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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-01-2010, 01:34 AM Thread Starter
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Default Air compressor water filter

I bought a 4-gal compressor/18 G Brad nailer combo from RONA today. You may question my choice but at $130 I did not think I could go wrong.

In addition to nailing brads I intend to use the compressor for painting and blowing stuff off surfaces.

For the former two choices dry air is recommended and I, therefore, need an air filter. This is where I am coming un-stuck: There is a bewildering array of air-filters on the market, starting at $5 and going as far as $220.

No amount of searching provides guidance as what filter one should get. I can only infer that as Canadian Tire carry only two, one for $27 and one for $40, the odds are that one of them will do the job.

The manual states that the filter should be connected between the hose and the tool but I just cannot see it as practical. Is there a compelling reason not to connect the filter between the compressor outlet and the hose?
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-01-2010, 03:57 AM
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Crquack.....what you are saying is probably ok....some of the experts may take a different view, but, regardless of what compressor and what you paid for it...remember to take the bung out of the barrel every so often. in your climate I'd say twice a year!....you'd be surprised how much water builds up over time........Regards.....AL
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-01-2010, 11:37 PM
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The 26 dollar one from CT will work fine if you are using 1/4" fittings. The advantage to connecting it at the outlet from the compressor is that no moisture will get into the air line. If you connect it at the tool, then disconnect the tool you will have moisture in the airline to get into the next tool if it doesn't have a dryer affixed. It's more critical when using the compressor for spray painting, but by connecting one at the compressor outlet and then to your hose all your air tools will be protected from moisture. And yes it is important to bleed the water from the tank. I drain mine weekly and if I am using it a lot, like for painting, I may drain it a couple of times during usage.
They also have some cheaper ones at Princess Auto. They use the replacable desiccant dryer fillers.

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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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OK. From your reply I surmise that you *do* use your compressor for painting in that configuration, i.e. filter between the compressor and the line, with no ill effects.

Form theoretical consideration I was concerned that you *do* get water in the line if you have the filter before it: The water vapour in the compressed air will condense out with the pressure drop and air expansion in the hose. The filter will only pick up water in the liquid state, not in the vapour state.

However, theory is one thing and practice is another as your experience would indicate. I guess I shall blow it and see...
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 09:35 PM
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I have done it with the filter at the spray gun. It added more bulk to the gun and was in the way most of the time. Connecting it at the tank outlet was more convenient as well. So far I haven't had any issues with water in the paint.

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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 11:27 PM
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Crquack.

Your theoretical concern is very real, at least under certain conditions.... I've experienced in using both my old (1hp C-H) and new (5hp Ingersoll-Rand) compressor. If you run the compressor long enough for the compressor, tank and air inside to heat up, you will get moisture carry-over.

For the IR I've installed both particulate and coalescing filters inline. After using my 6" pneumatic ROS (50 ft hose) for a 30 minute continuous test I removed the sander and atttached a blow-gun and got a very misty spray. I've been told that's why when you look at pictures in articles on designing air systems they have filters at the end of the line; to permit the air to cool. I've attached some of my reading material on the topic.

My son and I are working on an aftercooler... <g>

This may not be a viable solution for you and you may not need it if you don't run your compressor long enough for the tank to heat up. In other words, YMMV..
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-03-2010, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks.

I am hoping that the best defense against spurious water will be the relatively low frequency and duration of usage :-)

I have had others tell me about the aftercoolers, some quite elaborate.

I just bought this in-line filter from KMS Tools:

Bynford 1/4" In-Line Filter [BYN-MAF] - $7.95 : KMS Tools

It is convenient to attach to the spray gun but comes with absolutely no information: Max pressure? Disposable or not (I think not, it has a tiny drain)?

Iwata do something similar for their airbrushes at 5-times the price.

We shall see how it goes...
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-03-2010, 09:06 PM
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Crquack...

Heat is the enemy here... A box fan blowing over your compressor head and tank will really help cool things.

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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 06:57 AM
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To summarize what everyone else has said, there are three components between the compressor and your tool:

1. an air filter.
2. an air dryer
3. an air lubricator.

There are two air filters, one on the air intake side of the compressor and another on the line to your tool. The one on the line to your tool is sometimes one in the same as an air dryer, but not always.

There are two types of air dryer, one type is a little bottle filled with silica gel and another type uses the centrifugal force to spin the water out of the air stream. I prefer the latter. This is the second in the line from your compressor. There will be a little knob on the bottom of the vial, that is to empty the water out of the dryer.

The air lubricator provides lubricating oil in the air to air powered tools and is a real pain. There are no instructions anywhere including how to adjust the [email protected]#$%^&*()(_+{}|"?>< thing. There are two screws in the top and a little glass bubble. The big screw opens a hole that lets you fill the oil reservoir. Pay particular attention to the max level mark. Don't fill past this mark. It gets really messy fast. Replace the screw. Now put your oiler in line and put a push button nozzle on the end. Charge your line and let some air flow through the nozzle. Watch the little glass bubble on the oiler. You'll notice oil starting to drip inside the bubble. This drip is what you need to adjust to keep your tools adequately oiled. You adjust it by turning the other screw. 1/4 turn is too much but a full turn may not be enough. When you figure this one out, let me know.

#1 and #2 are necessary for painting, drying and blowing out cleaned parts etc. or you just want relatively clean air.

#3 is necessary if you're doing any sort of heavy work with nailers or air powered tools i.e. drills, wrenches, sanders etc. It is a pain to stop and relubricate every time to add nails etc.

All of these are available at Princess Auto. Talk to their "pneumatics specialist." For some reason regulators and air filters come threaded for 1/2" (OD) connectors but the oilers come threaded for 5/8 or 3/4. You'll have to create a "chain" of adapters and fittings. Keep your hose connections to 1/4" ID (1/4" NPT) and make everything else fit that standard. You'll be fine with that.

Two more things, I empty the moisture out of my tanks at the end of every day and I change the oil in my pumps frequently. I don't know about your compressor but my big one has a fan on it and my little one doesn't run more than 15 minutes before I start changing over to the big one. The little one (a Makita MAC) is for convenience and the big one (Mastercraft Maximum 20 gal belt drive) is for project work (framing, roofing, cleaning brick and blocks) Both have filter, dryer and oiler capability. I have one block that I switch between the two of them as I need it.

Hope this helps.

Allthunbs

Last edited by allthunbs; 08-04-2010 at 07:08 AM.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 10:23 AM
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crquack: Hi.

I believe that you got some good info from the above posts. I can't add any more to them as far as use. If possible for you, you could look at Harbor Freight's air tool section, for a good selection of air filters, water sep, and small regs, fittings, etc. I've bought alot of alll, prices are reasonable, especialy when they may be on sale. I've noticed that HF has cut back on the 50% off salesl, in this econm it should be more

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