Pancake compressor repair

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  #1  
Old 11-05-13, 07:25 AM
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PO'd at Harbor Freight (compressor repair)

I have a pancake compressor #38898 I've owned 5 years. It now won't hold pressure above 40psi so I started taking it apart. The rings & cast iron cylinder look perfect, so do the reeds and valve plates. I found the problem to be the gasket between the upper valve plate and aluminum head. The web that separates the intake & exhaust chambers in the head was depressed relative to the perimeter & the gasket divider that covers this finally failed and allowed air to leak from pressure to vacuum side. I have flattened this so I can get a good seal.

BUT

Harbor freight discontinued this model and NO PARTS are available for it. Seriously, Harbor Freight? I'm supposed to throw out a 5 year old compressor because you don't stock a head gasket?

OK thanks for letting me vent...now the question:
Will RTV hold up in this application?
 
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Old 11-05-13, 08:01 AM
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Dang, I have that same compressor. No parts anywhere, huh?
 
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Old 11-05-13, 08:02 AM
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Hello: guy48065

First off, original title slightly edited to remove a derogatory remark made toward company. Harbor Freight is a product retail. Not a product retailed AND parts supplier...:NO NO NO:

Suggestion:
When all else fails...IMPROVISE!!!...
Take the original gasket to a local auto parts store. Buy like or similar gasket material. Usually sold in small roles. Place original gasket onto new gasket material. Trace original onto new gasket material. Cut, trim and make holes, etc. as need and where needed to duplicate original gasket.

Might need to apply a very small amount of head gasket sealer. Re-install head gasket. Allow dry time over night. PRESTO! Test. Very likely, if done correctly, compressor close to NEW again.... Worked for me on my 60+ year old compressor....

 
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Old 11-05-13, 09:57 AM
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Once you have the gasket material like Sharp Advice suggested I lay the gasket material over what it needs to fit and using the rounded end of a ball peen hammer tap around where the cut out areas need to be. It will leave and out line where to remove material.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 10:15 AM
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Less p***ed

SA,
There are part numbers in the manual & Central Pneumatic is their house brand so who else would I go to for repair parts?

But there's hope--
I was looking for similar compressors and ran across what looks to be the identical unit from another importer. I'm awaiting a callback to see if they have parts.

Unfortunately this is often the way it goes with Chinese stuff. It's up to the importer to add parts on to their container shipments. Which means they have to stock these parts & take up space. Now Sears doesn't manufacture most of the stuff they sell but I have been able to order parts for 50 year old tools & machines from them.

I'd still like to know if RTV will work on a compressor head--in case NObody ordered any replacement parts for this who-knows-who-made-it Chinese compressor.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 02:26 PM
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I've got one almost identical, and it is a Campbell Hausfeld. I am not sure if they could have made it or not, or whether they have parts that would work. Yeah, it's hard to give up something where you have socks older than it is . I only use mine for small work when throwing the double hot dog Ridgid would be overkill, but I can't get rid of it, 'cause it still works.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 04:48 PM
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I like this compressor and refuse to give up on it for such a stupid problem. Anyone that has followed my posts here has by now noticed I'm a cheap SOB and will go to great lengths to improvise a solution to a problem.

I'm still working on getting parts from a different importer (All-Power) of an identical compressor. Their parts system is hopelessly screwed-up--they don't use part numbers

Should I ask in the automotive section if RTV will work as a compressor head gasket?
 
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Old 11-05-13, 05:14 PM
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RTV black may work to "assist" as gasket sealer, but I don't think using it exclusively as a gasket itself would be cool. You'll never get the head back off. Bad stuff.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 05:14 PM
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You could try the high temperature RTV. If it didn't work you would be no worse off than now.
 
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Old 11-06-13, 04:04 AM
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As suggested earlier - go to your local auto parts store and buy some gasket material and cut out a new gasket! You can always save the leftover gasket material for the next job.
 
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Old 11-14-13, 08:35 AM
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FWIW

I ordered gaskets for a similar compressor with same specs and identical-looking exploded parts diagram. They didn't fit--slightly smaller bore.

My origami skills are lacking and my kids have lost all my Exactos so I didn't want to try cutting out thin gaskets with bolt holes and dividers. I had already flattened the surfaces so I ran a very thin bead of high temperature black RTV on the areas the gaskets contacted and reassembled. After waiting a day for it to cure I tested the compressor & it builds pressure like it should.

My hope is the RTV will hold up at least as well as a paper gasket since it doesn't get that hot in use and isn't exposed to solvents.

It's a pity Harbor Freight so quickly abandoned this unit (and its owners). It's a nice little pump and has better specs than anything I could find to replace it (for under $200). Most have gone to oil-less compressors but the review sites and Youtube is chock full of complaints about snapped connecting rods. Maybe a piston going up & down 30 times per second needs some oil. Maybe.
 
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Old 07-29-14, 12:23 PM
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Solution!!

Hey guys. I have had this exact problem and made a new gasket. Advance auto parts didn't have the right type of gasket material so I ended up using bicycle tire inner tube (I doubled it up). It is a similar rubber material and have not had a problem with any leaks. It cost me $5.
 
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