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Old 02-09-2011, 08:36 AM   #1
Tom Wesenberg
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Default Proof of the BIG Bang Theory



If you don't drain your air tank, there will be a BIG BANG.

I posted this a few years ago, but there are several new members here. I was in my basement working on the computor when I heard and felt an explosion. I went outside to see what happened, and found my neighbor standing in his driveway looking like he was in a state of shock. He was using his air compressor to blow the grass off his lawn mower when the air tank blew up.

He had a garage full of Harleys and expensive cars and only about 6 feet by 6 feet of open floor space. He had his compressor mounted up on a shelf about 6 feet off the floor. When it blew it knocked the outside lights off the garage wall, blew the shelf away and the compressor landed on the only open space left. He was lucky, but the cars and Harleys were all splattered with rusty water and oil slime.

He gave me what was left of the compressor, and I could see the rusty water line about half way up the tank. I also saw a sheet metal screw sticking inside the tank. Apparently a couple years earlier the tank had sprung a leak through a rust hole so he plugged that hole with a sheet metal screw and kept using the compressor and kept on NEVER draining the water.
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Old 02-09-2011, 09:25 AM   #2
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

Never mind the harleys. He is lucky he was outside when it blew up. I learned air compressor maintenance when I was in the US Air Force. I regularly drain my tank, and change the oil in the compressor. My setup has a really heavy large tank, not a thin one like your photo. Even so, it is in the back room, away from people.
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Old 02-09-2011, 09:58 AM   #3
Peter J
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

I worked at a store where compressed air was used. SOP at the end of each day was to open the petcock at the bottom and drain air/H2O out the bottom and leave them open until next day.
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Old 02-09-2011, 10:29 AM   #4
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

On the positive side, if you never drain the tank and it becomes 100% full of water it is completely safe, like a tank being hydro-tested. Gee, since my tank is outside and subject to freezing maybe I should put some salt in it!

Looking inside a used air tank is like looking in a Model A gas tank. What you see, or don't, is never good. Thanks Tom for posting the picture.
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Old 02-09-2011, 10:35 AM   #5
Malcolm Robertson
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

Tom - Thanks for the heads-up information, I actually purchased my 1st air compresser yesterday and appreciate your advice.
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Old 02-09-2011, 10:59 AM   #6
Kevin in NJ
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

My tank and pump are (were) 1946 vintage.

About a year ago I was in the garage and heard a light hissing sound from the bottom of the tank. It was not the drain.

I let the air out and tore the pump and motor off and scrapped the tank. Oh ya, I put a larger hole in the tank just to be sure it was not used. My city picked it up as they get the extra money doing metal scrap runs.

Lucky for me the modern compressors blow up easy. Bought an almost new tank with blown compressor cheap. Put my nice old last forever 5 HP compressor on top and it has been fine since.

It is not hard to test your tank. I found several sites explaining that you test the tank by filling with water and then use a grease gun to pressurize the tank.

You can also find some interesting stories of blown tanks. In one case the tank blew the side of the garage out and the roof came down on top. Needless to say they deserve your respect.
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Old 02-09-2011, 11:31 AM   #7
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

I installed and Auto-purge on the bottom of my upright Air tank and it works great. However, I still open the cock ever so often to make sure.
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Old 02-09-2011, 12:01 PM   #8
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Wesenberg View Post

I also saw a sheet metal screw sticking inside the tank. Apparently a couple years earlier the tank had sprung a leak through a rust hole so he plugged that hole with a sheet metal screw .
He almost qualified to win the Darwin Award
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Old 02-09-2011, 12:11 PM   #9
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

Looks like something that should be on Mythbusters. But thanks for the reminder to check the drain.
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Old 02-09-2011, 12:13 PM   #10
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

I was surprised at how much water accumulates in the tank on just one day's operation... worse in humid climates !
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:02 PM   #11
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

You know one thing I never figured out.

Before I traded my 92 chevy pickup in I had a $700 train horn on it (don't ask.. I've grown up since then). Was rated 152dB at 5 feet.

I used a oiless Thomas compressor with a PTFE coated piston and a 3 gallon tank. Every time I went to drain water from the tank it was ALWAYS bone dry.

The horn pulled air from around 4 inches from the bottom of the tank as it was a cylinder. The drain was on the bottom of the tank. Only thing I ever assumed was the water was being sucked out of the tank by the horn some how.


I ran it at 145psi but doubt that matters.
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:32 PM   #12
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

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You know one thing I never figured out.

Before I traded my 92 chevy pickup in I had a $700 train horn on it (don't ask.. I've grown up since then). Was rated 152dB at 5 feet.
You don't hear many of them anymore, where as before you heard them all the time...

I was standing outside a concert venue having a smoke when this guy blew his train horn at the crowd. He was stupid enough to come back around a second time and when he did the concert goers threw beer bottles and rocks at his car. That one toot of the horn probably cost him a few bucks for replacement glass and paint touch-up. HAHA.
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Old 02-09-2011, 04:01 PM   #13
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

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You don't hear many of them anymore, where as before you heard them all the time...

I was standing outside a concert venue having a smoke when this guy blew his train horn at the crowd. He was stupid enough to come back around a second time and when he did the concert goers threw beer bottles and rocks at his car. That one toot of the horn probably cost him a few bucks for replacement glass and paint touch-up. HAHA.
Yea, I was never dumb enough to do it just to annoy people.

I did it more when people in central NJ scared me half to death with their driving.


Over time I realized it caused more problems then it fixed and decided it was immature and time to grow up.

It was great when you had someone honk at you for taking too long at a stop sign or stop light though . You could watch them jump and then get a confused look when you replied.
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Old 02-09-2011, 04:35 PM   #14
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

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Originally Posted by Special Coupe Frank View Post
I was surprised at how much water accumulates in the tank on just one day's operation... worse in humid climates !
Here in the Houston TX area it is a lot.....When the humidly is near 100% most of the time.
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Old 02-09-2011, 09:50 PM   #15
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

That's a pretty tinny-looking air tank!

If anyone hasn't seen the Mythbusters Exploding Water Heater episode, go check it out. It's amazing!

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Old 02-10-2011, 09:04 AM   #16
Tom Wesenberg
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

My friend was using his portable air compressor about 15 years ago when he said it exploded. He said the bottom split open and it blew about 20 feet straight up and landed in about the same spot it launched from. Luckily he was some feet away from that spot.
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Old 02-20-2011, 02:35 PM   #17
Franco in Pa
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

I have a 42 year old craftsman 1 hp compressor. It shuts off at 80 psi and has a small pinhole in the bottom of the tank. I want to replace the tank with a portable compressed air tank from harbor freight. The harbor frt tank only has 1 pipe fitting on it. I want to add other fittings to the tank for inlet/outlet and drain but I only have the capability to braze them on this tank. My question is would the brazing be strong enough? Like I said the compressor shuts off at 80 psi. I realize that this may be a jury rigged way of fixing it...comments welcome. Franco in PA
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Old 02-20-2011, 02:44 PM   #18
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

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Originally Posted by Franco in Pa View Post
I have a 42 year old craftsman 1 hp compressor. It shuts off at 80 psi and has a small pinhole in the bottom of the tank. I want to replace the tank with a portable compressed air tank from harbor freight. The harbor frt tank only has 1 pipe fitting on it. I want to add other fittings to the tank for inlet/outlet and drain but I only have the capability to braze them on this tank. My question is would the brazing be strong enough? Like I said the compressor shuts off at 80 psi. I realize that this may be a jury rigged way of fixing it...comments welcome. Franco in PA
I wouldnt do it, I dont think braze would be strong enough. Whatever you do make sure you incorporate a pressure relief(one of those spring loaded valves with the little pull ring) in case the 80 psi shut off doesnt shut off!
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Old 02-20-2011, 04:37 PM   #19
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Exclamation Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

put a "T" in the hole do not try to change the tank.
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Old 02-20-2011, 05:35 PM   #20
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Default Re: Proof of the BIG Bang Theory

I keep my air blead on the bottom just a tinny bit open at all times so it will slowley leek air and in turn blow any watter out the bottom. Iv had this 5 hp compressor for 6 years and i think its about to die when it dose I have afew extra 400 galloen tank 3 phase compressors at work ( i own an architectural mill) and im going to build eather a shed off the grage or when i build a new gradge this year have it put in the atick before the roof goes on. Ill hook up a dryer to it.
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