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Thread: Small Compressor Questions

  1. #1
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    Small Compressor Questions

    Hey all:

    LOML has a monster compressor in his shop (by my standards anyway ). I would like a small portable compressor that I can move around when necessary and not have to run 6-mile lines to connect to his.

    The only things I would use it for are nailers, framing and 15-gauge and brad, and an LVLP gun. The gun requires 5-6 cfm at 40. I have no clue what nailers need. I've looked all around for those specs, and I haven't found any online.

    My question are how much cfm do nailers generally need?

    If the compressor's cfm is not high enough, does that mean the equipment won't work at all or just not work as well?

    Are there any little compressors that have 6 cfm? If so, do you have any recommendations? The highest priorities for me are 1) reliability and 2) the least noise possible.

    Thanks in advance for any and all advice.
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  2. #2
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    I'm betting you meant to type HVLP gun, not LVLP.

    I think if you get something capable of running the spray gun, it should be able to handle pneumatic nailers pretty easily. Here's a handy chart of typical CFM requirements for various tools:

    http://www2.northerntool.com/air-com...yers-guide.htm

    At the level you're looking at, you'll typically find two types of compressors: Oil-free, or oiled. The oil-free ones are the noisier ones, and they generally won't last real long. Don't waste your money on one, in my experience. Among the oiled compressors, there are again two types: Direct drive and pulley-driven. The direct drive ones are usually the noisier of the two, and although there are some decent ones available, they're also generally not very serviceable if something wears out. A good-quality pulley-driven compressor can be repaired more readily, and as a result will typically last much longer than the direct drive units.

    There are lots of good brands (Ingersol-Rand and Quincy are a couple of the more popular ones), and also some good "no-name" compressors that are assembled by small companies out of decent-quality parts. (Eaton Compressors is one company that comes to mind.) Another brand you're bound to see is Campbell Hausfeld. Personally, I'm not real fond of their products (been burned on a couple of their cheap ones), but I know other people who are very happy with their C-H compressor.

    As to whether pneumatic tools will work with an underpowered compressor, a lot of it depends on the tool. For example, a pneumatic sander will still move the sandpaper around, but it'll be running slowly. An nailer will likely still fire, but it won't drive the nail (or brad) all the way in. A spray gun, will have a funky spray pattern, spitting the finish out instead of atomizing it into a fine spray. Almost any compressor will run almost any tool for a minute or two, because it's the air it has stored in the tank (at 125+ psi) that's driving the tool. But if the tool uses air faster than the compressor can pump, eventually the air in the tank will be depleted, and the pump will be running continuously to try to fill the tank back up.

    As an example, I used an 8 cfm sander for a couple of years with a compressor that probably put out about 4 cfm. The sander would run great for about 1 minute, but when the air pressure in the tank fell low enough, the pump would run full time trying to fill it back up. If I was sanding continuously, it would not be able to catch up, and the sander would get slower and slower. (While the compressor motor and pump got hotter and hotter.)

    Keep in mind that the 6 cfm requirement you're seeing for the spray gun is based on continuous spraying. In actual use, you'll likely be spraying a bit, pausing a bit, spraying a bit, pausing a bit, and so on. As a result, you can probably get by with a lower cfm rating. I'll let some of the others chime in to say what size of compressors they've run spray guns from.
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  3. #3
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    Wouldn't it make more sense to plumb in some (Copper?) air pipe from his shop to yours? Lots of folks here have plumbed pipe and can probably tell you lots more about it than I could.

    Let him deal with the noisy compressor!
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
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  4. #4
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    Where I have seen compressor sold there is usually a chart explaining the capabilities for each model offered. Even Wal-Mart provides that service.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Mulder View Post
    Wouldn't it make more sense to plumb in some (Copper?) air pipe from his shop to yours? Lots of folks here have plumbed pipe and can probably tell you lots more about it than I could.

    Let him deal with the noisy compressor!
    +1 on what Art says.

    That being said, I like having the big one and a smaller one. The smaller one works great for nail guns, pumping up tires, etc...
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  6. #6
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    Nailers use VERY little air. Any compressor you can spray with will run the nailers. If several people are using one compressor and big framing nailers there might be a problem but you alone will wear out your trigger finger before the compressor has issues.

    I use a Wagner HVLP conversion gun with a Porter-Cable pancake compressor. This is NOT ideal as the compressor is under powered for the sprayer. I can spray for about 1 minute before the compressor kicks on. Since I don't do production it hasn't been a real problem. I just wait for the compressor to catch up. That usually happens while I move the part I was spraying to the drying rack and set the next in place.

    Tapping into hubbie's compressor, as Art suggested, would be best. It might even be the least expensive option assuming you don't need to lay LOTS of copper.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Hemenway View Post
    Nailers use VERY little air. Any compressor you can spray with will run the nailers.....
    Tapping into hubbie's compressor, as Art suggested, would be best. It might even be the least expensive option assuming you don't need to lay LOTS of copper.
    Quote Originally Posted by Art Mulder View Post
    Wouldn't it make more sense to plumb in some (Copper?) air pipe from his shop to yours? Lots of folks here have plumbed pipe and can probably tell you lots more about it than I could.

    Let him deal with the noisy compressor!
    I'm not sure if that's the best. We've talked about that and aren't sure. His shop is about 25' from mine. That's 20' of concrete or 30' of grass. So we'd have to trench under the grass. Then if I want to use it upstairs, that's another.....at least 50' of flexible tubing. Do you still think that's the best option?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    I'm betting you meant to type HVLP gun, not LVLP.
    Ah yes, you're right. I was posting at midnight again after i've turned into a pumpkin!
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Mulder View Post
    Wouldn't it make more sense to plumb in some (Copper?) air pipe from his shop to yours? Lots of folks here have plumbed pipe and can probably tell you lots more about it than I could.

    Let him deal with the noisy compressor!
    This, or does he have a finishing section in his shop that you can use?
    If they had pancake compressors, that put out the volume of air your looking for, very few people would have the big ones. (it would sure save my back) Now, that said, you can find something that has a 30 gallon tank that puts out the volume that your looking for, but again, you have to define portable. I have a Quincy, that does that, but it is a couple hundred pounds, and the new cost of it, is more then your husbands large compressor, if it is the typical Husky/Campbell/Porter/etc. ($1100)

  9. #9
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    I have a Thomas compressor. Oil-less. It is about the best you can buy. I have it hooked up to a 10gal air tank to add volume so I have a total of 14 gal. It works great, can run several framing guns at the same time, also, with the air tank, handles spraying pretty well.

    I do not know if Thomas is still around, they may have been caught up in the economic downturn. Mine is a double pump, it basically has two motors and two compressors.

    They make smaller and bigger ones all oil-less and they last forever, compared to like Vaughn said, the other oil-less ones like CH will give you a good bang for the buck, but will wear out rather quickly. My Thomas with constant continuous daily use, is still going just as strong today as it was new, two years ago. Plus rebuilding, should it be necessary is relatively inexpensive and easy to do. Also, it's not as noisy as the CH, much quieter then the pancakes, but like Vaughn said, the oiled ones will be much quieter.

    I like the big Quincy's, I used to rebuild ones that seemed bigger than the new Smart cars! Very good compressors, they also make smaller versions.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails compressor 1.jpg   compressor 2.jpg  
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  10. #10
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    On the running a line thought,

    How about a 75' or 100' piece of 3/8" or even 1/2" air hose to a 15 gal tank in your shop.

    Have a connector on the exterior of your husbands shop that you can plug into, then another connector on the outside of your shop, then when you will be doing work like spraying, just run the hose between the two shops.

    It would be just like hooking a garden hose up to your two shops.

    You could use a hose reel to keep the hose on. You would just need to plumb in your shop, and you would need a moisture separator. if you used a moisture separator at your husbands shop first too, you should not have to worry about the line freezing so much in the winter.

    This would probably be the least expensive way to go if your looking at $$.

    Just a thought.
    That's not even a smile! That's just a bunch of teeth playing with my mind!

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