Adding Tractor Ballast Weight To Improve Tire Traction

1 December 2014
 Categories: , Blog

The work performed by a farm tractor often results in a loss of traction due to the weight of various implements being pulled. Without adequate traction, the engine will cause the rear wheels to spin instead of moving the tractor forward. All tractor owners must utilize one or two methods to add wheel weight and allow the machinery to function properly.

Knobby tires filled only with air are not capable of heavy pulling. Some sort of ballast must be added near the wheels to increase traction and maintain a low center of gravity. That objective is accomplished by either pumping a liquid ballast into your tires or adding customized weights.

Liquid ballast

Tractor tire valves are designed to allow both air and water to enter. A liquid ballast consists of water mixed with a complementary solution to resist freezing. After your tractor is parked with the valve located near the top of the tire, the mixture is pumped in. The inflated tire then contains a combination of air and liquid.

A mixture of water and standard anti-freeze can be used for a tubeless tire. Some tractor owners prefer calcium chloride mixed with water due to its heavier weight. Tractor parts suppliers sell dry calcium chloride ready to be mixed with water. An adapter is also available to attach a hose to the tire valve and allow air to escape as liquid is pumped in.

If you include calcium chloride in a ballast, make sure to use an inner tube to avoid wheel corrosion. A standard anti-freeze solution resists corrosion and can be used with a tire tube or in a tubeless tire. Even after adding weight to the rear tires, you may still need additional weight on the front of your tractor.

Iron ballast weights

The resistance of a pulled implement sometimes shifts weight away from the front wheels. You may notice a slight reduction in steering effectiveness that accompanies the weight shift. Cast iron weights and mounting brackets are available for the front of many different tractor models.

If your tractor has four-wheel drive, iron weights will also help maintain traction as the front wheels pull. The narrow weights are also referred to as suitcase weights and are attached alongside one another to customize the configuration.

Another method of adding rear ballast is with the use of wheel weights. The circular weights are centered on the outer side of the rear wheels and rotate along with them. Like front suitcase weights, wheel weights can be added or removed as your work requirements change.

In addition to increased traction, proper weight distribution also enhances safety. Contact a parts supplier such as Unkefer Equipment for more information about any aspect of maintaining your tractor.