Air Compressor Recommendations

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Wow, I tried to search the group archives for compressor, and there were no results.
Anyway, I've always wanted to get a compressor, but have yet to have a good enough reason to get one. I'll be replacing the roof on the house next weekend, so this is the perfect time. The way I see it, there are two main categories of compressors: large tank/high air volume and portable tank/low volume. A large tank will be expensive and allow the use of tools such as paint sprayers, sanders and sand blasting equipment (just a few, but things I can see myself using). A small tank will be less costly and easy to move around. Ideally, I'd like to have one of each: a big stationary monster for the shop, and a small unit to use outside the shop.
My roof project sort of dictates portability, so I'm looking at a small tank. So, any recommendations on small compressors primarily for running nail guns? Aside from the doing the roof, I'd say the majority of the usage will be with brad/finish nailers, and filling the occasional tire or toy. One that I've looked at recently was a Bostich kit at Lowe's for $199 - includes a pancake style tank and a brad nailer.
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Rent a pancake compressor for the roof and shop the honest-to-gosh compressor stores for a decent large compressor. Many 'small' trade- ins from body shops can be had, some needing a conversion from three phase to single phase power. Say $200 for a nice big older compressor and a new 5 HP motor at $150 and you've got something unmatchable in today's box stores. Those old cast iron two cylinder brutes have different size cylinders, a low pressure side feeding the higher pressure output. That's exactly what you need to run a HVLP spray gun off your own air system. Unlike the Chinese box store offerings, these old timers are readily rebuildable. In my experience, the time between rebuilds is about 35 years. While you're at it, lay in a supply of high flow V type air fitting from Milton or the similar knock-offs from Harbor freight. Never use a 1/4" air hose, and always use 3/4" black iron for your shop plumbing. IMO, Senco has the best nailing guns and fasteners, but all are pretty decent these days. Enough for now. Have fun shopping.
Joe
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Mike wrote:

A few months ago I bought a Porter Cable pancake style compressor with 4 guns for about $280. HD had them on sale, but only available at one store for some reason. I have used it on my roof and for some craft projects. Seems to be just what I need. Check it out.
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There are several good deals out there for small, portable compressors with accessories. I have seen Campbell Hausfeld, Husky and other portables for around $200-250 with nail guns. Any recognized brands in that price range might be a good deal.
With that said, your comments indicate a down-stream desire for a larger machine for your shop. Unless your house is huge, why not drop the portable and go with a good, capable and higher capacity machine with more hose. We are in the process of finishing a new home. We served as general contractor for the framers, roofers, rockers, etc. We are doing most of the finish ourselves. We have seen lots of compressors come and go but none of them moved around very much. Our framer, who also did the siding and other work had an old, horizontal 20 gallon 2-stager that sat on our garage floor for a month or more. He had lots of hose and a couple of "T" fittings made from cast-iron plumbing "T"'s and quick-release air chucks. He moved hoses around our 60'x60' footprint but the compressor stayed put. Even the roofer dropped their pancake on the driveway and reached all points on the house with similar equipment. We can reach all points inside the first floor with our compressor in the garage and with two hoses. During an earlier house finish I plumbed black gas pipe through the basement wall into the garage and had an easy source to finish the basement using the garage compressor.
Our compressor is an older Campbell Hausfeld hybrid. It is portable (on wheels) but not light. The tank is similar to the big CH 60-80 gallon uprights but shortened to about 35 gallon capacity. It is a 5 HP, two stage machine and It provides flow rate for nearly all common shop tools but does require occasional pause for spraying or continuous sanding. My personal preference is the oiled, 2 stage because I think they are more reliable in the long run (They do cost more). Besides the noise of the oil-less machines make my hair hurt.
More hose and a few fittings might be your answer. Hope this helps.
RonB
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Mike wrote:

You're on the right track. I watched my neighbor's roof being re-done. They had four guys, three with hammers and one with an air-nailer. The guy with the air-nailer was putting down shingles as fast as the other three guys combined.
Frankly, for puttering around the shop, just about any compressor will do the job. I got one and use it for just about everything, including replacing about 400' of baseboards. It's gotten so I hate hammers!
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I got a finish nailer some years ago and tried it on a bird house. WOW! The house was to 'light' to hammer on and I needed more hands... I could hold it with one hand, shoot with the other and it was not blasting across a table with each blow. A simple nail gun can really make a difference considering the elbow and wrist issues by hammers.
Martin
HeyBub wrote:

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Something to consider, if you are strictly going to use it around "your" house you can get away with a larger less portable compressor and do anything. You do not need portability to do your roof. In fact the closer to the electrical outlet that your compressor is the better it is going to run. For about $10 you can buy a "cheap" 100' hose from HD. In most cases two of those hoses will get you to just about any part of your home. So if you are strictly going to be working around the house with the compressor save your money on the small compressor and go towards the larger one. Having said that, I have used a spray paint gun to paint a 12' x 16' tall steel roll up garage door. using an 11 gal direct drive compressor. I did in deed have to stop every few minutes to let the compressor cycle but as often as we needed to paint that was fine. I personally use a 20 gal compressor and it does every thing I want it to do and has for the last 15 years. The medium sized compressors will do the high volume work if you allow time to let them cycle. If you see your self using the large volume tool on a regular basis go with the large compressor. If not, the 20 gallon size should suite your needs. The more Iron in the compressor, tank, and pump, the quieter it will operate. Take a magnet with you shopping to check the compressor pump block, cylinder, and head. The more of those components that the magnet sticks to the quieter it will operate and quieter is oh so much more of a pleasure to work around.
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A couple of years ago I had a bunch of woodwork to repair and was getting nowhere with a hammer (smiles galore) so bought a PC pancake with three finishing nailers. It worked great but I quickly outgrew it so recently (after retiring, move, and a new job ;-) bought a DeWalt upright portable (D55168). Bottom line, I'm not sure a pancake will be enough for a roofing nailer and I think you'll be buying another one (not necessarily a bad thing ;-) if you go with the pancake.
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Well, I went around and looked at various compressors today. I've come to the same conclusion - better to go with a bigger one and plan to keep it stationary in the shop. I've got three models in mind: 1. Craftsman Pro 25 gal. horizontal 2. Dewalt D55168 15 gal vertical (200PSI) 3. Campbell Hausfeld 60 gal (Lowes)
All three are similar in price, although the Lowes model will require a regulator and doesn't come with any hoses or extras. Anyone have experience with any of these?
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#3 is cast iron double head ? - long lasting design. The small volume ones are likely plenty for guns but if you run sanders or other air tools their volume at pressure may not be enough. Remember horizontal ones take horizontal space and in most shops verticle space is cheap - horizontal space is expensive.
I got the all green on the front model... But I use a lot of air at 75 psi. It can generate more than I need but it turns on once or twice a job. I drive a Plasma CNC table with mine and through a refrigeration dryer as well.
You need to determine the use and flow at what pressure.
If only nail guns - then most any. A twin pump with a motor drive makes MUCH less noise than the small noisy single piston ones. Noise might be an issue.
Martin
Mike wrote:

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I don't know what prices are for the three, but Campbell Hausfeld is a good brand and I don't think you can go wrong. They have been building industrial, farm and home air compression equipment for years. Dewalt builds good equipment too but I suspect someone else builds their compressor. Choice #1 started burning me, and a lot of others in my age range, 20-30 years ago and I wouldn't recommend them.
BTW, the big tank verticals, like #3 might actually take up less floor space than some of the smaller horizontals.
RonB
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The last Campbell Hausfeld compressor that I looked at was made in Taiwan. They probably still make the industrial sized ones though.
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RE: Subject
If there ever was a tool you only want to buy ONCE, it is an air compressor.
The biggest package a home shop can support based on having only single phase power available is as follows:
5 HP, cap start, cap run, 240VAC/1PH/60HZ, motor. 2 stage compressor with intercooler. 80 gallon receiver, vertical mount.
Current price is about $1100-$1200 plus installation which will add about $300.
IOW, $1500 buys a lifetime compressor.
Compared to the cost of a cabinet saw, it is a bargain.
YMMV
Lew
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Mike wrote: ...

That's like comparing a local juco to the state uni to (say) Stanford -- they're completely different styles/types of beasts.
--
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www.eatoncompressor.com . No affiliation, just a very happy customer. Very high quality components, comparatively itty bitty price. I recommend a small very portable one (the lighter the better) and a monster for the shop. I bought the 60 gallon 5 horse two stage for less than $1500.00 (delivered) and I couldn't be happier. It's a true five horse motor (huge) not five peak horsepower it's a 1725rpm so it runs less which means it will last longer and the pump is a cast iron monster. I think the price has gone up 200 bucks since I bought mine (5 yrs ago) but it's still a deal when you compare apples to apples. Eaton makes a very nice portable also. Give them a look. bc
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ps when u choose the small one just make sure the average air consumption for your nailer is at or preferably below the displacement rating for the compressor wich is 5.5 cfm @90 psi for the small eaton unit
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A nice big one for the shop is the way to go. And go by a pawn shop for a smaller portable. The small one for nail guns just needs pressure and a small volume. A small tank can be made from a propane tank and with a few dollars of adapters you have a portable tank. Charge it up with the big one and off you go for hours on the house. For 40 years I've used a converted Freon tank for just that. At first I had a small pump to charge it.
I have a large tank that can handle everything and a small tank I can charge and a CO2 tank that I use when using my fence gun away from power or when it is handy.
Martin
Mike wrote:

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I was at a jobsite recently where a trim carpenter had a small Senco piston compressor. It sounded like a sweet small sewing machine. I want one, so I can get rid of my PC pancake. My PCpancake has been flawless in service, but man is it L O U D. He said he paid around 200 dollars for it at Lowe's. It was not oil- less, btw.
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I was at a jobsite recently where a trim carpenter had a small Senco piston compressor. It sounded like a sweet small sewing machine. I want one, so I can get rid of my PC pancake. My PCpancake has been flawless in service, but man is it L O U D.
Any chance you got a model number of found out what its maximum compression was?
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On Sun, 3 May 2009 09:20:26 -0700 (PDT), Mike

Air Compressors, pressure washers, and most other continuous operation types of equipment should be selected using the following "rule of thumb": Buy the largest you can afford or else you will probably be disappointed. Like the other guy in this thread who had a medium size compressor and had to "wait" for the unit to catch up while spray painting, I too had a smaller unit to start with, although not by my choice. In stark contrast to the other posters comment implying that it was "ok" to wait (stopping using the compressor) until it caught up, for me, after a couple of times "waiting" I started using this down time to plot how I was to get rid of this compressor and get one that was adequate to perform the jobs I needed it to without having to make me wait. I quickly regretted rationalizing that my under sized compressor unit would "probably be ok" when called upon to deliver air pressure at a rate it simply was not capable of doing, at about this same time I recognized that "waiting" was about as fun as "waiting" for your wife to finish her shopping at the mall after you have: 1) finished your shopping, 2) Already became bored window shopping and other conjured up means to kill time, 3) Kicked yourself for not establishing a way of communicating with each other prior to the agreed to end time, should the need arise. Yep, just like having to wait on that compressor. Even worse if your neighbor comes over and sees you playing solitaire while your compressor is running to "catch up". Nope, not even close to being "ok" from my perspective. In addition to simple CFM output, or lack of such, in the case of an undersized compressor, it will likely be more unreliable due to it having to run for longer periods instead of being able to reach shut off pressure and cool down a bit while it waits for YOU to catch up. Compressors are usually spec'd assuming a 50% duty cycle, CFM (cubic feet of air per minute) usually assumes air delivery at 90 psi, in the ballpark for psi needed for most airtools, and to run the airpump the motor is rated in HP (horsepower), unfortunately the way the manufacturer calculates this can vary significantly, especially with the units sold in big box stores. Not to worry, there is a simple way to separate those with real true HP from those wishful thinking "HP wanna-be's". The electric motor will have a "specification plate" riveted on it that shows the AMPS required to run it under a full load ("FLA"), take this number and multiply it by what voltage it will be running on from the power company, usually it will be 220 volts for compressors in the 5+ HP range. The result of this multiplication will provide you with the WATTS of power the motor will use under full load. 748 WATTS = 1 HP, so divide by 748 and find out who is being honest and who is embellishing a bit on the specs. Oddly enough, the motors that calculate to higher HP ratings are almost always larger and beefier looking than their "wanna-be" competitors, imagine that! While your looking at the motor plate another valuable spec to compare is the "service factor" or "SF" as it usually abbreviated on the plate. This number will usually be somewhere between 1.0 and 1.5. What this spec is very simply is how much you can occasionally run the motor safely over 100% of it's rated HP. 1.0 means that at this motor's rated HP it is maxed out and running at a higher load is not recommended by the manufacturer, usually voiding the motor warranty. In contrast, a motor with a SF of 1.2 for example can be ran at 120% of it's rated HP with no ill effects periodically and will not affect warranty or motor reliability/life. Another motor spec is RPM, revolutions per minute. Usually will either be about 1750 or around 3450. Now, if they are both rated at a true 5 HP, guess which one has to work the hardest? Slower is better in this case, most older compressors of any size are 1750 rpm, running the compressor pump at 1000 rpm or less. This is a major factor contributing to these old workhorses seemingly lasting forever, when sized correctly for their intended use of course. Single stage or two stage compressor pump? A single stage pump will at best keep your tank at 120 psi, whereas a two stage pump will keep the same tank pumped up to 175 psi, this allows more air to be stored in the same tank which gives the pump more time to cool off while "waiting" for you to draw down the tank pressure to cause the motor to start up again. Also, if you have a requirement to fill semi-truck tires a two stage is mandatory to provide the higher pressures used by these truck tires. Bottom Line, What I would suggest as a minimum: For a general purpose air compressor that will run any airtool you are likely to own, do some serious (the only kind) sandblasting, painting, etc, AND not toast itself while trying to do so, You will never regret a compressor purchase with these specs or better. (Unless of course, You actually ENJOY going shopping at the mall with your wife....)
Motor: Minimum 5 "true" HP, with a SF of 1.1+, preferably 1750 rpm, 220 volt single phase (unless you have access to 3 phase power, 3 phase is preferred but not likely to be available to you)
Compressor Pump: Spec's to deliver minimum 14+ (15+ if single stage) CFM at 90 psi, ideally 2 stage, running RPM of less than 1000 to deliver rated CFM, preferably constructed of cast iron vs cast aluminum, motor/pump drive belt(s) preferably "power twist" link type, pump lube preferably 100% synthetic compressor oil.
Tank: 60+ gallons, preferably 80-120, vertical tank preferred to save space and facilitate condensation removal, preferred automatic condensation drain valve, Tank should be ASME certified for safety, most already are.
A well thought out air line piping layout can be viewed at: http://www.tptools.com/StaticText/airline-piping-diagram.pdf
This diagram also supports using black pipe as suggested elsewhere in this thread in a post by another user, I agree as well.
GRAINGER's has (or used to have) a good list of CFM requirements of various airtools.
A little more involved than tank size and if it has wheels or is bolted down...eh? Well worth the effort I might add.
Besides, the wife or girlfriend would probably prefer to not have to drag you to the mall with her when she went shopping anyway...Good luck with your selection, hope this has helped, best regards, Joe.
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