[Editor's Note: References to stores and voltages apply to the US market]
SIZE OF COMPRESSOR:
The main issue seems to be down-time, the time you have to wait for the compressor to catch its breath. "The smaller the tank and the smaller the compressor, the longer the rest period," says Unca' Joel. "You CAN do all the wonderful things with it, but it'll just take longer." A suggestion that makes good sense is to look at air tools you want and see if the amount of air they use are less or exceed the output of the air compressor you want. The number you want to look at is the CFM at 90 PSI. A sand blaster will always exceed the cfm rating so you'll have to stop and wait every couple of minutes. The hp ratings of the compressors is important but can be overrated.
A specific recommendation was to get at the *very least*, a five horse single stroke with a sixty gallon tank, which should be very common -- just short of $500. A common theme to all the replies was that I should not try to save money by buying cheap tools and equipment. In the long run it is more costly by far.
A waste of money. The service life on the oiless is supposed to be a quarter of the iron pumps. One reply said: "I have a SEARS compressor that I have had to replace the "piston and cylinder" assembly several times. Be sure that you look at the parts book and then look at the cheap construction the piston is a flat top with a teflon ring around it.
"Don't be afraid of 240 v systems." The only problem with them is that they are not as "portable" as the 120volt jobs. It is a snap to wire a 240v box. You need to run a line. This requires two phases of your power and a ground. You need to get heavy enough 3-wire cable (6 or 8 gauge) for the amperage of the plug and device you are plugging in. But be SURE that you have TWO circuit breakers ... otherwise you'll keep popping the breaker when the compressor motor cuts in.
"Use rubber air line (don't use that coiled plastic stuff, it's garbage)"
"I've cut up some Westies and found the tools of choice to be the cutter (it cuts with a nice curl of metal taken out, very quick if you have a start hole or edge......and the disk grinder, which takes disks about 3" in diameter and lets you get in wierd places to grind/cut metal. Another tool of choice if you have a clear space behind the metal is the electric sawzall, fitted with a hacksaw blade; I've found the "bimetal" blades they sell to outlast by 10 times the regular blades!"
"There is an air tool called a "nibbler" that "bites" little chunks of metal as you move it along. check with the Sears catalog or Eastwood. it works in very confined spaces and doesn't take away too much metal. air chisel can get away from you pretty quickly, but will do the job. Buy a nibbler and/or a die grinder and cutoff wheel. Both can be found at Tractor Supply Company or Sears I suppose (I don't show at Sears much)."
Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. is one possible source for tools. They sell home-built aircraft supplies. On page 388 of their current catalogue you will find a tool called the 'Adel Hand nibbling tool' which is only $14.95. I am a retired aircraft sheet metal mech. and can recommend this tool for light sheetmetal work. It leaves a clean, straight cut (as straight as you can cut). The part number is 12-10400." This is HAND operated, like a pair of pliers, but they have air powered nibbling tools as well.
WHERE TO BUY?
A couple people got their equipment at Home Depot, another said that Harbor Freight was the best deal he found when he was looking. Also, "if you live near a fair size town you will generally find a shop that specializes in compressors,tools, etc. Check these places out and you can find good used gear at good prices."
I'm also told that "For the same $400, you can get a 6.5HP 60 Gallon _OIL_ compressor from Sears. Upright unit, great for a garage. It think it is $440 ... the stores don't seem to always have these, but they sell them. Sears has a 10% off store-wide sale coming up soon... (call them and ask)."
Another listee purchased a 6.0 HP 60 Gallon _OIL_ compressor from Campbell Hausfeld for $397.00 at Home Depot.
Stephen Gutknecht, Joe (Marek), Jon (JCrane3882), Jerry
Stark, Mike Benthin, Gary Gibson, Austin Jack Smith, John Kyte, Joel
Walker, Holly and Chris, moore (at) vcnet.com, Dave (A bear in his natural
habitat), Joe (veldesha), and Rick FabulousTM.