Subcompact and compact tractors, no matter which brand have a common weakness. They are simply too lightweight to be fully effective. Adding weight to these machines can be the most cost effective performance improvement possible.
Location of Ballast
We’ll discuss two popular locations for ballast on small tractors. Weight can be added on the 3 point hitch, well behind the tractor’s rear axle. Weight can also be attached on our around the tractors rear axle. Let’s examine the purpose and benefits of each one.
3 Point Hitch Attached Ballast
3 point hitch ballast is the most effective ballast for the front end loader. It relieves strain on the front axle by using the rear axle as a pivot point. We discuss 3 point hitch ballast frequently on our YouTube channel, and we highly recommend following the owner’s manual recommendations for 3 point hitch ballast. Check out Heavy Hitch for our recommended 3 point hitch attached ballast…don’t forget to use code TTWT for a 5% discount!
While 3 point hitch ballast is incredibly important, this article is focused on the second popular location for ballast…
Axle Mounted Ballast
Another important location for ballast is on or near the rear axle. Rear axle ballast has many advantages:
- Lowers Center of Gravity (COG) to reduce tipping hazard. Tipping is a major concern with sub-compact tractors.
- Does not add strain to the axle, 3 point hitch, etc.
- Increases the ride quality by reducing ‘bounce’ while driving on rough terrain.
- Increases traction when pulling heavy items (disks, trailers, logs, etc)
Types of Axle Mounted Ballast
There are two primary choices for axle mounted ballast. Wheel weights, or tire fluid. These choices are not exclusive. You can select BOTH fluid AND wheel weights to maximize the ballast on a sub-compact tractor. In fact, I would recommend you do exactly that! You’ve likely seen our first 1025R perform some heroic tasks in many of our YouTube episodes. The double-dose of axle mounted ballast, both Rim Guard and wheel weights give Johnny the extra boost necessary to get the job done.
Having said that, our 2nd 1025r currently has only Rim Guard for axle mounted ballast. We have three reasons for choosing Rim Guard vs. wheel weights.
- Cost. Rim Guard is much cheaper than cast iron. This is exaggerated even more with recent tariffs.
- Hassle. We find that once installed, Rim Guard is out of sight and out of mind. We don’t have to worry about it. It does not take up any space other than useless space inside the tire!
- Loyalty. Rim Guard is made from beet-juice, grown by North American farmers. Cast Iron comes from China and/or India!
How do I get it?
Click here to find your closest Rim Guard supplier. This is usually a local tire shop or equipment dealer. Doesn’t matter if the equipment dealer sells a different brand of tractor than you have, they will happily fill the tires on your tractor.
For example, we recently had our second 1025r tires filled at a local John Deere dealer. Check out the video here:
We haven’t really discussed the reasons for Rim Guard over other tire fluid options in this article. There are several. 1) It’s heavy! The heaviest fluid available. 2) It won’t hurt anything!…not your rims, not your grass or your cats if it happens to spill, etc. 3) It won’t freeze.
We’ve used Rim Guard in our equipment since 2014 when we first got Johnny! We have no plans to change directions now, and we highly recommend it for your compact tractor.
In addition to rim guard and wheel weights – ever thought about installing wheel spacers for more stability? If not why? I’m thinking about that in addition to rim guard and weights
I have a 2025 and 3720 both with spacers and fluid. The improvement in drivability and stability was amazing. Much less pucker factor when doing loader work.
Yep. It definitely helps!
Where did you get the wheel spacers ?
I have put wheel spacers on my JD 2038r. Love them, adds stability, doesn’t feel so tipsy now. I got my at my local John Deere dealer, and I think they added 3 inches per side.
I just got My tires filled with Rim Guard and picked up the wheel weight also. Now with your input I might go ahead and get spacer
I have spacers on my 2038r as well.
Any suggestions on wheel spacer size . I also have a 1025R had it now for three weeks.
I emailed bro-tek about sizing for my 1025r as I have the 60 inch deck
They said only the 1.5 inch spacers will fit with the 60in deck. So that’s what I will go with. I figure an overall 3 inches is better than nothing.
I also just had rimguard put in the rears as well as the. Plastic 50 pounds weights installed. That alone has made a huge difference but I think I will also go ahead and put spacers on as I have very hilly property.
I, too, have a 60D deck under 1025R and I really do not like driving across 15 degree slopes. Spacers seem like a good idea but does 1 1/2 inch limit due to the 60D really make a noticeable difference? With the mid mower I can’t hang any ballast on the QH. Are wheel weights better than spacers as a first step? I do keep the FEL on with bucket low to help get the center of gravity down as the local dealer suggested. A downside of spacers is they will put the wheels wider than the 4 foot tiller.
Yes, 1.5 inch spacers would help a lot. Weights and Rimguard will also help. I would recommend all 3. If you are not comfortable with 1.5, go with 1”. You will still find it an improvement.
What would be the cons to adding spacers to my 1025
I installed the 1.5 inch spacers on my 1025R so my real wheel outside track is now 50 inches. That means I leave a little tire track on each side of my 4 foot tiller. I am hard pressed to see that as a significant con. Had I been smart enough to buy a 5 foot tiller…..sigh.
Similar small issue with plow or planter row spacing and maybe other ground engaging tasks. If I had a super tight gate it could be a problem but I don’t have that issue. The 60D mid-mount mower anti-scalp wheels are a tight fit but it does work. Thicker spacers would not work with the 60D.
I do admit my pucker factor calibration has not changed a bit although I am certain the tractor is more stable. I simply don’t like leaning the tractor very much and I don’t want to find out the hard way how far is too far.
It is true that the wider stance does put a little bit more angular load on the wheel bearing but I have not found any reports that there is any identified concern with that.
I have not found any significant cons to adding 1.5 spacers.
THANKS Tim! First step is the 1.5 spacers which should arrive in two days. Bro-Tek was great to work with! Now if it will stop raining for about a week I might be able to take Johnny off the pavement without sinking to the axles in sloppy clay.
Do you fill the front tire with rim guard?
I’m looking for my first tractor and it will be a sub compact that I can cut our grass with and do other chores on our property. I certainly have much to learn but understand the need for ballast when doing certain tractor work. I’m wondering if putting rimguard in the tires will make the tractor heavy enough to crate ruts in our yard when mowing? TY
Tractor with no attachments is about 1500 lbs. If that won’t rut the lawn I doubt another 150 lbs of RimGuard will make a noticeable difference. Add weight for the mower or other attachments, and ballast depending on the attachment and job. If it rains much around here I am off the tractor for at least two days or it will rut in a straight line much less on any turns. MFWD won’t rut less.
Agreed. There are times when a 1025r will be pretty heavy on a wet yard. I’ve had fluid or no fluid in the tires. I really don’t notice too much difference when it comes to ruts.
Make sure the 4wd is off when mowing. This will help reduce scuffing in turns.
I find it annoying that rimguard will only provide dealer info if one gives them contact info
What tire pressure do you inflate the rear tires to? Had my rear 1025R tires filled 90% with beet juice (similar to Rimguard, different brand) and the tire shop recommended 12 to 15 psi. Deer manual says 20 psi but I assume that’s without ballast.
inflate just enough to keep the tires from spinning on the rims. 12-15 should be fine.
Wanted to let you know your website and your YouTube videos are excellent. Just recently bought a 1025R, and you were a big part of that decision. Greatly appreciate all the info you share.
My John Deere salesman claims wheel weights are bad for the transmission of my 1025R purchased new in 2020. Have you ever heard that or have an opinion.
He is wrong !
Wheel weights and Rimguard are the safest ballast for your machine. The owners manual even recommends it!!!
Buy from http://greenpartstore.com use code ttwt for free shipping. No use to reward an uniformed salesman!
Get the 72lb starter weights.
I don’t own green. I’ve always had Blue ford/nh or red/mf and and have larger utility tractors, still love your videos Tim. Your videos are very helpful for any color or size tractor. Thanks Tim, keep up the good work. 😊