What is a wacker plate?
A wacker Plate or compactor plate is a mechanical device designed for ground preparation work. A wacker plate would be used for the compaction of sand soils gravels and other substrates in all manner of building and construction environments, for example, a wacker plate would be used to compact the ground prior to laying a patio or wall.
Why the name wacker plate?
Wacker is a German name meaning brave and quite likely the surname of the founder of Wacker the German company, (the predecessor to Wacker Neuson GmbH). When the brand arrived in the UK it was a happy coincidence for the company the name wacker was so like the English word Whack meaning “strike forcefully with a sharp blow” and with the same pronunciations. Over time wacker became so synonyms with the machine correctly called a plate compactor, Most people this name (wacker) for this machine. In the same way, Hoover has been used to refer to the vacuum cleaner. We do not sell “Wacker Neuson” products on this site but for the purposes of simplicity, we will refer the machine correctly described as a compactor plate as a wacker or wacker plate in this text.
How a Wacker plate works
A wacker plate is a simple mechanical device. The main working parts of the wacker plate are the base plate, the agitator and the engine or motor. The compactor plates, base plate is a flat or nearly flat piece of metal and is the part of the wacker that is in contact with the ground, attached to the compactor plates base plate is the wacker plates agitator, the contains an off-center shaft, this is the part of the wacker plate where the vibration is created. Mounted on top of the wacker plate is the engine or motor this provides the wacker plates power to rotate the agitator’s vibration shaft. When the wacker plates engine is running the agitator, the shaft turns at around 3500 rpm (depending on the model type) causing the base plate to jump up and down 1000’s of times a minute. This is the action that causes the wacker plate to compact the ground it is working on.
Different types of wacker plate
There are two main different types of wacker plate with loads of variation in both categories. Single direction wacker plates can start weight wise as low as 30KG and can be as high as 140kg. These wacker plates and a single agitator and will only travel in on direction (forward) The second type of wacker plate is the reversible or forward-reverse wacker plate depending on who you ask. This type of wacker plate can travel in two directions. Forward reverse wacker plates can do this because they either have two agitators (one for each direction) of have the ability to make the agitator turn backward. This second group of compactors can be broken down into sub-sections depending on how the wacker plate is controlled. Bigger brands generally have hydraulic controlled directional change mechanisms this is more efficient and requires less maintenance but add significantly to the cost of a machine. Some smaller brands like Lumag have opted for a mechanical operation to there reversible wacker plate compactors being able to offer models at nearly a 3rd of the cost of the market leaders in some cases, please check out our top reversible compactor selling models. Wacker plates whether single or two direction can be fitted with many types of engine or electric motor and now these are even battery models entering the market. The most common power source for a Wacker plate would be a small petrol engine ranging from 2-15 hp. Wacker plates with diesel engines are generally more at the heavy end of the scale with a minimum of around 7hp you will struggle to find a wacker plate of less than 120kg with a diesel power source. Many of the small petrol compactors will just have a pull starter but as the engines and wackers get bigger the need for an electric starter increases. The wacker plates base plate can be made out of many different types of metals, at the top of the market wacker plate manufacturers generally opt for a cast steel/ iron alloy, this material has better wear qualities and offers for advantages in manufacture having a more rounded profile on the edge of the base plate in some wacker plate uses such as tarmacking are also advantages. The steel base plates favored by Lumag are cheaper to produce and are also easy to repair when they get worn out needing only a welder and no other specialist equipment. Steel base plate when dropped will also tend to bend whereas cast base plated wacker plates can crack in this instance. From a user point of view the handles of the wacker plate are very important some market-leading companies specialize in having very low HAVs the best lowest we have seen are on Fairport products. From a user point of view having the throttle and directional controls close to had is also a must. Lumag compactors all have remote throttles mounted on the handles for ease of use, a feature often missing on the market leaders. The wacker plate handles themselves are often of two main types one or two-piece the single piece wacker plate handles are often an arcing curved design allowing them to be folded down for storage without having to undo clamps and clips. This type of wacker plate handle is a good idea but one-piece handles often overhang the stored machine causing the wacker plate to take up more space. The two-piece design often has a knob or a clip to remove allowing the handle to be folded right in half making this type of wacke plate far better for storage, this is the system used on the Lumag compactor plates.
How to look after your wacker plate
Your wacker plate will need to be looked after if you want it to last. Always refer to your user manual as each wacker plate will have different maintenance requirements. In general, check your wacker plates oil before every use, ensure your wacker plate has clean fresh fuel, make sure your wacker plates bolts and fixing are tight and always ensure all your safety features are working and in place.
And keep your wacker plate clean folks!
How to store your wacker plate
If you are storing your wacker plate for some time you will save yourself problems when you need it again buy ensuring the fuel has been removed. Petrol will go stale after a few weeks, or alternatively you could try out some long life petrol such as aspen.
What wacker plate should I buy?
This is a tricky question what wacker plate you need is really up to you but here is our wacker plate buying advise. Don’t “cheap out” and go too small often people think its just a wacker plate…. it’s not. I read a review of someone slating a brand of the compactor, they had purchased a 50kg single direction plate for a few hundred pounds and there review read like this “it took me ages to do this driveway, I had to go over it twice! Worse compactor ever I had to hire a bigger one” Or maybe he should have brought a bigger wacker plate to start with simply the wrong tool for the job. If you are an intensive wacker plate user, you may have to consider the HAVs and make your purchase chose upon this. If you are planning on hiring a machine out a lot maybe a wacker with fewer maintenance requirements would be better. If you are running a digger or dumper a wacker plate with a diesel engine may suit you more, you won’t need two fuel supplies. If you cover a lot of ground a cast baseplate machine might be better for you, from my experience often wacker plates have been wrecked or stolen long before the base plate gets worn out, unfortunately.
Buy a Lumag compactor plate
Compactor plates form Lumag offer the perfect balance between price and quality. Our wacker plates are durable reliable and have many of the features you would need for a wacker plate. Lumag compactor plates all also come with free rubber paving mats and transport wheels. A great free extra that you would pay handsomely for on a market leader.
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