It works great and won't bug anyone upstairs

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Review by nerdkraft posted 01-22-2014 08:54 AM 4199 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
It works great and won't bug anyone upstairs No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

TL;DR – would recommend. Quiet but not silent. Works for driving 18GA brads and blowing off parts of the shop. Great value.

I live in San Francisco in an 1897 built victorian. While I’m fortunate enough to have some shop space what is officially a ‘storage’ area, the building has little insulation and all the bones are huge timbers that transmit sound and vibration like crazy. As such, my first (mis)adventure in getting a PC pancake compressor quickly led to complaints of the whole place shaking and me selling it to a friend.

That’s why I’ve been eying the California Air Tools 1610A. After watching a couple of videos on youtube it seemed quiet but then I saw MrRon's Review and decided to order.

Is it quiet? It is certainly quiet enough to comfortably use indoors without hearing protection! It has a little thump thump noise where you certainly will notice it but it doesn’t bother me at all. You could talk over it and I think it’s quieter than a shop-vac. Compared to that PC pancake though, it’s an incredible difference.

Light Weight?
Sort of. It’s light enough where I can move it around but I prefer not to move it.

Does it work? 18 GA brad nailer works great. I can get about a dozen nails in before it starts to cycle for 10 seconds or so. I’ve also used it with a blower to clean out the guts of my lathe. It worked fine for that but cycling happened pretty quickly since I was essentially just letting the air out. Per the CAT website, it’s enough for brad nailers, the occasional framing nail but not for HVLP applications or for air mechanic’s tools. At some point, I’d love to get a big bad giant fridge-sized compressor but until then, this one is awesome.

If you’re looking for a quiet compressor to use indoors, I’d recommend it. 2 weeks and about a hundred brads later, I am quite happy. If I had to do it all over again, I’d totally buy again.

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57 posts in 3791 days

10 comments so far

View jonah's profile


2121 posts in 4072 days

#1 posted 01-22-2014 12:24 PM

Thanks for the review. I’ve been eyeing that compressor for some time, waiting for the combination of funds and need to be right.

View PurpLev's profile


8574 posts in 4421 days

#2 posted 01-22-2014 02:32 PM

Thanks for the review. the ‘quiet’ part of it can be valuable to many.

with that said – one of the culprits of air compressors and what differentiate a good vs not so good compressor is their longevity – motor standing up to long term use as well as plumbing and tank keeping air at correct pressure. I would be interested to hear how this one is holding up in a year or so of constant (or not constant) use.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Cory's profile


760 posts in 4192 days

#3 posted 01-22-2014 03:18 PM

Thanks for the review. I’ve got the Rolair JC-10, which is very similar to this compressor. It shares the same qualities: quiet and light. I’ve had it for a few months and it performs flawlessly for light duty tasks like you described.

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View MrRon's profile


5913 posts in 4016 days

#4 posted 01-22-2014 04:38 PM

I’ve had mine for 2 weeks now and the pressure is still holding after a week with the unit turned off. I think you can shoot more than a dozen brads on the pressure in the tank alone. I tried shooting 23 ga pins starting with a full tank with the power off and got over 100 pins shot before the pressure dropped enough to not fully set the pins flush. I haven’t tried it with the brad nailer, but I’m pretty sure I could get more than a dozen shots on tank capacity alone.

View nerdkraft's profile


57 posts in 3791 days

#5 posted 01-22-2014 04:44 PM

Thanks again for the original review Ron. I am glad you pushed me over the finish line to get this little guy because it is awesome.

As for long lasting, afaik oil less compressors last a couple of years in heavy use before the compressors plastics die out. This one is rated for 2000 hours lifetime which is over 10 years of using it for a couple of hours per week like me.

Ps – instructions say to drain the air after using. Is it really ok to leave it under pressure?

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3065 days

#6 posted 01-22-2014 04:55 PM

Just an FYI for all LJs: check out the Rolair JC10 along with this model. The JC10 is 2.5-gal. vs. 1.6-ga. (not really that significant), both are 1-h.p., the JC10 is about $40 more, but the JC10 is made in America and this one is imported from China. I bought the JC10 a couple of months ago and love the quiet, but like this model it runs a lot more than a large unit. I’m concerned about the life of the unit, but no compressor I’ve had lasted over 10-yrs without some kind of problem—lately the problem is replacing reed valves which are no longer available for my 1990s unit. Just something to think about before anyone pulls the trigger.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

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83 posts in 2388 days

#7 posted 01-22-2014 05:29 PM

Thank you for the review I have been thinking about this iltra qiite model for a couple of weeks now only because of the lower sound level.


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5849 posts in 4358 days

#8 posted 01-22-2014 06:49 PM

I had a very nice three motor Dental compressor ( alsmot new given to me by a dentist friend)and it made no more noise that a household refrigerator.Unforunately my eldest son Alistair same name as me took a liking to it and subsequently I did what I always do in these circumstances I gave it to him for his shop no charge .All of his tools I think came from me and they were mainly all good newish tools still he’s my son .I have three sons and supply both of then (ne is not interested in tools) so just feeding the two.LOL I love them all and enjoy spoiling them a bit.Anyway I am back to my old compressor belt type which is not too noisy.

I had a friend build in a compressor in a loft space in his shop which turned out to be a massive mistake as it suddenly became much more noisy when raised up to ceiling level Have fun Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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5913 posts in 4016 days

#9 posted 01-28-2014 08:10 PM

HillBillyShooter, If you go to the Rolair website, they state that their products are made in the U.S.A. EXCEPT for the JC-10 model. The pump is identical to the CAT. I too thought it was made in the U.S., but after learning it was made in China, went with the CAT compressor because of the lower price and the aluminum tank.

View MrRon's profile


5913 posts in 4016 days

#10 posted 01-26-2017 08:32 PM

Very few things these days give 100% satisfaction. The CAT is right up there in close to 100% satisfaction.

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