Liquid Weighing of Tractor Tires
The traction (pulling power) which a tire can exert is proportionate to the weight it carries. The greater the load (weight) on the tire, the more traction it can exert. The most common way to add more traction and reduce tire slippage and tread wear is to add weight to the rear axle.
Why Fill Tires with Liquid?
Filling tires with liquid ballast (a ballast is any heavy material added to add stability) is one of the most widely used methods of adding weight to the drive axle of a tractor. It is an economic and fairly simple solution. The additional weight added to the tire will give you better traction and reduce tread wear. The additional weight on the equipment also provides counter balance and lowers the center of gravity of the equipment to help prevent tipping.
What Liquid Ballast to Use?
Plain water may be used where freezing temperatures never occur.
However, in colder climates where freezing temperatures occur (like where we are in the Northeast), calcium chloride flake can be added to prevent freezing. If you are in a colder climate that reaches freezing temperatures, adding 3.5 pounds per gallon of calcium chloride flake to water will fill the tire and also prevent freezing. Plus, the calcium chloride is also going to add additional weight. By adding 3.5 pounds per gallon, the weight will increase by 20%. And by adding 5 pounds per gallon, the weight will increase by 28%. Liquid fill creates a stiffening affect – especially at lower inflation pressure. Liquid fill could potentially make controlling power hop much more difficult because of this.
You can use a calcium chloride solution to fill tubeless* or tube type tires. With tubeless tires, rim corrosion is never an issue as long as the tire is inflated at all times. This stops outside air from reaching the rim and corrosion is prevented. When a calcium chloride solution is used, it’s necessary to rinse the rim with tap water right after dismounting to prevent rapid corrosion from taking place. *We recommend that you use a tire tube to add the calcium chloride mixture to a tubeless tire.
Other liquids commonly used to add weight to tires are antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, beet juice (Rim Guard) and foam fill.
While anti freeze can be used, it’s toxicity and cost can be prohibitive. It also does not offer the additional weight benefits that calcium chloride offers.
Windshield Washer Fluid
Inexpensive, and it doesn’t freeze…While relatively non toxic, again, you do not get the benefit of the additional weight that calcium chloride offers.
Beet juice, or Rim Guard, is non toxic, non corrosive and adds 30% more weight than plain water. The down side is it is expensive to use- especially for larger tires.
Foam filling tires adds 50% more weight to tires and makes them 100% flat proof. While it does offer a great option for added weight and no headaches from flat tires, it is expensive and needs to be done by a professional flat proofing tire dealer. Your rim is needed, so it is best if you can find a local tire dealer that offers this service. Ken Jones Tires provides custom flatproofing and is accessible to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire. For other states, click here to find a local flat proofing dealer.
How to Add Ballast to Tractor Tires
Front or rear tires should only be filled to value level, which is 75% full. It is not recommended to fill greater than this because impact breaks become more of a hazard. A 40% fill is recommended by many equipment manufacturers such as John Deere, for better control of power hop and a softer ride.
1. Support your axle to take the weight of the machine off the tires, deflate them and remove the valve core in the tire stem.
2. While there are many devices and methods for loading tractor tire fluids, the easiest is to use a filling device, a drum of fluid in the bucket of the tractor, a hose between the two and then raising the bucket, relying on gravity to do the work for you.
3. If you want to fill to John Deere’s recommended 40%, rotate the tire stem to the 4 o’clock or 8 o’clock position and fill to the stem. If you want to fill to the industry standard of 75%, place the stem at 12 o’clock and fill to the stem.
4. See Titan Tires Filling Chart for more detailed instructions.
A final thought about rim corrosion and calcium chloride is that in our experience, the valve stem will often experience rim corrosion creating additional rim damage. This damage is not normally discovered until the tire is dismounted. To fix this problem, a patch usually needs to be welded and the rim repainted before the tire is replaced.
Expert Help for all your Tractor Tire Questions
If you have any questions about filling your tractor tires, or need expert advice for purchasing any type of specialty tire, just give us a call…