Compressor... Yikes time for a new one?

Tue Jan 03, 2006 6:52 pm

My little Craftsman 'Professional' pancake hacked up the piston and now I am trying to figure what to do.
It is handy to be able to transport a compresor (for a nail gun, etc) but I am disappointed when it comes to run air tools (was swapping the winter tires onto the truck when it happened).

I can fix it for about $75 with parts from Sears...(cost about $200 new in 95) but I really would like to find a 'real' compressor so I could run a die grinder or paint gun. Shame that a broken 10-24 screw breaking (holds the top of the piston) would 'ruin' the compressor.

Guess I will start to keep a better eye out for a bigger compressor, I have been looking for a while.

Anybody got any words of wisdom on shopping for another compressor?

Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:12 pm

This is the one I've been looking at.

Anyone have any comments pro or con?

Tue Jan 03, 2006 8:09 pm

Don, one word of warnign, 7 HP PEAK is only aobut 3 1/2 actual running horsepower. many of the companies had lawsuits filed and ended up apying lawyers big bucks, and consumers very small bucks, over using that term. All the major manufacturers have aggreed to stop using it. Horsepower of an electric motr is deirved by using a formula of votlage and current. Peak is the curretn used in starting the compressor, and is not a reliable factor in determing it's work ouptu.

Tue Jan 03, 2006 8:13 pm

I've had my larger compressor for at least 12 years. It came from Quality Farm and Fleet long before they went belly up. I had the choice between a 5 HP unit and a 6 1/2 HP one for maybe $150 difference in price. On very close examination the main differences were in the intake filter and the diameter of the motor pulleys!!! The motors were IDENTICAL!!! Naturally, the larger pulley put more load on the motor and caused it to work harder, but GEEZE, LOUISE I can change the pulley for a lot less than $150.

My compressor is on 24/7 and the only problem I've had with it is a switch... replaced under warranty. I still run it with the original pulley.

My advice... shop carefulley. You don't always get what you pay for.

Tue Jan 03, 2006 8:28 pm

keep your eye out at walmart too. i picked up a cleareance special. non oil unit, yes its loud, but it runs my nailers fine, and is very portable. for $45 i didnt think i could beat it. i got a big one in the barn for tractors. this one just for the wood shop and nailers. suits its purpose fine, and i didnt have to lay out a lot money, had it a couple of years, and got more than my money back already, if it dies today, i'll go get another one for the same price or less. they even through in another nailer to sweetne the deal. what a bargain. this is one time a cheaper solution worked out for me. its a campbell hausfield (i think) blue

Tue Jan 03, 2006 10:33 pm


All I can say is what I have said before and George has also said it.

You saw my DeVilbliss..... I bought that used 15 years ago... only had to replace the starter on it.. 100 gal lay down tank, external direct feed air.. 5 HP with a good cylinder head...

Used - Commercial!! Shop at a compressor shop... ask for used...

Marc up the road -- the guy we visited -- just bought a 6-1/2HP Dual twin.. cheap -- bought it form a commercial dealer...

Stay out of Lowes and Home Depot and Sears. Buy a good used commercial compressor. Keep your ears pealed -- lots of garages upgrading... paint shops, tire shops etc... can't beat em..

As George said - runs 24/7 for last 15 years... still running. best deal I ever got..

Tue Jan 03, 2006 11:27 pm

Yep John, as a result of that air compressor class action lawsuit I got a roll of teflon tape, paint gun (very cheap unit) and a set of impact sockets. If I recall most all of the oil-less compressors are made by DeVilbiss. The issue was the 'rated' or listed HP of the compressors was max and not duty cycle or words to that effect.

And Rudi... I have been looking for about a year now, but it hasn't been as 'urgent' as it is now. I agree about Sears and Home Depot, Lowes does seem to have pretty good quality (at least for stuff like dimesion lumber). HD I don't trust regardless of what brand it is! I know they force manufacturers to sell them lesser quality but you can't tell that from the price or even the packaging.

I only have one leg in the garage (120v) so I may have to upgrade the power to get what I want running out there.

Thanks for the advise so far.....

Wed Jan 04, 2006 12:14 am


I know you like to invent things from scrapyard finds sometimes, so:

For many years, we ran a 1 hp motor to a single-stage belt driven compressor (the compressor probably could have handled 5hp), and the key was the 60 gallon tank, and a shop full of 1" iron air pipe. Having air exactly where you need it is a wonderful thing, and the piping adds a whole lot of drawdown capacity to the system.

The old tanks from the days of coal-fired water heaters make excellent air tanks, if you are putting together a system of your own. They were pressure tested to 300 psi by law. You can stand them in a corner anywhere in the system, and they even have a drain port on the bottom. You can pick up wonderful old air pumps in a lot of scrapyards too.

The one I am using in my shop at the moment is a 1909 compressor pump that my grandfather and his brother originally used in their housepainting business. I have to run an oil separator right after the pump, because it dumps so much oil into the air, but what the hell......

Wed Jan 04, 2006 10:07 pm

Don McCombs wrote:This is the one I've been looking at.

Anyone have any comments pro or con?

Don, I bought that Lowes compressor not long ago. I just finished running conduit and pulling wire to it. It runs smooth and quiet and looks to be well made. I'm going to run 3/4" type "L" copper with 1/2" drops in several places around the shop for the air line.

Wed Jan 04, 2006 10:41 pm

Thanks, Alan.

Thu Jan 05, 2006 8:49 am

This may sound a little crazy but-
I have always derated my air compressors myself. I'll explain: In order to get good life I lower the pressure cutoff sw at least 25psi from the factory setting. On any compressor single or double stage that still keeps you above 90psi. By reducing the stress on the unit you will extend the life considerably. Yrs ago my brother had a wood shop and he bought one of those black max (popular in the 80's) compressors as did others in the business in our area. Everyone that we know that bought one had theirs go tits up. As soon as my bros was in the shop I turned the cutoff down to 100psi and the unit is still functioning fine today 20yrs later. I have at least 3 other examples like that. My own person compressor is still going strong for over 20yrs. It is a double stage I turned down to a cutoff of 150psi from 175psi. Takes much stress off of the motor and pump.

Thu Jan 05, 2006 9:55 am

WK, I've been thinking of doing the same with my CH, but have never gotten around to it. I've noticed it really strains and takes forever to get form 100 to 125 where it cuts off.

Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:32 am

Thanks WK, I should have done that all along on this one. It sure does (did) struggle after about 90psi.

And Tom, guess I should study the thing in the barn up north... I believe it is a cast iron compressor.... mmmm convert the motor on the Sears and use a bank of old propane tanks or something! Will try to put my frugal Yankee thinking cap on for that one. Not easy for me, cause I am not a native Yankee.

Fri Jan 06, 2006 6:14 am

I don't know if I would go with propane tanks, as water will accumulate in them, and they have no way to drain it out. Most welded steel tanks will take 100 lbs...even old expansion tanks. If you're gonna run it higher than that, I'd go with an old water tank.

Drawdown capacity is the key in these older systems. You won't miss the high-powered compressor under most applications if you have enough capacity. Painting is a notable exception.

Tue Jan 10, 2006 2:26 am

Thanks Tom, but I was sorta kidding.

But what I ended up with is a small, old (vintage unknown but no guard on the pulleys) Speedaire with an oiled cast single cyl. Suffering a bit of buyers remorse at the moment. Looks like the tiny leak I could hear but couldn't pin down is the PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE or what is left of it. It came with a staple gun.

So I figure I can use the relief valve off the Sears and take the nice new tank drain (that replaced the pet cock that always leaked) I guess I should be good for a time. Also got a good size vice to replace the broken one (NOT ME!).

Any tips on draining the cyl and reoiling it? Dare I open up the cylendar

It seems to run OK, and the cut off is set to about 90 PSI, which seems good based on the above advise.

I was also wondering if it would make sense to use the 6 gallon tank off the sears as additional 'storage'? That may be a foolish idea. It is a bit to use as a 'portable' tank (I already have one) but could be used for that.