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View Full Version : I need a decent, preferably cheap air compressor.



Doowstados
07-28-2011, 08:24 AM
I just need a compressor that will have enough CFM to push a decent impact. Cheaper is better. Must be able to zip off tire lugs, flywheel bolts, etc. Typical stuff. Doesn't need to be able to break stuck CV nuts or anything.

Any suggestions? I know absolutely nothing about compressors or air tools, so school me. :you_rock:

temperacerguy
07-28-2011, 08:51 AM
do you live in a house with a garage where you can mount a large upright, or are you looking for something small and portable?

I highly recommend buying the largest compressor you can fit/afford. a good compressor will last you a lifetime, and will be a blessing every time you use it.

I have an 80 gallon upright 2 stage in my garage that I picked up off of craigslist for $100 in poor shape. I stripped and re-painted the tank, then rebuilt the pump, and replaced all the brass fittings. Now I have a compressor that can run a medium sized shop for under $150 invested.

Doowstados
07-28-2011, 09:14 AM
do you live in a house with a garage where you can mount a large upright, or are you looking for something small and portable?

I highly recommend buying the largest compressor you can fit/afford. a good compressor will last you a lifetime, and will be a blessing every time you use it.

I have an 80 gallon upright 2 stage in my garage that I picked up off of craigslist for $100 in poor shape. I stripped and re-painted the tank, then rebuilt the pump, and replaced all the brass fittings. Now I have a compressor that can run a medium sized shop for under $150 invested.

I can't run anything larger than maybe a 30 gallon because we rent and will probably be downsizing housing in the next year or so because of San Diego's massive cost of living. I wouldn't want to move a huge compressor, especially if we need to move into an apartment temporarily. I also only have a small single car garage, so space is an issue.

Would you recommend just shopping around on craigslist for a good deal? What are the minimum specs I should be looking for considering my space constraint?

Facime
07-28-2011, 09:15 AM
Tank size is less important for things like impacts and air ratchets, but come into play more with die grinders and painting equipment. You can get away with a small tank with a good pump more often than you can get away with the reverse. Also many smaller compressor setups also have a lower max pressure. While that isnt always important, sometimes if all you need is a little more impact, you can kick up the pressure a little for a bit more torque.

I have a Frankenstein of 3 compressors salvaged together to make one and its only a single stage with a small 15gal tank but I have a good motor and its all been tweaked a little to give me max pressure. Ive recently even run an HVLP gun on it and its managed.

If your primary use is going to be an impact, and 80gal 2 stage is WAAAAAAAAAAAAY overkill. 15-20gal, 3Hp should be plenty to run a good impact. I would recommend spending more on a good impact than on the compressor. However, keep in mind if you want to do more later like run a sander or a die grinder then you will have to upgrade at some point

temperacerguy
07-28-2011, 09:18 AM
You can pick up a small 20 gallon portable upright that will handle most of your needs. It will be loud, but it can do what you need it to:

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00916642000P?prdNo=4&blockNo=4&blockType=G4

with these small oil-less units, I would buy new. They really arn't built to last like the large commercial units. Keep watching the holiday sales, and you should be able to pick one up for $200 ish.

CollapsedNut
07-28-2011, 02:10 PM
http://www.harborfreight.com/air-tools/air-compressors/2-hp-8-gallon-125-psi-portable-air-compressor-67501.html

I've been using one of these for yeeeeeaaaaarrrrrrssssss.

Sifu
07-28-2011, 08:51 PM
If you plan on light removal and space is an issue you could always grab a battery operated impact gun. Sure it won't take off those really tight/seized nuts and bolts but they definitely are handy (esp. at the junkyard) and believe it or not they work a lot better than I would have imagined.

But if you are wanting a compressor (there are so many good things you can do with them) then I suggest you get the best for the amount of money. Try to plan what your uses will be. Light automotive, fabrication, construction, auto paint, stripping, etc. These should all be put into consideration because at that point you can figure out what size, voltage, cfm output, stationary or portable, tools, etc. to put into it. Don't assume that a higher HP unit is better since it's the CFM rating that really counts for your tools.

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_158284_158284?cm_sp=Customer%2520driven-_-Recently%2520Viewed-_-Product%2520Page
That's the one I have but honestly if it were up to me I'd have gotten a larger one for heavier use (paint, sanding tools, air blasting tools, etc) but for my projects it's been one of my best investments (it's so much cheaper than when I purchased it in 08).

Also as stated get a decent impact wrench and make sure your compressor or tool can handle/meet the cfm output. You should keep everything well oiled, clean and drained (inline moisture remover is your best friend as some can remove water and add some oil to the tools). You will spend a good amount of money on other parts for your compressor (couplings, hoses, connectors, moisture separator, tools, etc). Finding a quiet one is a nice touch.

Doowstados
07-28-2011, 10:00 PM
If you plan on light removal and space is an issue you could always grab a battery operated impact gun. Sure it won't take off those really tight/seized nuts and bolts but they definitely are handy (esp. at the junkyard) and believe it or not they work a lot better than I would have imagined.

But if you are wanting a compressor (there are so many good things you can do with them) then I suggest you get the best for the amount of money. Try to plan what your uses will be. Light automotive, fabrication, construction, auto paint, stripping, etc. These should all be put into consideration because at that point you can figure out what size, voltage, cfm output, stationary or portable, tools, etc. to put into it. Don't assume that a higher HP unit is better since it's the CFM rating that really counts for your tools.

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_158284_158284?cm_sp=Customer%2520driven-_-Recently%2520Viewed-_-Product%2520Page
That's the one I have but honestly if it were up to me I'd have gotten a larger one for heavier use (paint, sanding tools, air blasting tools, etc) but for my projects it's been one of my best investments (it's so much cheaper than when I purchased it in 08).

Also as stated get a decent impact wrench and make sure your compressor or tool can handle/meet the cfm output. You should keep everything well oiled, clean and drained (inline moisture remover is your best friend as some can remove water and add some oil to the tools). You will spend a good amount of money on other parts for your compressor (couplings, hoses, connectors, moisture separator, tools, etc). Finding a quiet one is a nice touch.

I would love to have such a large one but as mentioned before, space and portability are important in my situation.


http://www.harborfreight.com/air-tools/air-compressors/2-hp-8-gallon-125-psi-portable-air-compressor-67501.html

I've been using one of these for yeeeeeaaaaarrrrrrssssss.

I was looking at one of these at a local HF. What all can it handle that you have used it for?

CollapsedNut
07-29-2011, 03:03 AM
Grinders and impact guns are the only things I really use.
also get a air water seperator.

klapa
07-29-2011, 03:30 AM
I have a 5 HP single stage Sears portable (30 gal. tank) compressor that I bought around 1985 it is rated at 12 CFM at 90 PSI. It still runs fine - but only runs on 230V - maybe not so good a choice for an apartment dweller.

It is like Facime pointed out - it is not so much about the tank size - as it is about the pressure (PSI) and flow (CFM) you will get.

Running an impact is one thing that demands more pressure (PSI) than flow - running a die grinder is another thing that demands more from the flow (CFM). A larger tank just means that for a given application the compressor cycles on and off more (small tank) or less (large tank).

Keep in mind - the compressor is only as good as the entire "circuit". You need to have good air hose - at least 3/8" - 1/2" is best, depending on length. Also you will need a regulator for things like paint guns and such that run on lower max pressure. Also - an oiler is a good addition, but not mandatory, while a dryer or a least a water separator is MANDATORY for you air tool health.

If you want to paint - I would suggest a professional quality dryer and regulator.

My old Sears compressor is sort of like me - old and beat up - but it keeps on doing the job - time and again.

The best investment I ever made was high quality 1/2" air hose.

Doowstados
09-13-2011, 07:46 AM
http://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/tls/2592611049.html

I might pick this up tomorrow. Looks like a pretty decent deal.

4thgenceli
09-13-2011, 02:53 PM
I have that one.

I love it. Was given to me by my father inlaw. Just needed a new check valve and it was 100%. It's LOUD as fuck though when it's running though.

85gtsblackman
09-13-2011, 06:01 PM
i have a old 20 gallon ingersol-rand that works great for what i need it for, ive had it maybe 6 years minimum

was only 75 dollars used

Doowstados
09-14-2011, 03:02 AM
I went and got it today, cost me $125. Runs like a champ though. Here's some pics:

http://tapatalk.com/mu/4c5db396-0af7-2049.jpg

http://tapatalk.com/mu/4c5db396-0b08-dd2c.jpg

http://tapatalk.com/mu/4c5db396-0b1c-8f50.jpg

4thgenceli
09-14-2011, 03:07 AM
Yep. It's what I have.

It's loud, annoying, but gets the job done.

Doowstados
09-14-2011, 04:09 AM
Later this week I think I'll pick up a Harbor Freight Earthquake Impact. I've heard good things about these: http://www.harborfreight.com/12-professional-impact-wrench-68424.html

The store near my house has the old 625 ft lb. model on sale for just $53 (+ of course I'll use a 20% off coupon!).

I'll also be grabbing an air chuck, blower and air hammer. Any other suggestions?

Doowstados
09-14-2011, 06:22 AM
Yep. It's what I have.

It's loud, annoying, but gets the job done.


Does yours also drip rust colored water when it is drained from the bottom valve? I've read it's pretty normal with these but I don't want to be splodin' unless there's a woman involved.

Facime
09-15-2011, 12:45 AM
skip the air hammer. how often are you going to use that? I use my air ratchet all the time however. Also a die grinder is pretty handy with some surfacing disks and wire wheels and a few grinding stones.

Doowstados
09-15-2011, 02:31 AM
skip the air hammer. how often are you going to use that? I use my air ratchet all the time however. Also a die grinder is pretty handy with some surfacing disks and wire wheels and a few grinding stones.

Air hammers are useful for pulling pulleys. You take a pulley/hub puller tool and thread the "bolt" in the center then attach the air hammer to loosen the hub/pulley. For $15 I'll grab one for sure. I'll definitely try to pick up a die grinder too.