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Comparing barrel weight and strength

On the Job | April 1, 2008 | By:

Q: Water or cement—which barrel is heavier?

A: Concrete weighs about 2.4 times as much as water for a given volume. Generally accepted values for a cubic foot are 62.4 pounds for water and 148 pounds for concrete. A standard “55-gallon” drum actually holds more than 55 gallons. A reasonable weight estimate for a water-filled barrel is 480 pounds; a concrete-filled barrel is about 1,140 pounds.

Water barrels can tip, leak, freeze, and slide. Sliding is a big issue, as most water barrels are plastic (slippery), and when water leaks around them, the water acts as a natural lubricant, making the ballast more slippery.

The critical component of this chain of anchorage is the rope. Unless the rope or strap you are using has a breaking strength higher than the ballast, then you have a “weakest link value” of whatever the breaking strength of your rope is.

Ken Keberle is a project manager at Prime Event Group in Tucson, Ariz.,

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