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DRONE 10-07-2012 05:36 PM

Seeking ballast advice
With Queen Bee of course, no, not needed. But with the 50-lb K-man, or empty, I like running with ballast. I'm using barbell weights in a canvas bag with a closed cell pad on the bottom. Still, this ballast goes airborne when the car wheel hits a big rock or hole and I'm concerned about damage to the car or the hidden wiring I've got. This weekend, especially, I could hear those plates clanging against each other as I was descending this one nasty section of road up around Green Lake in the Ahtanum State Forest.

50 pounds of lead shot would probably be soft enough to not damage anything when it's getting slammed around under the seat, so I think that would be a good choice, but that's gonna cost me about $100. Sand is cheaper but 50-lbs worth takes up too much space--and sand always seems to escape whatever kind of bag you use. I don't really want to start drilling and bolting steel plates to the car floor because that will weaken the car, plus it will be a pain in the ass to install and remove over and over.

So, the question is, should I buy $100 worth of lead shot, or is there a better solution?

And just to save you anti-ballasts the effort of posting a reply, yes I already know that a properly skilled sidecarist doesn't need ballast and I'm a sorry excuse for a hackista and I should start working on learning how to drive rather than posting up silly questions about ballast. There, you see, all of the anti-ballast people are spared the effort of replying. Thank you very much for the advice, though.

Now, for the pro-ballast folks, any ideas?

claude 10-07-2012 05:44 PM

Sorrry I should know this from your previous posts but what sidecar combo do you have?
Anyhow.....You can usually get lead wheel weights at a garage or tire shop cheap. Melt them down and pour the lead into a steel tube or something that you can bolt on somwhere. Note that melting lead can be dangerous. Be sure there is no water or moisture anywhere ...anywhere. Make sure tube or whatever you are pouring it into is dry etd etd,.,,no moisture none.
You can cast a bent bolt or two into whatever you are using for a mold for attachment purposes . Old car valve covers work good. No moisture or oil...dry dry dry.

JustKip 10-07-2012 05:51 PM

Notice that Claude used the words "bolt on somewhere"?

Anything loose will move around and will not be your friend. It'll head to the front in a panic stop, making the nose heaby exactly at the time you don't want it to.

I've heard of people using water jugs, 10 gallons is about 80 lbs, and you can dump it anywhere if you need to pick up something heavy while you're out.

Boondox 10-07-2012 05:53 PM

Drone -- When I first started driving my hack I used a 70# tube of sand because the woven fabric was a lot more durable than plastic bags, and it was easier to load/unload the hack. With Barley riding with me so often I just got rid of the sand entirely. I do, however, have a couple of Rotopax 1 gallon water containers mounted on the back bulkhead, right behind where the seat used to be. Not much weight in two gallons of water, but there you are.

FYI I try very hard not to fly the hack. Barley is normally a very good monkey, but should a rabbit or squirrel cross the road in front of us he will lunge, and when that happens while flying, well, let's just say I had to change my LD Comfort shorts a few times.

Another option if you have an old unused fuel can is to fill it with sand; that would certainly make the sand ballast easier to handle.


claude 10-07-2012 05:55 PM

Another thought is to just make the ballast permanenet and adjust the setup to deal with it. If the sidecar seems too light to you there is no shame in running some ballast. You are just making a light sidecar heavier. No biggie in most cases depending on the combination. There are limits of course..

WU7X 10-07-2012 05:55 PM

Hey Drone, When SWMBO isn't riding monkey, I use two 40 lb plastic sacks of water softening salt. I'm not doing the rugged outback, but if I was I'd move the salt into a more secure, flexible container. An old Navy duffel bag or air force flight bag comes to mind. I've hit some pretty big potholes and the salt and/or my wife haven't bounced badly at all. The salt will "flow" into any shape, so long as you keep it dry, of the container you put it into. It is certainly cheaper, and safer than melting lead. It should be pretty easy to lash down inside the car too.

cleatusj 10-07-2012 05:59 PM

I'm glade that you mentioned no moisture at all. No one needs to experience what happens with flying lead. :eek1:eek1

Jugs filled with water will work also and can be poured out if one adds extra weight on a ride, like groceries or parts.

villageidiot 10-07-2012 06:00 PM

can pick up some lead ingots at the metal supply store. drill some holes in them and mount in the car somewhere. racecars do this stiff all the time.

maybe pull the tub and mount it under the tub directly onto the frame.

on a slightly more functional note..... stick a big ol car battery into the sidecar and wire it up for usable voltage

RedMenace 10-07-2012 06:57 PM

An inner tube filled with sand, or shot or wheel weights or some combo would make good ballast and wouldn't leak or chafe...

cluedog 10-07-2012 08:00 PM

I have some lead plates, about 1/8 thick.
You can have them if you can pick them up in Port Townsend.
It should be easy to cut them to size so they don't move about. It would still be a good idea to screw them in place.

MIXR 10-07-2012 09:34 PM

Tried it all (almost)
Drone - I've played with several types of ballast (but now run without it as I've 'adjusted' to just the weight of the dog).

Chains in long bags work, and are less destructive than solid lumps of 'something' if things go wrong. I tried sand and some bags of steel washers. Takes up too much room. And I don't like 'loose' stuff as ballast. The chain worked as I could run it length-ways, and would be good in an inner-tube. It still bounces around though, but is not 'destructive' like a solid (unbolted) bar would be.

But - The reason for the post is that the placement is as critical as the weight itself. I'm sure you have considered all this, but it took some experimenting for the thought to dawn on me! You need to remember that 50 lbs placed between the chair and the bike is not as effective as 50 lbs placed on the outside of the chair near the wheel. That's just basic engineering. The further out, the better. The closer you can get it to the wheel, the better, as it has less chance to upset the balance.

I'd be looking at running a tube of 'something heavy' on the underside of the chassis. You seem to have the space on your rig. Even a couple of heavy steel 4WD 'helper' springs (the main leaves which are fairly flat) would be a lot of weight but have a good shape and mounting holes built in. Or a solid bar of steel in an appropriate length.

Anyway - just a few more thoughts. Best of all would be a 'plate' securely bolted to the underside of the tub.

shortstuff 10-07-2012 09:54 PM

I too usually use a bag of water softening salt... I just leave it in the bag it comes in (about 50 lbs.) and put it on the seat within another garbage bag....I use the seat belt to secure it and the stuffed bear that rides monkey. I usually do only tarmack with the goldwing so haven't ever had an issue with the weight shifting. The bag is easy to lift out when taking a passenger and cheap and easy to replace if it gets ragged. It is also easily attainable when I find myself away from home without ballast or a passenger. I have used small sandbags as well, but find they tend to shift a little more.

DirtDabber 10-08-2012 06:13 AM

I run lead shot. Interesting note. It came 50 lbs in an "If it fits it ships" USPS box . :lol3

Edit: Here is what I used.

DRONE 10-08-2012 01:23 PM


Originally Posted by cluedog (Post 19770176)
I have some lead plates, about 1/8 thick.
You can have them if you can pick them up in Port Townsend.
It should be easy to cut them to size so they don't move about. It would still be a good idea to screw them in place.

Thanks for the offer. I'll send you a PM.

DRONE 10-08-2012 01:24 PM


Originally Posted by DirtDabber (Post 19771838)
I run lead shot. Interesting note. It came 50 lbs in an "If it fits it ships" USPS box . :lol3

Edit: Here is what I used.

That's the stuff I was gonna order! Great minds must think alike.

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