Author Topic: California Air Tools Compressor  (Read 4483 times)

Online b.lindsey

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California Air Tools Compressor
« on: November 12, 2014, 06:33:59 PM »
After following a recent thread here on MEM about quieter compressors where someone suggested the California Air Tools units for those of us in the US market, I did a little research on their site and decided to try one to replace another small but VERY noisy compressor I had. Not only was the older unit noisy, but without fail walked across the floor whenever it was running which was a PITA as well.

Anyway, this is a brief review of what i see so far on the new one. Despite the brand name, these are still made in China, but with one exception the construction quality seems to be quite good.  I ordered the 1610A which is the 1 HP one from Amazon and at the time i ordered it, it was around $164.00 with free shipping for Prime members. This one, like the 1/2HP and 3/4 HP versions has twin cylinders for faster filling and recovery of the 1.6 gallon air tank integrated into the base. As some had said, it will fill the tank from 0 to 120 psi in just under a minute, and indeed, the sound level is almost pleasant to be around compared to my older single cylinder unit.

The one negative i found is that the regulator supplied is pretty cheap, not well finished, and the plastic locking ring for the adjusting knob slips easily on the molded threads so little if any locking was possible. In addition the supplied famale quick connect was of poor quality.  This sub-assembly (already removed is shown in photo 1). I had on hand a Parker regulator that I have installed for now (photo 2). Unfortunately this regulator has a 1/4" NPT inlet side but only a 1/8" NPT outlet port along with the 1/8" NPT gage ports. I may have another at home with  1/4" NPT threads on both the inlet and outlet ports which I would prefer so as to be able to put a better quality female quick connect on the outlet end for easier changeouts from running engines, to attaching a hose with tire chuck, to attaching an air brush, etc.

Photo 3 shows the arrangement of the air lines and the braided wire hose is a nice feature not usually found on cheaper compressors. The handle arrangement is such that the unit is well balanced when picking it up also.

Photo 4 shows the business end of things with the twin compressors (this is not a multi-stage arrangement). The compressor assembly is isolated in its attachment to the base by four rubber feet for both vibration and noise insulation. The black plastic safety covers are neat and well molded. INdeed the overall arrangement of all of the components seems to have been well thought out and neatly executed.

Thus far I am pleased with it, especially for the price. Obviously a larger reservoir tank would be desirable to reduce on-off frequency, but hard to do on a small and quite compact unit, and overall the noise reduction more than offsets the compressor kicking on as demand requires.

The web site was helpful and lists all the pertinent stats on their various models for anyone interested.  As I get more experience with it I will add further comments if and when warranted.

Bill

Offline philjoe5

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Re: California Air Tools Compressor
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2014, 01:13:14 PM »
Bill,
After 6 months of use my 1610A is going strong.  I use it to demonstrate steam engine models in places that don't provide compressed air and where the noise from a typical compressor would be unacceptable.  I occasionally use it in the shop as well.  So far so good.

Cheers,
Phil
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.  - Mark Twain

Online b.lindsey

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Re: California Air Tools Compressor
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2014, 07:01:56 PM »
Good to know Phil. Other than just fooling around with it some I haven't really "used" it for any extended time yet. Still trying to get the regulator and such like I want it, but still like what i am seeing so far.

Bill

Offline ttrikalin

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Re: California Air Tools Compressor
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2014, 02:02:59 AM »
I think i will buy one of these too.  I have no air compressor at home because I cannot stand the noise. 
For those who want higher capacity tanks, my thinking is that I can buy an external tank from horrible fright and connect it in series... For example this aluminium tank

http://www.harborfreight.com/7-gallon-aluminum-air-tank-94801.html

goes up to 160 psi for 7 gallons... As long as one respects the ratings one should be OK....
take care,

tom in MA

Offline philjoe5

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Re: California Air Tools Compressor
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2014, 02:56:50 AM »
Tom,
California air tools has a 6 gal compressor.

http://www.californiaairtools.com/ultra-quiet-oil-free-air-compressors/1-0-hp-air-compressors/cat-5510se/

Of course all that quiet costs $ but as they say "silence is gold(en)"  :Jester:

Cheers,
Phil
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.  - Mark Twain

Online b.lindsey

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Re: California Air Tools Compressor
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2014, 01:59:15 PM »
A quick look on Amazon didn't show the 5510, but they do show a 6310 which is the same compressor with a 6.3 gallon steel tank. If you were thinking of buying a new home compressor along with the harbor freight tank, this might be more economical:

http://www.amazon.com/California-Air-Tools-CAT-6310-6-3-Gallon/dp/B00889ZYPQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1416059565&sr=8-3&keywords=california+air+tools+compressor

Bill

Offline mklotz

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Re: California Air Tools Compressor
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2014, 04:31:18 PM »
Thanks for the review, Bill.  I appreciate it since I'm thinking of gifting myself one of these for Xmas.  Of course, that's contingent on finding place in Garaj Mahal to store it, a task of the order of cleaning the Augean stables.
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Online b.lindsey

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Re: California Air Tools Compressor
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2014, 07:10:07 PM »
Marv, my experience with it so far is very limited as for actual use, but Phil has filled some of that in as you saw. The footprint is more square that rectangular, but still a modest 17.3 long by 14.3 wide. The half, 3/4 and 1 HP all seem to have the same base and footprint so perhaps only minimal cleaning will be necessary :)

Bill

Offline mklotz

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Re: California Air Tools Compressor
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2014, 10:06:48 PM »
Yes, I just registered the 17" length.  It's very conservatively sized.  While at lunch, I realized that I have a cluttered and unused chunk of workbench behind my cluttered and unused drill press that could accommodate the little bugger.  It will require some decluttering but it's doable.

Yes, I have more, ie longer, workbench than I need or use.  It came with the house.  BTW, anyone in SoCal need a cheap Chinese drill press?
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Online b.lindsey

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Re: California Air Tools Compressor
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2015, 01:59:08 AM »
I had brought the compressor home this weekend in anticipation of needing it to try out the PMR #1. I have been keeping it at school where thus far it has only gotten infrequent use. Today it ran virtually ALL day, cycling on and off every few minutes since the double acting 1" bore x 1 1/2" stroke #1 consumes a good bit of air compared to the Elmer's sized engines I am more used to. I had also purchased 50' of air hose yesterday and so I had the little compressor sitting under a table out of the way. Now I am not going to say that I didn't hear it cycling on and off, but compared to the Chinese direct drive compressor that it replaced, it was almost pleasurable working in the shop with this one. Actually the whoosh of the unloader valve when it shots off is louder than the running compressor. One good day's use isn't a long history I know but even so it performed flawlessly!!

I like the air hose too...found it at Lowes:

http://www.lowes.com/pd_4254-67702-19412QP_0__?productId=3033412&Ntt=air+hose&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3Dair%2Bhose&facetInfo=

It was cool in the shop today and this hose remained very flexible. Now when I need to check the air in the car tires, I have enough hose to stretch out to the driveway rather than lugging the compressor out there with an extension cord. I think the compressor has now found a permanent home under the work table :)

Bill

Offline Ian S C

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Re: California Air Tools Compressor
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2015, 11:06:46 AM »
If you don't need the compressor to be portable, you can always stick it up in the rafters, a good place for an extra cylinder.  I home brewed my air system from an old(not sealed) freezer compressor, and a low pressure (600psi) aviation oxygen tank, think it came out of a Hudson Bomber.  This tank is mounted vertically, with the input at the bottom end, with a water trap between it and the compressor, the outlet, and gauge are at the top.  The whole lot powered by a 1/2hp 1450rpm, 1ph Hoover motor, total cost  $NZ35.
Ian S C

Online b.lindsey

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Re: California Air Tools Compressor
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2015, 12:28:24 PM »
Interesting idea Ian, though I have a spare bedroom above the garage. When the day comes that I can build a stand alone shed in the back yard it might be worth considering, though the 1.6 gallon receiver tank would still need draining on occasion  :noidea:

Bill

Offline mklotz

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Re: California Air Tools Compressor
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2015, 03:50:29 PM »
My wife bought me one for Xmas.  The old ear-shatter went to the SIL to inflate toys for the grandkids.

The Garaj Mahal layout demands that the compressor go under the workbench.  In that position it needs a bit of protection from dropped items and sawdust.  I bought one of those large plastic storage tubs ($9 at Big Lots) and provided some ventilation holes with a hole saw.  It's now even quieter than before and the top of the inverted tub provides a "shelf" on which to store a few items.  The only drawback is the fact that it's a bit awkward to access the tank drain.  Fortunately, living in a semi-desert, the air is very dry and draining isn't a big deal, especially with an aluminum tank.  I used it most of yesterday and, on draining, no water came out.
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Online b.lindsey

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Re: California Air Tools Compressor
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2015, 06:24:32 PM »
Marv, happy to hear you got one and that it is working out well for you.

Bill