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causes of air compressor pump getting covered in film of oil/dirt?

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  • causes of air compressor pump getting covered in film of oil/dirt?

    I have a 5 horse 2 stage Champion vertical compressor with 80 gallon tank. I changed the oil today and noticed that the amount that came out was about 1/3 less than what I had to put in (2 quarts). The pump and surrounding area on the machine used to stay clean. Now everything's covered with a film of oil which is rapidly attracting shop dirt.

    I believe the most likely cause is the oil seal on the crank on the pulley end, where any leaking oil would be flung by the pulley and essentially aerosolized.

    Is there another cause I should think about before I go ordering parts from Gardiner-Denver?

    metalmagpie

  • #2
    One other place to check would be the outlet line from the compressor pump to the tank - and all the fittings in between. I used soap water on mine and was surprised -- it felt tight to me, but it wasn't.... Other than that, it's probably the crank seals as you say.
    25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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    • #3
      How many hours since the oil was checked? Clean the compressor with one of those safe, water soluble de-greasers. Run it for a little bit and then examine all the suspect points with a bright light. You should see signs of any small oil weep. If not, run it some more. Inspect at regular intervals.

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      • #4
        Bad or sticky intake valve? Oil blowing out the compressor oil sump vent from a bad ring?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by tom_d View Post
          How many hours since the oil was checked?
          Actually, I just changed it today.

          Originally posted by tom_d View Post
          Clean the compressor with one of those safe, water soluble degreasers. Run it for a little bit and then examine all the suspect points with a bright light. You should see signs of any small oil weep. If not, run it some more. Inspect at regular intervals.
          That makes sense, Tom, thanks. Problem is the pulley side of the vertical compressor is against a wall and there is a substantial belt guard cage around the drive belts. Taken together, they nearly prohibit inspections as you suggest.

          When this happened on my old Quincy 325 I just pulled the pulley and unbolted the seal retainer plate and pulled off the seal, then took it to NAPA and got another one for a few dollars then came back and put it all back together. That one was easier to see and already out in the middle of my shop. I guess I'll have to do the same. I want to wire in a disconnect box anyway.

          metalmagpie

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          • #6
            Originally posted by metalmagpie View Post

            Actually, I just changed it today.



            That makes sense, Tom, thanks. Problem is the pulley side of the vertical compressor is against a wall and there is a substantial belt guard cage around the drive belts. Taken together, they nearly prohibit inspections as you suggest.

            When this happened on my old Quincy 325 I just pulled the pulley and unbolted the seal retainer plate and pulled off the seal, then took it to NAPA and got another one for a few dollars then came back and put it all back together. That one was easier to see and already out in the middle of my shop. I guess I'll have to do the same. I want to wire in a disconnect box anyway.

            metalmagpie
            Can you reach down in there with something like a piece of brake line tubing that's hooked to a blow gun? something to blow off the dust/dirt and expose the shaft-seal interface. Only needs to be clean enough so you can detect any new oil. If the area is already wet then I would suspect the seal, as that's where the most movement is. Could be just as easy to tear it down and replace the seal as a matter of caution. Are parts for a Champion readily available? Careful on the take apart process. You may need to do a close inspection with a magnifying glass to find a part number before disturbing the seal.

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            • #7
              Check the bleed off from the pressure switch. That just dumps air from the pump and line to the tank every time the switch operates to reduce the head pressure when the pump is starting up.. My I/R does the same thing, although it is an very, very small amount of oil, it leaves a film that attracts dust from my woodworking.
              Peter
              Grantham, New Hampshire

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              • #8
                Originally posted by CPeter View Post
                Check the bleed off from the pressure switch. That just dumps air from the pump and line to the tank every time the switch operates to reduce the head pressure when the pump is starting up.. My I/R does the same thing, although it is an very, very small amount of oil, it leaves a film that attracts dust from my woodworking.
                Peter
                Same here, the pressure switch/air bleed sprays an invisible mist that picks up everything
                25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by tom_d View Post

                  Can you reach down in there with something like a piece of brake line tubing that's hooked to a blow gun? something to blow off the dust/dirt and expose the shaft-seal interface. Only needs to be clean enough so you can detect any new oil. If the area is already wet then I would suspect the seal, as that's where the most movement is. Could be just as easy to tear it down and replace the seal as a matter of caution. Are parts for a Champion readily available? Careful on the take apart process. You may need to do a close inspection with a magnifying glass to find a part number before disturbing the seal.
                  The seal is common to several air pumps and is available on Amazon for about $10. Not too worried about IDing it.

                  I realized yesterday that the belt guard is rattling, a noise which I had thought was coming from my air pump and which had troubled me greatly. So the priority on pulling the machine out and working on it has increased. With the belt shrouding off changing the seal should be quick easy and cheap.

                  Thanks to all for your ideas.

                  metalmagpie

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                  • #10
                    I just tore into a friends twin 5 HP single stage for oil leaking out of the air filter, not much but he was concerned if it needed to be rebuilt so we did an exploratory,

                    here's what I found, he's always been meticulous with oil so did not even bother to go into the lower end, I also paid extra attention to the intake valving as any restriction will cause too much vacuum on the piston going down and suck oil up past the rings,,, the intake and exhaust valving was in "normal condition"

                    But, this thing is 1970's and has never been down!!! that's with allot of use, so - popped the twin jugs off and was astounded - the rings look like they are just breaking in ! but, immediately noticed something way wrong,,, there's a 3 piece oil ring, and three comprendo rings stacked on top of it, the top band of the oil ring in the cylinder in question was in line with the intake valve, no big whoop, but the next in line comprendo ring was also, ehh still not totally alarming --- but the next in line above that comprendo ring was ALSO in line with the other two - only staggered by maybe 1/4 to 1/2" NOT GOOD, too easy a path to follow and leaving it all up to the top ring (which was about 180 degree's opposed) to not only seal the pressures but keep the oil in check as now it's all up to it to be used as a "scraper" for the oil and that don't work...

                    so --- it's back together with proper staggering and we shall see if things re-seat as I did give it a very fine hone just to give the reposition'ed rings a fighting chance to get used to their "new" territory... some people think rings stay put where ever you put them when assembling and the fact is - is they don't and can have a tendency to "wander" there are forces besides the obvious linear on them and they do have an unloaded millisecond at both TDC and BDC where things could "creep" especially when your talking 50 years of ups and downs...

                    we shall see...

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                    • #11
                      Crank seal leak is easy to see... oil from there does not get aerosol'ed, but may spread with the fan action of the flywheel. - i.e. just a leak. That is UNLESS you have excess crankcase pressure which will not be solved by replacing the seal. Crankcase pressure from piston movement averages zero, but peaks need to be vented. Find out how your is vented before you replace the seal. If you a have leaky rings or valves, then that needs to be fixed.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by lakeside53 View Post
                        Crank seal leak is easy to see... oil from there does not get aerosol'ed, but may spread with the fan action of the flywheel. - i.e. just a leak. That is UNLESS you have excess crankcase pressure which will not be solved by replacing the seal. Crankcase pressure from piston movement averages zero, but peaks need to be vented. Find out how your is vented before you replace the seal. If you a have leaky rings or valves, then that needs to be fixed.
                        I removed the belt shrouding today and ran the compressor. It still rattles. The noise is quite intermittent, and It does not sound like any air pump problem I've ever heard. Besides, when I put my head right next to the air pump, it sounded like the noise wasn't coming from the air pump at all - it sounded like it was more towards the motor. I've never heard that kind of clicking/rattling noise coming out of a motor either. So I'll let the noise go for the moment, unless I get some bright idea.

                        The oil seal on my Champion pump is visible, no cover plate like on a Quincy. It looks undisturbed and like it's sealing fine. Here's a crappy pic - I couldn't make my phone focus on the right place:



                        I did see the pressure switch venting a bit of air but didn't see any oil. I cleaned up the machine quite a bit and will watch it to see where it gets oily first.

                        There is a copper tube that runs from the crankcase up to the air input. It is called a "breather tube" in the manual. That's got to be how the crankcase is vented. It's nothing more than 1/4" copper tube with compression fittings on both ends.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CPeter View Post
                          Check the bleed off from the pressure switch. That just dumps air from the pump and line to the tank every time the switch operates to reduce the head pressure when the pump is starting up.. My I/R does the same thing, although it is an very, very small amount of oil, it leaves a film that attracts dust from my woodworking.
                          Peter
                          I was going to mention that. The unloader valve sprays fine mist all over to switch on mine and most likely into the air. It could be leaking where the tube goes into the head. As far as the dust goes, that's in the air, not the air in the compressor, the air in the shop.

                          JL....

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JoeLee View Post
                            I was going to mention that. The unloader valve sprays fine mist all over to switch on mine and most likely into the air. It could be leaking where the tube goes into the head.
                            Joe, this compressor is not fitted with an unloader kit.

                            metalmagpie

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