valve stem and drain it out.   Carefully dispose of the liquid. Refill the tire with air.