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steve-wis

air compressor advice

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steve-wis

Hi,

So I need a new air compressor for my tractor shop.  I don't use it a lot so I don't want to put a bunch of money in one, but I do want a belt drive, oil lubed vertical one.  I am looking at two right now, a Harbor Freight for 380.00 and one at Menards for $400.00 after $50.00 rebate.  I am inclined to get the menards one, but I have heard that the Harbor Freight ones are ok.  Anyone have any imput or experience with either, or advice on another choice?  

Thanks!

Steve

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rich_kildow

My last 2 compressors have been Puma's, the 2 gallon and currently the 60 gallon model.  My 60 was about $500.  I've heard decent things about the Harbor Freight ones, and personally I'd choose that with a warranty over Menard's ToolShop or Performax brands.  I would also check out LandM Fleet, Fleet Farm, Farm & Fleet, Northern Tool, or Tractor Supply (whatever is in your area) and see what they have for brands and deals.  

My advice to anybody is be very honest about what you're going to run with it, then size up at least half again, if not double.  My 20 gallon was originally intended to just run an air impact wrench and fill tires.  That quickly expanded and as soon as die grinders or sanders enter the mix, it was not able to keep up.  So I upgraded and was immediately given a sandblast cabinet.  That 60 gallon works but I was immediately wishing for a 2 stage, 150-ish PSI 80 gallon compressor. 

 

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MrSteele
48 minutes ago, rich_kildow said:

So I upgraded and was immediately given a sandblast cabinet.  That 60 gallon works but I was immediately wishing for a 2 stage, 150-ish PSI 80 gallon compressor

I was good with my 60 gallon 2 stage til I bought a sandblast cabinet. It basically keeps up, does a decent job. The compressor will keep up well with an orbital sander, a jitterbug sander, needle scaler and the like, though, some tools I use a lot in my shop. Personally, I would spend double and get what is good, before spending half for a Harbor Freight. You can purchase a 2 year warranty on them, but read the fine print on the warranty. It is replaceable in 90 days, at purchase price. If, in 2 years it needs to be replaced, you have the warranty, but, once used, the warranty is no longer in effect. To extend the warranty, buy another 2 year warranty. Basically, with the warranty purchases required, you have spent a couple hundred more than the purchase price, spend the money on something better to start with.

With air compressors, you do get what you pay for. I bought mine at an auction many years ago, when a shop was going out of business, brought it home, changed the oil, later had to get a new belt. Plumbed it for my use at full pressure, with a few drops in the shop to simplify hose stretching, also plumbed a second circuit with a regulator and drier for painting and sanding purposes. It is hard wired into the panel, stays on all the time, unless I go out of town. 

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Dave Silva

I cannot imagine paying $2-500 for any of the modern junk when people are giving away much better machines on craigslist every day. 

A couple years ago i got my first shop and went looking for a compressor.  i found a 30 gallon Westinghouse from about 1955  for $50. 

It had a few issues, original motor had been replaced with something week, needed a check valve to keep pressure in the tank.   I was clueless but it did not take much to get smart. 

I found a solid 2 hp motor,  also on craigslist,  changed the oil, fixed a few fittings.  I'm into about $150  and i have not given it another thought since 2016.   Renovated two houses, lots of air tools, i use it a few times a week. 

 

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ShaunE

All of the above is great advise.  Especially when you start expanding what you are using it for.  As small as die grinders are, they eat air like crazy.

I would suggest whatever the brand you decide, my key is 5hp motor, 60 gallon tank & Two stage pump.  CFM is what you are looking for not PSI.  And make sure you get at least one regulator & water separator filter plumed in far enough away from the compressor tank  so as the hot air cools, it will condensate in the separator & not your tools.

With that in mind, you can run any air tool on the market, operate a siphon feed blast cabinet, operate a pressure pot blaster, paint equipment utilizing older style paint sprayers that are not HVLP like an old Binks model #7 without trouble.

My two top picks are Gardner Denver & Ingersoll Rand but I know they are out of your price range.  The reason I say this as my Ingersoll is 20 years old & the motor finally went.  It was nearly $400 to replace the motor @ reputable motor shops NOT Amazon.  I ended up getting it through Ingersoll as they were willing to deal & I knew the motor would fit with NO modifications.  Excellent customer service.

This is the unit I have - https://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200318461_200318461

Hopefully @jlasater will offer his knowledge on the matter as he has posted some GREAT topics on refurbishing older ones here in Shop Talk.

Edited by ShaunE
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LMichaels

Bought a small Hazard Fraught one once. Didn't last and only made just past warranty. Replaced it with a FINI from Menards. Light years better and has held up well. My big one in the garage is a Porter Cable oil free 2 stage compressor. I have used and abused that thing for nearly 20 years now. Still runs like the first day I got it.

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steve-wis

Don't want the oil-free ones because of the loudness.  They say the newer ones are quieter but the ones I have been around are still shrill and loud.  I think the 30 gallon size will do what I want, I am now using a 6 gallon horizontal and with some patience it runs my impact, sander, etc. so a 30 gallon should be ok.  The two I mentioned are like 5.5 cfm up to 6.3 cfm, which is way more than the little guy I have now.  The Menards one is a Masterforce, not sure who makes it.  I also looked at a DeWalt but it is $150 more and looks almost identical to the cheaper ones as far as motor and compressor head go.  I know I could go with a 20 gallon horizontal and get a better machine for the same money, but I just hate the room they take up.

Steve

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LMichaels

My PC oiless is as quiet r quieter than the oil lubed 2 cyl model it replaced. BTW nothing was wrong with that one I just wanted a bigger one that was vertical. Just because it's oil free does NOT mean it will be loud

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MrSteele
On 9/6/2019 at 5:19 PM, steve-wis said:

The two I mentioned are like 5.5 cfm up to 6.3 cfm, which is way more than the little guy I have now.  The Menards one is a Masterforce, not sure who makes it.  I also looked at a DeWalt but it is $150 more and looks almost identical to the cheaper ones as far as motor and compressor head go.  I know I could go with a 20 gallon horizontal and get a better machine for the same money, but I just hate the room they take up.

Well, a trip to Lowes or Home Despot should also be included in your shopping for a compressor. Lowes now has Crapsman tools, not certain of Kobalt, but. I bought a 6 gallon oil free there years ago, used it til I built my shop, then donated it to my daughter and son in law. They have used it a couple years for air nailer and stapler, sanding, etc during their continuous home improvements. It would not keep up, but was all I had room for. Gave me plenty of rest in between use and waiting for the thing to build back up...

https://www.lowes.com/search?searchTerm=air+compressors&catalog=2911831268&refinement=4294607377

A vertical tank takes up little floor space, if you have the vertical height under shelves to put it

Or, as Dave said, watch Marketplace or Craigs list. Someone is always getting rid of one. You might try www.auctionzip.com. There always seems to be a service station going out of business due to the current trend of convenience stores and quick change oil centers going in the business of trying to be your favorite shop. Keep limping til you find what you want. The Disposable Tool Store (Harbor Freight) is not usually the best answer

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Brettw

I purchased a 5 horse 220v 60 gallon upright from Menards 4 or 5 years ago.  Still running great.  I am not using it as heavily as some, sand blasting a lot, etc.  But it does just fine for almost all of my needs, running tools, occasional sand blasting, etc. I think it too was about 400 bux on sale.

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