A ballast block that doubles as a spacious storage container is rapidly becoming fashionable for tractors operated on arable or mixed enterprise units.
Some have been conceived by enterprising operators themselves but, for the most part, they are now produced by small engineering firms with numerous imaginative variations on the basic theme. We take a look at some of the options on the market.
The stylish devices, often finished in the colours of the host tractor and carrying a laser-cut nameplate or logo of the buyer’s choice, neatly bring together two requirements.
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First, tractors need front end ballast to offset the weight of heavy rear-mounted implements and to achieve optimum traction for draft work.
Second, operators need to carry more tools and equipment than can be carried safely within the stylish confines of a modern cab let alone a standard toolbox.
Combining spacious storage compartments with ballast meets operational requirements while keeping grubby drawbars, tow chains, pins, linkage balls, grease guns, spades, chainsaws and whatever else is needed out of the cab.
Fixed ballast or variable ballast using water-filled compartments, a fuel container and pump, and a pressure washer are some of the variations available on devices that can be fitted either directly to the tractor’s front bolster or three-point linkage.
The linkage-mounted Hydrapac 600, weighing 300kg, incorporates a pressure washing system into the front ballast unit so that tractors and implements can be washed down anywhere.
That means mud-splattered or dust-encrusted windows and mirrors can be given a quick clean before heading out on to the road; tractor and sprayer can be washed down in the field; and operators can be diligent about weed seed hygiene when moving from field to field.
The 12v pump, delivering 10-litres/min, 20m pressure hose reel, a hand lance, cleaning fluid and disinfectant if required, are contained beneath a lockable lid, and filling the galvanised steel water reservoir with 300 litres of water takes the weight to 600kg.
This design addresses a number of issues, not least the distance that standard ballast weights – and ballast toolboxes – project in front of the tractor.
Imported by Lincs machinery dealer Robert H Crawford & Son, the AGRIbumper is wide and slim to minimise the forwards projection and to provide a clearer indication of the width of the tractor, especially for road journeys in the dark. It also minimises the impact of a tractor being in collision with a car.
All versions incorporate width markers and LED daytime running lights that also act as turn indicators, and can be installed on a number of tractors while allowing front linkage still to be used.
The low set 250kg bumper-only Base-line unit is for tractors routinely used for trailer operations, while the Weight-line is a 400kg frame to which different combinations of wing and central weights can be added using a clip system.
This arrangement provides ballast in six steps from 400kg to 1,600kg. Weights can be added or removed individually or lifted off in one go, and just using the wing weights (400kg, 900kg and 1,300kg) leaves space at the centre for an optional toolbox.
Tool boxes, transport boxes and a range of ballast weights with storage compartments are available with optional LED marker lights, headlights and turn indicator lamps, and a bumper bar in addition to the red and yellow striped warning stickers at each side and a central marker pole.
The marker LEDs are either bright white or flashing amber – with an optional isolator switch available to turn them off in the field – and an external grease gun holder can also be added.
The linkage-mounted toolbox has a drop-down front door that provides a small workbench surface for in-field repairs, while the linkage mounted transport boxes have a top lid giving access to a storage compartment finished with a hard-wearing textured coating intended to prevent scratches.
The Compact version weighs in at 150kg including the bumper bar, but concrete ballast can be added taking that to 280kg.
The compartment of the two larger transport boxes, weighing 180kg and 200kg, is big enough to carry supplies of AdBlue diesel engine fluid, bale net, stretch wrap, tools and equipment. These units can also have 400-500kg of ballast.
The novel swath roller version comprises a top-lid compartment above a steel “cotton reel” roller to compress straw swaths for easier baling.
Agriweld’s compact ballast block is available to mount directly on to a tractor’s front bolster (or on three-point linkage), providing 600-1,000kg of ballast, while the front-linkage compact adds 500-1,100kg of ballast. Both come with a central lidded compartment for tools, wearing parts, and so on.
Larger versions for linkage mounting provide 1,000-2,500kg of ballast and come with one central or two angled compartments. Variweight versions of the 1,000-1,500kg sizes have a water-filled compartment allowing the amount of ballast carried to be adjusted.
The Smartbox is a front linkage-mounted multi-purpose ballast/transport box with cabinets for small tools, parts and equipment on both sides of a large central compartment.
Drop down lockable doors on the two side compartments provide workbench surfaces for in-field repairs, and a 4in removable vice is available as an option. The lidded central compartment is big enough to carry rolls of bale net or wrap, or a fuel or AdBlue container and pump.
Alternatively, the compartment can house ballast. Camfab’s purpose-made drop-in weight block has pallet fork slots in the top and a recess providing some storage space.
The Small Smartbox weighing 350kg can have a 650kg removable weight, taking total ballast to 1t, while the Standard version at 400kg comes with a choice of 600kg, 800kg and 1,000kg weights.
Both can be equipped with four LED market lights or an LED kit comprising two work lamps, two turn indicators and two marker lights.
The Weight Box is available in two sizes, weighing 420kg and 900kg and capable of being ballasted to 2,000kg and 3,000kg, respectively, by adding heavy materials or Cherry’s purpose-made steel blocks to the central compartment.
The design comprises a full-width lid on gas struts covering two open-topped compartments either side of the central space that has a drop-down door, providing access to a front-opening tool box and for easier loading and removal of bale wrap rolls, fluid containers, and so on.
Rubber matting for the 1,000mm wide x 475mm deep central compartment is standard along with striped warning stickers at each end, and options include six recessed LED marker lights and a camera kit with in-cab monitor for added visibility when leaving gateways onto roads.
The 1,900mm and 2,400mm wide front linkage weights incorporate a towing clevis and weigh 1,350kg and 1,700kg when filled with concrete. A denser mineral substance takes the maximum weights to 2,250kg and 3,000kg.
In either case, the ballast blocks can incorporate two lidded toolboxes either side of the top link frame.
Recessed headlights and turn indicators are fitted as standard, along with red and white warning stickers and yellow reflective strips at both sides.
The Multibox option for the Multimass weight block from loader manufacturer M-X provides a 168-litre transport compartment in addition to the tool carrying facilities on the weight blocks themselves.
These include slots for two sizes of chain saws and two holes for a round handled brush, axe, shovel, pick-axe, and so on.
The curved weight blocks come with an integral towing clevis and central marker rod. Mountings for Category 2, 3 and 4 front and rear linkages are adjustable to suit different tractors.
For long term attachment, a top-link connection is available, but support arms that contact the underside of the lower linkage arms mean the weights can be coupled and lifted from the tractor seat and used without a top link.
There are 600kg, 900kg, 1,200kg and 1,500kg base weights to which either one or two 400kg weights can be added, giving several combinations of total ballast from 1,400kg to 2,300kg.
Front bolster or linkage-mounted ballast-come-toolboxes from 500-3,500kg solid or with pallet fork removable weights via drop down door on central storage compartment.
Options include twin end compartments with swivel out workbench trays for in-field repairs, towing eye, reflectors, chevron pattern stickers, side-mounted marker lamps or main lights with turn indicators, and a nameplate.
Specials include linkage couplings for front-mounted implements, and fuel tank, pump and hose combinations of 170-litres capacity on central compartment units, 200 to 250-litres capacity with two end toolbox compartments or 300-litres with the pump in one end compartment.
Ross Agri Services
Front linkage-mounted weight box with lockable free-standing lid, shelf and towing clevis finished in Fendt colours.
The front linkage-mounted JSA Tool Box from J Silk Agricultural Company measures 1.9m wide, 85cm deep and 85cm at its highest point, with a forward sloping lockable lid lifting on gas struts giving access to the 1,200-litre compartment.
In standard form, the box weighs 600kg, but adding 20mm profiled steel plate can take that to 1,600kg. Also, a plastic fuel tank can be incorporated during manufacture.
A bumper bar and LED marker lights are standard but recessed headlights and turn indicators can also be installed.
The smaller 0.75m wide, 31cm deep and 35cm high tool box weighs 55kg and fits standard tractor weight frames with or without wafer weights in place using 12mm bolts to hold it tightly and securely.
It will hold tools, bale twine, wearing parts and chemicals – a sealed version is available that will contain any leaks or spillage – and an internal or external grease gun holder is optional. Work lights and/or headlights can be added.
Four sizes of three-point linkage mounted concrete filled steel ballast blocks provide 1,000kg, 1,500kg, 2,000kg and 2,500kg of front-end weight.
All have a central storage/transport compartment enclosed by a lockable lid with concealed hinges. Beneath the lid is a tool tray that can be folded up or lifted out to gain access to the compartment below.
Other standard features include recessed LED front marker lights positioned to be as bright seen from the side as from the front, a clevis towing hitch, striped hazard warning stickers at both ends, a grease gun holder on the rear of the ballast block and a personalised name plate.
Standard colours are Sumo red and black, but others are optional.