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Happy day ! Shop is now plumbed for compressed air !

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  • Happy day ! Shop is now plumbed for compressed air !

    So it's been a long 10 days. But as I sit typing this new thread I'm waiting to see how slow or not the pressure gauge on the compressor drops due to any leaks in the system. It's been an hour now and I just looked before sitting down to this message and I see the pressure has dropped a bit. But perhaps it's due to temperature or it may be a weeping in a fitting or some other thing. Next up is the soapy water and see if I can find anything obvious.

    It all started 10 days ago. It was like I was trying to build a Millenium Falcon out of LEGO without instructions and having to make up my own shopping list of bits and pieces to do all the plumbing.

    You know how during a project you hit a brick wall because you have to run out and buy some piece or three to carry on? Well, that's been me this past 10 days doing pretty much a trip a day.

    But it's done now. I've got a 1/2" copper run for the 90 psi run over to the welding area where there's a regulator to drop down to 75 for the new plasma cutter. And there's a "T" off the main run near the compressor that goes to a second regulator for the low pressure circuit that goes to the machines and to the 50 foot retract reel by the door to the driveway. The PEX side of things won't ever be used at more than around 45 to 50 psi for filling tires. 90% of the time it'll sit at around 25psi for blowing off the machines and such.

    The lathe and shaper along with the firearms cleaning area share one 12 ft hose. The mill, drill press and vise have another 10 ft tail. And there's a third quick connect in the corner of the "L shaped bench which I'll use with a further 8 ft hose.

    And if I need low pressure at the welding area I can turn down the high pressure plasma cutter reg and run a small hose off that fitting.

    It's sure going to be a lot nicer than what I was doing before. A smaller cheap compressor in the corner with a 50 ft reel of 1/4" hose that I just dragged all over the shop. Constantly in the way and really annoying.

    After all the "stuff" is back up on the shelf and out of the way so the shop doesn't look like the inside of a sardine can I'll post up some pictures.
    Chilliwack BC, Canada

  • #2
    If you ran the compressor to 'top it off', then naturally the pressure will drop during cooling. On my 80 gal comp. tank, I think it drops 5 or 6 psi from that and I only have a single-stage running at 125psi. Did you put a shut off valve right off the tank? You really need one to facilitate R&R of quick couplers, plumbing changes, etc. and if you then add a gauge on the other side leaks show up really fast. (You can just 'plug in' a gauge to one of your quick-connects).

    Anyway, congrats on getting it done. No more hose tangles or trips on the floor, eh?
    Southwest Utah


    • #3
      More than once I had a near Flying Wallenda moment when my feet tangled the hose over the years. So yeah, I won't miss THAT nostalgia....

      The compressor is tucked into a cabinet area under the main bench (the only place I really had room) so it needs to have a flexible tail to allow me to hook it up then move it into place and vice versa in case of any work to be done on it. So the compressor has a 3/8" quick connect fitting and the 6 ft of 1/2" hose is my "shut off valve".

      I've definitely got a slow leak or two somewhere. It cycled the motor after about an hour. I'm wondering if the various quick connects, which are all new, might be weeping a touch. Or maybe the rotating seals on the retractable hose reel at the door. Or if the regulators themselves or the water traps might be leaking a touch. Next up after some dinner.... nah.... next up after a good night's sleep is running around with the bottle of soapy water and see if I can find the problems.

      If it's the fittings or the end drains in the condensate traps it'll be yet another trip for more bits and pieces. Any bets on an even dozen trips for "extras" before this is all done? Like I don't even count the initial shopping trip where I THOUGHT I got it all. OK... I'm more realistic than that... Where I thought I got most of it? OK, let's go with that..... But I sure didn't expect the roughly 8 or 9 trips for "just two more bits" of this or that.

      After the next compressor cycle I'll turn off the low pressure side and see if the high pressure copper only run holds a steady pressure. That'll at least split the problem source in half.
      Chilliwack BC, Canada


      • #4
        And I've been going the other way. I just bought my second 2 gallon Fortress air compressor for the lathe room. I've been running the compressors when I need to for mist and blowing at the mill and now the lathe. I did this because the compressors are quiet and I don't have to run the "Big Guy" for just the small amount of air needed for misting. I can also run the one by the mill for the metal band saw mister.


        • #5
          Ken, small more quiet compressors at each machine... or maybe one or two on easily rolled around casters?.... seems like a great idea too. And if I didn't just get the plasma cutter I'd be all over that as an option. But the new plasma cutter needs more than those little guys can deliver....

          .... plus I was gifted this big honkin' 25 gallon two cylinder 3HP compressor out of the blue. So I went with the single point source just because it came free. Though little did I realize that the freaking distribution setup would cost me darn near $500 if I were to add up all the bills for bits of this and that.... And not just the cost of the copper and PEX. I had to buy all those darn adapters and other fittings. Plus the hoses and quick connects since I had a mixed bag of the ones that take the longer ends and those which take the shorter ends. Had to toss a few and replace them to make the setup compatible.

          Update on the wait for the compressor to cycle. I'm thinking the seals on the various quick connects and perhaps the two water filter bowls and regulators are taking a set from the pressure. The comp cycled twice after roughly 1hr leakdowns to the switch on point and than the third time it went down from 115'ish to 100 and it's held steady at 100 for the past hour and a half. I'm keeping my fingers crossed but it appears that I may be able to skip the soapy water work tomorrow and focus on putting my "stuff" away.

          And *gasp* might just put some of it in the back of the truck to go to the dump or some charity or other. Hell, I found a large Rubbermaid tote full of bicycle fenders from back when I was serious about weather protection for the bikes because I cycled to work daily in all weather short of serious ice. Being retired I can pick and choose and can't recall the last time I rode out into the world in the rain... at least not on purpose...
          Last edited by BCRider; 04-19-2019, 01:57 AM.
          Chilliwack BC, Canada


          • #6
            I installed a motorized ball valve right after the compressor to shut off the piping network when I'm not working in the shop. No more worries about small leaks.
            WI/IL border, USA


            • #7
              Originally posted by MichaelP View Post
              I installed a motorized ball valve right after the compressor to shut off the piping network when I'm not working in the shop. No more worries about small leaks.
              That's slick!
              Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada


              • #8
                Hey BC, don't feel bad about the small leaks, you may never find them.
                I have a slow leak somewhere in my air system that I haven't been able to find and I've checked every fitting in the entire system.

                It's not at my compressor or my cooling / moisture collection coils as I can shut the valve off at the end of this moisture trap and that part of the system won't loose any pressure and I've let it sit for several days and no drop.

                I have several regulators and drop fittings round the shop. I have a couple regulator / moisture traps that I plug in where needed. I've tested every one of them with soapy water and can't find any leaks at any of the joints or couplers. I've even gone as far un-bolting the permanently mounted ones from the wall and sealing them up in a plastic bag, leaving them for a few days to see if the bag shows any sign of inflation and nothing.

                My shop is plumbed with 1/2" copper. The only thing I can figure is there is a small pin hole perhaps in one of the solder joints buried in the ceiling or wall and I ain't ripping any of that apart to look.
                I now just turn the compressor off when I don't need any air for anything. I used to leave it on all the time but I've already replaced the compressor switch twice in the last 15 years or so due to excessive needless running.



                • #9
                  Some folks don't recommend blowing chips off of machine tools as the chips can end up where you don't want them and can't see or get them, a brush is recommended. Something I try and do is shut off the air compressor when I am done with the shop. Suppose some line blew or the pressure switch failed or some such. I don't want it running for hours and hours when I am not there. Unlikely probably, but that's what I do.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wdtom44 View Post
                    Some folks don't recommend blowing chips off of machine tools as the chips can end up where you don't want them and can't see or get them, a brush is recommended. Something I try and do is shut off the air compressor when I am done with the shop. Suppose some line blew or the pressure switch failed or some such. I don't want it running for hours and hours when I am not there. Unlikely probably, but that's what I do.
                    I've never blown chips off any of my machines. All that does is scatter them everywhere where they normally wouldn't end up. I usually brush them off into the chip pan (lathe) of into a dust pan (mill) then finish up with the shop vac.
                    Grinders, always vacuumed off.

                    My exact reason for shutting off the air compressor when I'm not in the shop.



                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JoeLee View Post

                      I'm not speaking to the problem of the leaks, only pointing out that a serpentine cooling coil as you have mounted it, will trap water at the bottom of each of the loops.The coil should be mounted horizontally to allow free passage of the condensed water.
                      The first thing they teach us in plumbing school is (paraphrased) that 'bleep' runs downhill.
                      BTW, any leak can be found, it's only a matter of persistence...
                      ARS W9PCS

                      Esto Vigilans

                      Remember, just because you can doesn't mean you should...
                      but you may have to


                      • #12
                        Nice idea with the coil. Sort of halfway to a refrigeration type dryer. LOL. Blow a fan through it and you will improve its efficiency. Yes, it needs to be turned sideways or it will trap moisture until it becomes the source of a problem instead of a solution. I'd put a filter separator on both sides of it and put air in at the bottom so moisture will tend to flow back upstream but down hill into a drain canister. Still a very nice idea.

                        I quit chasing small micro leaks. I just turn off my compressor and close the shop distribution valve everyday as part of my routine. I also crack the valves in my filter separators at both sides of my refrigeration drier so they get blow clean of any trapped moisture. This also make certain the separator inside the drier opens to drain if there is any moisture in it. That drain into a plastic coffee can under the drier. Most of the year the can never over flows, but in late July, August and sometimes September I have to empty the coffee can every couple weeks.
                        *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.


                        • #13
                          I thought last night that the leak might be a slow one when the tank held pressure for a couple of hours. But the whole system went to zero overnight. So it may not be all that small a leak. OR.... given that it did hold for a while then went down it might even be the quick connect that I've got to connect the compressor to the system. I've known the smaller 1/4" ones to leak badly if pulled sideways by much at all. So soapy water testing will be conducted to test it.

                          The water trap for the low pressure side is also an annoying one. I guess it's self draining or something since it has to be pulled down against the spring and pressure applied before it will seal. At least the other one which is harder to reach uses a sort of plastic petcock.

                          I agree on a lot of the aspects of how to and where to NOT use air. I was and still am very much a believer in NOT using air in those and other cases. But as I've been using a combination of air and brushing I've found that the techniques do in fact complement each other very nicely. The air from the old small setup and long hose pulled around the shop won't be used for cleaning any of the machines for all the reasons given. But darn is it nice for other things. Like the air gun with the needle for clearing chips out of blind holes. Or just cleaning threaded holes in general. Or small low pressure puffs to clear the swarf around the end mill away while running where a brush simple gets chewed to bits. Clearing the chips out of a bored hole to let me get a better measurement knowing it's free of chips. Stuff like that. And low pressure to boot. I'll be using it at around 20 to 25 psi for general use where air is better than brushing for any number of reasons.
                          Chilliwack BC, Canada


                          • #14
                            Last summer/fall I plumbed my entire shop- finally!- using three of those Rapidair kits, with the "PEX-Al-PEX" tubing.

                            I moved the 60 gallon compressor out to an attached side shed, plumbed in two different water separators (one's just a separator/filter, the other's a separator/filer with a regulator) and connected it to the 3/4" PAP tubing there:

                            That runs overhead into the Machine Room, where it's tapped off for three drops, each 1/2" since in that room, it'll mainly just be used for blowing off parts and possibly eventually a tool changer. Two of the drops are the standard aluminum block that comes with the Rapidair kit...

                            ... While the third is a custom-made bulkhead fitting mounted at my workbench:

                            The 3/4" continues on to the main car bays of the shop, where I have four more 3/4" drops, two singles...

                            ...And two, up front by the car and man doors, with double connections:

                            All the QDs were bought brand-new for this project, and I went over every connection carefully with Windex. There's still a very slight leak, if left to it's own devices, the compressor runs roughly once a week, maybe as frequently as once every five days. I'm in there working almost all the time, so it runs at least once a day just from regular use anyway.

                            It's left pressurized 24/7, although there's a shutoff at the tank, and one several feet downstream in the Machine Room- that way the filters can be isolated for changing, without depressurizing everything, and the valve in the machine room is easily accessible in case something blows out in the system.

                            It's been a BIG help overall- no more tripping over hoses, I have blowguns located conveniently at my two most-often-used machines, the plasma cutter gets good clean dry air, and it's a lot easier to run hoses out to the apron for a project. Better still, I can now run multiple hoses out to the project, since I almost always have a collection of grinders going for the same task.

                            It wasn't cheap, the whole mess all told ran some $1,500, but mine is a working shop, not just a hobby, and the convenience is well worth it.

                            Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)


                            • #15
                              My air distribution system is all sweated copper but I have several NPT fittings at each air drop. It seems every NPT fitting on my air system leaks a tiny bit. The only joints that don't seem to leak are the sweated ones. My system will drop from 150PSI to ~30PSI in about a week.

                              I also have a HF refrigeration air dryer that is always inline which might leak somewhere, but I have no idea. Actually, I've also closed the main ball valve coming out of my compressor and it still drops PSI over time too so my compressor itself is not holding air 100% either.

                              Are compressors expected to always hold air? I expect their valves must leak some
                              Last edited by 3 Phase Lightbulb; 04-19-2019, 04:05 PM.