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(Topic ID: 251982)

Let's talk about Harbor Freight air compressors


By jibmums

1 year ago



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  • 23 posts
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  • Latest reply 1 year ago by jibmums
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    #1 1 year ago

    Or specifically, the "Central Pneumatic" brand of compressors they carry. Overall, are they decent or inferior machines? I know most HF tools are on the iffy side quality-wise. It won't see a ton of use, just occasionally when I need it to inflate a tire, blow off sawdust or dry a part, or do some airbrushing, so I'm thinking a 5+ gallon tank and 1 HP or so. My 30+ year old Speedaire tank is losing air, probably a rusted-thru pinhole somewhere, and it's time to replace it. If possible, I'm also looking for something a little less noisy this time around, have they made them any less noisy after 30 years or am I kidding myself?

    #2 1 year ago

    Save yourself the headache. Don't buy HF compressors.

    #3 1 year ago

    Mine has been working fine for about 3 yrs. I use primarily to shoot nails, but also use for cleaning, pumping car tires, etc. Even sprayed paint. it kicks on more than I would like and it's not going to win any awards for quietness, but it works for the handfull of times I use it each year.

    #4 1 year ago

    I had 1. I sold it when. I found a larger Craftsman at a garage sale. My first one went back. The manager told me no one puts enough oil in them and the directions are bad. He said fillit until it starts to run back out the hole. It worked fine as line as I had it after that.

    That said I bet you can find a better deal on a used compressor on fb marketplace

    #5 1 year ago

    I’m buying a new compressor soon as well. I want to be able to spray clearcoat and use air tools, so I’m getting a big 220v dual stage of some kind. Basically “shop air”.

    Check out https://www.aircompressorsdirect.com if you haven’t yet.

    I have a little porter cable pancake compressor that I’ve used the hell out of for the last ten years. I use it to shoot nails, inflate tires, blow gun, etc. it’s great because it’s easy to lug around.

    Harbor freight is great for some things but I’ve had trouble with tools. Just burned out a second hammer drill. Won’t buy another from them. Haven’t been brave enough to try their compressors.

    #6 1 year ago
    Quoted from jibmums:

    Or specifically, the "Central Pneumatic" brand of compressors they carry. Overall, are they decent or inferior machines? I know most HF tools are on the iffy side quality-wise. It won't see a ton of use, just occasionally when I need it to inflate a tire, blow off sawdust or dry a part, or do some airbrushing, so I'm thinking a 5+ gallon tank and 1 HP or so. My 30+ year old Speedaire tank is losing air, probably a rusted-thru pinhole somewhere, and it's time to replace it. If possible, I'm also looking for something a little less noisy this time around, have they made them any less noisy after 30 years or am I kidding myself?

    Well, whatever brand you go with (especially at HF) it most likely won’t be built as well as your Speedaire. I think you’d be better off trying to find out where the leak is coming from and seeing if it’s repairable. You sounded like you weren’t sure. They just don’t build em like they they used to...

    #7 1 year ago
    Quoted from Pinzap:

    Well, whatever brand you go with (especially at HF) it most likely won’t be built as well as your Speedaire. I think you’d be better off trying to find out where the leak is coming from and seeing if it’s repairable. You sounded like you weren’t sure. They just don’t build em like they they used to...

    If the tank has a pinhole leak, then it is a ticking time bomb and should be replaced. If you have ever seen one let go in a shop, you will understand why I say that. Not worth the few bucks you would be saving.

    #8 1 year ago
    Quoted from Manimal:

    If the tank has a pinhole leak, then it is a ticking time bomb and should be replaced. If you have ever seen one let go in a shop, you will understand why I say that. Not worth the few bucks you would be saving.

    Yeah, I sat on a product liability jury for a large commercial compressor manufacturer. A manifold (basically, a 3' long L-shaped exhaust pipe) that flew off of a compressor under test. It flew 30 feet through the air and hit a guy in the head.

    #9 1 year ago

    I use mine for minor things. The rare instance when I had it connected to a nail gun, but primarily for inflating tires, and the occasional blower nozzle. It's loud, but it works. The ground prong broke off of mine, have yet to replace the cord as I'm too lazy...I have the 8 gal tank, bought it with sale/coupon for less then $100 IIRC several years back.

    I've heard California Air makes a nice quiet small compressor. I'd probably get one of those if I ever have to replace mine.

    #10 1 year ago

    I have a 21 gallon Central Pneumatic compressor (actually on my second one). If you're going to buy it and use it, make sure you get the 3 year plan. The motor is super loud, runs a lot and doesn't last too long. I flipped my house I am in, so did interior and exterior stuff (both spraying paint and nails/brads of all sizes). The motor will stop working and you have to reset or keep jostling the switch on and off to make it work. Once you know the nuances its not too bad.

    By no means the best compressor, but if you know what your getting, its hard to beat the price.

    #11 1 year ago

    Find an old craftsman online that has an actual piston for pumping pressure instead of those new cheap vibrators. I have been using mine for heavy stuff for over 40 years.

    #12 1 year ago
    Quoted from Manimal:

    If the tank has a pinhole leak, then it is a ticking time bomb and should be replaced. If you have ever seen one let go in a shop, you will understand why I say that. Not worth the few bucks you would be saving.

    It hasn’t been determined that it’s in the tank though. I had a leak on my 35 y/o compressor and turned out it was a fitting on the hose that was leaking slowly. Just saying it’s worth a shot to investigate. But I agree that if it’s the tank, then don’t try to repair. Should have been more clear in my first post.

    EDIT: I guess that’s why I said “if it’s repairable” earlier.

    #13 1 year ago

    They last a couple years but are sure noisy. I’d like to pay a bit more and get one that’s quiet. Any suggestions?

    #14 1 year ago
    Quoted from Electrocute:

    They last a couple years but are sure noisy. I’d like to pay a bit more and get one that’s quiet. Any suggestions?

    Never get a Harbor Freight direct drive. They are loud. Belt drive for quiet operation. Also, avoid "oilless" compressors as they are loud.

    Campbell-Hausfeld FTW. They now sell direct drives that are supposedly quiet. Try before you buy.

    #15 1 year ago
    Quoted from Pinzap:

    It hasn’t been determined that it’s in the tank though. I had a leak on my 35 y/o compressor and turned out it was a fitting on the hose that was leaking slowly. Just saying it’s worth a shot to investigate. But I agree that if it’s the tank, then don’t try to repair. Should have been more clear in my first post.
    EDIT: I guess that’s why I said “if it’s repairable” earlier.

    I just checked it out a little closer. I knew the leak was coming from around the moisture drain valve, so I filled the tank and sprayed some water on it but didn't see any fizzing. Then I sprayed it into the hollow of the threaded part of the valve that turns to open it, and could hear a fizzing noise from inside. So, I'm guessing it just needs to have the valve replaced? The rest of the tank is solid, so apparently there's no real need for a new one with the infrequency that I use it.

    #16 1 year ago

    They are garbage, don't bother. I made the mistake of buying one. The damn thing wouldn't fill the tank. Took it back.

    #17 1 year ago

    Ridiculously loud, but I’ve had mine prob 10 yrs. I put real compressor oil in it, forgot which brand but it was USA made. Which is prob why it still runs. The crap they sell there is water. I have the 21 gal 2.5hp model

    #18 1 year ago

    Hft compressors arent much, cant even get extended warranty. Buy a compressor with oil in motor, oiless compressors are much louder, I hsvent had much luck with craftsman, husky from home depot ok

    #19 1 year ago
    Quoted from atum:

    The motor will stop working and you have to reset or keep jostling the switch on and off to make it work. Once you know the nuances its not too bad.

    This usually happens when you have an undersized circuit or extension cord. Make sure any extension cords you use are of the correct rating and you won't have a problem.

    #20 1 year ago

    HF is great from some thing like bar clamps, spring clamps, c clamps and tools that have very few moving parts, I'm a firm believer in one gets what one pays for, learned the hard way with car parts from rockauto. Nothing like doing the same job twice in rapid succession, it's twice the price and as half as much fun!

    #21 1 year ago

    I've got one. I mostly used it when I had a sandblasting cabinet. It works fine, but it's noisy and produces a LOT of water. If you plan to use it for sandblasting or painting, you'll need to attach a couple of driers inline to sop up all that water so you get clean, dry air. Certainly not something I'd choose if there was any volume or regular use involved.

    #22 1 year ago
    Quoted from Atari_Daze:

    HF is great from some thing like bar clamps, spring clamps, c clamps and tools that have very few moving parts, I'm a firm believer in one gets what one pays for, learned the hard way with car parts from rockauto. Nothing like doing the same job twice in rapid succession, it's twice the price and as half as much fun!

    For just about everything, this rings so true:

    20180331_160555 (resized).jpg
    #23 1 year ago

    Replaced the draincock (heh heh heh!) this afternoon and no more leaking. The motor is still noisy, but I love a $5 fix so much more than a $100 fix.

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