After several years of owning my tractor, I decided I wanted a weight box....or ballast box if you prefer that term. Why a weight box? My tractor has a front end loader that is more than capable of lifting 1,000 pounds. Since I use it to lift large tree trunks, move dirt, plow snow, and collect rocks in the field, the front axle takes a lot of abuse when the front end loader gets heavy cargo. It becomes the fulcrum, the pivot point, and it really isn't intended to be used in that fashion. By adding extra weight at the back end of the tractor, you even the weight distribution and your front axle will live longer.
An online check at some of the tractor forums resulted in links to commercially made boxes that ran several hundred dollars just for the empty box. Yes, they were nice, some very nice, but that kind of money would be better spent doing other things here on the homestead. Time to look for a Do-It-Yourself, DIY, version of this project.
Needless to say there were plenty of DIY weight boxes to be found online. It ranged from a rusty old 55 gallon drum filled with rocks to a used job-site toolbox that cost more than the brand new weight boxes I thought were too expensive. Time to refine my search parameters and find something more suitable and affordable.
I finally came up with a rough plan based on several different photos and descriptions I found in one of the tractor forums. I quickly discovered this is a popular DIY project. After a few more sessions of digging around, I came up with an weight box plan based around what I had available in the garage. This is the kind of project where you can have a lot of latitude when it comes to the repurposed parts being pressed into service.
The first thing I needed was the appropriate dimensions for my 3 point hitch. My plan was to attach the weight box to my 3 point hitch. This would make it easy on, easy off. My compact Massey Ferguson tractor has a Category 1 hitch. I needed approximately 26" between the lower arms (dimension A in the above photo) and 18" between the top link and the lower link (dimension B in the photo). I had a Cat 1 drawbar in the garage that would do just fine for the lower support in my weight box. I needed to come up with a top link attachment point. The lower link would be carrying the bulk of the weight but the top link still needed to be solid and strong.
I decided on using 2" wide steel to make the arms for the top link. Since my welder can only do 1/4" steel, I decided to double up the arms and make them 1/2" thick. I bought a 10' stick of 2" wide x 1/2" thick steel at the local supply company in town. I didn't have a 7/8" drill bit either so I picked up one of those when I made the run to the steel supply store. I also bought a couple of pieces of 2' long, 1/2" threaded rod. With these in hand, it was time to start fabbing up my weight box.
I had a half sheet of 1/2" plywood in the corner that I cut into 4 pieces to use for the walls of my weight box. For the bottom, I made use of some 2"x10" planks that were in the same corner. If you hadn't figured it out by now, my plan was to make a wood box to use as a mold into which I would pour the concrete. I was looking at about 900 pound when this was finished.
Here is the draw bar that I used for my lower arm attachment points. I cut two slots into the wooden box and slipped the draw bar into place. I positioned the drawbar several inches into the box so that it had adequate concrete around it.
I decided to do my initial design using wood for the upper arms instead of the steel I had bought. Doing it this way made it really easy to cut, drill....oops....throw it away....cut, drill....ahhhh, just right. I used the 1/2" threaded rod to secure the top link arms in position and to provide the arms with a solid anchor point since it ran at a 90 degree angle to the arms. The threaded rod also helped keep the plywood from bowing outwards once the box was being filled with the concrete.
Here is the mocked up weight box, just before I took the wooden top links out of it to use as patterns for the steel links. The weight box has slightly more than 17" of ground clearance when the 3 point hitch is raised to the max height. It will also rest flush on the ground when the hitch is lowered.
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