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Thread: Thomas Air Compressor

  1. #21
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Thomas Air Compressor

    I use 2 of these https://www.amazon.com/California-Ai...xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

    Their price is climbing, I like a small tank with 2 dryers regulated down to 20 PSA with a needle valve pencil air gun

    I can make a tiny puff of clean air, also use only clean new hoses

    The second one is for my many tires

  2. #22
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Thomas Air Compressor

    Nothing much has changed about this old thread. Porter Cable compressors are still wretched junk, as are seemingly all home center options. Certain Thomas portable compressors can still be ordered custom built from the outfit that bought up all their remaining parts inventory when that particular plant was liquidated, for about double or triple the original price! I still stand by my advice of RolAir JC-10 as the most realistic alternate to Thomas if you want something small and quiet and cool-running for a darkroom or small shop - certainly not equal to vintage US made Thomas, but way more affordable and so far, so good.

    Thomas still makes vacuum and compressor pumps per se for industrial usage at a different plant in Louisiana, and one could build their own compressor using one of those. You'd still need a tank and regulator, pressure switch, etc. Just a pump by itself is a rather inefficient way to get the job done.

    That California Air Tool outfit imports from the same manufacturer as Rol-Air (large Rol Air compressors are domestic). But I prefer the dual-piston model because configuring things that way requires less RPM, hence less noise and more air output, at somewhat more weight and price. Plus the dual-piston style inherently works less hard and therefore lasts longer. And it's what I advised Rol-Air to provide in the first place, once the handwriting was on the wall with respect to the demise of Thomas' Midwest factory, where all the little ones were built. After my retirement, that inside track dissolved.

  3. #23

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    Re: Thomas Air Compressor

    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Can View Post
    Looks like there are many models of those.

    For me, an oil free cheap Porter Cable nailer compressor does everything I need.

    Blow off negs, cameras, whatever, fill my tires and use my nailers.

    You can add a dryer and regulator to any compressor.

    I stuck mine in the furnace closet and leave it on 24/7 with lines to my bathroom darkroom and to my front door for tire filling.
    any compressor will do. Just be sure to put on a dryer filter trap.

    Porter cable compressors are the best on the market. Mine were used very heavily for construction since 1980 and is still working like new. Maybe Porter cable quality has gone down over the years? I still see them everywhere being used by many contractors and builders.

    Maybe the problems are with oil less compressors?... those are all junk. Just use a dryer n moisture trap to filter the oil n dust.



    .

  4. #24
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Thomas Air Compressor

    Porter Cable has always been utter junk in terms of compressors, some of the worst, and falsely labeled in terms of rated output. They were quite late in that particular game anyway. I refused to sell them, and we held the regional service contract with Porter Cable! Put two and two together. Weren't even worth fixing. Mostly overheated burnt out cheap pumps and strained toy motors. The only reason you see "contractors" using them is because they've been shopping at the Cheapo Depot kind of places that only offer junk. A second and more logical reason is that so much gear gets stolen from work sites or abused by casual labor that it's considered expendable.

    As a company, Porter Cable has been dead quite awhile now. They took a terrible nose dive in the early 70's when Rockwell purchased them and ruined the quality; and then once they broke free again, it took another 18 yrs to get their reputation back, just to have the stupidest CEO I ever met dropped in at the top after Bosch USA fired him. Now it's just a pirated label plastered on bait and switch import stuff. The factories in the South closed down around a couple decades ago, and much of the surrounding county fell into pot growing. Now some of those old warehouses and factory buildings have been reclaimed by newer industries, including a US Ikea plant (almost totally mechanized, so nowhere near the answer to job loss per se, but at least something positive). Porter Cable is now a very minor holding of Stanley/B&D/DeWalt, which is not US owned anymore either.

    You are also distinctly wrong about ALL oilless compressors being junk. Junk oilless compressors are junk, not well-designed ones. I gave an oilless Thomas 40 years of hard daily use in my own shop and darkroom facility. The tank finally rusted through, but the motor and pump are still doing fine. Maybe someday I'll stumble onto a new tank for cheap or free. In the meantime, I have two other Thomas oilless units - one for the darkroom complex, the other for my own remodel and construction purposes. Please keep in mind that I've been outright given high-end construction compressors for sake of review. I've designed others; and those earned their reputation for long haul reliability . Sold thousands and thousands. So there must be a good reason I do oilless for my own use. Oil and mist separators are of course available. But for darkroom and film use, I don't want any kind of risk. I have three stages of micro-filtration. But even the inside of an ordinary air hose or air nozzle can spatter oily contaminants if they haven't been thoroughly purged first. And mere filters don't remove all moisture. You need a gravity as well as condensation collection system in place. ...

    And that brings me back to why compressors designed ala Porter Cable are so wretched for these kinds of purposes. All that clamshell type plastic housing around them is a dead giveaway. It's an attempt to control the noise of a very inefficient system. Because the pumps are so cheaply made, they need either the motor RPM or V-belt ratio to be revved way up in order to force more air out. But the cure is worse than the disease. That baffling further traps in the already excessive heat build-up, thereby greatly increasing water condensation and premature rust in the tank itself, as well as in the air line. And there is not even an effective cooling coil external to that. I could go on and on. No need.

  5. #25

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    Re: Thomas Air Compressor

    Got a 30gallon/175maxpsi/6cfm/min@90psi Huskey from HD awhile back...while "too big" for my otherwise huge v-groove ceiling project, I could nail all day and the thing wouldn't need to recharge. Could nail for several days without it coming on. Other ostensible use for this was to soda-blast my 944 engine/components during my recent rebuild. Turns out that this "big-ass" compressor is way too small for that purpose. In the meantime I find it really useful for all kinds of stuff.

    If I did lots of picture framing I'd get a framing/nailgun for sure, but otherwise I don't use my compressor for anything photo-related. A pancake or other small compressor would be more suited for this (for blowing out holders, etc.).

    Pancake compressors are indeed compact...but depending on their use they tend to activate rather frequently and can be noisy. When I opened this post...and noted Mr. Can's mention of keeping one of these in a closet, always on...my first thought was "how do you get any sleep?"

  6. #26
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Thomas Air Compressor

    That nailer Porter Cable seldom ran in that closet, as I had no air leaks, I slept in the same one room studio, I used it alot as nailer when I blacked out a wall of window with pine, then Gas Burst

    No matter what Mr Know it all says, I really like my 2 CALIFORNIA AIR TOOLS CAT-1P1060SP GAL 56DB Air Compressor

    One is in my huge shed where I turn it off most of the time

    The other is now in my furnace room and feeds to DR through a wall, it never is turned off and I never hear it

    It is primarily for Gas Burst Tanks to develop film and a few puffs to move dust to a new location

    If I need a tool, I buy it and DIY everything since birth

  7. #27

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    Re: Thomas Air Compressor

    also be sure to purge the tanks of water condensate or your tanks will rust.

  8. #28
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Thomas Air Compressor

    I used to sell air compressors

    Twice I have seen big compressors burst into flame or electric fork trucks in a huge factory full of cardboard

    I was on the voluntary response team, punch press hands were the worst

    My job was playing with 120 psi gasoline inside the factory...

  9. #29

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    Re: Thomas Air Compressor

    ...you still have all ten fingers?

  10. #30
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Thomas Air Compressor

    Portable compressors are really in a different category than industrial ones. And most of those have now capitulated to lower quality import status. Tin Can - I already posted that the Cal Air Tool compressor you like is made by the same outfit in China as the JC-21 Rol-Air; they even offer their own identical one, just a different paint color and logo on it. I saw all that stuff from day one, even basically commissioned it.

    Husky is another brand too contemptuous to even spit on, as far as I'm concerned. Sears once had the most egregiously false-rated compressors, so bad in fact that the Feds pounced on them, which almost never happens. How do you get 7 HP output out of a simple 115V wall plug in? Getting up 1-1/2 HP is hard enough. That was the whole name of the game to begin with - getting portable compressors to work when remodeling older home circuits.

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