View Full Version : Small plate compactors - side by side comparison

05-18-2002, 12:49 AM
Despite my efforts to have redundant equipment at the ready in case of a break down (or large jump in staff), I had our 2 compactors break down within a day of eachother. This resulted in a hasty purchase of a 3rd compactor, along with ordering 2 Honda power plants for the 2 broken ones. The one I just bought is the Wacker 1550. After using it for a day, I liked the speed, but was very impressed with compaction. With that, I thought I'd comment on the compactors we have, and their strengths and weaknesses. I'd love to hear others with experience with several brands to volunteer their observations, too.

Our first compactor - a Stone S-28 - 5hp Briggs. Very heavy, and slow travel, but with that speed it's easy to steer. Rated compressive force is around 3,300#, pretty much the same as the rest. Compaction is good.

Second - Bomag - don't recall the model, but has a 5.5 Honda. Very fast, about 130 pounds. Approximately same rated compaction, and performs as such. One person can lift (with a little effort). Due to speed, a little hard to drive in tight spaces.

Third - Wacker 1550 - 5.5 Honda. Same rated compaction. Not as fast as the Bomag, but almost. And compaction! There was noticeable increase in difficulty of driving edge restraint spikes into the compacted stone, more difficult to pull pipe, much more difficult to rake out high spots. A little heavier than the Bomag, not as heavy as the Stone. I really didn't think compaction could vary that much given the same size engine, but it can.

How 'bout the rest of you hardscapers - any experience with different brands of reversible compactors? That's next on my list.

05-18-2002, 02:11 AM
Stonehenge-Thanks for the info! I'll probably have to use one for a patio I'm doing in a landscape job I've got coming up. It should be a great job to set me off right since it will be my first design/install. Are they fairly easy to operate? I'm not a great precision worker, but I think I could be able to run one.

05-18-2002, 07:17 AM
Hey Stonehenge,

I have a 1550 Wacker.. Love it , It moves pretty quickly and does a nice job compacting. It's relatively easy to manuver too. Easy to service and maintain. It weighs in at 180#'s I belive , so you need two people or a loader to move it around. They do offer a wheel kit , but its $200.oo , So I just put it on a furniture dolly..I have used others as rentals and think the wacker is much faster and easier to handle..

05-18-2002, 08:18 AM

The compactor I run is a smaller SAKAI with a 5.5 hp honda. Its only a 13" plate, but I have been very pleased with it.

The small plate has been great so far. Excellent for wall work and great for doing things such as stairs. For larger jobs, I rent a wider compactor, but find the small plate adequate for most walks and small patios.

I'm looking at new ones still, and am deciding between the wacker 1550 like stones, another SAKAI like I have but bigger, or a Dynapac LF90. My local supplier just started carrying the Dynapac and has some good deals on them, so think I may go that way for price. Around here, the wacker is going for around $1600, while the dealer has the dynapac for 1499 and that includes a wheel kit.

Personally I like the wacker, as most people run them around here. Also, I've had good luck with the Mikasa's, but they are heavy and a little slow.


05-18-2002, 11:11 AM
I use a Mikasa too, with good results. I bought mine second hand from a blacktopper friend. He had it 5 years prior and I've had it 5 years since. It has a Wisconsin/Robyn 5hp motor that starts first pull at the beginning of every season! My only complaint is the parts for the motor are very expensive.

I've got a second Mikasa that was given to me that was good for mosquito control (a real smoker) that eventually blew up. I'm planning to replace the motor with a Honda, I figure the parts are more reasonable.

I'm also interested in the reversable plate compactors, these allow higher gravel lifts to speed the job. I've also considered a vibratory roller for my skid steer, but can't warrant the expense right now.

05-18-2002, 05:05 PM
Scag - these small plates operate alot like a self-propelled lawnmower. The vibration drives them forward, you just have to steer. The hard part comes when you're compacting very near a structure (like a house), and have little space to maneuver, and a compactor that wants to bolt out of your hands. I've been doing it for awhile and it can still be tricky for me, so I never let my newer guys drive them in tight spaces where they could run it into something.

When I first started doing hardscapeswhen still in school, the company I worked for used a Mikasa - I remember it compacting well, and being light enough to lift over screed guides while it was running.

Pelican, I picked up 2 new 5.5 Honda's for $340 apiece from - oh, wait - I may not be allowed to mention who it is. E-mail me and I'll tell you where I ordered them from if you're interested. I run the same engines on my tub saws, so I know I'll get my use out of them one way or another.

Steveair, how does that 13" plate do vs. some of the wider plates in compaction?

S-Rex - I thought 180# sounded heavy, so I checked a site with specs - sure enough, the lightest version of the 1550 is 193#. Doesn't seem that heavy.

05-18-2002, 06:04 PM

I think I met the guy who you bought the engines from.........he was trying to sell me a bobcat with 40 hrs on it for 7k.........seemed like one hell of a deal!

The 13" plate works just as good as the bigger ones, just takes a little longer. When I first bought it, I was always working by myself and had no machine, so I wanted something I could load and move around by myself.

I'm very thankful I have it now. Its a great compromise between a larger plate and a jumping jack. I wouldn't get rid of it for the world. And for those tight spaces, it really works well. If you ever see a used one for a reasonable price, I would buy it, as it comes in very handy.

That's the one thing I never liked is the robin engines. Honda's are much easier to get parts for, and seem to run flawlessy for ever.

Anyone ever buy a small plate with a diesel engine? Looks like overkill, but I suppose it would be handy for indoor work. Can't say I do enough indoor work though, (well, can't say I do any for that matter) to justify $400 on the upgrade.


05-18-2002, 06:44 PM
i run (1) Weber VB 50R it has a 5.0 Hp? honda on it and a 20'' plate... compacts 3000LBs about and runs great... can't complain about it yet... also has a water tank on it for soakin down the aggregate first if nec.

05-18-2002, 07:15 PM
Steveair, I'm not following your thought on the diesel being better for indoor work. Diesels emit CO just as gas engines do and are not suitable for enclosed spaces. Perhaps you are thinking of propane powered machines?

I've been converting my small equipment to diesel to save trips to the gas station. I have a large diesel tank here and would eventually like all my small equipment to burn #2. I've seen diesel engines as small as 4hp on trash pumps. I just wish someone would put one on a walk behind mower.

Stonehenge, I'll contact you about the motor, thanks!

05-18-2002, 11:02 PM
We have moved way from smaller plates, We do have a 1550 and it's a nice finish plate but ..............

For raw compaction a skid steer with a plate runs circles around plates, our reversable plate is a 24" Wacker, it's slow to move around on site and heavy to turn in tight places, a plate on a skid steer is faster to move, no motors to worry about, covers 66" and frees up a man for grade checking. Plus it beats a roller because it doesn't leave waves in the gravel.

05-19-2002, 12:30 AM
I run a Bomag, model is 15/60 or something like that. 5.5 Honda, got a great deal as my Bobcat dealer was closing them out. I love it and it works real well. It is quick though. Have rented a 15/50 Wacker before, no appreciable difference from my Bomag IMO. My first was an MBW groundpoundr. OH My GOD was that thing heavy and slow. Still have it, just need to replace the 4 hp Kohler. Just need it for a backup or maybe put a pad on it.
Steve, I like the idea of a 13" plate for trenches and tight areas. I'll have to give that some thought

Landscaping Fool
05-19-2002, 12:36 AM
I just bought a stone S38 andi am very pleased with it. Very good compaction and good speed. The compaction ia 4000#s. I am curious what do most people use for patios.

05-19-2002, 04:19 PM
Steveair -

This is a reputable outfit - very large. Out of Minnesota, I believe. Or somewhere Northern.

Paul, when did you get a plate for your skid steer? You have a link we could check out? Last I recall you were using a vibrating roller for your skidder. If you hate the reversible Wacker, I might know a guy who'd take it off of your hands... ;) Is it a 3345?

05-22-2002, 04:33 PM
Hey paps, could you see some idiot mistaking the water tank for a gas tank.......uh em I wont say anything more.:o

05-22-2002, 06:33 PM
I'd like to see a link for the skid steer compactor plate as well. I hadn't heard of these before, sounds interesting.

05-22-2002, 07:08 PM
Here's the first http://www.warrenattachments.com/plate_compactor.htm

The other is http://coneqtecuniversal.com/compaction.html

05-22-2002, 09:42 PM

I checked out that web site for Warren, Impressive.... It says it can compact to 18" s .. WOW...... What is that like 15K lbs of force ?? You gotta feel that .. The earth must shake around that thing... Looks like it s smaller than a vibra roller ? Takes up less storage space... Wonder if you can rent one of them ?? That tooth bar looks pretty mean too....

05-26-2002, 07:36 AM
I purchased a Jeonil from Northern Tool last year for less than $1000. I do a few hardscape jobs so this was a good buy for me as it works well and is much more convienient than a rental yard. It has a 5hp Honda (which is actually made in China) and the Jeonil compactor is made in South Korea. I do not have any specs on the compaction rates but it works well, is a little slow and is 16" x 22" plate.


05-27-2002, 11:29 PM
Sorry for the delay Stone, no we are not getting rid of our plates:(
We picked up our skid steer plate this spring, only have done a couple of jobs with it so far. Good points, it's quick, levels as it goes (no waves) and hammers the heck out of base. Bad points, you need a level place to start, and it really shines on larger areas, smaller ones it's tough to use, which means different compaction rates on small tight places.

05-28-2002, 12:31 AM

Do you have experience with the vibratory rollers to make a comparison? I had been considering one for my skid steer, but the compaction rate advertised for this plate tamper exceeds the roller. You mentioned the waves, but are there any jobs where a roller would work better than the plate? I sent an inquiry to your link about price, the roller I had priced was $9000. How does this compare to the plate?


05-28-2002, 12:41 AM
The plate ran close to $7K, we have two rollers for our skid steers, but we found that they make waves in the top cousre that plates don't. Once you understand how a roller works Vs a plate you'll never go back to them. One thing a roller will do better than a plate is compact dirt, here the narrow compaction band that a roller has beats (pun intended) a plate. So for back filling walls a roller will win out over a plate.

05-28-2002, 07:12 PM
Aw, shucks!

Was hoping I'd snare a big plate cheap.

Anyway, those skid steer plates look slick - how do they perform with turns? I notice no sloped edge at the sides and wonder if the plate digs in if you try to turn while compacting.

The drives that we seem to do are small, and I'd think those big plates (skidsteer mounted) would get hard to maneuver and would'nt allow good compaction at the ends of the drive because the plate couldn't get all the way up to the seam where the drive meets the garage.

05-28-2002, 09:56 PM
Stone edges are not too bad, just turn the plate and skid steer sideways. As for turns the best part is picking up the plate for an angle run or lift it off the ground for the next pass.

06-02-2002, 01:44 PM
I visited the Warren Attatchments website through the link Paul provided and made an on line inquiry about the plate tamper we've been talking about. I was a little disappointed that I had received no response, but yesterday I received a package in the mail which contained brochures on their product line and a video on the plate tamper.

These attachments appear very well built in the brochures, not at all cheesy like some I've seen. I'm interested in the dozer blade and a scraping rake they make as well as the tamper.

The video states that the plate tamper generates 5000 lbs of compaction. I noticed in the demonstration they taped tha the resulting compacted material was about 3" lower than the uncompacted, pretty significant. You can't really tell how deep the material they are compacting is though. Paul is right about the price, in the area of $6000 for a 72" plate. Seems like a worthy investment.