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Thread: Compressor kibitzing invited

  1. #1

    Compressor kibitzing invited

    Decision point for me: I have an unexpected opportunity to buy a large compressor for a fair, used price.

    I trust the guy selling it -- Bart's a fellow motorcyclist, a generally good dude, and he's been selling off shop tools he no longer needs for eminently fair prices, primarily distributing them among our riding group (full disclosure: not all of us ride anymore, as many of us are too old, fat, slow, or busted up). I recently bought from him a Lincoln 225 welder in nice shape. He offered it to me for 50 bucks after learning that I'd already run a NEMA 6-50R outlet for "future" -- i.e. just in case I decide to learn how to weld worth a dang. That 50 bucks scored me his buzzbox, a few packs of rod, gloves, a helmet, and -- somewhat randomly -- a big Ryobi router with accessories (even came with the manual).

    So I'm confident, even sight unseen, that the big air can is a good deal. It's reportedly an Ingersoll Rand in the 60-80 gallon vertical tank category, with a motor of either 5 or 7.5 hp, and is probably as conscientiously maintained as his motorcycles. Bart says he just changed the oil preemptively and it looked clean; I believe him. He had multiple compressors in his (VERY LARGE) shop, which apparently explains the lack of specifics. Either way, he wants 400 bucks for it. Based on poking around, that seems like a solid deal at the lowest likely level, which would be a 60-gal tank, 5 hp, 230-volt, single-stage, splash-oiled unit. If it's spec'd any higher than that, it's a stone cold bargain (unless it's 3-phase, which is not in my plans or ready resources).

    The question I have is: how useful will this "prosumer" compressor be in a hobby-level wood shop? I currently use a 2-hp, 4-gal. Hitachi compressor, recently mounted onto a caster base as it's gotten heavier over the years.

    My primary uses are nailing, dusting, and tire inflation. I've used larger, borrowed compressors for sandblasting a truck, hand grinding panels, and bead blasting parts, but those aren't my most typical activities.

    Upsides of a bigger unit that I can think of: I admit to having a secret dream of constantly available air over my workbench, with a curly hose hanging there at the ready. There are definitely times when I would happily reach for a nailer if it didn't involve fetching and commissioning the little compressor each time. A dedicated corner compressor could stay charged full-time. Ingersoll Rand even has an auto-draining function to keep me from forgetting to drain the tank. I don't know if my friend has that on his rig, but I do know it exists -- another friend from the same group has that setup on his IR compressor (he calls the automatic drains "shop farts").

    It would also be nice to surround a compressor with sound-deadening panels -- the little sucker I've got now is LOUD. Furthermore, I might consider other air tools if I had a bit more oomph to put behind them.

    Apparent downsides that I'm aware of: I'd have to hold onto my double hot dog anyway for nailing fence, work inside the house, etc. -- basically, any place where I couldn't run a line out of the shop. I surely won't be dragging around a topheavy, 450-lb. monster that's anchored onto concrete.

    The other downside is space management. My new shop is 599 s.f. and not a penny more.

    Will I want to permanently commit around four of those square feet to a beastly compressor, or is this a fool's errand in a hobby shop? And this is where I confess that I already added a 50A breaker, ran a 6/2 circuit to the back corner, and landed it on a disconnect switch... just in case. For the future.

    Like welding.

    So, Sawmill Crickers, I'm curious: what are your thoughts on saddling up to collect an iron monster?
    --Jack S. Llewyllson

    Gratitude is a gift to yourself.

    Purity tests are the bane of human existence.

    Codeine takes the pain from every muscle but the heart.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Jack,

    I am an amateur woodworker with a 720 sq. ft. standalone shop. Among other things, I do turn and use a air sander at the lathe. I have a 26 gallon, single stage air compressor on wheels and a Dewalt pancake compressor that I use for things like inflating tires and using a air nailer in areas other than my shop. At the lathe, I wish I had a bigger air compressor than my 26 gallon single stage. Otherwise, the pancake would work.
    Last edited by Ken Fitzgerald; 03-04-2021 at 5:27 PM.
    Ken

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Llewyllson View Post
    My primary uses are nailing, dusting, and tire inflation. I've used larger, borrowed compressors for sandblasting a truck, hand grinding panels, and bead blasting parts, but those aren't my most typical activities.
    I do automotive work, and even there, cordless tools have taken over. My large stationary compressor still gets used for my blast cabinet and air hammer, though. For the primary uses you describe, getting a quieter portable compressor such as the Kobalt or California Air units would be more practical (you can easily talk over them,) and they donít cost a lot.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Putney, Vermont
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    I have an IR single stage, 60 gallon, that I used for auto work and sandblasting and it has held up well. If the compressor you are interested in is single stage then 400 dollars is a little high in price.It is probably the 2 stage like tractor supply sells for around 900.00.

    That being said, if you have a need for that large a compressor, for doing rust repair or a reason to need alot of air then it may be a good deal, but for 400.00 you could buy the Makita Mac, 2 hp compressor, and use it for just about the same jobs. The big compressors are LOUD, and use a bit of electricity.

    The newer compressors use much less electricity and are a real pleasure to use in the shop, because they are quiet.

    You would want to isolaate the big compressor. I put mine under an overhang outside my garage inside a plywood box I built for it. I also had to wire for 230V to use it.

  5. #5
    Coincidentally, Ken, I've wired the "just in case" compressor circuit quite close to where I'm planning to site my lathe.
    --Jack S. Llewyllson

    Gratitude is a gift to yourself.

    Purity tests are the bane of human existence.

    Codeine takes the pain from every muscle but the heart.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Highland MI
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    I bought the 60 gallon 3.9 hp 175 psi Kobalt from Lowes. Plenty of air, but boy does it make a racket when running.
    NOW you tell me...

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Anderson View Post
    I bought the 60 gallon 3.9 hp 175 psi Kobalt from Lowes. Plenty of air, but boy does it make a racket when running.
    The ones labeled "Quiet Tech" are so quiet you would barely recognize them as a compressor. Seriously, you can have a normal voice conversation around them.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    56,625
    I like big compressors...I cannot lie. I'd not want anything less than the 3hp 60 gallon IR I have in my shop, honestly.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Okotoks AB
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    2,709
    I bought a 60 gal Husky compressor 6 or 7 years ago from HD for about 30 or 40% off. I didn't need a big one, but it was such a good sale that I went for it. It is nice having the extra capacity for stuff like blowing out irrigation lines.

    But it turns out it wasn't such a great deal after all because the thing is a piece of junk. It's always let a lot of oil into the air & now it sounds like it's going to throw a rod any minute.

    For $400 I'd be all over that Ingersoll Rand.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Pratt View Post
    I bought a 60 gal Husky compressor 6 or 7 years ago from HD for about 30 or 40% off. I didn't need a big one, but it was such a good sale that I went for it. It is nice having the extra capacity for stuff like blowing out irrigation lines.

    But it turns out it wasn't such a great deal after all because the thing is a piece of junk. It's always let a lot of oil into the air & now it sounds like it's going to throw a rod any minute.

    For $400 I'd be all over that Ingersoll Rand.
    It might depend on how old the compressor is. I have an IR SS3, 60gal upright w/3hp induction motor, requiring a 30amp 240v circuit, continuous duty. It has given me not a lick of trouble in the 20 or so years Iíve had it. But itís _entirely_ _made_in_the_USA_. The newer IRís tend to be made in China. People claim all kinds of trouble with them in the reviews now.

    For a 5hp (probably 2-stage) 60+ gallon IR that is similarly made in the USA, $400 is a good price. For any such stuff made in China, I would have no idea what to recommend.

    Itís worth it if you actually need it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Michigan
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    If you think you might get into sprayed finishes that should be considered now. You might want an oilless compressor.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
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    Cambridge Vermont
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    I have a 60 gallon 5hp single stage SpeedAir in my detached garage. After having it I don't know how I would step back down to a smaller one. In fact I can actually see myself going larger. But I do stuff like working on cars where extra air is nice. I have it mounted in a corner of my garage about 10' off of the floor. My biggest regret is not running an air line when I ran the power to the garage to feed air to the house. When I need air in the house I just run an air hose, they are cheap, out of the garage and through a window.

    I would see if your friend knows how much time it has on it. I suspect that those who had a problem with a Chinese made IR have it happen not long after buying it. If it's got a few hours on it and has been maintained (including draining the water out of the tank) then you should be fine. If "made in the USA" matters expect to pay well north of $400 bucks. While they may look the same there's plenty of different models. From the basic 5hp splash lubricated single stage ones to the pressure lubricated 2 stage models. I would try to find out as you may find it's a better deal than you think (from how much you paid for the buzz box).

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    New Hill, NC
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    Some random thoughts.

    First - it seems well priced for a very nice air compressor, so for $400 you won't get hurt. No matter what compressor you have, an automatic tank drain is a great addition.

    I have several compressors - from a very quiet California Air tools unit up to a 120 gallon 10hp IR, and some in-between.

    For the needs that you stated, I would consider a smaller, very quiet compressor. I would install a permanent air infrastructure system in the shop, and park the compressor somewhere on a shelf where you are not losing floor space and can leave it quasi-permanently installed with a short hose on a quick connect plumbing it to your air infrastructure. If you need to take it portable, simply lift it down from the shelf.

    Listening to a large compressor running gets very old, very quickly. Of the 4 compressors that I own, the only one that I'd considering being inside the room with me is the California Air Tools model. The rest are just too darn loud.

    If you want more reserve air, simply plumb an extra tank into it. Here on the farm I have a portable "tool trailer" that serves as a mobile construction shop. It has a generator and a small Thompson air compressor mounted on it, with an additional air storage tank plumbed into the high pressure side of the air compressor manifold. The extra tank helps when we are running multiple nail guns simultaneously.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    I like big compressors...I cannot lie. I'd not want anything less than the 3hp 60 gallon IR I have in my shop, honestly.
    I'm all in, I've decided, and I'm taking pot luck.

    I've agreed to his price, and we'll make it happen whenever we can both move well enough to consider it. "Bart" (not his real name) has a freshly installed knee joint, and I've been in a back spasm for nearly two weeks.

    Hrrrnnngggh!
    --Jack S. Llewyllson

    Gratitude is a gift to yourself.

    Purity tests are the bane of human existence.

    Codeine takes the pain from every muscle but the heart.

  15. #15
    Yeah, I'm gonna go for it. Thanks for the perspective!
    --Jack S. Llewyllson

    Gratitude is a gift to yourself.

    Purity tests are the bane of human existence.

    Codeine takes the pain from every muscle but the heart.

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