buying first air compressor

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by 1999frontier, May 28, 2010.

  1. 1999frontier

    1999frontier LawnSite Senior Member
    from NC
    Posts: 562

    I'm looking to buy my first air compressor. I'm not sure what size or what to look for. Mostly what I'm planning on using it for is putting air in tires and changing mower blades. I will have to buy an impact wrench and sockets. Do ya'll use an impact wrench to change blades or do you use a regular ratchet? Also, my ztr manual state what torque to use, how do you know when using an impact wrench?
  2. biggziff

    biggziff LawnSite Member
    Posts: 96

    If you're going to torque the bolts (an excellent practice to be in) then you need a torque wrench and NOT an impact wrench. If you need something to blow up inflatables and maybe use an air nailer or other, low CFM tools, buy a cheapie Harbor Freight pancake air compressor like this one

    If you really need an impact you have to buy a compressor that has enough CFM to run the gun which means something with either a big pump or a big tank.

    For occasional use, these electric impacts are great.

    1/2" click and stop torque wrench $10

    They also have 3/8" if you need it. Don't buy the ones with the LCD digital display....Sears has some nice ones as well.
  3. whosedog

    whosedog LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 730

    For $200 we got a 23gal Huskey from HD came with chisel.impact wrench,tire inflator gauge,paint sprayer and regular wrench.The impact wrench works great,2-3 bumps and your tight;taking blades off is a breeze.The chisel is nice for small concrete chipping.
  4. Specop_007

    Specop_007 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 41

    I'll second that Harbor Freight pancake compressor. Its NOT a commercial grade heavy use unit but for the occasional bike tire, car tire or to get some air to blow something off its great. Lightweight, portable, relatively quiet and priced right.
  5. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,552

    Go for an oiled compressor, and not an oilless. They last way longer, and are much quieter (still loud, but not so loud that you cannot hear yourself think).
    Take a look at this:
    HF has coupons if you're near a store, and catalog deals sometimes on these as well.

    An impact is great for removing blades (just be careful that you don't encounter a reverse threaded bolt and break it off), because you don't need to clamp the blade, but you have no real control over the torque putting it back on.

    There is a device called a "torque stick" which acts as a socket extension, which limits the torque applied to the bolt by an impact gun, and can control the torque to some extent. Mechanics use these to put on lug nuts, but I suppose they could be used for blade bolts, etc, however it can get expensive, as each stick only works at one torque.
  6. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    CFM and pressure are everything. get the most you can afford. also stay away from the plastic "coily hoses" get a real hose. if you plan on keeping the compressor in one spot then you can use PVC to make extra outlets whith quick connects were you can hook up your compressor hose.. but also make sure your power outlet can handle the juice the compressor needs...on a regular basis...
  7. Specop_007

    Specop_007 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 41

    I also have that unit as well. Its a great compressor. I picked it up for air tools and larger tires. Frankly, I'd tell a home owner to go with the pancake for home owner needs. Note home owner. The one you listed weighs twice as much as the pancake version and is a bit louder. Its a better unit I'll agree on that point. If I never intended to move it around then I'd probably get the heavier unit but the portability of the pancake is great.

    I guess the real answer is what is the intended use. Bike/car tires and the occasional football the pancake is great. I havent tried it but I'd bet the pancake would handle an air tool for removing mower blades as well.

    Of course, I suppose thats why I have both, because I couldnt decide! :laugh:
  8. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,552

    Yeah, and I just noticed that the one I linked to is actually 50lbs, even if it has a "pancake" shaped tank. They actually make 4 gallon oiled compressors with a normal horizontal tank. With wheels, it can be easier to move than that larger pancake. I have something like this:
    for when I don't feel like dragging a hose from my big compressor. Its no fun lifting up stairs (say, for when I'm using a brad-nailer to install base molding in a bedroom), but its better than coiling up hundreds of feet of hose.

    CFM does mean a lot, when you're trying to run tools, but for nailers or inflating things, anything with a tank will do. Heck, I often hook my nailguns up to a setup I've got with a paintball CO2 tank and regulator (but I really bought that to carbonate water, and that getting way off track).

    I don't think though, that the tiny oilless pancake will run an impact wrench with acceptable results. The one I linked to pumps almost 5 times as fast, and will run an impact wrench or ratchet just fine. Still, even that won't have a chance with a die grinder or air drill, let alone run a sander or blow out your sprinklers.

    There is a tendency to see air tools for sale once you own a compressor, and say gee, I could use that but it needs too much air.
    Heed my warning, its a never ending race.
    You will either end up frustrated that your compressor is too small, broke from buying the compressor you really wanted, or like me, buying a compressor from a closing body shop and having to modify structure to fit such a behemoth.
  9. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,552

    Oh, and for any tools that will work with a pancake of that size, a coil hose will be just fine. Just get one that is polyurethane, and not nylon. The nylon coils are very brittle, especially when cold, and fight you because they're so stiff.
  10. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    I don't care what type it is, it just seems that you are always fighting the coil. IE yopau re working on something that 30 feet away from the compressor and your coil hose has a length of 50 feet you have a spring(weak i know) that is constantly trying to pull the tool back to the unhook the tool with the quick connect and set the hose down. boom. it back at the compressor...

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