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Roller Compactors: Maintenance and More

Roller compactors are essential when it comes to any compaction job. Whether it’s a smooth drum, pad foot or multi tyred roller, they all have common maintenance needs. 

Our National Product Manager, David Kidd and Repair Manager, Dion Cooper share their application, maintenance, and operation tips to keep your roller compactor in tip top shape. 

Roller Types and Applications

Smooth Drum: Designed for uniform compacting, crushing, and finishing and is ideal for static rolling when full compaction is complete or when ground vibration is not permitted. It achieves a constant uniform surface while still compacting. 

Padfoot: (Also known as sheep’s foot) is ideal for drying, crushing, and kneading materials to eliminate water and air voids. It is best for cohesive soils with high water content. These are used in granular soils. 

Multi-tyred: Perfect for drying, kneading, and creating a denser base and surface structure. The tyres generate vertical pressure and horizontal forces, which produces a denser surface structure and is useful for closing stress fractures created by other rollers. 

Roller Compactor Maintenance

“Before you start each day do a quick walk around the roller to visually inspect anything that may be amiss. Look for loose wiring and hoses, check for leaks and be sure that the electrical controls are in good condition,” notes David. 

It’s also a good idea to check backup alarms, warning beacons and headlights are operating properly, and that the centre joint and parking brake are working. A daily checklist for this is highly recommended. 

1.      The drum

It is important that you make sure there are no dings in the drum surface and that the drum is clean before each use, as a damaged or dirty drum will result in imperfections on the surface and mat. 

As drums are the core of the roller, you should check the oil levels weekly and take samples regularly to prevent them getting too low as this can cause your bearings to be out. 

2.        Fluid levels 

“Keep all fluid in check so the engine performs at an optimum. The maintenance decal on the machine will ensure that all fluid and lubricants are at a good level and will indicate what levels the machine should be at, and when you should check the engine oil and coolant,” says David. 

3.        Water system

The water system is key to your roller functioning correctly. If it’s not maintained, asphalt can start sticking to the drums. 

“Fill the tank with clean water to lubricant the drum and stop asphalt sticking or clogging the system. If you have a water filtering system, check it regularly,” says Dion. 

A simple way to keep the spray-system in good working order is by ensuring the nozzles are spraying evenly so the compaction process remains consistent.

“Nozzles can crack and clog so always give them the once over and replace them immediately if need be.

“The tank also needs to be free of algae, calcium deposits, or other contaminants at all times so give it a routine clean,” adds Dion. 

4.        Drum scrapers

Drum scrapers hold the water to the drum to ensure proper lubrication, so regular maintenance is essential, otherwise you’re going to lose water between the scraper and the drum, and asphalt will start sticking to the edges.

“Transporting the machine can move things out of place, so check that the drum scrapers are properly adjusted before starting work and if the roller is going to be running for an extended period to get it to the jobsite, either keep water on them or retract the scraper so it doesn’t touch the drum,” notes Dion. 

5.      Air filters

Stop the engine from running too hot and prevent generating unnecessary levels of exhaust by checking the air filter isn’t clogged.

“Replace it rather than try cleaning it if it is dirty,” says Dion. 

6.       Hydraulic system      

Check the hydraulic oil level inside the engine compartment and aim to change it after 1,000 to 2,000 hours of work. If the colour of the oil is dark and grimey, that indicates the need for an oil change.

7.       Shock mounts

Shock mounts are the rubber mounts that isolate the vibration of the drum from the operator and directs the energy from the drum into the mat. These can obtain cracks and tears, so check them often and if they begin to tear or fail, replace them. 

8.       End of the day

Fuel your roller up at the end of the day to reduce the likelihood of condensation in the tank which can cause problems.

“It’s a good idea to give all the cab glass a wipe over as well so it is ready to go in the morning” says Dion. 

“Your roller should be locked and secured when not operating. Many construction sites will contain a lockable compound to store machines. This eliminates the machine being out in the open and susceptible to vandalism and theft,” adds David. 

Operating a Roller Compactor

Avoid any adverse effects on the surface quality by using the machine at the correct amplitude or frequency for the job, otherwise you might fracture the aggregate. 

Over compaction can damage the surface and the machine by prematurely wear the shock mounts, so follow the user manual to make sure you’re operating correctly with the corresponding surface. 

We understand that even with the best maintenance, incidents can happen. If you need to lodge a claim, contact our mobile plant and equipment experts on 1800 684 669.