Compressed Air

In high school, when I worked in a gas station, I had access to air tools. They seemed so heavy and so powerful, they scared me a little. I used the impact wrench sparingly and was extra judicious with things like the tire changer and the big front-end lift jack we could wheel around. That thing could practically flip a car over.

The compressor was back in a cubby by Sam’s office. It was bigger than any of us and loud enough to make you pinch one ear shut if it cranked on when you were on the pay phone in the front office, which was 25 feet and two walls away.

But, man, what a time-saver! With that impact wrench, there was basically no such thing as a stuck bolt. Any sort of debris could be cleared from any sort of place–from an impossible-to reach passage in an engine’s water jacket to, well, the whole shop floor. We could inflate, sand, or cut anything. No spot-weld could withstand even a two-minute assault from the air chisel.

That was 30 years ago. Since then I’ve been doing everything as the cave men did–with sheer grunt and cheater-bars and electric tools. Enough of that! I need air. So now I have air.


Figured I might as well take the ball to the end zone. It’s not quite as big as the one in Sam’s old shop, but it’s close. That’s a 60-gallon tank with a claimed 3.7hp motor. Weighs 218 pounds. Supposed to give 11.5 cfm at 90 psi, which means I should have enough air to run anything short of an industrial jackhammer….

Wrestled it into the spot the previous owner had his compressor.

IMG_6725Drilled a couple new holes in the floor for studs to hold it down (The old one was apparently 3-legged; this one is 4). Epoxied them in.

Toward the day when I’ll have drops with quick-connects in every corner of the garage, including at both doors, I bought a shit-ton of 1/2-inch copper pipe and elbows and T-fittings and driers and regulators and reducers and nonsense

IMG_6727 IMG_6728–but not quite enough, as it turns out. To make the system I want, I’ll still need a couple reducers and elbows and what-not. But I also need to return about $80 worth of junk I probably won’t need….

Extended the drain plug out to where a human being can actually reach it. Twisted in a 3/8-inch shut-off valve. Wired it to the 220-volt 12-gauge wire that was waiting there for it. Put a little oil in, since some leaked out when I laid the thing down in the truck bed to back it into the garage….

And ran the 20-minute break-in.

Then I shut the valves and let it pump up to 155 psi.

IMG_6726 IMG_6730 IMG_6731

So far, so good.

Now all I have to do is cut and fit and sweat a whole pile of fittings. The plan is for four drops–one central, next to the tool box, one way down near the far end of the boat bay, and one each at the front and rear overhead doors.

I bought a quick-kit of Husky air tools as well–a ratchet, mid-sized impact wrench, cut-off tool and a small air chisel. Now I just need a blower and a tire inflator and I’ll be all set until I want to do some sand-blasting.

Or something really big.


About stuntmidget

I'm a poor mechanic and general wisenheimer. I love old cars and the stories behind them, true or not.
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