Wednesday | March 21, 2018

Top Tips for Universal Compaction

Getting your best compaction on a project only happens when the equipment is in good repair and you use it properly. Let’s take a look at this universal roller for some good ideas to help your crew achieve better compaction numbers. These are the top tips for universal compaction.

A universal roller like this is best used for pinching the transverse joint and going around curbs. The articulated joint lets you steer one drum while the trailing drum follows along, offset enough to go around curves and landscaping, etcetera. Make sure both drums are set up for success. In this picture, you can see the scraper bar on the first wheel is broken and needs to be replaced. It hooks onto a spring-loaded mechanism that is broken. Without a functioning scraper bar, the drum can pick up material that globs onto the wheel and creates marks and divots in your mat. It’s a good idea to order the new part before the old one is at this stage of disrepair.

Also pay attention to the wiring harness and connections at the articulating joint. The two grease fittings of the yoke, just below the wiring harness, must be greased every day. It’s a good idea to have the roller operator include this as part of his pre-shift, equipment walk-around routine.

Right above the wiring harness on this machine, you can see the scissors clip is broken, which allows the bonnet to vibrate while the roller is working. This is a simple strap to replace to keep the bonnet securely in place. It’s a good idea to get the new part and get this taken care of before dirt and grime get into the engine compartment.

Notice the white plastic bag sticking out of the fuel compartment? That’s not stray trash. That’s a bag that the operator has placed over the fuel spout because the fuel cap has been lost. Yes, you want to cover the fuel spout to keep dirt and debris out, but a plastic bag is not a permanent solution. Order the part you need and get problems solved before they become big problems.

A good idea this operator has put into practice is keeping the fire extinguisher in easy reach. That’s a great safety tip, and he’s taken safety a step further by using a zip tie to secure the fire extinguisher on the operator’s platform in a nook out of the way. Now he won’t trip over the safety device, yet it’s easy to grab if he needs it.

Keep the roller in good repair by watching out for little details like these, as well as the larger maintenance items you see when you’re on the job or performing the daily walk-around. When your compaction equipment is in good repair, it will have its best opportunity to give you a top quality pavement.

John Ball is the proprietor of Top Quality Paving and Training, Manchester, New Hampshire. He provides personal, on-site paving consulting services around the United States and into Canada. For more information, contact him at (603) 493-1458 or

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