Need INFO on Plate Compactor- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Need INFO on Plate Compactor

    Building lots of berms and want to also compact the trail. It seems that a REversible plate compactor hardens ground to a much higher degree than a single direction plate compactor. Am wondering what the pros use?? The compactor in the link is 300 lbs, 100 lbs heavier than a single direction compactor I looked at. I suppose that will present problems on berms, but will compact to more than 2000 lbs more than the single direction. The reversible is more than $2000 more than the single direction, which is quite a bit. But a compactor that will compact a few more inches of soil at a time is also a labor saver, so thinking I will go with that UNLESS a trail expert informs me that the REversible is too heavy or not necessary.

    I am a big, strong guy and will be able to handle a bigger compactor than most. The soil here is a nice mix of loam, sand and very little clay, therefore a plate compactor is recommended over a rammer.

    Compactor Link: Wacker Neuson BPU 2540A Reversible Vibratory Plate. Contractors Direct

    Informative soil articles:
    1.) http://www.multiquip.com/multiquip/p..._Version_1.pdf
    2.) http://www.tritonsws.com/downloads/9...on-Article.pdf

  2. #2
    FatBike Fiend
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    I've used plate compactors a lot, but not the reversible ones. They look like a handful, especially on berms and outslopes. Is there anywhere locally you could rent a reversible and try it out? Try Home Depot, they have a tool rental service and rent various plate compactors.

  3. #3
    WillWorkForTrail
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    I looked at this yesterday, and thought about it a lot. I mean a lot. I didn't reply yesterday, because I've never used a plate compactor on a trail, nor a reversible one anywhere. That said, I would be happy with *any* plate compactor doing trail work, but honestly, I'd want a smaller one. The amount of compaction the (150lb?) compactor I used (on clay tennis courts) was pretty great. And I'm not sure I'd want to wrestle anything larger than that on a berm, although I'm just using my imagination for that, because as I said, I've never used one on a trail before.

  4. #4
    Dirt Monkey
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    I'm by no means an expert on compactors but it doesn't seem necessary to compact the soil in a berm to the same degree that would be required for say a building foundation which might require a larger machine. I'd be most concerned about productivity and machine weight can play a big part in that if used for a long time. For that reason a smaller machine may be adequate.

    The maximum engine tilt for the model you listed is 20 degrees which would be easy to exceed on most berms. Any concerns about that?

    +1 on renting before you buy to see what works best.

  5. #5
    FatBike Fiend
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    I forgot to mention that not only does a plate compactor get propelled forward by the mechanical action but also tends to wander dramatically sideways on any sort of side slope, which can be hard to control -- even on the smaller models. A lot of times you have to "crab" it like a plane flying in a cross wind to keep it on course. If you have a second person handy you can tie a rope to the front and have someone help guide it with that. Let us know your findings, I'm curious about the reversible models and see used ones come up a lot at equipment auctions. My take is they would be a lot more practical on wider ATV trails and the like than on techy singletrack.

    Whatever you end up getting, they tend to self-destruct with all the vibration so make sure you keep all the nuts and bolts tight. Good luck.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all the great info guys!! I appreciate it. Renting first makes a LOT of sense. That is what I will do. There is a Sunbelt rental not too far away. And Aero, yes, I need to look into max tilt.

    This would be used on the beginner and inter. trails. It would not be practical on expert trails like you mentioned wildfire. I talked to my employee who has worked with compactors and she mentioned that it is usually a 2 person operation on berms (with a smaller compactor) as you noted.

    I guess I was approaching compactors in a bigger/better manner. More lbs on the ground, better compaction on berms and also DEEPER compaction on the trail. Whether that matters is another issue. BUT, if indeed better compaction equals more stable berms and faster trail tread, then I guess it could be worth wrestling with a bigger compactor.
    Last edited by snowkraft; 09-30-2015 at 04:55 PM.

  7. #7
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    I've seen people use a plate compactor attachment for a DitchWitch walk behind loader that worked pretty well. Seemed like a lot less work and muscle than doing it with a standalone unit.

  8. #8
    WillWorkForTrail
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren_ View Post
    I've seen people use a plate compactor attachment for a DitchWitch walk behind loader that worked pretty well. Seemed like a lot less work and muscle than doing it with a standalone unit.
    Very true. I suspect a nice SK750 diesel would blow someone's budget pretty quick though. But it WOULD be nice!

  9. #9
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    Yes, that is not in the budget, but would be nice. I looked all over the internet for info on plate compactors for MTB trails but found nothing. Talked to a few fairly knowledgeable people but did not get answers. I think maybe best to talk to an academic.

    It seems strange to me that compaction of berms is so critical, but very little info on compacting them.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    Very true. I suspect a nice SK750 diesel would blow someone's budget pretty quick though. But it WOULD be nice!
    Most definitely - we always rent stuff like this.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
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    I've used a few different plates. Most rental ones are designed for asphalt and don't work great in soil. Best I've used for dirt by a long shot is dynapac LF82 (also sold under Chicago pneumatics brand). Works great in soil (even w/ clay if moisture is right), moves fast, and we took off the oil sensor to get a bit more extreme with it. We still try to keep it as level as we can but it lets us run it up berms lifting the handle and focusing the pressure on the front edge.

    On this model I recommend reinforcing the handle stop tabs with some angle iron. They bend quick as you manhandle it around. I would say unless your trail is flat and pretty tame a 300 lb reversible will be difficult to manage once it goes off the trail or into a soft spot.


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  12. #12
    Almost Human
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    You want a jumping jack for berms IMHO
    Or make a hand tamper. That's the best.

    Just buy a 12"x12" piece of 3/4" plate and about a 6' solid steel pole. Weld together. I've used many time when rebuilding bunker faces on golf courses. The crew *****es about hand tampers but just tell them to suck it up and take turns.

    A jumping jack you can hold at a shallow angle the sled you can't.

  13. #13
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    For berms. 26lb demo hammer w/5" plate.


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  14. #14
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    We have a gas powered plate tamper and it can't handle any steep angles due to the carburetor not able to handle the angles required,it will stall and needs to be put on a flat surface for restart.. The only way to use it, is to tamp the dirt layer by layer like a cake and shave the side off to the angle and cup you want. That, or a fuel injected model like a diesel powered one that could handle steeper inclines...
    Current ride(s) 2011 Santa Cruz Blur LT and a Norco Threshold SL with Di2

  15. #15
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by OscarW View Post
    We have a gas powered plate tamper and it can't handle any steep angles due to the carburetor not able to handle the angles required,it will stall and needs to be put on a flat surface for restart.. The only way to use it, is to tamp the dirt layer by layer like a cake and shave the side off to the angle and cup you want. That, or a fuel injected model like a diesel powered one that could handle steeper inclines...
    It's also a possibility it is an oil level sensor. We unplugged ours but we should probably reconnect it for volunteer days. I've seen people push it vertical until blue smoke comes out of the exhaust...


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  16. #16
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    Of all the compactor plate we used, the only one I can truly recommend are Dynapac. Our plate of choice for trail and pumptrack are Dynapac LF60. For BMX track, we use our LF80. The Dynapac use a standard Honda engine (GX160 or GX200, depending on model). The vibratory system have much more travel than the other offering on the market, meaning the plate work even in soft, loose ground. The LF60 is also lightweight enough (60kg or about 130lbs) that a single person can operate it, but you'll probably want to set up a rope or use a rake to pull it above a certain grade. At 16in wide and with about 2000lbs of compaction, you can go back and forth a few time to reach the compaction required. Hope this help!
    I build trails for moose & beaver
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by drew p View Post
    It's also a possibility it is an oil level sensor. We unplugged ours but we should probably reconnect it for volunteer days. I've seen people push it vertical until blue smoke comes out of the exhaust...


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
    Sorry for the late reply but thanks!! I'll look into that!
    Current ride(s) 2011 Santa Cruz Blur LT and a Norco Threshold SL with Di2

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