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Old 03-14-2010, 07:58 PM
diamond diamond is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Rochester, MN
Posts: 695
Default Who makes the best quality air compressor?

I see myself buying a new compressor in the next few months as I prepare to build an RV. There are countless manufacturers out there and I need some help in deciding who is reputable and makes high quality equipment to last a long time. I will probably get something in the 60 gallon range.

Some of the brands I have seen are Ingersoll Rand, Porter Cable, Quincy, Craftsman, Puma, Campbell Hausfeld, NorthStar, Husky, and Kobalt. These are the compressors that are available at various stores in my area. I'm sure there are many others available elsewhere. I guess I'm looking for a general consensus on who is at the top and who is at the bottom. I sure don't want to start a war here, so please be respectful of each others "opinions". Thanks
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Old 03-14-2010, 08:11 PM
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bruceh bruceh is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Ramona, CA
Posts: 2,043
Default go cheap and don't obsess

I've got a cheapy compressor. I think it is a Campbell Hausfeld. Works fine. The only time it starts to go into overtime is when I'm doing a lot of countersinking with the air drill or running a die grinder. That's pretty rare in the scope of use for this project.

Yes, it can be loud, but that is what hearing protection is for. If I'm just riveting it might go on occasionally for less than a minute. Even using it to spray primer it does just fine. No different from one that costs 5 times a much.

Bruce Hill
RV-9A N5771H flown over 500 hours!
APRS Tracking for KJ6YRP and New Flying Blog
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EAA Tech Counselor
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Old 03-14-2010, 08:17 PM
TSwezey TSwezey is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 1,849

Originally Posted by sahrens View Post
Here has been my experience. My first compressor was from Harbor Freight. It died a quick death (under a year and after the warranty.) I am now using a Korbalt that I purchase from Lowes. The Kobalt has a larger capacity so it runs less, but it is an oil-less style which makes it a lot louder than the oil style I got from Harbor Freight. I purchase the Kobalt based on price.

If I had to do it again, I would have spent the money for a large capacity oil style compressor. While not always true a good quality large capacity (in terms of storage) compressoor will be more expensive.

That's my two cents worth. I am sure others will have a different opinion.
that's the ticket!
RV-10 Vesta V8 LS2/BMA EFIS/One formerly flying at 3J1 Hobbs stopped at 150 hours
Savannah, GA and Ridgeland, SC
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Old 03-14-2010, 08:21 PM
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Mel Mel is online now
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Dallas area
Posts: 9,902
Default "American Compressor"

I prefer "American Compressor". They are not cheap but they will last forever. My shop has been very busy for a long time. My compressor has never let me down in over 20 years. I sump the tank daily and change the oil annually.
It's a 2-stage, 5 hp with 80 gallon tank, and it will supply 18 cfm at 125 psi.
Most compressor manufacturers build pumps of all qualities so you can't rely on brand alone. A compressor is one place where you get what you pay for. Buy a cheap compressor and you get a cheap compressor.
Mel Asberry..DAR since last century
A&P/EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
Specializing in Amateur-Built and Light-Sport Aircraft
North Texas (8TA5)
RV-6 Flying since 1993, 172hp O-320, 3-Blade Catto (since 2003)
Legend Cub purchased 12/2017
FRIEND of the RV-1
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Old 03-14-2010, 09:13 PM
Kyle Boatright Kyle Boatright is offline
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 3,183

The 5 HP (ha!), 20 gallon Sears Craftsman compressor I purchased 15 1/2 years ago for my slow-build -6 is still going strong. I even painted the airplane using that compressor.

And why do I laugh at the 5 hp figure? 'Cause this compressor runs on a 15A circuit, which makes it a 1.5-2 hp unit. Does it pull 5 hp worth of power briefly on start-up? Yep. That's how they used to measure HP - peak electrical draw, which is a pretty shady way to do it.

Oh, and vertical compressors are neat, but a 20 gallon portable is truly portable, so you can use it in a lot of places - not just your workshop.

My point is that you don't have to spend a fortune on a compressor to get one that provides effective service for a long time.
Kyle Boatright
Atlanta, GA
2001 RV-6 N46KB
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Old 03-14-2010, 09:51 PM
CNEJR CNEJR is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Conroe, Texas
Posts: 517
Default I bought an.......

80 gal. 5 hp. 220 Ingersol Rand, it has bee a piece of junk. Blew the head gasket, can never keep the belt tight. I hate it.
Chuck Elsey
RV6 Start 7/06- Flying!
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Old 03-14-2010, 10:17 PM
AEA AEA is offline
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Location: so cal
Posts: 29

No oil = too LOUD!!!!
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Old 03-14-2010, 10:24 PM
gasman gasman is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Sonoma County
Posts: 3,412

DIAMOND..... go to and look at item # 3vb60 this is a twin stage 175 psi pump on a 60 gal vert. tank with a single phase motor. Plugs into a dryer outlet (220) sorta. and will provide about 14 cfm at 175 and more at shop (90psi) pressure. Like Mel said, a good compresser will last you a lifetime. I have had my Champion 23 cfm for over 40 years and it has never needed anything but draining the tank and an oil change when I can remember.
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Old 03-14-2010, 11:22 PM
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hgerhardt hgerhardt is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: torrance, ca
Posts: 423

Originally Posted by AEA View Post
No oil = too LOUD!!!!
X 2!

Seriously, the oil-less ones aren't just noisy, the quality of the noise is much worse. They're really annoying. Get a belt-drive oil-lubricated compressor. Cost quite a bit more, but for all the hours you'll have to listen to it, well worth it. I have a Montgomery Ward-branded Champion 5 HP 2-stage, 80 gal tank, built in 1973 or so. Got it free, but had to replace the 3-phase motor with a single-phase one. $175 at Harbor Freight. Great unit.

Another tip: install a solenoid valve in place of the tank drain. That way, it's a pushbutton press to drain the water from the tank. You should drain it daily anyway.

Heinrich Gerhardt
Rv-6, flying
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Old 03-15-2010, 01:33 AM
asav8tor asav8tor is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Seattle, wa
Posts: 679

If you have lots of cash to spend I would get this:

And this:

BEFORE I would spend a bunch on a higher output compressor.
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