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Old 01-24-2008, 02:07 AM   #1
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Default Air Compressor - Buy it or not?

A buddy of mine and I are painting several front end parts on his 91' Camaro Z28, including the 4" cowl hood, and I'm going to re-clear my rear bumper and tail lights. I have pretty much all of my tools over my gf'* house because she has a nicer garage than I. That'* including about 15' of work bench space. Her dad left it whenever he left her mom. Oh well, finders keepers j/k. Her dad and I get along, and I only pretend to have respect for him. ANYWAY....

In the basement is an air compressor constructed from a huge steel tank, and an old air compressor off of a 1940s semi truck (or so I'm told by her grandpa that has a significantly nicer garage - retired penn-dot worker - he built the thing). I have to duct tape the garden hose to the one end of the cooling line, and stick the other end out the window and let water trickle through the hose to keep the compressor cool. It'* belt driven.

I've used it several times... and each time it gets worse. Last time I used it we were using a snap on orbital sander to try and sand all the paint off of his ground fx. The PSI never went above 45 if we let it sit for ten minutes, and as he was using the sander, it dipped below 10 and water started coming out of his air tool. The line coming out of the compressor and into the tank gets hot enough to not want to touch it in a matter of less than a minute. I think this is causing water to condense when cool air and warm compressor metal mix.

Big lots has a 'pro source' air compressor that puts out 4.35 CFM @ 40 psi, 3.5 @ 90 psi, and it says 125 psi working. It'* a ten gallon tank. 2.5 HP peak, 2.0 continous.

It'* $99.99. I realize that water + paint + clear is NOT going to look pretty on those parts, and I figured if the motor (says not belt or chain driven) is running less to keep the tank around 50 psi to spray, it will keep cooler and have less of a chance of condensing water.

I was also thinking that perhaps I could start investing in air tools, as most tools I see do not exceed 3 CFM max. What do you guys think? I'm seriously thinking about buying it for an early 19th bday present (2-14).
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Old 01-24-2008, 03:11 AM   #2
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NO. thats not enough. I have a 6 cfm @ 40 psi / 4 cfm @ 90 psi compressor that I just recently got for paint spraying, it is nowhere NEAR enough. Get at LEAST something above 10-15 CFM @ 40 psi and above 10 @ 90 psi+
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Old 01-24-2008, 04:30 AM   #3
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Pawn shops are your friend. I bought a 30 gallon Craftsman compressor for $200. In sears the same thing runs close to twice that price. I'm not sure what its specs are, but I think the pressure tops out around 130 PSI.

And for that old compressor, you might look into fixing it. If its as huge as you say it is, it may be worth fixing/replacing the motor to bring it back to life. I knew this old mechanic and he told me that I could build my own compressor out of just about anything as long as the pressure vessel'* wall were thick enough.
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Old 01-24-2008, 10:34 AM   #4
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I think the best value is the Kobalt $400 compressor. After that the prices for decent compressors start to jump to $800-$1200. Granted this isn't as good but its pretty decent. It is the 3.5 running hp, 60 gal. on their site if you want to look it up. When you are studying specs make sure they aren't inflated. Compare running h.p. to running h.p. or peak h.p. to peak h.p. Compressors can be confusing when shopping. Also make sure the cfm'* are rated the same. Some just use regular cfm, some rate in scfm, and others rate in acfm. BTW, that $100 won't get you anywhere. I am worried that mine will be behind but I think I'll get by with it(I have the Kobalt 60 gal.)
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Old 01-24-2008, 11:22 AM   #5
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When I painted my hood last month, I did it with a 6cfm compressor even though the gun required 8cfm. I had to put an 11-gallon buffer tank in between to maintain pressure through each coat, then let the compressor recover.

Get an idea of what tools you'd likely use, then buy a compressor that meets those requirements, or don't bother.
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Old 01-24-2008, 11:56 AM   #6
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Alright, sounds good.

I figured a hundred bux wasn't enough to get something decent... at least I tried!

Thanks guys...
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