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Old 01-16-2016, 10:10 AM   #1
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"Added" Ballast - Good or Bad

We all know what "added" ballast in a boat is primarily meant to accomplish. What we do not know: Why wasn't the boat designed in the first place to not need "added" ballast?

"Added" ballast, although a useful commodity when required do to a boat's design, is quite simply "dead weight" that uses fuel as well as increases lifting and setting needs during haul out and/or dry storage... for any reason.

I've never owned a boat that required "added" ballast to correctly perform. I know of plenty of boats that do. All my boats without "added" ballast correctly performed.

Added ballast in a boat makes me quickly shy away when shopping for a boat.

I hope some of the design gurus on TF can enlighten me and others on the pros and cons of "added" ballast's true needs and true benefits just in order to enable a boat's design to perform correctly in the water... wherein without the "added" ballast it simply does not act very well at sea.

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Old 01-16-2016, 10:37 AM   #2
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I'm far from a "design guru", but the times I've seen ballast used (my boat has some) is to balance the boat. Sometimes the placement of large items (batteries for example) can end up causing the boat to list one way. The ballast is used to offset that list.

There may be other uses - I'm interested to hear from the experts.

Richard
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Old 01-16-2016, 11:00 AM   #3
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I have to agree with Art on this one. Every pound should have a purpose and not just be there to make the boat sit or handle correctly. It costs money to move these pounds.


A sailboat would be different of course.
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Old 01-16-2016, 11:03 AM   #4
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Adding or shifting ballast may (will) be necessary after the boat leaves the factory. My Nordic Tug came with several 100 pound bags of granite gravel, adjusted and balanced for the factory build components. Once I launched the boat, I added additional front-end weight with a Lofrans windlass and 200 feet of chain. That required a re-balancing, moving ballast bags further aft. Additional non-factory installs (generator, freezer, air conditioner, additional battery banks, etc) will require some ballast adjustments, either shifting or removing ballast. Fully loaded and carrying live aboard "stuff", I raised my waterline about an inch, requiring more ballast adjustments. Ballast adjustments may apply based on your boats total displacement. I doubt that adding a couple of hundred feet of chain would have much effect on a 15-20 ton trawler.
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Old 01-16-2016, 11:50 AM   #5
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Art, you are thinking of planing hulls.

When thinking of ballast you need to think about full displacement. Deeper hulls that need weight at the bottom to add stabilization.

Yes, you could utilize that space for more fuel or water, but as a designer you cannot count on that being there.
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Old 01-16-2016, 12:27 PM   #6
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Art, you are thinking of planing hulls.

When thinking of ballast you need to think about full displacement. Deeper hulls that need weight at the bottom to add stabilization.

Yes, you could utilize that space for more fuel or water, but as a designer you cannot count on that being there.

Kevin - You saying all FD boat's hull designs need "added" ballast? All P hulls need no added ballast? How about SD hulls??
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Old 01-16-2016, 12:49 PM   #7
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Art, you are thinking of planing hulls.

When thinking of ballast you need to think about full displacement. Deeper hulls that need weight at the bottom to add stabilization.

Yes, you could utilize that space for more fuel or water, but as a designer you cannot count on that being there.
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Kevin - You saying all FD boat's hull designs need "added" ballast? All P hulls need no added ballast? How about SD hulls??
Maybe there's some confusion here. My FD boat has "built in" ballast as well as "added" ballast. It has a 6,000lb full keel that helps add stability and tracking. It also has some ballast weights added on the starboard side that I assume are used to "trim" the boat to level. Presumably the distribution of the equipment installed would cause it to list to port without the "added" ballast.

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Old 01-16-2016, 01:15 PM   #8
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Based upon word from a current FD boat designer and builder, additional ballast may be necessary to counteract the effects of bigger than design dinghy stored up top, fly bridge build ons like heavy hard top, country kitchen, solid "glass" enclosures and freezers.
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Old 01-16-2016, 01:24 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Puffin_NT32 View Post
Adding or shifting ballast may (will) be necessary after the boat leaves the factory. My Nordic Tug came with several 100 pound bags of granite gravel, adjusted and balanced for the factory build components. Once I launched the boat, I added additional front-end weight with a Lofrans windlass and 200 feet of chain. That required a re-balancing, moving ballast bags further aft. Additional non-factory installs (generator, freezer, air conditioner, additional battery banks, etc) will require some ballast adjustments, either shifting or removing ballast. Fully loaded and carrying live aboard "stuff", I raised my waterline about an inch, requiring more ballast adjustments. Ballast adjustments may apply based on your boats total displacement. I doubt that adding a couple of hundred feet of chain would have much effect on a 15-20 ton trawler.
Puffin,
Unnecessary weight should be routed out and eliminated always. I have two tons of ballast in the Willard 30 installed by Willard. I needed to remove the lazerette ballast (concrete & steel punchings) for repairs to the stern tube and replaced it w lead. Sheet, tube, rod, plate, bird shot and other shapes of lead "pieces" or chuncks. The lazerette is basically full of lead. Probably too much lead .. lead being considerably heavier than concrete. Also there's nothing heavy fwd .. not even a chain rode.
I really don't like boats heavy fwd so have felt heavy aft is OK. I'ts not. I need to practice what I preach and take out some lead aft. I could "ballance" the inballance w a big winch and chain anchor rode fwd but that would just add a second stupid to the first stupid of having too much weight aft. I probably thought I'd take out lead over time untill my trim was perfect. That leads to what is perfect? I just let it slide untill I didn't think about it. So I'm glad you brought it up. Need to do dat.

I worked at Uniflite and my job for awhile was to move equipment like batteries and holding tanks around in the boats to eliminate "as built" lists. Almost every boat was different so it was a bit of a challange and some manufacturers don't even make an effort in this way. A stock boat should be designed to be balanced properly according to what the NA dictates. But in any boat balance or ballast will have a range of acceptable variance that shouldn't require the owner to scurry about w bags of ballast. I really like to see boaters take the dynamics of weight in theur boat seriously and you obviously do. Great! I've seen too many bow down boats and smaller boats running across the water listing 20 degrees and appearently nobody even notices.
Puffin it's desirable to move equipment in a boat to achieve trim .. not ballast. What did NT offer for ground tackle when the boat was new? Just an anchor in the hold and a cleat? There's a new 26' NT on our float and it has a winch but it's a small one and I don't know how much chain. Ideally you would move tanks, batteries or other heavy stuff to accomodate trim changes due to aftermarket equipment but moving a fuel tank 1 1/2" is not practical. The Mariner kayak has it's seat on sliders like a car to trim the kayak relative to the weight of the paddler. But NT dosn't know if you'll put your dinghy on the cabin top or on davits aft. A small FG rowing dink would't upset the CG enough to need adjustment but a big fat RIB w a 4 stroke engine for planing two or three people in the dink is another matter .... but few will even think about CG.

I'm really impressed w you taking it seriously Puffin.
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Old 01-16-2016, 01:48 PM   #10
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Boats may need added or redistribution of ballast as added changes to the boat happen. However the way I have added additional weight is by added things to counter the weight. So its not ballast in the true meaning but added weight. The Eagle lists to port, by 50 to 75 gallon of fuel or water, so the starboard has 50 to 75 gallon more than the port. So maybe weight is a better word and with a perpose.

Since we bought the Eagle we have added thousands of pounds of weight, granite countertops, larger holding tank, webasto heat, storage boxs filled with stuff, modified stern deck, additional anchor chain. So weight is not as big a factor for a full displacement as a P or SD boat and the reason for other means to be evaluated and looked at.

So I did not add ballast but I did added evenly distributed weight. Keeping the comfort of the ride and the performance of the boat in mind. The way I balanced the boat is the hanging of the doors. They should not hang open or close. That is the same way I level the motor, and having hydraulic jacks is nice.
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Old 01-16-2016, 01:53 PM   #11
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Nothing wrong with adding moving or subtracting ballast provided it is for good reason. For those really worried about extra weight why are you in a Trawler(heavy-bulky boat) usually with huge heavy tankage which is rarely needed.. Not every boat can leave the build shop perfectly balanced with no future need to add or subtract equipment. I see no reason to get bent out of shape about added or moving ballast.
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Old 01-16-2016, 02:02 PM   #12
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Kevin - You saying all FD boat's hull designs need "added" ballast? All P hulls need no added ballast? How about SD hulls??
Art there is some confusion in this thread because you used the word "added ballast"

I am assuming in my responses that you were referring to any intentional ballast designed into the hull. I.e. Encapsulated into the hull. Others here are referring to weight, like sacks of gravel added to trim the boat.

Based on that, yes pretty much all full displacement boats require ballast as part of their design. Planing and semi planing boats typically do not incorporate ballast into their designs
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Old 01-16-2016, 03:10 PM   #13
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A completely misleading thread title IMO. Additional ballast happens every time you step onboard the boat. Pull the generator out of your Tolly and replace it with solar panels in place of your flybridge Bimini top and let us know your opinion on additional ballast then. Ballast is a tool used to make your boat float in a generally upright position.

For those of you arguing performance must have no racing experience as adding ballast is considered a positive attribute, especially boats. In general building light and strong is preferred so as to allow added ballast to be placed where it is most advantageous to maximize performance, typically low and inboard but not always. Sail racers call moveable ballast "rail meat".

I would love to read what Tad Roberts thoughts on this subject are.
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Old 01-16-2016, 04:04 PM   #14
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There is no good or bad. The reason we do anything to our boat is to make it "better". Better suited to our use, adding or removing ballast is just that, no different than trading anchors or refrigerators. Ballast added or removed will change the boat's behavior in some conditions, hopefully you understand the pros and cons of your actions. Occasionally you'll change something on the boat and be surprised at the result, experience will follow

Adding ballast may make a boat faster or slower, more rolly or less so, more pitchy or less so, more or less stable, safer or less safe, more efficient or less so, more comfortable or less so....lots of variables.

Years ago, when all small powerboats were custom built of wood, all ballast was, "added". The boat was launched with little or no ballast aboard, and she floated quite high. Ballast was added until the Skipper was happy, and this might involve a few sea trials to discover the results, adding or shifting ballast until a happy medium was reached. And when the boat was sold and new Skipper came aboard, the process might start all over again.
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Old 01-16-2016, 05:21 PM   #15
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Some boats need ballast for stability. It's a good thing when added weight helps with stability and does other things too.

I added 2100lb down low centerline on my boat. Improved stability a good bit. It also pushes the boat!!
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Old 01-16-2016, 05:48 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Art View Post
We all know what "added" ballast in a boat is primarily meant to accomplish. What we do not know: Why wasn't the boat designed in the first place to not need "added" ballast?

"Added" ballast, although a useful commodity when required do to a boat's design, is quite simply "dead weight" that uses fuel as well as increases lifting and setting needs during haul out and/or dry storage... for any reason.

I've never owned a boat that required "added" ballast to correctly perform. I know of plenty of boats that do. All my boats without "added" ballast correctly performed.

Added ballast in a boat makes me quickly shy away when shopping for a boat.

I hope some of the design gurus on TF can enlighten me and others on the pros and cons of "added" ballast's true needs and true benefits just in order to enable a boat's design to perform correctly in the water... wherein without the "added" ballast it simply does not act very well at sea.

Art
"Ouch!!!" Art, art, I am shocked!!! Were you not involved with all the discussion on earlier post of some time ago,regarding how and reasons for the 'Slo~Belle' requiring 1400# over the 1500#installed on build design by Ed Monk. that you would ask. Did you miss all of that????? If you did, even though it may be repetitious, I would for a fellow poster, submit a response regarding the subject.
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Old 01-16-2016, 05:55 PM   #17
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Art, after reading Tad, you have your answer, and we all learned something as his answer hit about or all of the reasons ballast changes are made.
And- - - - it saves me from being repetitious!!!

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Old 01-16-2016, 05:56 PM   #18
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Some boats need ballast for stability. It's a good thing when added weight helps with stability and does other things too.

I added 2100lb down low centerline on my boat. Improved stability a good bit. It also pushes the boat!!
Ski,
"Pushes the boat"? How so ... on a huge following sea?


Al,
Art's got a planing boat and ballast is rarely required or desirable in a planing craft. I agree w Art. I'd say it's a sign that something's wrong. I don't know what Ski's talking about yet.
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Old 01-16-2016, 07:21 PM   #19
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Pretty sure he means his ballast weight is connected to a propeller....
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Old 01-16-2016, 07:25 PM   #20
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Pretty sure he means his ballast weight is connected to a propeller....
Wouldn't connecting 2100 pounds to your propeller cause some vibration?
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