Air tools

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  #1  
Old 10-20-13, 10:20 PM
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Air tools

I am looking for a way to power tools that are powered by pressurized air (small hand tools like pneumatic wrenches, nail guns) and would like a way to provide power to these tools using a hand pump. I know that such hand pumps are available, such as one that I have which goes to about 250 PSI (via Schrader connection).

How can I get such a system to work? I have the pump (schrader snap on connection) which I know can put air into an air tank to at least 125 PSI.

But what air tank do I buy that goes to 250 PSI or higher and how do I make it compatible (hoses, fittings) with the tools?

Tools I am interested in:

Stanley Bostitch :* RN46-1 *-* Coil Roofing Nailer

Amazon.com: Ingersoll-Rand 231C 1/2-Inch Super-Duty Air Impact Wrench: Home Improvement

Can you also recommend a hand-operated pump that gets to high pressures, such as over 1,000?

Would this pump work? Torin Big Red Hydraulic Ram Pump 10-Ton Capacity, Model# T71101 | Rams Ram Kits| Northern Tool + Equipment
 

Last edited by kotterr; 10-20-13 at 10:40 PM.
  #2  
Old 10-21-13, 04:14 AM
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Welcome to the forums! You need to understand the difference between Pneumatics and Hydraulics. Pneumatic is the movement via air, while hydraulics is the movement via liquid. Two different animals with specific applications. There won't be a "hand" pump that you can use to give consistent air pressure to allow for the use of air tools. Using a tool like an impact wrench will eat up air at a horrible rate.

You need to purchase an air compressor, bottom line. With free air tools, I would recommend nothing less than a 26 gallon tank, and oil type compressor.
 
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Old 10-21-13, 04:53 AM
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Even if you could figure out a way to make a hand pump to work [very doubtful!] you'd expend more energy/time on the pump than you'd save using the pneumatic tools!
 
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Old 10-21-13, 04:58 PM
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Big difference from PSI and CFM.
A hand pump is going to have very little storage capacity for the air flow needed (CFM) to keep the tool working.
Different ways to picture this, imagine a fireman showing up with a 1 gal. tank under 250 psi pressure and a 3/8 hose and trying to put out a fire.
10 seconds and there no more water.
All air tools need the right amount of CFM of make up air or there going to run fine for a few seconds and then just stop.
 
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Old 10-21-13, 08:12 PM
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I did not say I wanted to power an air tool with just a hand pump. I said I wanted to fill an air tank with a hand pump and then use the compressed air from the tank to power the air tool. I was just wondering what kind of size/PSI I would need. 26 gallon tank holding how much PSI?

Also, some questions that I would like answered:

1. Is there a manual pump that can compress air up to 5,000 PSI or similar? What is a good brand? I have found this so far:
http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/Manu...20Handpump.pdf

2. How much will an impact wrench eat? For example, how long would a 10 gallon cylinder pumped to 150 PSI last? Do I need something more, like a 3,000 or 4,500 PSI diving cylinder?

After that, my main concern is how to get compatible fittings.
 
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Old 10-22-13, 04:41 AM
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I understood you wanting to use the hand pump to fill the air tank but I still think the effort expended to pump up the tank will exceed the effort needed to do the work without the aid of pneumatic tools!

The amount of air the tools use is rated as CFM. Generally the better quality tools use a little less CFM than their cheaper counterpart. It doesn't matter a whole lot how much pressure you have in the tank as you aren't using [or shouldn't] more pressure than the tool is designed for. Volume of air is important! The less volume you have, the more the pump has to work to replace the air that's been used. A small air compressor will run often and with some tools continuously, even struggling to keep up.
 
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Old 10-22-13, 05:22 AM
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Expanding on mark's post, let's do a hypothetical. Using your 26 gal tank as a starting point [although air tools will operate off a smaller tank; they just require more frequent charging cycles], for starters, you are going to need to pump that tank up to at least 90 pounds or more in order to have the reserve supply needed to run a pneumatic tool for even a very short period. Using a hand pump, that is likely to take you - I'm guessing here - about an hour or so of furious pumping. Then if you are lucky you will get maybe 5 minutes of use out of your tool before you will need to pump back up. Subsequent pumping will take less time of course, because when the tank drops to 40 psi or so, that's the point where you'll be below operating pressure, so the re-pump will maybe take only 30 minutes of furious pumping.

Try this experiment. Take all the air out of one of your car tires and see how long it takes you to re-inflate it with a hand pump. A tire probably holds maybe 4 or 5 gallons of air. Okay, now multiply the time taken by a factor of 5.

It's just not practical. I'll have some test data in a minute; I just started my 33 gallon compressor from 0 pressure and am timing how long to get to 100 psi with an electric pump running at high speed. When I get it up to 100 psi I'll see how long I can run my impact gun. Should be instructive.
 
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Old 10-22-13, 05:30 AM
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Took about 5 minutes to pump up and <2 min of intermittent running to run it down to 50 psi. Realistically, it wouldn't be doing much work that low because the gun is rated at 90 psi/4 cfm.
 
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Old 10-22-13, 05:55 AM
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What's the reason for even trying to do it this way?
Air Compressor Buyer's Guide | Northern Tool + Equipment

We use SCUBA tanks all the time on the fire truck to run a tool called a nibbler. We use it to cut out front window shields on vehicles.
A nibbler uses about 4 CFM. The tanks empty in about 10 min. use.
It then has to be refilled with what's called a cascade system that cost about $12,000 and it still takes about 10 min. to refill it to 3000 PSI.
 
  #10  
Old 10-22-13, 08:22 AM
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koterr I think you would have liked this setup in the picture below. It used to be sold at Lowes but probably due to lack of demand they have discontinued it. It cost $99 and a 20oz CO2 tank would last a long time powering a power nailer or other air tool that doesn't use lots of air.

It's possible to DIY a similar system, as described here:
CO2 system for running air tools and filling tires

CO2 is a liquid under pressure and expands to MUCH greater gas volume as it exits the tank. That way a small light tank will last longer than a large tank pressurized with air. Refills are typically under $5 at sporting goods stores.
 
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Old 10-22-13, 08:41 PM
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I pump tires with a hand pump all the time. I've pumped 10 gallon cylinders to 125 PSI (from empty) before. It's not a big deal. The reason I wanted a SCUBA tank is because it's relatively large and has high PSI. I take it I would need a regulator to reduce the PSI from its high pressures (3,000 PSI) to the pressures needed to power the tools (90 PSI)?

The CO2 tank idea is nice, but the refills are too costly. I'd rather pump it myself.

Anyway, I think I found a good pump:

http://cdn.pyramydair.com/site/manua...o-3300-PSI.pdf

And this cylinder:

US Divers Scuba Aqua Lung Steel Dive Tank Cylinder w Valve Protector | eBay

But what hoses/fittings would I need?
 
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Old 10-23-13, 03:05 AM
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Only use the pump to fill compressed air cylinders used in modern pneumatic
air weapons.Do not use for any other purpose.
Aside from the precaution in the pump's instructions, it just seems a waste of time and energy to try and fill a tank with 3k# of compressed air from a hand pump for the small amount of energy you will derive from it. An air wrench will eat it up in short order.....maybe one set of lug nuts.

$130 for the tank alone....plus adaptable fittings if available, then whatever the cost of the pump...I'd just have to buy an air compressor. It makes me tired thinking of it.
 
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Old 10-23-13, 08:10 AM
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OK, I have to ask - why don't you just buy an air compressor? You're apparently willing to spend $130 on that tank, so cost can't be the reason.
 
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Old 10-23-13, 12:20 PM
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Hmm

Theoretically, it'll work. Practically, if manual labor is your thing, why do you need an impact gun and a nailer? Wrenches and hammers will do..
 
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Old 10-24-13, 07:25 PM
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I want a permanent solution to my various power tool requirements. Air tools last for a very long time and I am tired of battery-operated tools having the battery go after a while even if not used often. A SCUBA tank would give me some mobility (no need for a power cord) if I need to cut a few branches down with an air-powered saw. I guess I also don't trust consumer air compressors. In my experience, I can pump up car tires with a hand pump faster and more reliably than the compressor can do it.
 
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Old 10-24-13, 08:35 PM
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Buy a decent belt-driven, oil-lubricated compressor and it will last almost forever. Far safer and far less hassle than your hand pump and high pressure storage proposal.
 
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Old 10-25-13, 04:14 AM
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Why is it that you "don't trust consumer air compressors"? We've been using them for decades and they work. Yeah, they break down, but not with any interval that is cataclysmic. Your manual situation could just as easily have boogers, so it isn't foolproof, nor permanent. You need volume for air tools, and even with SCUBA, your amount of continuous volume is limited. You'll spend more time pumping it up than you will cutting branches or loosening lug nuts.

Not to contradict you, but there is no humanly way possible you can pump up a car tire faster than a compressor. I can have one pumped up by the time you screw on the pump hose on. Not good logic.
 
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Old 10-25-13, 05:18 AM
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I have 2 air compressors and a portable air tank. My 60 gallon shop compressor gets used the most but I still have my little 11 gallon portable air compressor for those times when I need it away from the shop. The air tank only gets used occasionally [mainly for flat tires] I've never tried using it for any of my pneumatic tools but I suppose it would operate a nail gun for a short time.

An air saw uses a good bit of CFM so a tank of replenished air won't last long ... and you still have the air hose to drag around. It's always nice to have the correct power tool for the job at hand including battery and gas powered tools.

As Furd stated, a belt driven oiled compressor will last a long time. My little sears compressor is the 1st one I bought [about 30 yrs ago] and was used extensively for the first 10 yrs. While it looks a little rough, it still operates as good as it did when it was new. The only maintenance it has ever seen is draining the tank after each use and occasionally changing the oil, tightening the belt and snugging up a few fittings.
 
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Old 10-25-13, 08:27 AM
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I own several air compressors and even the cheap little 12 v compressor I keep in the trunk of the car can inflate a car tire faster than I can with a hand pump.
 
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Old 10-25-13, 08:32 PM
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Maybe you use high end electrical compressors or low end hand pumps. When topping off tires, my electrical compressor took a long, long time. Now that I use a hand pump, I can top a tire off with 5-10 extra PSI in 30 seconds, and often I over-inflate them and actually need to deflate the tire a bit. I used a low end electrical compressor that did not have an air tank, however. If you're talking about one with an air tank, it probably already had air in it to begin with. At that point, the speed is determined by pressure differences and not really the actual compressor, so yes, of course you'd pump up the tire faster that way.

Anyway, I suppose I get the idea behind the SCUBA tank. It would likely take too long to pump it up because of the presumably increased time needed to pump up the tank at the greater PSIs. The pump I posted is also designed for air guns, which have high pressures, but tiny volume. Even a quality pump might break given the greater amount of wear and tear. Since most air tools operate at significantly below 250 PSI, there's probably no reason to get a SCUBA cylinder with 3,000+ PSI. Instead, a larger volume ~200 PSI tank would make more sense. Plus, I already have a pump for that.

So now my question is, what happens if a tank with 200 PSI is connected to an air tool rated to operate at 90 PSI? How do air tools react when connected to air tanks with significantly higher compression levels?

I suppose you're right about some tools using up the air too quickly. Perhaps I should just try with something inexpensive and if it does not work it's not a big loss (or I can always just buy an electrical compressor).

High Speed Metal Saw

Wilmar W10011 11 Gallon Portable Air Tank - Amazon.com

I just need help figuring out the air hose fitting for the NPT connection between the tank and the tool.
 

Last edited by kotterr; 10-25-13 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 10-25-13, 08:41 PM
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Air is regulated at the outlet to the prescribed psi needed. If your tank is not replenished with new compressed air, the CFM will expend itself in a few seconds. Automated though they may be, compressors work just fine.

Just a side note, I have a probably 3 gallon tank that I can fill using my compressor. I have been known to take it to do small tack jobs where I knew I only needed a few hits to do the job, as opposed to loading the compressor on the truck. Seldom do I do that, however.
 
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Old 10-25-13, 09:17 PM
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A few seconds? Really? So would a 125 PSI 10-gallon tank (at 125 PSI pressure), running a 3 CFM tool continuously, would drop to below 90 PSI within a few seconds?
 
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Old 10-25-13, 09:32 PM
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You've really got to wrap your mind around the difference beetween PSI and CFM. Two different animals. PSI is the amount of air in a tank. CFM is the rate at which it is expelled. A small amount of air, no matter what the PSI will be expended quickly unless it is being replenished by a compressor.
 
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Old 10-25-13, 10:55 PM
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A few seconds? Really? So would a 125 PSI 10-gallon tank (at 125 PSI pressure), running a 3 CFM tool continuously, would drop to below 90 PSI within a few seconds?
Yes, a few seconds. First of all, there is no such thing as an air tool that only uses 3 CFM. The way that air tools are rated for flow makes some very misleading assumptions. A 1/2 inch impact wrench for example might be rated as an average airflow of 4 CFM but in that rating it is assumed that it will only be used in a ten second burst every minute. In other words, it will take 4 cubic feet in 10 seconds and zero cubic feet for 50 seconds. In reality it is taking 24 cubic feet per minute but only for ten seconds. The mistake far too many people make is they "think" that something rated at 4 CFM should be able to be used with a compressor rated at 5 CFM with no problem. The TRUTH is that everything from the compressor to the tool MUST be sized for that 24 CFM flow rate or else there will be problems. Now with a big enough receiver (air tank) AND enough time between use of the wrench a fairly small compressor might be able to "keep up" but generally this approach fails miserably.

If I remember correctly a common SCUBA tank contains somewhere around 60 to 72 cubic feet at about 2200 to 2500 psi. Obviously you cannot use that high pressure to run a standard 90 psi tool so you first need a high pressure regulator to drop the pressure. With that much of a drop a two-stage regulator is really necessary and to flow the required amount of air it will need to be a fairly large regulator. That regulator alone will likely set you back anywhere from $100 to $250. Now the amount of air that is delivered from the storage (SCUBA tank) to the tool depends on several variables but the most important is the differential pressure, i.e. the pressure in the tank vs. the pressure at the tool. The tool pressure is easy, you need 90 psi at all times. However the tank pressure is continuously decaying as you use the air. It has been about ten years since I did these calculations and I was paid pretty handsomely for doing them, so I hope you will excuse me for not hitting the books and doing the calculation for you gratis. Suffice to say, as the pressure in the tank decays so will the flow rate out of the tank until the point of equilibrium is reached. This is purely a guess but I would say that if you are lucky you MIGHT get three lug nuts off before that SCUBA tank's pressure drops too low to properly operate the impact wrench.

Using a saw, drill or grinder would be much worse as these tools run almost continuously.

I worked in a facility where we had a 30,000 gallon receiver and two 25 horsepower single stage rotary compressors discharging to the receiver. Maximum pressure in the receiver was 175 psi and it took these two compressors roughly six hours to pump up from 100 psi to 175 psi. I could dump that 30,000 gallons back down to 100 psi in a matter of minutes at a flow rate of around 2,500 to 3,000 CFM and then it would take another six hours to pump it back to 175 psi.

I worked in another facility where we had 24 receivers manifolded together and each receiver was about 8 feet in diameter and 20 feet tall. While pumping 300 psi with something like 5,000 CFM of compressors I have seen a nozzle test drop that 300 psi to 125 in less than a minute. It is utterly amazing how fast the pressure drops.

Please, give up your idea, it is simply not worth the time trouble and cost to end up with the utter disappointment you will have.
 
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Old 10-25-13, 11:22 PM
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Okay, I see what you mean. If it's that fast, then it will simply be completely impractical to use a manual pump. I suppose I'd need a pump like this at minimum.

Industrial Air ILA1883054 30-Gallon Belt Driven Air Compressor - Amazon.com
 
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Old 10-25-13, 11:53 PM
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Yes, that should be a good machine. Whatever you do, do not be suckered into a direct drive or oil-less machine. You might also check around for a used machine as what I stated previously an oiled and belt driven compressor should last for many years even in fairly heavy usage. If you can find one with a slower speed (1725 RPM instead of the 3450 RPM "compressor duty") motor you are even further ahead. Don't use too small an air hose or electric extension cord and you will be set for life.
 
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Old 10-26-13, 05:03 AM
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When topping off tires, my electrical compressor took a long, long time ............ I used a low end electrical compressor that did not have an air tank, however.
Sounds like you were using one of those little portable diaphragm pump compressors. Most only put out about 25-30 psi when new. I used to use them to spray one door with oil base enamel or drywall texture repairs. They can also be used for airbrushing. Their only selling point is they don't take up much room. I should have 2 of them stored in the barn, couldn't tell you the last time either was used. I tried to air up a flat tire on the job with one a long time ago - basically I got enough air in the tire to allow me to drive to where I had access to a real air compressor.

As stated above, you want a belt driven oiled compressor! The oil less compressors are way too noisy! My portable craftsman air compressor is 30+ yrs old, had a rough life but still going strong. CFM is the other big thing to look for when buying a compressor. If the compressor is undersized, you can probably still use it but you'll spend time waiting on the compressor to catch up so you can continue. Sanders and paint guns are the biggest CFM hogs.

Once you get a real air compressor you'll wonder why we've even had this discussion
 
 

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