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Using plate compactor on soil

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2008-10-11          157185


Are there any tricks for using a plate compactor on clay soil to keep the soil from building up on the plate so it continues to move easily? It works great on gravel, but I was hoping to use it on soil too. Is that not advisable?

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Using plate compactor on soil

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harvey
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 1539 Moravia, NY
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2008-10-12          157189


Keep the moisture as low as possible. Make sure the plate is clean, not rusty, and free of big nicks and dings. Sprinkle dry sand over the top of the clay. ....

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Using plate compactor on soil

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2008-10-12          157190


Sounds like the clay is just too wet. Let it dry out for a few days.

Depending on how wet it is and how deep it is it could a long time to dry out. And it also depends on how thick the lifts or layers are. Generally we use anywhere from 3-4" for crushed stone and 6-8" for Class 2 Sand. If you are trying to compact the top of a really thick lift all you're going to do is do the first few inches--the compaction process won't reach more than that.

The vibration frequency is also critical---all materials react or compact at different rates or frequencies. One-size-fits-all doesn't work here.

IMHO it depends on the application if you want moisture: Backfilling a trench. Yes; backfilling the last layer for a new seed bed for a lawn. No; backfilling the wall you're working on. Yes.

Keep in mind by compacting it you are driving out the air pockets causing the particles to (in this case) bind or stick together. That's fine if that's what you want.

Plate compactors are not made for all soil type too.

You might want to consider a "jumping jack" or foot compactor--generally these are for loose, dry materials. A plate compactor will sometimes vibrate itself right into the material like it's doing with your wet clay.

If the compactor is a reversible plate type, it should esily work either direction. If it doesn't want to propel itself, try rotating the handle bar over the machine and pulling it. ....

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Using plate compactor on soil

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2008-10-12          157192


Good information, thanks a bunch.

This is a reversible compactor, not a jumping jack. When the clay builds up on the plate it won't go in either direction without a lot of effort. The soil is wet enough that a handful will easily clump together. It's too late to expect it to dry completely out this year so I'll try some sand.
....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Using plate compactor on soil

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2008-10-12          157199


I haven't tried sand though it may work. Short of that try dry straw, dry grass clipping or even dry leaves. I'd rent jumping jack from Home Depot. It should have the same effect of pounding your fist in bread dough or modeling clay if the clay is that wet. ....

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Using plate compactor on soil

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2008-10-14          157240


Ken, you should also be aware that any 'portable' compactor isn't really going to do much compaction to anything more than about 3" in a single shot.

If you need for instance to compact 12" of soil, you would need to put down 4 layers of 3" each and compact each one in turn.

Jeff is right about the jumping jack, it will do a better job on native soil.

Best of luck. ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Using plate compactor on soil

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2008-10-14          157241


I ended up compacting it the hard way. I made a makeshift manual compactor with a four foot 6x8 with some screwed on 2x4 handles. Dropping it on the soil from 18" or so up did a pretty good job compacting. It was hard work but only the soil immediately in front of a 40' retaining wall needed compacting, the plate compactor did the big gravel area behind the wall.
....

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