Home Made Compressor


A Home Made Compressor. Yup, seriously. Recently a friend of mine had a home construction project to complete. Don was finishing his laundry and freezer room with a substantial amount of tongue & groove pine wainscotting.

As we have done for almost thirty years we have take turns visiting to work on each others projects. This time it was my turn to visit his place and help him with one of his jobs. The work was going to go a lot faster than I had originally thought when I realized that we would be using a pneumatic brad nailer rather than a manual brad push type inserter, or even a hammer, for that matter.

I asked Don where his compressor was, and he then rolled it out. It was a home made compressor. Quite neat, actually. Here it is.

Home Made Compressor

As always, before you begin a project like this at home, make sure you are safe in all you do. When Don builds one of his contraptions (yes, he has done this kind of thing before) I know that he is very, very careful to make sure that his handiwork will never be a danger if used properly.

Here is how he put his home-made compressor together.

The picture above shows the finished unit, complete with cart, wooden box around the compressor tank / receiver, on which he mounted the compressor head and the electric motor.

In his travels, Don found the cart in someone's trash, took it home, and fixed it. That is when he used his home-made welder. Just kidding!

One of his careers was in the HVAC (heating, ventilation & air conditioning) industry, and during his time there was able to salvage a used, single-piston reciprocating compressor head which he mounted in the center of the home made compressor box.

On the right is the electric motor (also salvaged). The electric motor shaft & pulley, the belt and the compressor shaft and pulley are inside the wooden belt guard, purpose-built to keep hands away from those dangerous pinch-points.

To the left of the compressor head Don installed a coalescent filter. Since the compressor head is quite old, a lot of oil blows by the piston rings, and the coalescent filter removes it from the air stream.

Air then flows down into the receiver through a leather flapper valve (check valve) that is more than somewhat antiquated, but it still works.

The pressure switch is top right of the motor, but there is no unloader valve. Don explains, "there's enough leak in the line between the compressor and the flapper valve so that long before the pressure in the tank drops to the cut-in pressure, there's no longer any pressure over the cylinder piston".

A good long and heavy duty power cord is wound around the wire rack.


Home Built Compressor

The picture above shows the FRL leading to the checked coupler shown on the left. When a connector from an air hose is plugged into the coupler, air will flow.

Don has also Teed a "full pressure" line off the line going from the receiver to the FRL. You can just see the regulator to the right of the picture in behind the air filter. He set this up so that, if he wishes, he can get non-filtered air coming out another line.

I've used a lot of smaller type 120 VAC air compressors, some of which were extremely quiet ($1,000 +++ in cost), and some that were really inexpensive but loud as heck.

Don's home-made compressor makes noise, of course, but it's a fraction of what might be expected, and it's quite easy to talk while the compressor is running.

Under the receiver is a manual "stop-cock" which Don assures me he uses regularly to drain the compressor-generated water from the tank.

A neat unit, well constructed, very useful for smaller jobs (like brad nailing and blowing the dust out of his computer) and I thank him very much for providing the pictures for this page.

Now, did I tell you about his home-made computers? That's a story for another time!