There is a 1989 Quincy air compressor operating in Jim Leonard's farm shop in Morgantown, Indiana. Shawn McFarland from Carlinville, Illinois, is still running his Quincy compressor from the 1970s. Winchester, Illinoisan Clair Wilson has a Gardner-Denver pump that came out of a Cuba, Missouri, lead mine circa 1958 that he's still using today. And a vintage 1924 Quincy pump sits in the Air-Mach, Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, showroom. “It's very slow, but it does run and pump,” says Dana Brenneman, sales engineer for the compressed air equipment distributor.
Each man attributes his pump's long life to regular preventive maintenance. “I give it routine oil changes, and I clean the air filter,” says Leonard.
Plus, there is the structural integrity. “I'm a firm believer in a quality pump,” says McFarland, adding that his has been very reliable. “A compressor is one thing you cannot do without in the shop. It goes on when you walk in there.”
Another thing those machines have in common is that they're all piston-type compressors, as are the five models in the table on the following page. Suitable for most farm shops and many other commercial applications, these two-cylinder (two-stage) models are also oil-lubricated for durability and have 5-hp. to 5.2-hp. motors.
“Piston-type air compressors have the same basic components as an internal combustion engine: a crankshaft, pistons, cylinders, valves, and housing block,” says Hez Salsbury, Pueblo, Colorado, farm mechanic.
“In a two-stage model, the first piston compresses the air and passes it to a second, smaller cylinder that compresses the air further. Oil carryover is usually minimal,” he says. Salsbury also ascribes the endurance of piston-type compressors to their slow running speeds.
Noise level vs. energy use
Duane Myklejord, Fosston, Minnesota, has two Ingersoll Rand models: a single-cylinder and a two-cylinder.
“I do use the two-cylinder (two-stage) model more often. But I have to say I like the single cylinder better – it makes less noise!” he explains. The trade-off is the two-stage model uses less electricity.
Fabrication shop owner and farmer Randy Lackender, Iowa City, Iowa, is satisfied with the two Sanborn compressors he purchased at his local Menards store, one in 2002 and one about three years ago.
“They are cast iron, and they were a good price,” he says. “I use the 60-gallon model for running my plasma cutter, air hoist, and paint sprayer.” He says the airflow in cubic feet per minute is adequate for each piece of equipment.
The five models featured in the table produce from 14.7 cfm to 17.5 cfm.
Better for farm shops
Air-Mach's Brenneman prefers reciprocating piston compressors for farm shops because they have rings that separate the compression process from the oil.