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Quiet compressor for everybody

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  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Quiet compressor for everybody
Posted by Pawel on Saturday, January 05, 2013 6:47 PM

Hello!

I keep reading questions about quiet compressors. Every time I do, it makes me want to say - they're everywhere, you just have to take a little look around. Please, take a look at what I built usng a compressor taken out of an old refrigerator:

I also used an old gas bottle that was laying around my garage, and also some fancy fittings that I bought especially for this ocasion, because I like working with high quality material. But If cost was the factor, I'd say you could put up something similar for about 100$, provided you could get a fridge compressor for free. If you could get your hands on an old AC unit, you'd get a compressor, a pressure switch and a tank - and chances are at least some of the components would be in an usable condition.

And how quiet is it? I don't have a dB reading, but when I took it outside once, I wasn't able to tell if it's operating or not by listening to it - the slight wind noise and cars going down the street half a mile away completely masked the compressor noise. In a hobby room, you stop hearing it when you turn the radio up a little. And it turns on only every now and then, to top off the tank.

So if anybody is playing with a thought of building a compressor by his own, I say, try it, it's worth it! Thanks for reading, and have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    April, 2004
  • From: Gateway city, US
Posted by keilau on Sunday, January 06, 2013 4:56 PM

Hats off to you, Pawel!

For those who are interested in doing what Pawel did, get a copy of the Osprey Modelling Manuals #6: "Airbrush Painting Techniques". There is a detailed article on building a DIY compressor with step-by-step instruction and parts list. However, it is not for the faint of heart.

Unless you get your hands on some surplus items such as the refrigerator compessor and pressure switch etc., the component cost will be out of sight.

I think that the easiest way to get a refrigerator compessor is to buy a dormitory size refrigerator at Walmart. I have check into a few replacement refrigerator compessors. They are expensive.

Anyone else has done the same thing? 

  • Member since
    January, 2006
  • From: NW Washington
Posted by dirkpitt77 on Sunday, January 06, 2013 9:02 PM

Pawel, how long have you been using this setup? Have you had any issues with duty cycle and the compressor being able to keep up with air demand? My concern is that, a refrigerator compressor being designed for a closed system (the refrigerant circuit), maybe it's not robust enough to deal with a huge drop in pressure from a more open compressed air system like most airbrushes use. Do your tanks do a good job of compensating for that? What do you think is the total pressure drop for each time you use the airbrush?

I'll take a cheap DIY setup anytime over more expensive options. Thanks for posting this.

    "Some say the alien didn't die in the crash.  It survived and drank whiskey and played poker with the locals 'til the Texas Rangers caught wind of it and shot it dead."

  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Monday, January 07, 2013 8:33 AM

Thanks a lot for your comments, gentleman!

keilau - you're right, the biggest challenge, and at the same time the greatest opportunity, is getting the compressor itself. If you want to buy it as spare part, it's going to be expensive! But you can also ask a refrigerator repairman, or watch around your neghbourhood - how often does a refrigerator get dumped? I say it happens often, and the compressor is mostly OK. I got this compressor from a repairman for an equivalent of 15$. A brand new pressure switch would cost me about 40$, and again this much for a brand new reductor. If you skip new, shiny fittings, I'm sure it can be done under 100$. for a factory-built compressor of this class, I would have to pay at least 1000$, if it was new.

dirkpitt77 - I'm using this particular one for half a year now. I didn't really time it yet, but I estimate the compressor needs like three minutes to fill the tank up to 6 bar. I have the regulator set to 3 bar, so when I'm preshading (that's what I do the most), the duty cycle of the compressor is less than 50%. But I also have another rig of similar construction, and I use it for about 20 years now. I added more oil to it about two times, and did two major modifications during this time (one was fitting a pressure switch, the other was adding a reductor). So at the beginning I had a russian airbrush that had no air valve and the air was flowing through the airbrush all the time. The compressor didn't have problems with supplying this much air, and was running for about an hour at a time. It got a little hot when operating like that, though. After I fitted the proessure switch, and started using a Paasche airbrush with air valve, the duty cycle is always low enough, for the compressor to stay cool.

So - I understand your concerns, and I have to say it also depends on the type of compressor a little, but it's been successfully tested by me with different airbrushes, like the legendary "Russian" (without air valve), a copy of Iwata, simple, single-action airbrush (siphon fed, air valve only), and Paashe VJR.

Thanks for reading, have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    January, 2006
  • From: NW Washington
Posted by dirkpitt77 on Monday, January 07, 2013 11:45 AM

 That's good to hear. I have been looking for a quieter option for myself. This might inspire me to build my own as well.

Excellent info, Pawel. Thank you again!

--Chris

    "Some say the alien didn't die in the crash.  It survived and drank whiskey and played poker with the locals 'til the Texas Rangers caught wind of it and shot it dead."

  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Tuesday, January 08, 2013 10:04 AM

Chris - if you have any questions, or problems with your build, please don't hesitate to post them here, I'll try my best to help building a machine like that! Good luck, and have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    May, 2013
Posted by Snibs on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 1:55 PM

These fridge compressors work great, Iv'e made two and even scored a old Jun Air which is fantastic.

Keep in mind if you build your own you will be playing with mains voltage which can kill you so please if your not confident with electricity get someone that is to do it for you or at least check your work. 

Mick

My airbrush and modeling page.

Two cheap spray booths compared, the BD-512 and HS-E420DC

On The Bench.

USS Voyager.

F/A-18A. 

 

  • Member since
    September, 2016
Posted by Retired In Kalifornia on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 2:17 PM

Good work Pawel, glad the device has worked for y'all so long.

Since 1966 have bought at least 10 compressors with tanks or no, biggest was 10 gallon piston monster 27 years ago, made Devil's Own Noise; have bought three since c.2012.

I've sworn off the pistons, incredibly noisy plus heavy, diaphragms I've bought since 2004 now last as long, half the noise generally. The 2 gallon Husky cheapie got now is the best compressor I've ever owned, don't need to pump the tank till its empty thanks to my being more "economical" with air brushing work, saves on diaphragm & motor wear.

  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 3:09 PM

Mick - thanks a lot for your comment. You're right, you have to watch out when working with electricity - regardless if you're experienced or not, carelessness can kill you, and/or somebody around you. But it also worth noting, that compressed air itself, as a form of storing energy also can be dangerous - if only blowing some debris into your eyes, it can also burst some installation sending shards through the air, or in extreme cases kill you through air embolism - putting air into your blood vessels upsetting your blood flow. Whatever you do, you have to look out.

Retired - Thanks a lot for your kind words! The good thing is if you already have a compressor and it's busted, you can re-use a lot of the machine - the tank, the pressure switch, the regulator, the quick-disconnects - and replece the actual compressor with one from an old refrigerator. This way you get a nice, quiet and reliable machine for almost nothing. When building from scratch the items mentioned above can cost quite a lot of money.

Good luck with your compressors and have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    February, 2017
Posted by ugamodels on Saturday, December 23, 2017 10:02 PM

If you are really interested in the sound level most smart phones have a sound measuring app.

I type on a tablet. Please excuse the terseness and the autocorrect. Not to mention the erors. 

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