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  1. #1
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    06-19-2010
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    Icon5 Air Compressor Tank

    With a predicted easing in the temperature, I thought I would FINALLY get to wire up my big compressor in the next month or so. Last week I was talking with a mechanic who said I should not pressure up a tank that is nearly 100 years old. His reasoning was that a tank that old was sure to explode. The welder who repaired the tank when I was first given the compressor said I might find another small leak when I pressure it up, but the tank was in good shape.

    To top things off, just a few hours after the first mechanic told me to replace the tank, but keep the compressor, another mechanic said that the most I would need to do is to have a a hydrostatic test done on the tank. A fellow with him (not sure if he was a mechanic or not) said the test would cost more than a new tank.

    Any thoughts or advice? My small compressor is nice for my nailers, but it would be great to have the big one running.
    PP


    "If they don't have woodworking in heaven, I ain't goin'."
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  2. #2
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    Re: Air Compressor Tank

    I'm not one to drastically err on the side of caution so take my advice at your own risk.

    I'd get a small hammer and tap all over the tank, listening/feeling to see if there were any large soft spots that would indicate a rusted spot where the tank was compromised. If you had a welder make a repair and he was able to do so easily and said the tank was in good shape otherwise, I'd let that carry some authority too.

    If it all sounded good then I'd pump it up to 20 lbs and check for leaks, then work it up 10 or 15 lbs at a time until I was at operating pressure. I'm assuming you're running single stage and not going past 120 lbs. If you're 2 stage and headed for 200+ lbs I might want to bolt it to the floor first.

    Be careful and reasonable but I wouldn't throw it out unless I confirmed there really was an integrity problem.
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  3. #3
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    06-21-2010
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    Re: Air Compressor Tank

    I'm with the mechanic on this one Paul. A steel (I assume) tank 100 years old is nothing to play around with. Steel gets brittle over time & old steel like that wasn't the best to begin with.

    Think Titanic. The steel was brittle & uneven, that's why it went down.
    Modern alloys are much safer than the old stuff.

    I would not play around with a pressure vessel that old myself.

    In my journeys thru working, I've seen what even a 50 year old tank looks like after it exploded.
    It was not a pretty sight.
    "Be happy in your work"...Colonel Saito
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  4. #4
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    Re: Air Compressor Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Herb G View Post
    I'm with the mechanic on this one Paul. A steel (I assume) tank 100 years old is nothing to play around with. Steel gets brittle over time & old steel like that wasn't the best to begin with.

    Think Titanic. The steel was brittle & uneven, that's why it went down.
    Modern alloys are much safer than the old stuff.

    I would not play around with a pressure vessel that old myself.

    In my journeys thru working, I've seen what even a 50 year old tank looks like after it exploded.
    It was not a pretty sight.
    Whew, I was hoping a voice of reason would chime in!

    I'd still air the ole' thing up but then a hope and a prayer are pretty much the only things that have kept me ticking on this earth... I'm going to convert my 500 gallon propane tank and put it outside, maybe that's an option so at least you wouldn't be in the blast zone.....
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  5. #5
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    Re: Air Compressor Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by rdj357 View Post
    Whew, I was hoping a voice of reason would chime in!

    I'd still air the ole' thing up but then a hope and a prayer are pretty much the only things that have kept me ticking on this earth... I'm going to convert my 500 gallon propane tank and put it outside, maybe that's an option so at least you wouldn't be in the blast zone.....
    Hope you're going to empty the propane first!! I hadn't thought about airing the tank slowly. Might be worth a try. In the meantime, I'll see what type of used tanks are available close by.
    PP


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  6. #6
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    Re: Air Compressor Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by rdj357 View Post
    I'm not one to drastically err on the side of caution so take my advice at your own risk.

    I'd get a small hammer and tap all over the tank, listening/feeling to see if there were any large soft spots that would indicate a rusted spot where the tank was compromised. If you had a welder make a repair and he was able to do so easily and said the tank was in good shape otherwise, I'd let that carry some authority too.

    If it all sounded good then I'd pump it up to 20 lbs and check for leaks, then work it up 10 or 15 lbs at a time until I was at operating pressure. I'm assuming you're running single stage and not going past 120 lbs. If you're 2 stage and headed for 200+ lbs I might want to bolt it to the floor first.

    Be careful and reasonable but I wouldn't throw it out unless I confirmed there really was an integrity problem.
    I think it's a single stage, but it's a big one. I rarely run higher than 100, but 120 would be my absolutely my max.
    PP


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  7. #7
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    Re: Air Compressor Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Herb G View Post
    I'm with the mechanic on this one Paul. A steel (I assume) tank 100 years old is nothing to play around with. Steel gets brittle over time & old steel like that wasn't the best to begin with.

    Think Titanic. The steel was brittle & uneven, that's why it went down.
    Modern alloys are much safer than the old stuff.

    I would not play around with a pressure vessel that old myself.

    In my journeys thru working, I've seen what even a 50 year old tank looks like after it exploded.
    It was not a pretty sight.
    What confused me was having two mechanics with two different opinions. I know that my portable air tank for inflating tires and such is already past the date listed on the tank. Of course, it's much thinner metal. Might have to go shopping for two tanks. Just not sure where to find one for the big compressor Depending on whether the tank is horizontal or vertical, I guess I could mount the compressor on a metal stand and pipe it up to the replacement tank.
    PP


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  8. #8
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    07-12-2015
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    Re: Air Compressor Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by PastorPaul View Post
    Hope you're going to empty the propane first!! I hadn't thought about airing the tank slowly. Might be worth a try. In the meantime, I'll see what type of used tanks are available close by.
    Yeah, I'm gonna burn it up!! I'm going to switch to a 1000 gallon in ground propane tank and get rid of the ugly 500 gallon sitting in the yard. It won't look so bad over behind the shop with air lines going to it.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    06-21-2010
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    Re: Air Compressor Tank

    That should only take about 8 hours to fill up. By then, your compressor will be toast.
    "Be happy in your work"...Colonel Saito
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  10. #10
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    Re: Air Compressor Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Herb G View Post
    That should only take about 8 hours to fill up. By then, your compressor will be toast.
    Oh now, don't be so pessimistic. I bet I can engineer it so nothing burns up. I run a CNC plasma cutter and I want some extra storage so that while I'm using shop air for other things while I'm cutting there is no danger of dropping the input pressure below 90 psi.
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