Friday, February 14, 2014

Maintenance: And then there was air

OK, finally got my hands on a new air compressor. As promised, I got the biggest I could afford - well, OK - the afford part is up for interpretation. . . My own fault really. Harbor Freight has an air compressor under their Central Pneumatic brand that is the same size and specs for about 22% less than the Craftsman I ended up buying, and for all I know they are both built on the same assembly line with the same parts, not at all uncommon these days. But, being a little old school; which is OK since I am a little old; I paid the extra bucks and went with the tried and true Craftsman.

I also went with an oiled compressor this time instead of the oil-less and man what a difference in noise! From my research I knew it had a break-in period where you open the drain valve and let the thing run for 30 minutes straight to seat the rings properly. So when I unloaded it from the van I plugged it into the RV post outside the barn then hesitated to turn it on because my earplugs were still inside the barn and not in my ears. You see I already have a raging case of tinnitus and there's no sense in making it worse any sooner than necessary! But deciding it was OK because I was just going to throw the switch and walk away I - well - threw the switch; and all I got from it was this quiet little puttering!

With my old, oil-free compressor you couldn't talk while it hammered madly away, this new one, well in  a few minutes you'd probably forget it was running until that big hiss as the pressure switch trips and shuts it off. And it probably won't run for more than a few minutes at a time anyway since it only took 6 minutes to fill the 27 gallon tank from 0 to 150 lbs. and 1 minute 20 seconds to recharge the tank from 115 lbs. to 150. I never timed the old air compressor but I know it took longer than that to recharge a 12 gallon tank from 120 to 135 and it was doing it at a piss-poor 3.5cfm@90psi with a 3 horsepower motor where the new compressor does it at 5.9cmf@90psi with a 2 horsepower motor!

I see people commenting on the maintenance free aspect of the oil-less compressors and that is a valid consideration, but it's going to take one heck of a lot of 1 1/2 minute tank recharges to reach the 100 hour oil change interval!! I think I can live with that.

Because this thing is so quiet it saved me from having to reconfigure my sound cabinet in order to fit this relative monster in there alongside the dust collector. Instead I just parked it against the wall between the rodent-proof containers of deer corn and bird seed to the left and the kiln to the right. I had to change some quick-connect fittings around so I could plug it into my air pipe system but that took all of a couple minutes and now I'm ready to go again. Though I do need to add a hook for the hose rather than hang it off the band-saw extension table like that. And I'll probably build some sort of simple base for it to sit on to make it easier to reach the drain valve.

And yes, I've learned my lesson and will be using that drain valve often because, after what I paid, if I mess this one up I'll probably be limited to using lung-power, and I don't think that's going to cut it!!!

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