Workshop Development #42: Fixing a stupid mistake.

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Blog entry by dbhost posted 06-24-2012 10:38 PM 2206 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 41: Workshop library lessons learned. Use more screws and bigger cleats... Part 42 of Workshop Development series Part 43: Or in this case deconstruction to make way... »

So yesterday, while I was changing the oil in my air compressor, I discovered the paint on the tank to my HF 2HP 8 gallon compressor was flaking off, all over, the handles, the brackets, the tank body itself, everywhere, now I don’t really care about cosmetics, this is a Harbor Freight compressor after all, but I do want to prevent rust, so I HAD to do something…

Out came the sanders, knocking the flaking paint off, sanding it all smooth, meant that I had to remove certain components to gain access…

Well during the whole removal process I managed to forget the difference between right and left, and snapped my regulator body.

Now I could have gone back to Harbor Freight, gotten a $10.00 regulator, screwed it all back together and been good… But there are things about this compressor that have ticked me off since day one.

Like the stupid petcock valve that they use for the tank drain. It just doesn’t work well… They used silicone sealant in the threads the seal the stupid thing, and an errant flap of silicone that is now in the tank tended to block the holes in the petcock at certain angles… So I managed to spend a few extra bucks, get some quality pieces, or at least better quality pieces and improve the function of my compressor…

I started by stripping the offending pieces off, sanding off any flaking, loose paint, or potentially loose paint, masking everything else off, priming and painting the tank using Duplicolor Universal Black Gloss. Now that it has cured in the 100 degree heat we have today, it is hard to tell it’s not OEM… I don’t care that i was in a hurry and had runs in the paint. It’s a HF compressor. Anyone will think that’s OEM!

Next I went about taking that dumb petcock valve out, cleaning the silicone out of the tank, and replacing it with a brass street elbow, treated with teflon tape, over to a 3” nipple, again teflon tape at both ends, and I ended up at a heavy duty brass ball valve to act as a dump valve. Sort of a miniature version of what we used in the auto repair world.

Next I went about installing a Husky 200 PSI 1/4” regulator. The body is much smaller than the HF unit, but the build quality seems to be much higher. Ratings on this unit seem much higher too… The only drawback is the orientation for the flow direction puts the gauge on the wrong side of the tank, or it puts the knob pointing down the tank where I can’t access it. I had to settle for pointing the gauge up, and the knob next to the OEM tank pressure switch / guague. It works pretty well there, I can fairly easily read both gauges when I need to. Some more teflon tape, a brass close nipple, a heavy duty ball valve, more teflon tape, and a Milton Quick connector complete the entire assembly.

Once I got it all together, I fired it up, ran it up to full pressure, and then regulated out to 90 PSI, which will go next down my HF Polyurethane hose to a second regulator with a filter / water separator, then on to my Hitachi Poly hose and to the tool in question.

The whole point for me for this weekend was to get some spraying done in the living room. I ended up trying to do the right thing by my compressor and OCD kicked in and here I am with diddly squat done projects wise. My wallet is around $50.00 lighter for a compressor that cost me about $80.00 new including the 2 year warranty, which putting that kind of funds into that sort of compressor seems dumb, but then again, this thing works VERY well now, and hey, if this sucker dies, I am stripping these good parts out of it and keeping them!

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5 comments so far

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 3400 days

#1 posted 06-25-2012 07:05 AM

Some very useful improvements and you will now having spent time stripping and tinkering will have a better working knowledge of this particular machine.

Perhaps the house didn’t get the projects sorted out but at least the compressor got a make over

-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View dbhost's profile


5772 posts in 3652 days

#2 posted 06-25-2012 01:57 PM

Actually, I got to play a little bit with the sprayer. I can’t prove anything scientifically, but it does seem to have slightly better air flow, which I can believe, the OEM ball valve hole was smaller than the diameter of the tube its in. The replacement is a straight through 1/4”. Certainly not huge, not going to give me air flow numbers to brag about, but enough of an improvement that it is noticeable at the spray gun, which is where I wanted it in the first place.

If you go back through and re-read my review of my HF compressor, you may notice that I was particularly unhappy with the shut off / ball valve, and the pitiful petcock. Not sure if I ever mentioned the regulator as it worked well enough, sort of, but it wasn’t very smooth in use. The replacement pieces fixed all my gripes that can be fixed without totally replacing the compressor with a CFM rating of 7 SCFM or better…. The rattling, buzzing noises the compressor made when pressuring up that came from the piece of junk OEM ball valve are LONG gone now. It’s almost pleasant to use now!

I make no bones about it. I want a bigger, higher air flowing compressor. I have it narrowed down to 4. A Husky 30 gallon 110V 2HP, a Central Pnuematic 29 gallon 2HP 110V, a Craftsman 25 gallon Horizontal 1.9 HP 110V, or an Ingersoll Rand 30 gallon Horizontal 2HP 110/220V. My top pick is the IR, but it is at a premium I can’t justify for a home workshop. And believe it or not, the Central Pnuematic has the best reviews. I have seen the Husky in question and it’s not what Home Depot shows on their site, there was a major running production change, the Central Pneumatic out now is a MUCH better made compressor, and that is a sad statement to have to make… The Craftsman as well gets spotty reviews…

Mind you, I am going to eke out a few more projects with this little 8 gallon before I send it out to pasture, or more likely, donate it to the maintenance ministry at my church… It would be a good donation, and would keep me from having to deal with the hassles of selling such a cheap compressor.

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View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4267 posts in 3585 days

#3 posted 06-25-2012 02:12 PM

You sound an awful lot like me…........

The only time my OCD with this type of thing has paid off is when I take a brand new machine, and modify it even beofore I use it. I did that with a moderate quality starter/charger, putting big heavy duty arctic cables on it, a heavy duty very long arctic cord and plug, and a cord keeper. I added a cigarette lighter socket in it for accessories. and replaced the flimsey bent metal handle with oak uprights and a piece of hardwood closet rod. Of course the wood parts were finished with WATCO….(-:

That is so I could put the battery clamps on the handle and be safe even if I cranked up the machine to run accessories. That was about 15 years ago, and it is still working like a champ. On the consumer versions of those things, the electronics are OK, but the hardware stinks, meaning the cables that connect to the battery, the handle, and the cord. You tend to use a starter/charger in the worst of weather, and it needs good hardware, at least in Alaska.

Sears used to do a fairly good job of upgrading basic items with attention to detail to make the item more robust. My gas grill is a Weber, but it came from Sears because they had upgraded a number of features. I put two extra big wheels on it so it will roll through the snow. Put the extra two wheels on before I even fired it up once. And I bought a very high quality cover for it from Weber, that protects the whole thing. That grill is pushing 20 years old and I still love the thing. I have replaced most of the innards, converted it to natural gas, and I intend to keep using it until I die, because I am pretty sure it will outlast me. And parts for it are still available.

Was on call this weekend, taking today off, so you have to suffer from my relaxing mind and wagging tongue… I wind down…....


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View sb194's profile


197 posts in 3439 days

#4 posted 06-25-2012 02:47 PM

Nicely done. I did the same thing for the drain on my vertical Craftsman compressor. Made a world of difference.


View DIYaholic's profile (online now)


19805 posts in 3095 days

#5 posted 06-26-2012 01:19 AM

Nice upgrades!!!
I need to do the same mod to the drain on my Husky 30 gallon vertical (oilless) compressor. Then I WILL empty it more often. Yeah right, we’ll see about that!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

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