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Lathe Talk #52: Air Compressor Replacement - Part 2
September 08, 2013
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No Rest for the Weary: Well, so much for my schedule getting easier… I had hoped to be finished with our current phase of remodeling on the house and my next phase of remodeling in the studio, but it was not to be it seems. We have been replacing the last of our old HVAC systems and there was a lot of work to get everything ready for the installation. This included a new natural gas meter and an additional gas plumbing line, as well as a lot of new electrical work for the main house and the new air compressor.
Update: Whew! Our HVAC work is finally complete… It took a crew of three installers (five during tear-out) one full month to rip out the three existing HVAC units and all of the old ductwork, and install three new 22-SEER IQ high efficiency HVAC systems, with a new hybrid (combination solid metal duct and flex duct) R-8 ductwork system. We can now check one very big job off our remodeling “To Do” list.
Plumbing and Electrical Woes: Just when you think you’ve gotten a handle on everything, you find out that you were overly optimistic. Just trying to get bids from plumbing contractors was an ordeal. If they showed up for their appointment at all, they were usually late by several hours, or even days. Some never even bothered to send quotes, even after spending half an hour looking at what we needed.
One quote showed up three weeks after we had the work done and it did not even quote a price, just an outline on what they proposed to do. Maybe they were going to do it for free? Trying to find a plumber who has actually knew the current gas code was almost impossible. After a lot of hassle, I finally received a few quotes. The plumbers we choose did a very good job and thankfully, that job is now complete.
Trying to find an electrician was just as “fun.” One of the ways I always judge a new contractor is by asking questions that I already know the answer to and comparing their answer to what I know to be correct. Finally, after speaking to four electricians, I found a master electrician who really knew his business. It was like a breath of fresh air and I am glad I found him.
My new compressor needed a dedicated 50 Amp line run back to the mains panel and since we were doing that, we decided to completely replace our mains panel and all of the old breakers, as well as install a whole house surge protector and some additional home runs. All of the electrical and plumbing work is now complete, now it’s time to install the new and improved ’Ole Red!
Ole Red V-2.0: Silly rabbit, tricks are for kids… I was originally told that it would take 3 – 4 weeks to build my new air compressor. That somehow morphed into 4 – 6 weeks (ugh!), with another week in shipping. I was like a caged Tiger waiting for that bad boy to show up. Every time I wanted to do something, I remembered that I was still waiting for the replacement compressor to arrive. Bugger!
Well, Ole Red V-2.0 finally arrived and the article below will get you up to speed on my method for getting this 1,000 pound monster off of the pallet by myself and how I got it moved into its new position. It was to put it kindly, a bear of a job, but I succeeded after much thought and some clever rigging to help me move this monster compressor.
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Woo Hoo!!! ‘Ole Red V-2.0 has finally arrived and is now sitting pretty in a new location. As I mentioned in the update section, it seemed to take forever for the new and improved ‘Ole Red to show up. I did not waste any time waiting though, as I spent a lot of time researching compressed air piping systems, receiver dryers, filters and related equipment so I would be good to go when it was delivered.
When the trucking company finally called and said they were on their way to deliver it, I was chuffed to say the least. Rather like an expectant father, I was ready for this bad boy to make his grand appearance. As a part of the order, I had requested lift gate service, so getting this massive beast onto the ground was easy peasy.
My pallet jack made the task of moving the pallet up to the front of the studio a snap. Several upright wooden braces needed to be removed before I could get the compressor into the studio. I used a reciprocating saw to remove everything down to the pallet frame. Once inside the studio, I quickly found out that the previous location for the air compressor would not work.
After a quick assessment of my current layout, I decided there was only one other spot where the compressor would fit (in my two-high 55-gallon drum storage location). Luckily, I was able to move a few things around and open up a sufficient amount of space. At this point, ‘Ole Red V-2.0 was still sitting on the pallet, but it was in the studio and I was one very happy camper.
‘Ole Red V-2.0 Major Specs
Eaton 10 HP 100% Cast-Iron Construction Compressor Pump with 4-Cylinder, 2-Stage Pump – Displacement 28 SCFM @ 100 PSI; 26 SCFM @ 175 PSI
Getting it off the Pallet
My elated feelings soon waned as I began to ponder just how to get this massively heavy beast off the pallet by myself. There were no lifting points anywhere on the tank, or the pump support bracing… Strike one. There was a lifting point on the motor, but it was not sufficient to lift the entire compressor and it was too far off centre to be of much use.
No problem I thought, I will just use a lifting strap under the pump/motor support mounting (known as the saddle) and lift it that way with my engine hoist… Not so fast grasshopper! Every permutation I could think of for lifting the compressor would not work because parts of the motor/pump might be damaged by the lifting straps.
Funny things like the copper tubing, or the motor wiring box cover were all in the way for the lifting strap. Bugger! Strike two. Undaunted, I dropped back and punted as I began to rack my brain for a solution. I thought about using straps around the tank, but it seemed like a dicey proposition that might go “Pete Tong” in short order. After all, once this bad boy was up in the air, there would be 1,000 pounds resisting gravity and wanting to come back down to Terra firma.
Although using just one engine hoist was out, I also had two cranes on the lathe that could be pressed into service. As I began to assess using two lifting devices (one on each side), I reassessed the compressor’s construction. Even with two lifting devices, there was no easy way to pick up that much weight (top heavy is an understatement with most vertical compressors these days) safely. Strike three and off to the bloody bench for this redheaded rookie wannabe.
On my way to warm the bench until coach would send me into the game again, I thought why not get a bloody forklift and be done with all this faff in short order? I began to investigate renting a small forklift for a single day, which would be a very safe and simple way to get the job done. The only problem is the exorbitant cost; the rental fee with delivery and pick-up, plus taxes was almost £384 or $600.00. That’s a fair few quid for 5 minutes of use, so this option was not viable.
Humm, I decided to step back and look for another way. After looking around for possible solutions on the Internet and YouTube, I was back at square one. Nothing would work with the weight of my compressor (453 kilos/1,000 pounds) and the fact that I had to move it all by myself. Therefore, I began to look for a way to widen the lifting points, so I could go back to my original idea… Using two lifting cranes attached to some type of support brace.
This would allow me to lift the compressor without any possibility of damaging any of the pump or motor assembly. The only question would be how to rig it up safely. The easiest way I could think of would be to use some 2 x 4’s or some 4 x 4’s under the motor and pump saddle, with enough length to clear the sides of the pump and motor assembly.
Ka Ching! The room under the motor/pump saddle would not allow 4 x 4’s to be used, but a 2 x 4 laid down (widest part up) would fit nicely. Off to the mega-box store to get some supplies. Since these 2 x 4’s would be lifting a lot of weight, I wanted to find some with as few knots as possible. I rummaged around the pile of select 2 x 4 x 8’s until I found four boards that had almost no knots. As a back-up plan, I also purchased some heavy-duty eyebolts, just in cast my lifting straps would not work.
After assembling the lifting support with heavy lag screws, I installed the eyebolts in the centerline of the motor and pump assembly. With more than a little trepidation, I used my pallet jack to move the compressor near the lathe and I secured the lathe crane on one side of the lifting brace and the engine hoist on the other. Since I was doing this by myself, I had to move back and forth between the two lifting points, as I slowly inched the compressor up and off the pallet.
I needed to readjust the lifting points twice to get the compressor to lift exactly level (verified with two magnetic levels on the tank and motor/pump support). Since this bad boy is so top heavy, I did not want to chance an off axis lift. Just to be certain though, I attached two additional straps to the tank in opposite directions to prevent the compressor from canting during the lift. As it turned out, it eventually lifted perfectly level.
Just as soon as the compressor cleared the top of the pallet (about 2” high off the top surface of the pallet), I stopped and double-checked everything. After quickly moving the pallet out of the way, I slowly lowered the compressor down to the ground, alternating between the lathe crane controls and the engine hoist controls. Once the compressor was flat on the ground, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. ‘Ole Red V-2.0 was safely on the ground and I was gobsmacked that I had actually done it by myself.
Moving to the New Location
Ok, it was now on the ground and everything was great except for one thing, it needed to be moved about seven feet to its permanent location. ‘Ole Red V-1.0 was smaller than this beast and as such, it was mounted in a corner location between a wall and a large toolbox. ‘Ole Red V-2.0 is much larger overall, especially in height and width of the motor/pump assembly. V-4 compressor pumps are quite wide and the old location would not work.
The new location is actually much nicer from a usage and maintenance standpoint. Seven feet does not sound like a lot of distance, but this compressor (like most vertical compressors), is top heavy. I thought I could probably crab-walk it over to its new location, but the welded footpads did not want to slide on the epoxy-coated floor very easily.
To make it slide easier, I lifted it once again just enough to place four small cut-off pieces of 2 x 4 under the legs and lowered it back down to the floor again. To keep the 2 x 4’s in place, I screwed two lag screws into each footing. This worked a treat and allowed me to slowly crab-walk the compressor over to its permanent location. Result!
The owner’s manual states that it is preferable to drill holes and bolt the unit to the floor for mounting. I was none too keen to do that, so I began to look for proper industrial grade, anti-vibration leveling feet instead. For extra safety, I plan to add two braces from the compressor to the wall to prevent any chance of tipping. The manufacturer ok’d my mounting with anti-vibration leveling feet, so I was ready to crack on.
The mounting feet I found are industrial grade anti-vibration pads that have a leveling bolt to ensure that the compressor is sitting level on the concrete floor. This is important because the splash lubrication will not work correctly if the unit is not sitting level. ‘Ole Red V-1.0 was never bolted to the floor and it lasted 16 years without any problems. I may bolt the new compressor down to the floor one day, but I want to investigate my options more before deciding on what attachment system to use. Until that time, it’s sitting pretty and I’m ready to get this bad boy squared away.
Electrical Wiring Needs
This compressor requires a 50-Amp dedicated circuit to run properly. I had a master electrician install a 50-Amp 6-guage wire from my new 60-slot circuit breaker mains box to the compressor’s magnetic starter. I also added a disconnect switch on the wall behind the compressor to facilitate maintenance if needed. When running, this compressor draws a steady 32 amps. When I originally ordered the compressor, I had the manufacturer add an hour meter, so I could better manage the necessary maintenance procedures.
Not So Fast Bruddah
Since the electrical was connected and ready to go, I decided to turn on my compressor and see how it ran… Humm, to make a long story short, my compressor is being shipped back to the manufacturer. After a phone call to the manufacturer discussing how my compressor was running and a few other things, they decided to send me a replacement compressor. I will be putting this one on the pallet and sending it back. So at this point, I'm back on hold until my replacement compressor arrives.
Things happen… I must have gotten the 1 in 10,000 units that had a problem. Luckily, the manufacturer has been very accommodating and is sending me another unit ASAP. The adventure continues. Check back in the next issue as I continue on my quest to get my new monster compressor installed and piped. Back to pacing around like a caged Tiger… Bugger!
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