1. Welcome to PlowSite. Notice a fresh look and new features? It’s now easier to share photos and videos, find popular topics fast, and enjoy expanded user profiles. If you have any questions, click HELP at the top or bottom of any page, or send an email to help@plowsite.com. We welcome your feedback.

    Dismiss Notice

newbie question... dont laugh

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by itchyfishnv, Sep 7, 2004.

  1. itchyfishnv

    itchyfishnv Member
    Messages: 45

    Ok, I have a question... I been reading around in the forums and I see something about a ballast, from what i gather it has something to do with weight? Can someone clarify what it is? I know what a ballast for an electrical system is, to convert voltage to a high or lower voltage, ive used them setting up my HIDs. Just wondering what a ballast in "plow terms" meant.
     
  2. danmc

    danmc Member
    Messages: 84

    Ballast is the amount of weight you need to carry in your pickup bed (behind the rear axle) to counteract the weight of the plow....
     
  3. Mick

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

    Ballast is anything which will act as a counter-balance to the weight of the plow. By having a plow (or anything else, such as a sweeper) hanging off the front of your truck, you are making your front axle act as a fulcrum. This takes weight off the rear wheels and axle, leading to a loss of traction when the plow is raised. By putting "ballast" in your truck bed, you're bringing more of the rear wheels back onto the surface and increasing traction. Ballast may consist of practically anything. Many people build a wooden framework in front of and behind the wheel wells and put sand bags or salt bags in the frame work. One year I used five 8' tree trunks. Now I use a sander with 1,000# of sand. Ballast is most effective the further to the rear of the truck, but at least over the rear wheels.

    Using ballast will not help with another problem; front end sag (from the weight of the plow). To counter this somewhat, many people use "load boosters" (ie: Timbrens) which are usually rubber bumpers that go between the spring coils.
     
  4. tvpierce

    tvpierce Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 209

    I believe the word "ballast" originated in shipping/sailing. As you can imagine, balancing your load is very important when you're carrying cargo on the open seas. So when a captian had an unbalanced load, he would add extra weight (ballast) to compensate. The practice is still used today, only instead of loading rocks or steel for counter-weight, tankers pump water into sealed chambers in the bottom of the boat to balance the load.

    For our purposes, the exta weight adds traction for pushing snow.

    Jeff Pierce
     
  5. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    Yes..

    Very well explained. In layman's terms.

    Gotta back ya up on that one too.

    And to you Jeff. Ditto.
     
  6. itchyfishnv

    itchyfishnv Member
    Messages: 45

    well thanx for the quick and detailed replies guys. see i knew it had nothing to do with electricity! How do i find out what the ballast rating is for a blizzard 680LT? For the same setup from Fisher it was 100LBS, I've looked on the website of blizzard and have a book from the dealer and there isnt diddly squat about it. Anyone in here know?
     
  7. Mick

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

    Best way would be to use the amount of ballast for a plow of weight equal to the Blizzard you plan to get.
     
  8. itchyfishnv

    itchyfishnv Member
    Messages: 45

    so you're saying if the plow weight is 350lbs use a 350 lb ballast? Should i use the weight of the whole plow setup or just the blade itself?
     
  9. Mick

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

    No, what I was trying NOT to say was - Cheat. Find out what the plow you intend to buy weighs (say 500#). Then go to the web site of a competing plow brand that lists ballast recomendations. Find one of their plows of equal weight. Use that amount of ballast.
     
  10. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    For a pick up with a 680 I would start with 200 lbs and increase to 300 if needed.
     
  11. seville009

    seville009 Senior Member
    from CNY
    Messages: 740

    My 7'6" Snoway plow and frame adds about 600 lbs to the front. I used as ballast last year bags of salt - usually stuck six 80 lb bags in the back; it evened out the truck well. I used salt bags because it would be useful if I ever needed it.
     
  12. h_riderca

    h_riderca Member
    Messages: 68

    I find that with the 680LT on my Blazer I don't need the added weight in the back. It plows and drags just fine.
     
  13. Nuttymopar

    Nuttymopar Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 60

    One thing that is important about Ballast is to keep it safely in your truck's bed. Just imagine your ballast coming through your back window if you happen to get into a fender bender. So if possible, try to some how mount it so it doesn't come flying up out of your truck's bed.
     
  14. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    Ballast, IMO, isn't quite as simple as that (ie:matching to plow weight).... there are a few more factors involved. Traction requirements are what you need to set up for. IE: My truck never had positraction or a locker or anything, so I would use more ballast to make the truck grip (I also had very little tread left on the tires :p). For the same reason, a 2wd truck can also be effective with the right amount of weight on the rear tires.

    What I am saying is that you need to experiment. The proper balance allows you to have enough traction without bogging or overloading the engine. Enough weight without using too much fuel... Enough weight without being passed by rotted-out Chevettes on hills... etc. etc.

    Since I have a dumpbox I use bulk gravel. Easy to load or unload, can be used for grip in a pinch etc. My situation wasn't so unusual, but poor parts and mis-matched equipment made things difficult, so more weight was added... (balding tires, no posi, tiny 305 engine etc.) With enough weight the truck could plow in 2wd all day long if it needed to. This year the truck has all new rubber, and with a little luck the new 383 engine and Powertrax Lockrite locker in the rear end... ie: don't need as much weight, better fuel mileage etc.

    So try starting with the weight of the plow and go from there. Depending on your setup, more may be better... but not necessarily. Experimenting is the key.
     
  15. PSDF350

    PSDF350 Senior Member
    Messages: 577

    just bought a ARB air locker for just that reason. getting installed on the 20th.
     
  16. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    Looks like my Lockrite is going in tomorrow :D
     
  17. PSDF350

    PSDF350 Senior Member
    Messages: 577

    i thought about just a regular locker. but i put to many street miles on to want to deal with the quirks. best of both worlds this way. when i want it locked flip switch, or have unlocked and its open.
     
  18. Arc Burn

    Arc Burn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,139

    A good rule of thumb for ballast (but not etched in stone) is half the weight of the plow,if nothing else it's a good starting point.
     
  19. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    Arc Burn, can you explain to me how that works? That doesn't even balance out the weights added to the truck ie: it will still be very nose-heavy....

    PSDF350, I would have liked the ARB myself but its a little out of the budget right now. I found the Lockrite unit brand new unused on ebay for around $150 or so so I snagged it. We put it in yesterday, what a nice piece to install--very slick design and yet simple. I've only had it out around the block once but I really can't hear the ratcheting sound at all... though I must admit being a stick shift truck you really can't 'unload' the drivetrain to go around corners like you can with an automatic (shy of clutching) so maybe I'm just scrubbing the tires--being a dually it does that to a certain extend anyways. Its definately working (though I have no snow or mud to try it in, and a 7100 lbs truck isn't too likely to light 'em up on the asphalt :D), I tried it in a bunch of loose gravel at the end of my road where it and the crossing road were both resurfaced so there is excess.... I don't wanna abuse anything too much but I wanted to know if it worked... so I drove into the loose gravel...stopped....and abruptly let the clutch out just a little above idle. Sure enough, four bare patches tell the tale that the system really works. ;) Digs like a backhoe! lol
     
  20. PSDF350

    PSDF350 Senior Member
    Messages: 577

    derek good deal on the locker :) i wasn't planning to spean as much as i did. nor could/can i really afford it but...... just remember when the roads are wet and slippery to be very careful.