Rollers and Compactors

This gallery of equipment images is designed to help you identify common types of rollers and compaction equipment, both past and present.

20 photo(s) Updated on: 03/13/2013
  • Drum roller: The first mechanical rollers were simple steel drums drawn by stock, with a seat atop the frame for the teamster.
  • Sheepsfoot roller. Dirt was first compacted by the hooves of a herd of sheep or other stock. Pulled by a tractor, the sheepsfoot roller uses spikes on a drum to imitate the action of hooves.
  • Grid roller. Produced by the Hyster Company, the tractor-drawn grid roller uses a heavy steel mesh to pulverize and compact the surface. The concrete blocks add weight.
  • Steam roller: 1925 Buffalo-Springfield 5-ton tandem. The first self-propelled rollers were the genuine steam rollers, but the name has carried forward to today’s diesel-powered machines.
  • Tandem roller: 1958 Buffalo-Springfield KT19A. Weighing up to 14 tons, a tandem roller does its work with two static, dead-weight steel drums across the machine’s full width.
  • Tri-Tandem roller: Galion TC14-20G. A tandem roller with a third drum, this 20-ton machine was used to compact asphalt pavement from the 1940s until the late 1960s.
  • Three-wheel roller: 1960 Buffalo-Springfield VM32D. Tandem and three-wheel rollers date to the steam era. The one front and two rear drums compact earth, gravel and asphalt across its full width.
  • Towed pneumatic roller: 1954 Bros R67. Pulled behind a wheel tractor, the roller’s two rows of tires knead the surface without crushing it. A hopper between the axles carries ballast for weight.
  • Proofroller: Bros 450. Four oversize tires and a ballasted weight of 50 to 100 tons provide deep compaction of earth fill. They are still used, although production apparently ended in the 1970s.
  • Pneumatic roller: 1964 Ferguson 2511. Self-propelled pneumatic rollers came out in the early 1950s, and have been ballasted from 9 to 35 tons. Today, they are used mostly to compact asphalt pavement.
  • “Skirted” pneumatic roller: 1968 Bros SP10000. Some pneumatic rollers are equipped with heat retention shields, or “skirts,” to trap the heat of asphalt pavement as it works.
  • Static compactor: FWD Wagner SF430. Combining the work of a bulldozer and sheepsfoot roller into one machine, these rollers spread earth and rock fill, and compact it by dead weight.
  • Landfill compactor: Rex 3-70 Trashmaster. Similar to a static compactor, a landfill compactor is equipped to crush and compact refuse and backfill at sanitary landfills.
  • Towed vibratory roller: 1965 Bros VP20D. A vibratory roller’s drum contains a whirling eccentric that causes the drum to vibrate, amplifying its compacting force. This one is pulled by a tractor.
  • Self-propelled smooth vibratory roller: 1970s-1980s Tampo RP16D. Vibratory rollers come with one drum or two, and the single-drum rollers can have smooth or padfoot drums.
  • Self-propelled padfoot vibratory roller: c. 1973 Raygo 410A. The padfoot drum is used like a sheepsfoot roller to compact earth and rock fill. The pad feet are much shorter than a sheepsfoot’s spikes.
  • Tandem vibratory roller: c. 1980 Bomag BW220AD. This roller uses two full-width smooth drums to compact asphalt pavement. Unlike the tandem roller’s dead weight, both drums vibrate to increase force.
  • Walk-behind vibratory roller: 1975 Essick VR30W. Designed for work in confined areas, this roller hooks to the back of a dump truck. Other walk-behind rollers compact backfill in trenches.
  • Vibratory plate compactor: 1961 Jackson Multiple Plate. Each steel plate is electrically vibrated. Road compactors like this have been obsolete since the 1960s, but walk-behind types are used today.
  • Rammer, or Jumping Jack: c. 1980 Bomag T50. The rammer’s gas engine powers a piston and spring that causes the rammer’s plate to hop up and down rapidly.

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