File:Wallis-steevens Advance roller DU4737.JPG
Fowler no. 16392 SR - Alice - MB 8144 at Astwoodbank 08 - P6150177

Roller at Astwood Bank show 2008

Pioneer Diesel roller

Early Pioneer diesel roller at Threlkeld

Fordson Utility Roller

Converted Fordson based War Dept utility roller

Aveling Barford GN roller 2354

Aveling-Barford GN roller

Barford Roller - AEG 52A at Belvoir 08 - P5180450

Barford Pioneer compact roller on RRA stand at Belvoir Castle show 2008

Road Rollers The first rollers were steam powered, later they were adapted to Diesel engines. Modern rollers are sophisticated machine with Hydraulic drive, variable compaction, and panoramic operators cabins, that rotate to suit the direction of travel.

History (based on wikipedia entryEdit

A Road roller (sometimes called a roller-compactor, or just roller) is an item of construction plant used to compact soil, gravel, concrete, or asphalt in the construction of roads and foundations.

In many parts of the world, road rollers are still known colloquially as steam rollers, regardless of their method of propulsion. This typically only applies to the largest examples (used for road-making).


The first road rollers were horse-drawn, and were probably just borrowed farm implements (see roller (agricultural tool)).

Since the effectiveness of a roller depends to a large extent on its weight, self-powered vehicles replaced horse-drawn rollers from the mid 1800s. The first such vehicles were steam rollers. Double-cylinder designs were preferred, and Single-cylinder steam rollers were uncommon and unpopular, as the power impulses from the steam engine would produce slight waves in the road. Some road building companies in the United states used steamrollers through the 1950s, and in the UK, some remained in commercial service until the early 1970s.

As internal combustion engine technology improved during the 20th century, kerosene-, gasoline- (petrol), and diesel-powered rollers gradually replaced their steam-powered counterparts. The first internal-combustion powered road rollers were very similar to the steam rollers they replaced. They used similar mechanisms to transmit power from the engine to the wheels, typically large, exposed spur gears. Some companies did not like them in their infancy, as the engines of the era were typically hard to start, particularly the kerosene-powered ones.

Some companies attempted to convert steam rollers int diesel rollers (often when the boiler had failed. Som machines had McLaren diesels fitted. Other were built by the factory, with Marshalls having built at least one that was diesel engined on a steam engine frame.

Virtually all road rollers in commercial use now use diesel powered.


Road rollers work by using the weight of the vehicle to compress the surface being rolled. Initial compaction of the substrate is done using a pneumatic-tyred roller, where instead of the single- or double-drum is replaced by two rows (front and back) of pneumatically filled tyres. The flexibility of the tyres, with a certain amount of vertical movement of the wheels, enables the roller to operate effectively on uneven ground. The finish is done using metal-drum rollers to ensure a smooth, even result.

Rollers are also used in landfill compaction. Such compactors typically have sprags ('sheeps-foot') wheels and do not attempt to achieve a smooth surface. The sprags aid in compression due to a smaller surface area being in contact with the ground.


The roller can be a simple drum with a handle that can be operated by one man, and weighs 100 pounds, all the way up to a massive ride-on road roller weighing 20 tonnes and costing more than £100,000. A landfill compactor unit can weigh 59 short tons (54 tonnes). On some machines the drums may be filled with water.

Roller TypesEdit

  • Manual walk-behind
  • Powered walk-behind (electric or diesel/gas powered)
  • Trench roller (manual units or radio-frequency remote control)
  • Ride-on
  • Ride-on with knock-down bar
  • Ride-on articulating-swivel
  • Vibratory
  • Pneumatic-tyre
  • Tractor mounted and powered (this may be a 'one-off' – see gallery picture below)

Drum typesEdit

Drums come in various widths: 24-to-84 inches

  • Single-drum sheeps/pad-foot (soil)
  • Single-drum smooth (asphalt)
  • Double-drum (duplex) sheeps/pad-foot (soil)
  • Double-drum (duplex) smooth (asphalt)
  • 3-wheel cleat with bulldozing blade (landfills)

Variations and featuresEdit

  • On some machines, the drums may be filled with water on site to achieve the desired vehicle weight. When not filled, the lighter machine is easier and cheaper to transport between worksites.
  • Additional compaction may be achieved by vibrating the roller drums.
  • Water lubrication may be provided to the drum surface to avoid hot asphalt (for example) sticking to the drum
  • Hydraulic transmission permits greater design flexibility (early examples were direct mechanical drive) and reduces the number of moving parts exposed to contaminants of construction sites
  • Human-propelled rollers may only have a single roller drum
  • Self-propelled rollers may have two drums, mounted one in front of the other (format known as 'duplex'), or three rolls, or just one, with the back rollers replaced with treaded pneumatic tyres for increased traction
  • Over the years various strange machines have been built for specialist operations. Including one machine with huge twin drums for a dam building contract to compact the clay core.


UK Manufactures - Steam Rollers Edit

===Other steam roller manufacturers Steam rollers were also made by many ither companies world wide,

UK Manufactures of Motor Rollers (early) Edit

Other manufacturersEdit


  • SD = Single drum
  • TD = Tandem drum
  • PT = Pneumatic tyre — Rubber tyre or multi-tyre are also common
  • 3P = 3-point rollers — These are very similar to the old steam roller design

Modern Rollers and Compaction machinery (Worldwide)Edit

Road Roller AssociationEdit

Road Roller Association The organisation and website for all collectors of rollers.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

  • Road Roller Association – UK-based society dedicated to the preservation of steam (and motor) rollers and ancillary road-making equipment.
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