Does anyone have any opinions on what are the best? Wacker, Mikasa, any others? Also, are these machines fairly reliable in general? Cost and ease of repairs? They seem very expensive for what seems to be such a compact and basic machine.
I have an assortment of compactors. The smallest would be a 14" wide bomag. Then a 20" mikasa, both of these I use to compact the stone after it is laid. For the base I have a 500lb bomag diesel plate and I have been renting a 1,100lb bomag for the heavier stuff. These plates are near 15,000 canadian, so renting them at 120 a day seems like a deal to me.
Had an old MBW at my former employers. It worked OK until the exciter locked up!
We then rented an Ingersol Rand plate compactor from the local Bobcat dealership that was around the corner. The IR worked a LOT better than the MBW did. Had a Robin engine which is a Japanese manufacturer, as far as I could tell.
Any vibratory plate compactor is MUCH better than a hand tamper!
I have a Vibromax 900 plate compactor. It is the hardest hitting plate I have ever used. To give an example, I have had concrete guys call me complaining that the subgrade is soo hard that they are killing themselves driving in the concrete stakes. Granted concrete guys love to *****, but I am not kidding when I say that plate packs a terrific punch.
We use a 3400# wacker for everything and it runs great. I did hear that Bomag has a model that can switch from 5000# to 3200# by pulling a knob. I guess it adjusts the frequency or something. I know I will be looking into it. I can't see dragging 2 heavy macines around like that. Trailer space is valuable.
I'm not an operator, only a mechanic. But I will say Wacker is the one I see the least of in the shop, if properly maintained. The biggest thing is a clean air filter and every year change the oil in the exciter box.