Back to my previous post….

Coincidentally, (kind of) I just had a courier delivery from GMC of some tools that I am getting to review.  The unlimited rebate planer (GMC) and the new Triton 184mm saw I was keeping an eye out for as they were expected (and I’m very interested in seeing what they are capable of), but the 3rd box wasn’t, and it was the 1500W full width planer.

I can tell you now, that the photo does not do it justice!  The beast is HUGE, and I mean that in the best possible way.  Tim “The Toolman” eat your heart out – this tool is a real man’s tool 🙂  I’m in love, and I haven’t even plugged it in yet.  (You can imagine – I work in an IT department at a University, and I’m walking around swinging this huge power planer doing my best rendition I can manage of Tim’s gutteral “Tool woof”, with an insane glint in my eye, as if any piece of timber (or anything else for that matter), is in imminent danger of being made a bit flatter, and a lot thinner!)

Got to go – I have some sawdust to make!!

I’m surprised someone hasn’t called Security yet….

My office now has an interesting aroma:  I love the smell of machine oil in the morning – it smells like…..victory.

Air Compressor Health

Do you take enough care of the health of your air compressor?

Do you know what your air compressor is breathing in?

How’s the compressor’s fluids?

3 questions I haven’t given much, if any thought to, at least not in the last 12 months or so, and yes, I should know better.

My air compressor lives in the shed next door to the workshop, to cut down the noise (and to save a little space), but it also then becomes a matter of out of sight, out of mind.  Not a good thing.

Firstly, the oil.  I keep meaning to do an oil change of the compressor, and it is long overdue.  There are moving parts in the compressor, which means that it needs lubrication, and that is obviously important – no lubrication, and the compressor will very quickly become a boat anchor.  However, the other thing that the oil does, is store all the particles that have worn off the components, and that is not cool – do you really want to lubricate the small tolerances in the air compressor with metal shavings?  I’ve no doubt that there is a lot of unnecessary scarring inside mine from just that.

Air quality.  Obviously the air compressor has some form of filter on it, but when was the last time you cleaned / replaced it?  Do you run the air compressor in a dusty environment, or is it getting a good supply of clean, filtered air?  Like the oil, particles in the air will cause significant damage inside the pistons.

Last, but not least, and related to air quality – how dry is that air?  Quality air compressors have drying filters on the air intake, but that is a bit of a luxury for a small air compressor, but perhaps worth considering if making a simple one wouldn’t be worth while?  Moisture in the air (even tiny amounts) will accumulate inside the tank, so venting this tank should be a regular event.  Hasn’t been on mine for quite a while now.

So on the weekend, as I was working on the dust system (and the dust extractor is right next to the air compressor, which probably isn’t the smartest thing, but it is the most practical location in my case), I looked at the air compressor, and it vaguely dawned on me that I switch it on and off from the other shed and it has been just a little while since I last actually considered how it was running and being maintained.
So checked the oil level, and to it’s credit, it was on the low side, but still at a reasonable level.  It definitely needs to be changed, but that is a job for another day.

Had a listen to it, and there is a minor air leak where the flexible tube couples to it – again, I’ll tighten up the connection at some stage, but it is a pretty minor loss.

Thought I’d better vent the tank a bit – there’s only ever been a few drops of water, so I got a bit complacent about it.  Hmm – was this meant to be an air compressor or a water blaster?  I have no idea how much water came out, but it was in the vicinity of 150ml or so – might have been more as it was under pressure, but it seemed to run and run.  Oops.  Was a really interesting red-brown colour too.  Idiot.

So I have probably significantly shortened the life of the compressor, and as I said, to its credit, it has been taking my neglect surprisingly well, but if I want it to keep going, I need to take a little more care of it in future.

FWIW, it is a 40L direct drive GMC air compressor that cost all of $200.  That was about 4 years or so ago, possibly even more but memory is very hazy looking back that far.  I’d say that is pretty impressive for a budget machine, especially given my lack of attention!  But it is well overdue for me to give it a little more maintenance than it has been receiving if I want it to keep chugging away.

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