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Old 01-12-2012, 08:37 PM   #1
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Default Recommend a good air compressor

I have a small 1 HP Sears twin cylinder on a 12 gallon tank. It's billed as a "paint sprayer compressor", and develops [email protected]/[email protected] Max pressure is about 100 PSI, and it's not quite enough.

I bought it years ago at a garage sale, and the PO used some sort of heavy motor oil in it. I drained, flushed and refilled the crankcase, and it ran pretty well. The problem is, when it's cold, I have to pull the release valve until it runs long enough to warm up, or it stalls out and the belt slips. Or worse, it pops the breaker, and I have to run down in the basement to reset. Tightening the belt didn't help, it just runs out of steam when it's cold. Belt dressing helped, but I'm sick of dicking around with the thing.

Recently, I ran 220V out to the garage. Digging a 50 foot trench 48" deep sucked badly, but it's done. So, I now have the means and the desire for a bigger unit.

Plans are to use the air tools I have (mostly Craftsman) without having to fart around with the compressor every time I go to use it. I want enough oomph to run an angle grinder, and it's gotta have the ***** to loosen overtorqued (Screw you, Monro!) lugnuts, so I'm thinking 125 PSI, because mine just doesn't quite do it.

ABSOLUTELY NO OIL FREE CRAP! US General (Harbor Fright), Ingersoll-Rand, Puma, Qinncy, Craftsman, etc? the list is seemingly endless.

So, in no particular order:
1. How big a tank? 30 gallon or go bigger?
2. Max PSI? Is 125 enough, or go for more?
3. Brands to avoid/brands to get?
4. How much CFM is necessary?
5. Is 220V necessary, or overkill?
6. Single or dual stage?

I'm 50, and I want this to be the last compressor I'll ever buy. So, I'm thinking I can talk the wife into letting me drop about a grand if I talk nice (shamlessly grovel) Idealy, less is always better, but I don't want to cheap out by $100 and be disapointed later. Any advice appreciated.
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Old 01-12-2012, 08:48 PM   #2
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In for these answers.
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Old 01-12-2012, 09:47 PM   #3
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I can't be of any help on the compressor front (mine's a 5gal 120v HF unit) but on the subject of tank size, remember that this is easily expandable. Propane tanks are adequately rated for use with shop air, and they can be had very cheaply. Your neighbors probably have at least one each just sitting outside connected to their gas grills.
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Old 01-12-2012, 10:01 PM   #4
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I believe Jeffman has been through two of those black stand-up Harbor Freight compressors. If you buy one, do yourself a favor and tape the receipt to the tank so you won't lose it when its time to return it.
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Old 01-13-2012, 10:58 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rleete View Post
So, I now have the means and the desire for a bigger unit.
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Old 01-13-2012, 11:24 AM   #6
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All I know is that next time I'll spring for a continous duty motor...
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:11 PM   #7
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That's it? Advice not to buy chinese ----, and to recommend stealing the neighbor's propane tanks?

Sheesh, don't you people work on cars?
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:40 PM   #8
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Well since you have 220v, I'd recommend this one. http://www.northerntool.com/shop/too..._158284_158284 It's obviously pricer than the HF stuff, but it's got a nice sized tank, good CFM that should pretty much run anything you'd need, rated for continuous duty, if you buy the startup kit they extend the warranty to two years (not that you'd need it considering it's IR), AND that price includes free shipping for a 300lbs compressor. It's the one I've been eyeing, but I need to finish up some other stuff in the garage to make room first.

The way I look at it, is you can buy a cheaper HF one and the hassle of lugging it back and exchanging it when it breaks, etc... or you can have this one last pretty much as long as your garage assuming you take care of it.
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:45 PM   #9
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I went for the cheap single stage 60 gal. HF at $400 + $80 for the 2yr replacement warranty. That was about the price of used "brand name" compressor on CL w/o the warranty and the HF has mostly positive reviews on the HF site and other places (like garagejournal). I was shopping your range, and that will definitely get you a 2-stage 60/80 gallon 5+hp. I just couldn't justify the cost given how little I would use it, and the cheap HF was double the capability of my current compressor. Brands I was considering based on research/reviews were BelAire, Shulz, Sanborn- though some were just over the $1k mark.

Here's the 60gal BelAire I was looking at specifically:
Amazon Amazon
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Old 01-13-2012, 05:42 PM   #10
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brgracer, good link. As I looked at it, the site recommended a slightly larger model for about $300 more. Still an I-R, but 5 instead of 3 HP. Both have 60 gallon tanks.

Would you, if you had the money, go for the larger one, or is it just overkill? I'm certainly not running any kind of production shop here, but it really sucks when you're using a cut off blade and you have to stop to let the compressor catch up.
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Old 01-13-2012, 07:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rleete View Post
brgracer, good link. As I looked at it, the site recommended a slightly larger model for about $300 more. Still an I-R, but 5 instead of 3 HP. Both have 60 gallon tanks.

Would you, if you had the money, go for the larger one, or is it just overkill? I'm certainly not running any kind of production shop here, but it really sucks when you're using a cut off blade and you have to stop to let the compressor catch up.
Well, I looked at the bigger one too, and while I'd like to think that one day I'd find the time to get into a much bigger project with bodywork requiring higher consumption tools like a dual sander/grinder/etc..., I think that's pretty much a pipe dream at this point with three kids. Even so, the lower HP compressor wouldn't really have an issue running those air tools, you would have to wait for it to recharge every now and again. My reasoning was that the lower HP one would suit 99.9% of my needs, I just didn't see a reason to go larger. You'll hear of plenty of people with cheaper 3HP compressors from Craftsman/HF/etc... who are unhappy because it could not handle their higher flow air tools, but the "honest" rating (not manufacturer's claim) of CFM was usually lower, it usually wasn't a belt driven compressor, and they are generally not rated for continuous duty. On the flipside, the only downside to the 5HP one is the extra money for additional headroom if one day you need it.
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Old 01-13-2012, 11:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rleete View Post
That's it? Advice not to buy chinese ----, and to recommend stealing the neighbor's propane tanks?

Sheesh, don't you people work on cars?
Didn't wait very long for advice did you? <G>

I'm getting ready to build a garage/workshop and a new compressor is the first thing I am going to put in it. My current 25 gal - 5 HP - oil free is not going in my new shop because it is TOO DAMN LOUD. I was thinking HF refurb'd US General ($400 + 2 year extended) at first but I think I am leaning towards a Ingersold Rand 60 gallon from tractorsupply.com (we just had a store open up about 10 miles from here). It is $600+ which is probably a fair price. Only 3 HP though but 11.3 CFM @ 90 doesn't sound horrible.

I do have a friend with a dad wanting to get rid of his broken compressor (FREE). If I manage to actually get it everything above is moot. My dad has an extra motor (not sure of the HP) and the friend's dad has two heads for his (I'm guessing the motor is broken or he would have swapped it out).
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Old 01-14-2012, 12:09 AM   #13
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Short version: 175 psi is nice with the impact for tight fasteners. Higher cfm (12+ in my opinion) is great not only for running tools but also reducing fill time. Based on my compressor buys, I'd get a 60+ 175 psi (likely two stage) 15+ cfm 240V compressor off of Craigslist.

Long version: I was looking for my first air compressor a few weeks ago and now I have two in the garage. I wanted 25+ gallons, oiled, dual stage, and anything worth owning and not portable looked to be 240V. Didn't want a HF and haven't read much good stuff about cheaper, newer units so I went looking for something on Craigslist.

First one (wasn't sure what I really wanted when I got this): dual stage oil-free craftsman professional 25 gallon. portable. 5.3 @ 90. 175psi. 120V. The check valve, unloader valve, and regulator were leaking so I replaced everything and it works fine. Takes forever to pump up to 175 psi, loud, but not as bad as some of the single stage craftsman's I've heard, and 5.3 cfm can't do much. This thing has no hope keeping up with any of my grinders. The higher psi is nice for an impact gun and stuck bolts. I'm thinking of selling it, but it's a decent portable unit and 175 psi is useful.

Second one: single stage Curtis 23 gallon. oiled. portable. 12.3 @ 90. 125 psi. 240V. It's loud, but at a lower frequency than the craftsman. 12.3 cfm is awesome. This thing fills the tank in about 1 minute from 0 psi and can run grinders. 240V is not very portable. I got this because the craftsman's 5.3 cfm was disappointing and Curtis makes good stuff.

What I should have gotten: snap-on 80 gallon 175 psi dual stage. 20+ cfm @ 175. This beast weighs 300+ lbs, but aside from not being very portable, I would never outgrow it. Too bad it's a 3 hour drive away.
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:43 AM   #14
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I'd want a 5hp 12cfm compressor, with something like a 4' x 1.5' tank, brand I dunno.

I currently run a continuous duty, non-oil-less, 120v, 1.5hp, 4.5cfm, 125psi, 5gal, 15 year old "Air Boss" unit. It's the best small unit I've used but it leaves a bit to be desired if you're sandblasting or painting. I've sandblasted a lot of the bottom of my car and it seems if I operate the blaster 60-70% of the time the compressor keeps up. Other tasks it's great at it just weighs a ton (55-60lbs) for portable.

You'll appreciate having the extra power in the garage, I have 1 15 amp, 120V line in mine and it is painful. I have to run an extension cord to the dryer plug (next to the garage) to weld since my hydro panel is full and I'm lazy.
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