By Ken Keberle
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.