Assumptions about a small shop compressor



Doing my research about equipment to get started in airbrushing (personal art, models, small projects, etc) and I think I've absorbed enough to start getting myself into trouble with assumptions.

I've got my eye tentatively on this compressor (apologies, forum won't let me post direct links yet, go to, search for product 58-7936-6), as it seems to fit the bill of what I need:

Specs are:

  • PSI - 100
  • Lubrication - Oil-Free
  • Tank Dimensions - 2 gallon
  • SCFM at 40 PSI - 1
  • SCFM at 90 PSI - 0.7

I'll run these questions by sales clerk who may or may not be familiar with the ins and outs of compressors, but I'd like to go prepared...

For noise, I can test it in store. Can someone give me a ballpark estimate of how much paint time 2 gallons will provide before I need to switch on the motor to refill? Is it comparable to a hypothetical 2 gallon rattle can?

I'll need to add a moisture filter to the setup, of course. Will I need to add/replace the regulator (that is the part that governs how much PSI output reaches the air brush, isn't it?) to restrict it down to the 15 to 50 PSI range most air brushes seem to use? The specs suggest that the PSI can be adjusted, but not how far. The same store sells a 0 to 160 PSI adjustment valve, if needed.
The noise from it well drive you crazy But i did see that they have one like it on sale half off this week
I have got one and turned it into a silent comp. Use it all the time instead of the big shop comp.
hardware compressors are all very noisy and cost much less. Airbrush compressors are much more user friendly indoors due to the low noise factor and size IMO
A 2 gallon tank will not last long, unless you are doing miniatures. A small airbrush specific compressor is key to your sanity if you are spraying indoors. Mine rus about 60db, very tolerable, not totally quiet but good enough.

A lot of people like the GMC syclone compressors or California air tool ones. Same thing different name. Good prices, can be had from 1 gal to 6.3, win a quiet compressor.

Good luck with your decision.

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If the noise doesn't bother you Rob, this will do the job - a two gallon tank might last 1 - 3 minutes air time with your air-flow on. This doesn't sound like much, but it's probably enough. If the noise is an important factor then maybe look at the compressors as recommended by wmlepage above.
That particular compressor you've referenced does already have a regulator, you'll be able to adjust it from 0 - 'whatever you need' PSI, however you will need a moisture trap - this will likely cost you around $50 for a decent one.
Happy hunting:)
Tried the compressor I linked at the store. For a 'quiet' one, it's damn near as loud as the full size shop models I've been around. Maybe if it had a monster tank attached to it and I only had to turn it on once or twice a day, it'd be an acceptable trade off. Damn shame, considering they're on sale for half price now.

Perhaps I'm just being paranoid. I seem to have read a disproportionate number of reviews from people with compressor problems, making it seem like even solid, popular brands have a 25% chance of failing in the first week. I guess I'm planning for inevitable problems, having to ship the failed specialty compressor frequently to who knows where at a significant price, probably across the border (Canada to the States). Whereas if I purchased a shop model from a major chain, I can get it dealt with under warranty (or even outside of warranty) locally and cheaply. But I guess bad experiences are going to provoke more people to write negatively, while people who experience no problems and have their equipment work as advertised aren't very motivated to gush. "I bought a compressor... and it pumps air! Wow! Best purchase ever!"

So, looks like a designed-for-airbrush, truly quiet compressor is where I'm headed (I live in an apartment that is relatively sound-dampened, but not by that much, and there's also no room for a monster tank). I'm looking at the Iwata line, for it's reputation and local availability, but I'm not married to that.

New questions:

  • How critical is it to have a compressor with a tank? I fully understand the idea of pulsing, that instead of a steady air stream, you get a spitting stutter, and drawing stored air from a tank eliminates this. Is this really a noticeable problem on made-for-airbrushing brand name non-tank compressors?
  • I've come across remarks that piston-driven compressors effectively eliminate this problem, compared to diaphragm compressors. I assume diaphragm types are the older standard, is the opinion on needing a tank a holdover, a superfluous habit, from painters who started or still use that type?
  • Are tank-less constant compressors actually tank-less? In my mind, I would expect an artist-grade compressor to have a small reservoir. Not big enough to paint from, but just enough to smooth the airflow.
  • Can a tank-less compressor be modified to have a small tank as described above, with minimal Macgyvering? Say, inserting a 9-20oz paintball tank (or something similar) with standard air tool connectors between the compressor and the airbrush?
You really should get one with a tank, the tank acts as a moisture trap in its self, and will also keep possible pulsation from compression out of the lines. Not that you shouldn't still get a remote regulator/ moisture trap, closer to your work. Tankless are just that, all the air you have is in the line .

One thing to keep in mind, the more the compressor runs, the more likely for it to get hot. Heat is a killer of these little compressors. Simple fix is get a small fan and blow air over it on long paint sessions.

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Hi Rob

just a few quick words/advice about the paintball tanks - (I owned a paintball range for a while)

1 - The 7 - 20oz tanks where designed for CO2, and the valve is either letting the CO2 IN when filling or letting it OUT when it is connected to the marker - you could do a mcyver and drill and tap a new inlet hole (1/4 inch bsp is the medium air hose standard here in SA). Now that you have mentioned it i might actually do this for myself with an old tank and see how it works.
2 - maybe the air tanks/cylinders for the markers are better suited because they have one quick release (with valve) for filling, and then the standard outlet for the marker.

3 - If you do this you may NEVER EVER EVER use that tank for paintball again. If for some reason ANY oil managed to get from the compressor into the tank, you run a serious risk of it exploding when it is used under normal (200 bar - 3000psi) pressures because the oil might explode (AFAIK).

4 - The hose fittings for the markers are all pretty standard with the quick release and I don't think you would have any problems setting up hoses to and from the AIR tank.

hope this helps
The paintball type quick disconnects a re slightly different , at least all my old ones were, they do not stop the air from flowing out the female when disconnected. I had originally thought to use some of these to connect hoses to airbrushes, you could still do this, but have a valve from the air source, before the hose, otherwise all the air will drain out.

Just food for thought.

Also I think my paintball disconnects were actually a larger physical size than the AB ones.

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flycatchr and wmlepage:

I play it myself, casually. I fully get that CO2 and air tanks are 2 different beasts, converted and upgraded my gear previously. And that their valves probably aren't configured to do this. Just using them as an example.

It may be comparing apples and oranges, but its what I'm drawing upon for examples. With CO2 in paintball, we'd add an expansion chamber or a remote line, to give the cold CO2 time to warm and expand before being used to fire, thereby producing more consistent pressure per shot, and thus more accuracy (Coles Notes for non-players).

That's sort of what I was trying to describe, an expansion chamber to dampen pulsing of the air to the air brush. I imagine the hose itself acts a little like one. The descriptions on the Iwata website claim the moisture trap acts as a filter against pulsing.

I just can't imagine that if pulsing from tank-less compressors is that common and that noticeable, that there'd even be a market for tank-less art compressors. Maybe for the less than $50 cheap starter bundles, but not when they cost north off $300 by themselves (tank-less Iwata models), for something that is one motor hiccup from destroying your work.

Anyway, the heat tip is welcome, wmlepage. I can probably rig a computer case fan or two to keep a breeze moving over it. I keep my place and gear pretty clean, can't help but wonder if some people's overheating and failures stem from it trying to suck air through an inch of built up dust and hair and debris.
The paintball type quick disconnects a re slightly different , at least all my old ones were, they do not stop the air from flowing out the female when disconnected. I had originally thought to use some of these to connect hoses to airbrushes, you could still do this, but have a valve from the air source, before the hose, otherwise all the air will drain out.

Just food for thought.

Also I think my paintball disconnects were actually a larger physical size than the AB ones.

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I hear ya rob - :)
@ wmlepage - I have both types in my paintball gear - the remote hose with quick connect doesn't have the valve (I got it from a hydraulics supplier), yet the fill station for the scuba tank to the paintball tank has one. I also think that the nipples for those two aren't compatible. Either way, i think i will do the exercise of actually converting an old CO2 tank (because i have and i can and i want to)
as to the physical size - man i get frustrated - apart from the AB disconnects (which seem to be standard) I have in my possession 5 different sizes (including the paintball) and nearly bought a 6th size because that is the size that seems to be standard from one of the major large tool suppliers.
flycatchr, i hear ya man.

I actually quit playing almost 8 years ago and still junk in my attic. Just cant seem to get rid of all of it. This is the year though, going to give it to someone who still plays. I was a tourney player, just got to be too much when starting a family. Now I have cheap hobbies, motorcycles and airbrushing and woodworking, ok maybe they're not cheap either.

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OK :) I still play every now and then, I actually don't use air or CO2 when i play....

I shoot them with my bow - quite a hoot trying to get a shot of with the enemas shooting 15 bps at you :)
Most of the High end airbrush compressers look like refrigeration units, and they have a tank called a reciever. they are capable of over 200 psi I would look for a good sized one and definately recomend a moisture trap, but that old airconditioner sitting in the basement may be your new low budget airbrush compresser. Remember to have the refrigerant recoverd by a professional ;) you look pretty professional to me. I havent tried this yet but Im pretty confident it will work.
I have a compressor for a mini fridge i may try this with.

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