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ballast questions

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by Calamari, Oct 23, 2005.

  1. Calamari

    Calamari Member
    Messages: 36

    I have an f-250 w/PSD and 8' Fisher. I've seen many comments regarding ballast throughout the site, but haven't been able to find an explaination about it.

    Is it needed to counter the weight the plow adds? If so, shouldn't it be placed as far back in the bed as possible? Is it needed to assist truck through deep snow? How is the amount of ballast determined? Around here sand is mixed with salt, so I don't want to use it in the bed of the truck. Any other suggestions?

    Got down to 35 degress just north of Boston last night. First frost will be this week! pumpkin:
  2. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    By the manufacturer.
    Concrete blocks.
  3. The Boss

    The Boss 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,099

    Welcome to plowsite!
    Ballast is used to counter the weight of a snowplow. Typically, it's supposed to be put above and between the rear wheels and tailgate. I persaonally set mine directly above the rear wheels due to having to put my 2-stage in the bed as well. I usually just use salt for my ballast.
  4. Killswitch

    Killswitch Senior Member
    Messages: 246

    Recommended weight is 3/4 the weight of the plow or thereabouts.

    I uses 4 to 500 lbs of bagged play sand for a 750 pound rig.

    I like the sand because its cheap, available if stuck, and for emergency ice management situations.

    I did have occassion to pick up some 2x2 flat patio blocks this year and for as heavy as they are a short stack 2 wide, and maybe 3 tall would provide some good weight cheap, and keep the bed relatively organized for other uses. I swear they weighed well over fifty pounds each....Id say closer to 75/80

    But Im sticking with the sand.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2005
  5. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    I agree with the 3/4 of plow weight. I personally only use about 50%, around 350lbs. I have read a lot of posts on here where people say they are using what I consider an outrageous amount of weight. At some point you are just overworking the truck, wasting fuel and using up the life of your springs, shocks, wheel bearings, not to mention brakes. And increasing your stopping distance, which is a big concern when you are driving in poor road conditions, poor visibility with 8 feet of sharp-edged steel hanging off the front of your truck. So when Mrs. Nitwit slides out in front of you , you will hit her that much harder. A reasonable amount of ballast will actually improve your stopping ability as it transfers some weight back to the rear brakes, but too much weight will definitely increase your stopping distance locked up or not. I'm sure 1000 lbs will make it feel like its got better traction and pushing ability, but it is really overdoing it. And what people refuse to understand is the counterweight theory goes out the window when you drop the plow and take 700 lbs off the front axle. If you place your weight directly over the rear wheels you will help with traction, behind the wheels helps traction and very slightly helps unload the front axle, but it is not a cantilever like people think, The front axle still has to carry that plow no matter how hard you push down on the rear wheels. In front of the rear wheels (which I have seen) is a waste of time altogether. Another thing to consider is to use ballast that is secure in the event of an accident, or even just hitting snowbanks. A cinderblock through your back window is a headache, or even worse coming out and hitting someone else.
    So now all the guys who believe you need 1000 lbs or more will post and say I'm an idiot because I don't think you need a half a ton in a truck, even though I presented my reasoning. So, go ahead.
  6. Calamari

    Calamari Member
    Messages: 36


    Super info for this NFG. Thanks for all your help thus far.
  7. 85F150

    85F150 Senior Member
    Messages: 340

    the cheapest would be to just get some burlap bags and fill them with sand if you have property to take the dirt from. A friend that runs a tree company fills his bed with wood but has issues with people stealing it form him when the truck is parked at various stores. I run weight in front of the rear axle on one of my DD trucks but it is just to help it ride smoother as a shortbed 3/4 ton empty truck sucks. But mainly my weight ahead of the rear wheels is my toolbox. In the winter i run a couple rows of sand in front of the tailgate.
  8. tessdad

    tessdad Member
    from S.E. MA
    Messages: 71

    What I like to use is sand/salt mix, in 5 gallon buckets with covers. The covers keep the salt away from the truck, and keep it usable, not frozen or melted togeather. The handle allows you to adjust the amount of weight your using, and the ease of removing them from the truck between storms.
    I cut some PT planks that fit into the notches in my bed linner, to corral the buckets, and keep them from shifting.
  9. danno

    danno Senior Member
    Messages: 401

    Sand bags are the best! Will give you traction in the bed, and if needed, around the tires !;)
  10. douglasl330

    douglasl330 Senior Member
    Messages: 356


    I used about 700# over the rear wheels(in a 4'x4' configuation) I have used many things frome old engine blocks to scuba tanks- but the buckets of sand which you can get sand most of the time from your DPW and two or three large logs are what I ran last couple of winters with no problems.
  11. Scott R

    Scott R Member
    Messages: 60

    Just another comment on how we all differ and this is what makes us all individauls.
    I run about 950 lbs of railroad rail as close to "over" the rear wheels. I have welded brackets up under the frame that holds the rail in a "nesting" pattern.
    I find under most conditions it adds some traction to the rear, however, it makes it money when I get the front end into a ditch or over an edge, the plow is now in full lift position, therefore transfering most of the tractive effort onto the front axle, this helps get a bite from the rear locker.

    Fore whats it's worth, the 950 lbe pulls down on my springs 5/16 ths of an inch, and my springs are 53 years old :) Not an issue. My plow adds about 1,000 lbs to my front axle. (all home made, no store bought stuff for me, I weld on westerns, myers, etc. all the time, fixing them. No slam on any brand, I just wanted a heavy duty unit, I somewhat copied a Fisher design with my own additions and used heavier gage steel in most places.)

    Again, just my opinion
  12. Calamari

    Calamari Member
    Messages: 36

    Scott R,

    I do have access to rails. Your springs are 53 yeares old?! What were they out of? Also sounds like a killer plow rig capable of plowing trees, rip rap and large mammals.
  13. cja1987

    cja1987 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,407

    Its all about balance, your goal is a 50/50 weight distribution, which is very hard to get in a pickup truck. I personally dont like the rear end to be so light so 700-800 does the job very nicely and I see noticeable differences in pushing power. The stress on the brakes is little if any at all, you still make sure to stay within your axle ratings and balance the truck out. I find it difficult to plow when the rear end wants to hop around at will. Look at the towns dump trucks, even if they are not equipped with sanders they load them with sand. Any good plower will run alot of Ballest, 1000 LBS is just about right for a 3/4 or 1 ton equipped with a 900-1000 plow. Most guys with spreaders are well over that. Thats what trucks are made for. You can run a heavier spring in the back like I have seen some guys do. When these threads come up I wish a certain old member (wyldman) was still posting on this site.
  14. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    My 3/4 ton with 3-400 lbs in the bed the rearend will not hop around at will. I'd have to really try to get the rear tires to spin, and thats with a strong smallblock. I'm pretty sure that an empty truck with a blade on (and up) would have the least stopping ability. A lightly loaded truck -up to 5-600 lbs- would stop better. 1000 lbs is going to be a little harder to stop. I know people think that they way they do it is right, even if they dont know anything about trucks, and if it works for you, great. I just wanted to share what I know, having many years in the heavy equipment towing and trucking business. I move big stuff every day, I went to school for it, and I'd like to add I think we were talking about little 4 wheel pickups, not commercial trucks like dump trucks that have 6 wheels and completely different load capacities and weight requirements. 6 wheelers have to have a lot of weight, because the weight they do have is divided up over 4 rear wheels.
  15. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 7,921

    what was the name of the school & what deg or cert did you get?
    Go out to your local truck scale and see just how this works.

    1. put plow on weigh front Axel.
    2. add counter weight weigh (behind the rear Axel) weigh front Axel again
    see the difference.
    It works on Little ity bitty 4+4s too just like the big trucks, adjust the load to distribute the load on the front steering Axel.. you can only have so much weight on the front Axel, the trucker can change how much weight is on it by moving his load and rear axles.

    Or you can do this at home put on the plow, (nothing in the back)
    raise the plow, measure, distance from ground bumper to the ground.
    now add your counterweight (behind rear wheels) and remeasure is the front bumper to the ground, did it go up? or down?
  16. Big Dog D

    Big Dog D PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,134

    Save your self a whole bunch of hassel aggravation and visit the Fisher web site and enter the Plow selection tab then select E-MAtch then input all of your info Trk; MFG,YR, MODEL etc.... and at the end the headlight question doesn't matter how you answer. The last thing it does is calculate the amount of ballast you should use. This is figured out by engineers that build plows, not opinionated web-site wanna-bees. This would be a good place to start and you can go up or down from there depending upon your personal prefrences and findings as you go.

    As far as what to use for ballast, I use bags of pelletized lime because it is cheap 3-4 $ per bag, comes in plastic bags and is easy to handle. I usually add about 15 bags of the lime and 3 bags of icemelt to use as I need.
  17. Scott R

    Scott R Member
    Messages: 60

    Hey Big Dog D

    Your statement about opioniated want a be's is a real contradiction, that's what sites like this are all about. To simply follow the advice of a engineer on somthing as elementry as the above subject is very sad at best. I work with (as many do) engineers from many different fields every day. 90% of them are Guy's and or Gals just like us, that have had a bit of schooling so they can know better how to look up information in books, etc. Not rocket science by any means. The collective experience of all of those on this site will far out engineer the guy from Fisher that was tasked with coming up with a simple spread sheet and a few formulas.
  18. Scott R

    Scott R Member
    Messages: 60

    I have been plowing for the last 14 years with a 1952 Dodge Power Wagon, still has the OEM rear springs, I can't fit enough steel in the back to overload the old thing (if I were to try) just the way they built them back then.
    I use both 90 lb rail and 125 lb rail, I nest a 90 lb upside down between two 125 lb rails, back and forth like that. I just cut slots in the web of the rail and offset the slots so the rail hangs like stated above. It all slides in on two peices on 3/8" angle iron.:D
  19. Big Dog D

    Big Dog D PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,134

    Quote by ScottR

    "Not rocket science by any means. The collective experience of all of those on this site will far out engineer the guy from Fisher that was tasked with coming up with a simple spread sheet and a few formulas."


    My money is with the guys from Fisher, not the guy recommending 1000lbs in the back of a 3/4 ton pickup with a 717lb. plow!!!!
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2005
  20. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Not sure what you were looking at, but Chris recommended 1000# of ballast for a 3/4 ton or one ton with a 900 - 1000# plow. I'd say he was close. I use a Vbox loaded with sand/salt for ballast against a 9' Fisher.

    But, if you want to get a definitive answer, go here and "fill in the blanks": http://www.fisherplows.com/ematch.asp
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2005