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  • Shop air system

    In my last shop I run an elaborate air system throughout my shop with black iron pipe and plenty of drops and drain legs, etc. It went completely around the perimeter of my old shop (~24'x24'). The very last drop in the system was used for the plasma as it was (in theory) the driest after running through ~100 feet of dipping and rising black iron pipe. In the end, I probably only used the system a few dozen times.

    I really don't want to do it all again for my new shop so I decided to just try a decent filter/regulator and one of these goodyear 1/2" 65' hose reels. My main concern is with the plasma cutter. How sensitive are they to moisture in the lines? I'd rather not also install a dedicated air dryer but maybe I'll need do if I'm just going to with just one rubber hose system like this?





  • #2
    Plasma cutters are extremely sensitive to moisture in the air. Hose reels tend to condense the water in the hose coils too. We have a hose reel in our shop, always sends a load of moisture out when you first turn it on.
    We wanted air to all the machines in the shop done cheaply. PEX is legal and safe and we used 1” around the shop. Only tough part was there are no reducing fitting available for PEX. We made our own. It has worked well. Drip legs and water separators everywhere air is used, but a dryer would be way better.

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    • #3
      Thanks, I didn't realize the HF air dryer was only 15" wide. I thought it was a much larger unit. Should fit nicely right next to my compressor. I'll probably run the air from my compressor into one of those HF air dryers then through the filter/regulator and out to the hose reel.

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      • #4
        You can also put a small dryer right at the plasma cutter. I have a normal dryer at the beginning of the hose to the cutter and then one of those small dryers you fill with desiccant right at the plasma cutter. The desiccant changes colour when it is worn out so you have an indication of how things are going. So far so good.......

        Brian

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        • #5
          Originally posted by bhowden View Post
          You can also put a small dryer right at the plasma cutter. I have a normal dryer at the beginning of the hose to the cutter and then one of those small dryers you fill with desiccant right at the plasma cutter. The desiccant changes colour when it is worn out so you have an indication of how things are going. So far so good.......

          Brian
          I think mine came with some type of filter already attached. I don't remember if I added it or it came with it but yea, I'll probably put some type of new moisture indicating filter right at the plasma air intake. An inline digital real-time meter would also be nice to have to see what kind of moisture is present before/after the air dryer.

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          • #6
            When I did the air in my shop I bought one of these kits from Northern Tool. I really like it mainly because it's easy to add drops to which I have done a couple times.
            https://www.northerntool.com/shop/to...4023_200484023

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            • #7
              Originally posted by BobinOK View Post
              When I did the air in my shop I bought one of these kits from Northern Tool. I really like it mainly because it's easy to add drops to which I have done a couple times.
              https://www.northerntool.com/shop/to...4023_200484023
              I was looking at that yesterday before I decided to go with a single air hose reel. One of the problems I have is I put shelving up against just about every available wall I have leaving me with basically no wall space to put air drops down to. I could hang them from the ceiling but I don't want to go there. I was so desperate for wall space that I even decided to put shelving up against one of my garage doors.

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              • #8
                When I got my plasma cutter i was told to make sure NO moisture gets to the plasma machine. After talking to George at George's plasma cutter shop, I took his info to hart and got a MILLER 228926 PLASMA AIR FILTER. http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/361073323691?lpid=82. I have had no moisture problems after installing this on the plasma cutter just before the air enters the machine. It is easy to replace the filter. I also use the air reel and blow out the rubber tube before using it on the plasma. My 2 cents.
                Last edited by dbq49er; 12-12-2017, 06:50 PM. Reason: spelling

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by 3 Phase Lightbulb View Post
                  One of the problems I have is I put shelving up against just about every available wall I have leaving me with basically no wall space to put air drops down to. I could hang them from the ceiling but I don't want to go there.
                  Why not put a few air reels on the ceiling with the hose drop a bit past the shelving? I have extension cords and a task light on ceiling mounted reels and they kick ass.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Joel View Post
                    Why not put a few air reels on the ceiling with the hose drop a bit past the shelving? I have extension cords and a task light on ceiling mounted reels and they kick ass.
                    I might do that. I remember trying a hose reel a long time ago before I build my previous shop air system (Probably a Harbor Freight horror wheel) and it was complete crap. The joints leaked and the hose itself was not very flexible so it was completely worthless -- less than worthless actually. I was hesitant to even consider a hose wheel again but I'm hoping the Goodyear hose wheel will be great. If that works out maybe I'll plumb some more of them.

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                    • #11
                      My HF hose reel has red rubber (Chinese) hose and it is very pliable. Almost too stretchy when I reel it out and in.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mikem View Post
                        My HF hose reel has red rubber (Chinese) hose and it is very pliable. Almost too stretchy when I reel it out and in.
                        I believe the HF hose reel I first tried (back in 2004/2005) was yellow. It was very stiff.

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                        • #13
                          I've got a Campbell Hausfeld hose reel just inside my garage door that works great no leaks. I think I paid $40 for it about 6/7 years ago. The hose on the other hand is pretty stiff. I've got some flexzilla hose (awesome stuff) waiting to go on the reel that I'll get around to putting on one day (it's been sitting there under it for about 5 years) but there's no need to rush into things.

                          I don't use air that much at home, and have thought of adding hard piping but for now it's just a manifold off the compressor in the corner behind my mill (really wish I didn't put it in there), and a hose that runs to the hose reel at the front of my garage.

                          I'll probably do a copper line with a couple drops with a dryer when I get a plasma.

                          I've been in a couple shops that use black pipe and I'm not a fan. I'd rather pay the extra up front for copper.

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                          • #14
                            copper would be easy assuming you can just solder the joints and don't need to braze them. Does anyone know if soldering copper pipe is sufficient for typical air lines? I know it's not for A/C copper lines but the pressures are much higher -- not sure where the thresholds are though.

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                            • #15
                              The line from the outside pump (condenser unit) to the inside evaporator on my home A/C run at about 350psi. I doubt you'll get that high as long as your safety valve is working. Most car A/C units run about the same and they use aluminum tubing.

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