Using plate compactor on soil: Excavation  -- Home Building Discussion Forum and Review Using plate compactor on soil: Excavation -- Home Building Discussion Forum

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 10-11-2008, 22:44 Post: 157185
kwschumm



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 Using plate compactor on soil

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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 10-12-2008, 05:38 Post: 157189
harvey



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 Using plate compactor on soil

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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 10-12-2008, 07:22 Post: 157190
earthwrks

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 Using plate compactor on soil

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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 10-12-2008, 09:22 Post: 157192
kwschumm



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 Using plate compactor on soil

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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 10-12-2008, 13:18 Post: 157199
earthwrks

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 Using plate compactor on soil

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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 10-14-2008, 09:47 Post: 157240
Murf

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 Using plate compactor on soil

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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 10-14-2008, 11:32 Post: 157241
kwschumm



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 Using plate compactor on soil

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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