Seeking ballast advice

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by DRONE, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    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?
    #1
  2. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

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    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.
    #2
  3. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    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.
    #3
  4. Boondox

    Boondox Travels With Barley

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    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.

    Pete
    #4
  5. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

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    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..
    #5
  6. WU7X

    WU7X The Old Fart

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    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.
    #6
  7. cleatusj

    cleatusj Dirt floor engineer

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    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.
    #7
  8. villageidiot

    villageidiot Long timer

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    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
    #8
  9. RedMenace

    RedMenace Adventure Sidecar

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    An inner tube filled with sand, or shot or wheel weights or some combo would make good ballast and wouldn't leak or chafe...
    #9
  10. cluedog

    cluedog Adventurer

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    Drone
    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.
    #10
  11. MIXR

    MIXR Been here awhile

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    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.
    #11
  12. shortstuff

    shortstuff Adventurer

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    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.
    #12
  13. DirtDabber

    DirtDabber cultural illiterate

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  14. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Thanks for the offer. I'll send you a PM.
    #14
  15. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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  16. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    I would never have thought that salt would be very heavy. I'll go check it out. I put my ballast on the floor of the car under the seat on the wheel side. If I can get 50 lbs to fit there, the salt sounds like a good solution.
    #16
  17. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    I understand the physics of weight placement. Also that the ballast should remain inside the tipover triangle.

    I don't really want to bolt anything to the underside if it will reduce my ground clearance. On some of the roads I travel, I depend on the car having more clearance than the bike so I can get cleanly over some of the larger obstacles.

    Bear in mind that I have no trouble operating the outfit with no ballast on paved roads. It's when I'm in an off-camber position on a dirt road, with the sidecar on the high side, usually going 10mph or slower, that I'm vulnerable to flipping the rig. I have a funky right knee and can't transfer my weight to the right footpeg the way I'd like. I have no trouble riding the rig standing fully on the left peg all heeled out when the road is off-camber in the other direction, but who cares since the tipover danger is not in that direction.

    Perhaps I should move to England where my right knee would be less of a problem?
    #17
  18. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

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    I was going to chime in until I saw Drone's post. Makes sense now.
    Jim
    #18
  19. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    I'm glad. Maybe I wasn't clear before.

    Here's a pic from this weekend. Rode this road uphill to this viewpoint and relatively flat spot. Five minutes later we started downhill and immediately met up with two hunters in one of those 2+2 4x4 ATV's. They flagged us down to tell us that the road ahead was impassable on the outfit. Well that was like waving bacon in front of Kirby who insisted that we forge ahead! Ran into two more ATV's and one serious lifted 4x4 pick-up truck on the way down. I made Kirby run behind the outfit because I'd rather have him watch me go over the side than have him go over with me. Without his 50 lbs (but WITH my 50 lbs of ballast) the sidecar wheel got airborne a few times and got me to thinking about starting this thread.

    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Also, the previous weekend, I was on one pretty challenging road (all uphill) and I had a human monkee on board--probably about 150 lbs. I could hardly believe how much easier the tough stuff is with the sidecar weighed down like that. Here's a pic she took on that road.

    [​IMG]
    #20