OK. Air Compressors. I know that I said that you probably wouldn't need to buy many expensive tools - and I know these jewels are expensive.
If you have a big repair to make, AND you don't have an air compressor, you have a BIG decision to make.
FACT: You will be doing a lot of sanding.
FACT: A dual-action sander is the grand-daddy of sanding fiberglass
FACT: Did I mention that you'll be doing a lot of sanding?
Anyway, you get the drift. The ability to use a DA sander is crucial to taking on a big repair.
I know, I know - there are electric DA's available. I've used them. As a matter of fact, I used them exclusively to do MAJOR repairs on several boats before I discovered the air DA.
Also, an air compressor may be needed to use a paint gun when finishing the repair.
These things are expensive. If you don't already have one and are considering taking the plunge, here are a few things to consider:
First, look at the capacity of the compressor/tank combination. Most have sufficient pressure capability - about 90 psi is all you'll need. Look closely at the SCFM (Standard Cubic Feet per Minute) rating of the rig. Some air tools are HOGS when it comes to air use.
If you're going to brush on your finish (not going to spray with a HVLP paint gun), you can get by with about 4-5 SCFM at 90 psi. This puts you in the neighborhood of the 33 gallon tank, 1.5 hp compressor setups. These can be had for around $600.
If you want to spray your finish, plan on about $1200 for a 60 gallon tank, 3.5 hp model. When you get up into this range, you have also probably outgrown a simple 120V circuit. Can you say 240?
Of course these prices are for new, name brand equipment that will be more than adequate for occasional use.
Also consider the noise level. You probably don't want a large compressor cutting on and off right outside of your sleeping baby's room.
I often receive questions from readers about what air compressor I recommend for one job or another... I usually begin my response with "It depends..." I'm not trying to be evasive, but it REALLY DOES depend!
When it comes to large investments like air compressors, I recommend going with one of the name brand manufacturers. In the air compressor world, Ingersoll Rand (formerly Ingersoll Dresser) is known as a manufacturer that produces high quality equipment at reasonable prices.
In my "day job", we use a variety of air compressors (most around 1000 hp) in some very critical applications. IR makes some of the best equipment at any price.
For outfitting a home garage with an air compressor, I suggest taking a look at the Ingersoll Rand #SS 5L5. It provides plenty of air and is relatively quiet. Check out the specs and compare against whatever compressor you are considering.
Similar models are also available with horizontal tanks, but I recommend the vertical arrangement. It saves space and allows for easier moisture removal.
Amazon can have one of these babies delevered to your door in a few days. This is a good general purpose compressor. I have used this compressor for years and haven't had any problems with it.
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