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Old 07-21-2010, 12:32 PM
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Which air compressor to buy for media blasting?

I need a little guidance on which would be the best compressor I should buy while keeping my budget under $1000. This will be used for media blasting, a little painting and powder coating along with the normal around the garage needs. The media blasting projects I'll be doing will be no larger than a full car frame. I'll be doing a lot of small projects with it but I want to be able to tackle rear ends and frames. I was looking at this one a bit CH 80 Gallon Compressor but after reading a few negative things about CH I wasn't sure. I'm going to start off using a HF media blaster just to tackle small projects (buddy of mine has one laying around he is letting me use) also any advice on a decent media blast unit would be nice too, I'm trying to go with somewhat more inexpensive units but I also know that I'm not going to get anything special for a low price. Anyway I appreciate any info or advice Thanks!

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Old 07-21-2010, 01:12 PM
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I must admit I have no experience with the Harbor Freight US General compressors except for looking at them in the store but they seem to be a darn good deal for the price. These things are made in USA (from HF even!) with quality parts, one two stage 80 gallon model even has a Baldor motor and AO Smith electrics. The compressor pump is made in Italy and looks to be a very well made pump for the money, this combined with the other decent quality parts (even the tank is built in USA) would seem to make this compressor one of the best deals out there. Take a look at one and compare it to some of the Chinese imports at the same, or even higher, price and it looks to be a very good deal for well under $1000 on sale which it is most of the time. Sometimes being on sale and with one of the easily found 20% off coupons these things can be bought for under $800!


One example but apparently prices have gone up slightly recently, this has been the case with several HF items but still not bad and they seem to be cheaper in the stores when on sale.

http://www.harborfreight.com/5-hp-60...sor-93274.html

Last edited by oldred; 07-21-2010 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 07-21-2010, 03:54 PM
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Which air compressor to buy for media blasting?

harbor freight is junk .
i live in Tennessee and there's two stores in Nashville alone , then there's 20 something people selling there refurbished junk they buy by the pallet full,from a place that is over whelmed with junk returns from harbor freight sells out the pallet fulls to the public .

get a better place to buy from , northern tools if you have one , i'd stay away from camble hausfield for sure , they make them in Laverne tn. and the dumpster is filled daily with there junk going to steinard lift re cycle in Nashville .
Ingersoll ram best , and get a tank for air storage , more air to run a blaster .
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Old 07-22-2010, 08:03 AM
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I'm using a small HF compressor now just for around the garage stuff and its been pretty good to me, granted I've only had it for about 8 months but so far so good I just wont be able to run a blaster on my small compressor. I've heard that IR has gone pretty downhill in the last few years, I'm not too sure if this is true cause it's just what I've heard and not first hand experience. I'm no expert on compressors so another question I have is, do I want a two stage compressor over a single stage for this work?
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Old 07-22-2010, 08:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burnt olds
harbor freight is junk .


To just say that a compressor is junk simply because it comes from HF is ridiculous, that compressor is built from name brand quality parts and built in the USA NOT China.


Quote:
Originally Posted by burnt olds
Ingersoll ram best ,

Ingersoll ram??? That's ingersoll RAND and if you go back and read the fairly recent posts here on them plus do a google search you will find that the Ingersoll in this price range has an extremely bad reputation for reliability, at least 4 and maybe 5 different cases of failures were discussed here in one thread!

That Ingersoll is imported from China, the HF compressor in this case is USA made.



Quote:
Originally Posted by burnt olds
and get a tank for air storage , more air to run a blaster .

This subject has just about been beaten to death, a larger tank WILL NOT increase a compressor's performance and is about the last consideration when choosing a compressor. A bigger tank absolutely will NOT give you "more air to run a blaster", that is a function of the pump/motor and it is CFM from the pump that determines how well a compressor will keep up with the media blaster NOT the size of the tank! The tank size determines the on/off cycle rate of the outfit and does not provide "more air", it determines whether the compressor provides longer and fewer cycles for a larger tank or shorter but more frequent cycles for the smaller tank, the time available for the compressor to run a tool remains the same during any given work period past the first start cycle. Choosing a compressor based on getting a larger tank is probably the biggest mistake a lot of people make and recommending a big tank without even mentioning CFM is poor advice indeed !
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Old 07-22-2010, 08:32 AM
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Which air compressor to buy for media blasting?

old red , your full of air .
you take a small air tank , 5 gallon size verses a 10 gallon tank out to fill a flat truck tire , you'll make two trips to the one 10 gallon trip.
as for the ch compressors , if i could take a photo for you there scrap pile at the Nashville recycle , you'd be impressed by the pile .
go back to craigs list and check the recycled junk list .
compressor needs to be 2 stage type for blasting .
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Old 07-22-2010, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1972
I'm using a small HF compressor now just for around the garage stuff and its been pretty good to me, granted I've only had it for about 8 months but so far so good I just wont be able to run a blaster on my small compressor. I've heard that IR has gone pretty downhill in the last few years, I'm not too sure if this is true cause it's just what I've heard and not first hand experience. I'm no expert on compressors so another question I have is, do I want a two stage compressor over a single stage for this work?


Don't confuse HF's small compressors with the larger two stage outfits as the smaller ones are Chinese, that big one looks to be well built for the price range with such things as a Baldor motor (on some of them anyway) as opposed to a cheap Emerson on the IR.



By far the best choice is a two stage over a single, the two stage is a lot more efficient, quieter, provides cooler air, usually has a much better duty cycle and they tend to last a lot longer if cared for properly. For your blaster you need CFM, that's what counts as far as performance because it's how much air the compressor makes available that is going to determine how well it will keep up so get the most CFM you can. Balance this against the overall quality of the outfit but all else being even close to equal CFM should be the determining factor. If the CFM rating is too low the compressor will not keep up and a bigger tank will NOT help it keep up in spite of what some believe, if all else is the same and the same CFM the difference between a 60 gallon tank and an 80 gallon tank would be all but unnoticeable during operation. The "reserve air" of a larger tank that some people think makes a compressor make up for a lack of CFM is simply a trade off, the slightly (and that's very slightly) longer run time before recharge for an 80 gallon tank vs a 60 gallon is always lost to the proportionally longer recharge time so nothing is gained. I am not saying a bigger tank is useless because it does have advantages such as somewhat less wear and tear and slightly lower power consumption due to fewer high load start-up cycles but passing up higher CFM to get a bigger tank is a serious mistake. The size of the tank is chosen by the designer to balance the CFM vs the expected use demand and it is the CFM that makes a compressor keep up so if it is low then a bigger tank, more HP, bigger lines or anything else will not make up for it, a bigger tank DOES NOT MAKE A BIGGER COMPRESSOR!
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Old 07-22-2010, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burnt olds
old red , your full of air .
you take a small air tank , 5 gallon size verses a 10 gallon tank out to fill a flat truck tire , you'll make two trips to the one 10 gallon trip.
as for the ch compressors , if i could take a photo for you there scrap pile at the Nashville recycle , you'd be impressed by the pile .
go back to craigs list and check the recycled junk list .
compressor needs to be 2 stage type for blasting .


Maybe you can explain how a bigger tank can put out more air? And what does a dumpster full full of CH compressors have to do with any other?


" 5 gallon size verses a 10 gallon tank out to fill a flat truck tire , you'll make two trips to the one 10 gallon trip"

It takes twice as long to fill that ten gallon tank so what would that gain you in time? If you run a compressor with a small tank for a half hour and had to wait 15 minutes of that time for it to catch up you would still have to wait the SAME 15 minutes for it to refill even if you changed it to a tank twice as big, you would wait half as many cycles but they would be twice as long so what do you gain? Maybe you can explain just how a bigger tank can put out more air than the pump can put in?
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Old 07-22-2010, 09:12 AM
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I just finished blasting a truck in my garage and this is my experience:

FWIW, I bought a HF compressor (the one with the 30 gallon tank) and it was a ridiculous piece of junk that barely put out 2/3 of its rated flow and sprayed oil all over the place when it ran. Having said that HF is the ONLY place to buy tips--they're 1/4 the price of the ones from Northern Tools and exactly the same quality as near as I can tell.

I ended up with a single stage IR unit from Northern Tools rated at around 18CFM@90 psi. As near as I can tell, the thing is a beast--I'd run it constant for 6 hours and it never missed a beat. (Note: I like the Chinese--the food, the people, the wall.)

If I were you, I'd budget in a refrigerated air dryer. Wet air will shut you down in a hurry. You might want to look into the one HF has for $399. Can't speak to the quality, but it's a pretty simple piece of machinery.

There's nothing wrong with the HF blaster other than the fact that the nipple holding the manifold on is too long and needs to be trimmed so it doesn't block the media. My (admittedly limited) experience here is that sandblasting is the most destructive process imaginable and it's going to eat everything, including your blaster. Just buy the HF and when parts wear out, put on quality replacements.

It makes sense to have something to shake the blaster when you're using it to keep it from clogging. I had the bright idea of putting it on one of these but obviously too expensive. I think people strap running tools to them or something. Do a search--I'm sure someone has figured it out.

Two stage is fine, but you don't need it.

And finally, OldRed is right. Tank size is irrelevant.

Have fun!
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Old 07-22-2010, 09:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyomingclimber
FWIW, I bought a HF compressor (the one with the 30 gallon tank) and it was a ridiculous piece of junk that barely put out 2/3 of its rated flow and sprayed oil all over the place when it ran.

That is what I meant when I said don't compare the little HF compressors to the large "US General" brand, they are two completely different animals! I am not pushing this HF compressor, just saying it is well worth a look and to me it seems like a better deal than just about anything out there in that price range. It would be a mistake to just discount this unit simply because of where it came from and because of all the junk they do sell. It does have an American made motor and electrics, an American built tank and it is built in the USA. That Italian built pump is a far cry from the Chinese junk that is usually found on compressors in this price range, U.S and European built is not Chinese built!

Quote:
Originally Posted by wyomingclimber
I ended up with a single stage IR unit from Northern Tools rated at around 18CFM@90 psi. As near as I can tell, the thing is a beast--I'd run it constant for 6 hours and it never missed a beat.


Because the OP here is trying to decide on which compressor to buy I would like to point out something about that CFM rating. There has been some controversy about the 18+@90 PSI CFM rating of that outfit since that seems more than just a bit overly optimistic for a 5 HP single stage outfit. Recently IR has started rating this thing at a more realistic 15.5 CFM@90 PSI which is still quite good but anyone shopping for a compressor should not base the selection on that wildly optimistic 18+ CFM rating.


I think Northern tool and TC have not changed their ads for these things yet and probably won't unless they get called on it which probably won't happen but here are the specs for the same 5 HP 60 gallon SS5L5 IR unit from a compressor company.



http://www.aircompressorsdirect.com/...S5L5/p689.html
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:11 AM
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Oldred:

I agree that the HF unit is worth looking into--that's why I wrote FWIW when I made my comment about the compressor I bought. My one concern might be the 90 day warranty. I think my IR has a 5 year. Also, I'd want to know what the duty cycle is.

I totally agree about the CFM numbers. So irritating to try to wade through all the lies. I looked at the HF unit I bought and they've downgraded the CFM from 14 when I bought it to 6.5! Probably because they started allowing customer reviews.

What I can say about the IR is that it will run a blaster with a 1/8" tip constant at a pressure adequate to take rust out of deep pits.

Honestly, if I had to do it over again, I probably would have just taken the stuff to a professional blaster--what a miserable job!
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:16 AM
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Oldred:

One of the reviewers of that unit says it comes with an AO Smith motor and not the one pictured.

Is that a decent unit?
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Old 07-22-2010, 03:09 PM
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A.O. Smith is a good motor. Emerson used to be

Old Red, your wasting your breath, you have forgotten more that these guys think they know.

Vince
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Old 07-22-2010, 03:32 PM
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To be clear, the HF US General compressors have either AO Smith or Baldor motors on them, the tanks are made in VA, usually square D or similar electrical, and the only part that is not American made is the compressor head, it's Italian. It's even assembled in SC.

If you look at the current Ingersoll, CH (and the Husky and a few others are made by them, just painted another color)... compressors they all have really rough finished (compared to the US general ones), Chinese made compressor heads, most all of them use junk Emerson motors (IR is getting into a lot of trouble with them burning up and dying on their 60 and 80 gal compressors) and the tanks are junk (I've seen a few cracked tanks from CH/Husky...).

If you asked me a few years ago I would have said one of the 60 or 80 gallon 2 stage IR compressors, but not now, I'd probably look at the US general, and then maybe consider one of the smaller US companies... and probably go with the US general since I haven't seen anything that can compete at even 2x the price for a while.
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Old 07-22-2010, 04:09 PM
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Well it will be a couple of weeks till I buy one but I'm starting to lean toward the US General. I've been reading reaviews on it and I'm only finding positive reviews, and I like the whole 20% off coupon! The 25 gallon US General I'm using right now does pretty decent for small projects but thats all its really made for. Anyone know if they offer the additional 3 year warranty on the 60 gallon compressor?
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