Your Automotive Shop Needs a Full-Size Air Compressor
When the Great Recession called for cutting overhead and downsizing, we set up a smaller shop studio. Productivity, photo and video productions and the ability to handle a variety of mechanical work remained our goals. Despite the new shop’s square footage, we refused to compromise on equipment. Our studio/shop remains fully self-contained for 4×4 repairs, service work and rebuilding or restoration work.
We kept all tools and equipment from the large shop except the air supply system, a large blasting cabinet and the 9000-pound capacity Forward hoist. The hoist has workarounds but an adequate air system is essential. A smaller 20-gallon I-R GarageMate® served as a stopgap but quickly hit the wall when we purchased a TP Tools 360 Skat Blast cabinet. The GarageMate® is great for airing tires, HVLP painting and running most air tools. For a bead blasting cabinet, and more recently a tire changing machine, a portable compressor was inadequate.
Bead blasting requires air volume as well as air pressure. So does tire changing with our new Weaver W-898XS machine. Out searching for an air supply solution, we stumbled onto a closing auto body shop that was liquidating its tools and equipment. An older Airboy compressor had a reasonable price, and after seeing how well maintained the shop’s equipment had been, we bought the compressor without running it. Though any used equipment is a gamble, the shop owner’s transparency and standards gave us confidence that the machine would work properly.
This compressor has served our shop faithfully for a dozen years now. The Champion R-15 compressor is two massive iron cylinders that displace 23 cfm at a mere 750 crankshaft rpm. Effortlessly pumping out a huge volume of air, the compressor feeds a 120 gallon horizontal tank. The end result is a compressor that handles every shop need with volume to spare. At its original shop, the compressor fed not only this 120-gallon tank but also an auxiliary 80-gallon tank. An automatic drain on the system kept moisture from becoming a problem for the tanks.
If you are looking for a new or used compressor, regardless of your budget, consider a unit like our 5-horsepower single phase 220V Airboy that features a magnetic remote starter and rugged Champion compressor. Avoid throwing good money after bad on a high-speed, light duty compressor. Avoid aluminum “twin-stage” or pancake and oil-less compressors. Always make sure you are getting a two-stage compressor with iron cylinder(s). A commercial unit like ours will spin slowly while producing a large air volume. The 25 amp draw, 220V single phase motor works well for our shop’s electrical circuits. This three-decade old, rust free machine is a keeper that really delivers.