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Historical Construction Equipment Association
Home of the National Construction Equipment Museum


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.

Return to the Equipment Identifier home page.

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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