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Enough Counterweight?

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by Zigblazer, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. Zigblazer

    Zigblazer Member
    Messages: 80

    How much is enough counterweight for plowing? I've read on here many guys plow in 2wd, which is completely foreign to me, although the first real plowing I did was in a 2wd Chevy C65, but it had a 6,000 lb brick on concrete on the back, and it still sucked. I've never plowed commercially other than our shop lot at the Mack dealer. I've only been paid once for plowing with my own truck.

    I've plowed a few times with my dads truck years ago, and don't remember much about it. My last truck was a 95 Chevy DRW diesel, that I never had any problem with pushing snow in without any weight in the back, just that the back end would jump when I came to a quick stop.

    On here I got the feeling that weight equal to the plow weight was standard, so I went and asked my neighbor to put about 1,000 lbs of sand in the back of my plow truck with his Mini-Excavator. He filled it right up. When I got home I checked everything out, and my tires are squatting more than I expected. So I decided to figure out how much weight I had.

    Truck Box is 6'x8' and board in the back is 12" high. I leveled it off and stomped it all down. The back is as high as the board, the front is about 17" deep. So I figured I would use a simple 6'x8'x1' and not worry about the wheel wells.


    6'x8'x1' = 48 sq ft
    1yd = 27 sq ft
    1 yd of sand = 2600 lbs approx
    48 sq ft = 4622 lbs

    I think I have enough, but is it too much?

    Truck Weight 1.JPG
  2. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    May well be too much, it will give you great traction but is an unnecessary load on the drive-train and components
  3. ss502gmc

    ss502gmc Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    Well from my experience too much weight will give you great traction in the rear but take away weight from the front wheels so the 4x4 will render almost useless and plus make it dangerous when cornering. I only know this from having an F250 8ft bed with a fully loaded 2yd spreader with straight sand and I ended up off loading alot of the sand so I could have my steering back. But with that truck id say 12 to 1500lbs would be plenty of ballast.
  4. cold_and_tired

    cold_and_tired PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,247

    Yeah, you definitely have enough counterweight but what you want is ballast. Ballast should be placed behind the rear tires.

    My tailgate spreader, when full, weighs about 1,000 lbs. It is a good 6 ft behind the rear axle and I rarely have traction issues.

    I built a box to keep my sand/salt in and put it on my trailer. The box is 4' x 8' x 10". This give me 26.6 cubic feet.

    You could possibly build a box that would sit behind the axles and fill it with sand. The box would have to be 48" x 48" x 20" to get a full ton. I built mine on two pallets to facilitate easy loading and unloading. You could do the same but you would only need one pallet. That would definitely keep your truck bed from rusting out due to all of the trapped moisture.

    Most times, only 500 lbs of ballast is recommended by the manufacturers.
  5. Zigblazer

    Zigblazer Member
    Messages: 80

    Considering I only plow my driveway and occasionally my neighbors I'm not worried about wearing the truck too much with the weight. It will likely not go more than 2 miles from home this winter. It also dropped the front end without the plow on because of all the weight that went in front of the rear axle, so the steering still works good.

    The box idea sounds great, and I may try it for next year but I don't have access to a forklift, too late for this year anyway. I was trying to figure out how to get weight in and still have it easily removable.

    I agree it's too much weight. I will be taking some out, but will have a harder time doing so, I am disabled so shoveling is not an option, plus the excavator won't work to unload until I pull the board out of the back. Once I figure out how I will try to get it down to around 1500 lbs.

    Thanks for the help.
  6. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    Don't forget to factor in all the additional weight water will add once the sand is saturated with it.
  7. cold_and_tired

    cold_and_tired PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,247

    If you trust the excavator operator, have him sit at the tailgate of the truck and reach to the front of the bed and pull some of the material to the back. Once the material is at the back, he should be able to scrape it down to the level that you have it now. You will be left with a pile of sand on the ground at the back of the truck.

    If you can, get the material behind the axle and you should be able to drop in a 2x12 to keep the sand from moving forward. You may have to run bracing to the front of the bed to keep the board in place.

    Also, you could make the rear section of the box removable so you could just pull the sand out instead of trying to lift it all.
  8. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    B & B is right as normal. That weight is going to be at least 1/3 heavier once it gets wet, possibly even 1/2 again as heavy. I would take at least 1/2 of that sand out, build a header across the back of the wheel wells, and a header for a tail gate both being 12 to 14 inches tall, and fill that with sand. That will be more than enough weight. By the way once that is all built and filled, take a nice 6 X 8 tarp, and wrap it up nice and tight like a x-mas gift to keep it dry.
  9. Zigblazer

    Zigblazer Member
    Messages: 80

    My neighbor is Retired/Disabled and is not a very precision operator and I don't think I could get the board out of the back without removing all the sand around it. So it will have to be removed by hand. So I'll have to wait for the other neighbors 13yo son to help shovel some out, when I find a useful place to put it here.

    The sad part is that with this much weight in it the rear end sits at a normal height. I think I'll have to take a few leaves out next summer, I don't need all 12 on each side (I get the feeling that this truck started life as a DRW cab chassis because it used to have overload leaves also among other signs). It also rides so much smoother and you can tell the front shocks are completely shot instead of feeling like they are welded in place.
  10. mayhem

    mayhem PlowSite.com Addict
    from Peru MA
    Messages: 1,016

    Way too much weight on there and being open sand, its the wrong kind of weight, as B&B pointed out.

    Looking at the photo, your tires don't look like they have much life left to them...is that just an optical illusion? If the tires are marginal, it doesn't matter how much you put in the bed...its going to suck.

    I usually snap in a 2x8 in my bedliner right behind the wheel wells and load up the rear with firewood or rubbermaid boxes or sand...somewhere between 400-800 lb works well and I can do much of my driveway in 2wd...not all of it, but alot of it...as a bonus, with the plow off and the ballast still in there I can drive around in 2wd without fear that the rear end will kick out in a crosswind.
  11. the new boss 92

    the new boss 92 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,989

    well look on the bright side, if you hold mostuire in the bed who cares, its already rusted. that is to much weight my friend take about half that out and you will be good!!!!!!!

    12 leafs a side holly chit!
  12. Zigblazer

    Zigblazer Member
    Messages: 80

    Tires actually only have about 1500 miles on them. They are just an old set of M/Ts that I bought new almost 10 years ago, and haven't really used the K25 they were on since then. I had them siped when I put them on this truck.

    I was thinking of taking out a bit more than half, but I'd never be able to shovel that much out, so I'll have to wait for help. Like I said I only wanted around 1,000 lbs. I'm a auto/diesel mechanic and have never worked with sand and dirt. I didn't realize how much it weighed, I just left that part up to my neighbor who has worked with equipment all his life.

    The funny part about the trucks rust is that the sides, cab corners, fenders, ect are all rusted very badly (no holes, just nothing behind) and feel loose. However, the inside of the cab and the inside of the box have NO rust, 0, none. I almost fell over when I saw it. The tailgate hinges were rusted so bad when I opened it, it fell off, but 3 inches up and in the bed is completely solid without even surface rust. I figure I'll use it until it falls apart and then take the completely rust free cab and box off from the '73 and put it on the 1-ton.

    I really don't have any problem with that much weight in the bed, because it won't really be driven much on the road, but I do want to be able to stop a little better. It stopped on a dime without weight, not any more.

    And Thanks, I didn't really think of how much more moisture would get into the sand. That could have pushed the load up over what those tires could handle, not that they would hit highway speed in the winter anyway.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010
  13. PrimoSR

    PrimoSR Senior Member
    Messages: 553

    That's what I was going to say too.
  14. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,617

    Not to knit pick (I guess I am)

    Counter weight counters the weight of the plow and goes behind the rear axle. The rear axle acts like a fulcrum.

    Ballast goes in front of the rear wheals and adds weight to both front and rear axles. So you have both counter weight and ballast in the bed of the truck.
  15. acornish

    acornish Senior Member
    Messages: 184

    just my 2 cents worth-- just leave whatever is behind the wheels and u should be fine--- on my old blazers i just piled up the salt bags at tailgate behind wheels and always plowed in 2wd unles it was real heavy snow the used 4wd
  16. dlstelma

    dlstelma Member
    from GR, MI
    Messages: 81

    I'm willing to bet you are waaaaaayyy over the capacity of that truck for payload and axle capacity.
    What are you trying to accomplish? Better traction in 2-wheel drive or relieve some weight on
    the front axle due to the plow? If you want to transfer weight off the front axle, you have to locate the weight aft of the rear axle. If you want better traction, you need to increase your friction factor of the tires by changing the type of contact surface (tire) or increase the force down on the pavement. You've solved the traction issue with this sand, but you've also loaded the truck beyond it's capacity and safe driving.
  17. Zigblazer

    Zigblazer Member
    Messages: 80

    In case anyone missed it, the thread was just for laughs. I know it is too much weight and have no intention of leaving that much in there for the winter. Like I said I had no idea how much sand weighed and just left that part up to my neighbor. I only found out when I looked it up after I noticed my tires squatting. I also don't want to have to stop a fully loaded truck when plowing.

    I'm not worried about the axle capacity, they are rated at much higher than the trucks GVWR and the rear springs can surely handle the weight. The tires being D load range I'm not so sure about. It is likely at or a little above the rear tires load rating as it sits now.

    Sorry if I was not very clear. I thought I would share the mishap on here so others could get a good laugh in too. I was laughing my rear off when I came in and looked at how much a yard of sand weighs, because my neighbor does a lot of funny things since his strokes. I just wouldn't have thought he would have mistaken the difference between 1,000 lbs and 4,600 lbs worth of sand after all his years of working with equipment.
  18. acornish

    acornish Senior Member
    Messages: 184

    at least you now know how much you can pull if you ever have to
  19. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,257

    You have way to much weight there. You are going to kill your brakes.
    We put 2000lbs on the back of a 2wd GMC dually 2 years ago. It was a bad winter and we never got it stuck once.
    I would take at least 1/2 of it out.
  20. mayhem

    mayhem PlowSite.com Addict
    from Peru MA
    Messages: 1,016

    I think we pretty much all missed it.

    Need more :laughing::tymusic:drinkup::sleeping: