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1941 Air Compressor tank----cut open...

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  • 1941 Air Compressor tank----cut open...

    I picked up an old compressor cheap some time ago.. I wanted only the motor and pump.. so been sitting on the tank trying to think what I want to do with it... Heck, I even moved it to a new house and I am getting ready to move again and didnt want to F with it this time... So I cut off the end (i have a plan) and cut up the rest...

    There has been many discussions about old air tanks and how dangerous they are, especially one that is 70years old, but this one is solid as a tank.









  • #2
    Its .25 thick steel all the way around....top welded to bottom and ends welded to middle, making for a .50 joint.

    The inside had about 3/8 of gunk on the bottom... I assume its all rust type stuff.

    In checking out the bottom of the tank, I didnt see any particular spots bad rust/corrosion compared to everything else.

    I did mic the bottom and it came out to .25, same as the side.. but I measured at the cut and I didnt wire brush the bottom or anything to get to clean metal. I am sure it would have been less than .25.. how much less? Probably not much imho.

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    • #3
      Mine looked good until I saw this under the rust on the bottom, and it is only 20 yrs old. The wall thickness is 3/16 and the deepest corrosion goes more than halfway through.
      Last edited by chipmaker4130; 05-16-2011, 10:03 PM.
      Southwest Utah

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      • #4
        Hmmmm...let me score it with a screw driver, see if I turn anything up..



        edit: scrapped the bottom with a screw driver.. turned flakes of course.. nothing really big.. but definitely say its no longer .25 thick on the bottom at one end...but nothing as bad as your pic...
        Last edited by cuemaker; 05-16-2011, 10:14 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by chipmaker4130
          Mine looked good until I saw this under the rust on the bottom, and it is only 20 yrs old. The wall thickness is 3/16 and the deepest corrosion goes more than halfway through.
          In an air receiver like this, with say 120 psi(?), what would have been the result if the rust had kept going? ie when it did fail, do you think it would simply begin leaking of fail catastrophically? 20 years sounds like a long time ... until one thinks back and realises it seems like just yesterday! My own POS compressor seems like it's just out of warranty, but must already be nearly 10 years old now I think about it.

          Pete

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          • #6
            Another thing to consider besides rust is that a tank actually suffers metal fatigue over the years from expansion and contraction due to the many discharge/recharge cycles especially if it gets completely discharged often. The newer light weight tanks would seem to be far more prone to this than that old 1/4" thick monster however!

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            • #7
              too bad you cut it up - they make great BBQs

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              • #8
                I am always afraid to buy a great looking OLD compressor and tank. You never know if it has been properly drained after use.

                I THINK the expected life of an air tank is now 12 years.

                When Williamsburg built a whole new facility for their conservation dept.,many things were sold off from the old one. One was a nice looking Speedaire compressor with a large tank that the museum weenies used to do bead blasting with. It had been mounted outside in a little shed. This guy bought it,and found that it was 3/4 full of water. The rig looked very nice,but when he took a 2" plug loose,flakes as big as silver dollars came out of that tank!! The "educated" metal conservators did not know to drain the compressor. It must have been over a 50 gallon size tank,and was NEVER drained. No telling how thin the air tank had gotten in rusted spots.

                Some guy in another forum got the whole wall of his garage blown out when his air tank exploded. Air tanks are VERY DANGEROUS. Water tanks just spurt a little stream of water when they go,but not so with an air tank.
                Last edited by gwilson; 05-17-2011, 12:49 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by gwilson
                  I am always afraid to buy a great looking OLD compressor and tank. You never know if it has been properly drained after use.

                  I THINK the expected life of an air tank is now 12 years.

                  When Williamsburg built a whole new facility for their conservation dept.,many things were sold off from the old one. One was a nice looking Speedaire compressor with a large tank that the museum weenies used to do bead blasting with. It had been mounted outside in a little shed. This guy bought it,and found that it was 3/4 full of water. The rig looked very nice,but when he took a 2" plug loose,flakes as big as silver dollars came out of that tank!! The "educated" metal conservators did not know to drain the compressor. It must have been over a 50 gallon size tank,and was NEVER drained. No telling how thin the air tank had gotten in rusted spots.

                  Some guy in another forum got the whole wall of his garage blown out when his air tank exploded. Air tanks are VERY DANGEROUS. Water tanks just spurt a little stream of water when they go,but not so with an air tank.
                  You just need one of these -> CLICK

                  john
                  John

                  I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure , but I'm not a complete idiot - some bits are still missing

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                  • #10
                    Checking the thickness or inspecting the insides for rust leaves room for too many errors and does not take into account metal fatigue which does occur with extended usage, the only safe way to determine if a tank is usable or not is to hydrostatic test it.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by metalmagpie
                      too bad you cut it up - they make great BBQs
                      Yeah, especially when full of air...*KA-F-ing-BOOM*
                      Amount of experience is in direct proportion to the value of broken equipment.

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                      • #12
                        I know some people have had bad luck with them, but I've had a Harbor Freight automatic drain on my 60 gal for at least 6 years, working fine every time it cycles. I was never very good at routine draining.
                        Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by gellfex
                          I know some people have had bad luck with them, but I've had a Harbor Freight automatic drain on my 60 gal for at least 6 years, working fine every time it cycles. I was never very good at routine draining.

                          HF! That thing can't work if it's from HF!


                          Actually mine (also from HF) has worked just fine for nearly that long, sure beats having to manually drain the darn thing.

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                          • #14
                            What's an automatic drain?

                            I've always just left my regular drain cracked ever so slightly with a pan underneath. Always a little water in there from the previous days use every time I start the compressor. Works great, doesn't leak enough air to even notice, and best of all it's free.

                            Jugs, good call on the ultrasonic thickness gauge, I do my 35 year old Speedaire on a regular basis with one just to be sure.
                            Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                            Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                            Location: British Columbia

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                            • #15
                              some of the old tanks have large inspection panels on the sides ..

                              all the best.markj

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