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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have a pancake air compressor for construction that is great for air nailers but it just doesn't seem to do a good job for filling up car/ truck / motorcycle tires. I bought a Stanley portable one and it barely worked and then died a premature death and was a certifiable piece of shit. I have limited space as I'm riding a fine line of becoming a hoarder. ( at least in theory I'm trying to not become a hoarder) What is everyone using? Is there a solution that works that doesn't take up half a garage and cost a small fortune or isn't a plastic one that lasts for 2 months?

BTW: Has anyone else noticed that for virtually any product you try to buy online now, there are endless fake product review sites funnel you into Amazon. I think we're at the point where Amazon has become cclose to being a monopoly that it's destroying online and local commerce. How is a legitimate small business supposed to compete with a company that has the resources to throw up thousands of fake review sites and can afford to always be at the top of the search results. Instead of the Democrats and Republicans fighting each other, it might be good if they switched to fighting for the people of the USA. I do understand that we're not all Americans here.
 

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I'm curious to know this. I would think a pancake one would do the job... but, either yours just really suck ass or both are horrible quality.

This is a good question, I'm on the problem of not having a garage period, so can't really be storing anything. And as nice as my bro is to allow me to winter park my bike at his garage... his wifey might have an issue with me converting it to a storage facility/mech bay.

Chester, your pancake for air nailer, what brand is it? Do you have specs on it? I have one at my office and can compare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Porter Cable. First 1 lasted 10 years and I used it to death. In fact, the only reason I had to replace it was that the air release screw on the bottom rusted out. Now on my 2nd one. They will fill a tire but it takes forever. They really don't run automotive air tools either.
 

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It's been years, but I had a simple 20ga Craftsman rolling air compressor that did just fine for tires and small pneumatic tools in the garage. (grinders, buffer, shit like that.)

Was pretty affordable too. I put it away in the corner of my garage and ran two hose reels from the ceiling joist beams.
 

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My 8-gallon Campbell Hausfeld is compact and portable, yet big enough for most DIYers. I use it for tires, brad nailer, rustproofing and some air tools. But what I like most is the quiet operation. Whereas most air compressors have a deafening roar, this thing literally hums.

Where it falls short is providing high airflow for extended periods. Like inflating 4 tires in a row. It also gets breathless after 15-20 seconds of air tool usage, although since I discovered the Milwaukee M12 line of cordless power tools I rarely waste time with air tools anymore.
 

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I have a pancake air compressor for construction that is great for air nailers but it just doesn't seem to do a good job for filling up car/ truck / motorcycle tires.
I can't imagine why it doesn't do a good job filling tires. Air nailers require about 75 psi and most of those small compressors will shut off around 110 psi and kick back on around 70 psi (adjustable with a screw).
Tires run at lower psi than air tools, so maybe the issue is the hose or chuck? I went through a lot of frustrating chucks and finally bit the bullet and got the motion pro air chuck and it rocks.
I use a small compressor from Harbor Freight that is a discontinued "pancake style" portable but it has the 2 tiny cylinders, like maybe 5 gallons. I reroofed my house with it (air nailer) and have used it for all my vehicle and trailer tires for 15 years. It just won't die. I change my own tires (No Mar) and that little POS compressor will blast enough air to seat the beads every time - which is a much more demanding task that just topping off the air pressure in a tire. In fact I think it would seat the beads even with the compressor turned off, because it would have 110 psi stored in it's little air tanks, and the blast of air being released only needs to keep going for a few seconds.
If you still have the old Porter Cable with rusted drain screw, I would drill it out to next size thread and helicoil it.
Or just get a bigger air storage tank, which can even be filled up at a gas station.
 

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I bought this one a few years ago, and I’m really happy with it...


It’s not the cheapest thing around, but it’s reliable, pretty quiet, and has enough output to run my plasma cutter, so it will surely air up a truck tire. It’s a little unwieldy, so I have it sitting on a furniture dolly because I tend to move it around...

163845
 

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I can't imagine why it doesn't do a good job filling tires. Air nailers require about 75 psi and most of those small compressors will shut off around 110 psi and kick back on around 70 psi (adjustable with a screw).
Tires run at lower psi than air tools, so maybe the issue is the hose or chuck? I went through a lot of frustrating chucks and finally bit the bullet and got the motion pro air chuck and it rocks.
I use a small compressor from Harbor Freight that is a discontinued "pancake style" portable but it has the 2 tiny cylinders, like maybe 5 gallons. I reroofed my house with it (air nailer) and have used it for all my vehicle and trailer tires for 15 years. It just won't die. I change my own tires (No Mar) and that little POS compressor will blast enough air to seat the beads every time - which is a much more demanding task that just topping off the air pressure in a tire. In fact I think it would seat the beads even with the compressor turned off, because it would have 110 psi stored in it's little air tanks, and the blast of air being released only needs to keep going for a few seconds.
If you still have the old Porter Cable with rusted drain screw, I would drill it out to next size thread and helicoil it.
Or just get a bigger air storage tank, which can even be filled up at a gas station.
PSI isn't the important number with air compressors, it's the CFM - cubic feet per minute. Pancake compressors usually have (small) diaphragm type pumps which don't provide much CFM (don67's example only pushes 2.4 CFM). Another important thing is your hose. Those POS plastic coil hoses are something like 3/16" and restrict airflow terribly, especially inflating tires and using air tools.

I'm on the other end of the spectrum. I used to race and used lots of air tools, paint guns and had a small sandblaster. My compressor has a 13CFM @ 100 PSI pump on a 60 gal. vertical tank running on 240v. Running the sandblaster, it could only marginally keep up if I had the blaster throttled down under 50%. I found 1/4" hoses were the absolute minimum I could run my air tools with effectively.

I prefer a vertical tank as it takes less floor space. Dual voltage motors can be a convenience but will draw more current when run on 120v. Portable can be handy, mine is mounted to the floor of my garage and I have enough hose to get out to the street (not an option if you rent). Anything smaller than a 15 gal. tank won't have much reserve power.

Campbell Hausfeld had a reputation for a while of having poor quality pumps. I believe they are better now. Ingersol always had better quality pumps and were more expensive because of that. I have never tried a Harbor Freight compressor as I wouldn't trust the shit Chinese cast iron, though Campbell and Ingersol may be using Chinese cast iron pumps these days. Who knows.

I'm sure there are other brands but I just can't think of them right now and am too lazy to look them up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I can't imagine why it doesn't do a good job filling tires. Air nailers require about 75 psi and most of those small compressors will shut off around 110 psi and kick back on around 70 psi (adjustable with a screw).
Tires run at lower psi than air tools, so maybe the issue is the hose or chuck? I went through a lot of frustrating chucks and finally bit the bullet and got the motion pro air chuck and it rocks.
I'm not sure either. Everything you said is correct but it seems like it takes 15 minutes to raise the pressure by 10 pounds. I do like the idea of buying the Motion Pro chuck. Makes sense.
 

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I've have the big monster compressors in the shop at the farm and love never hearing it come on as it is outside but its not practical for most homes. I have an old (almost 20 years old) craftsman 33 gallon or 30 and it's still running strong in the garage. My service truck had a tank-less on demand system that was amazing! I had a Viair in my jeep with a tiny 5 gallon tank and it filled my 37s without issue and ran air tools with light use. There are some amazing compact vehicle mounted systems out there now. They come in handy on the road or camping as my older boned don't fair well sleeping without an air mattress.
 

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I do like the idea of buying the Motion Pro chuck.
Yeah they seem overpriced - BUT they seem to form a leakproof connection quickly rather than fumble around while the valve stem hisses at you. The end of the motion pro chuck swivels, resulting in a lot of different angles, but remains where you put it (not flopping around).

I am running standard size 3/8-inch ID hose, and it doesn't matter if I connect the short or long hose to my little piece of garbage compressor - it will inflate a tire quickly. Usually the motor doesn't even kick on if the little 4 gallon capacity air tank is full.

I had an ancient 200 gallon monster compressor from when I used to spray paint cars, but sold it because the small ones were all I needed for the short bursts of air.
You may consider just an air tank that you can fill with whatever you have laying around - as long as it gets up to around 100 PSI you can move the tank wherever you need it and the air should blast out until it gets low.
I am considering one for my lower property that has trailers but no electricity (on acreage)
 

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PSI isn't the important number with air compressors, it's the CFM - cubic feet per minute. Pancake compressors usually have (small) diaphragm type pumps which don't provide much CFM (don67's example only pushes 2.4 CFM). Another important thing is your hose. Those POS plastic coil hoses are something like 3/16" and restrict airflow terribly, especially inflating tires and using air tools.
Yes 2.4 CFM is weak for sustained heavy-duty applications. But CFM isn't everything when the primary objective is inflating tires. In this case an 8-gallon tank (vs. 2 or 3) makes tire inflation a breeze, while the freakishly quiet operation is a godsend for those who suffer from tinnitus and/or have neighbours to think about. It all depends on one's priorities.

As for those crappy new plastic hoses, yeah, I'll keep my old one from 1991 :)
 

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But CFM isn't everything when the primary objective is inflating tires.
Right. I let my crappy 4 gallon portable compressor work up to "shut off" around 110 PSI, however long that takes. Then I unplug it, and take it across my acreage to fill multiple trailer tires before going to the dump. The motor isn't even running.
 

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Agree with what has already been said a couple of times - your little pancake compressor should be fine, get a nice 3/8" hose & a good inflator for the end of it. I got one of the ones below for Christmas a few years ago and I can say from experience that filling a tire with it takes about 20x longer than using a 'good' one.

Pistol Grip Tire Inflator with Dial Gauge - this is a piece of crap that makes filling tires take way too long. Internally the air must be going through a pin-hole someplace. I keep it for filling small things (like bicycle tires, or stroller tires) because it makes it easy to not 'over inflate them' because of how slowly it fills.
163858


I have two similar to this that work reasonably well for regular car or motorcycle sized tires.
163859
 

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Everyone craps on harbor freight but they are starting to introduce some quality product lines... E.g. Icon tools, earthquake, etc. I picked the below compressor up about a year ago and am thoroughly satisfied with it.

I'll commiserate with you on the pancake compressor... I've got 20 tires in my garage right now (on vehicles)... I had a 3gallon compressor before and it'd have to refill about every 3 or 4 tires. Mine was oiled so it filled fairly fast, but if you have an oil free 3 gallon one... If memory serves me right it took about twice as long to fill up as mine did. Any who; i don't blame you for wanting something more substantial!

I'd also plug milton chucks. i tried going a cheaper route and they didn't last but a few months until they started to leak. My Milton has been rock solid for about 2.5 years now.

 
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I've have the big monster compressors in the shop at the farm and love never hearing it come on as it is outside but its not practical for most homes. I have an old (almost 20 years old) craftsman 33 gallon or 30 and it's still running strong in the garage. My service truck had a tank-less on demand system that was amazing! I had a Viair in my jeep with a tiny 5 gallon tank and it filled my 37s without issue and ran air tools with light use. There are some amazing compact vehicle mounted systems out there now. They come in handy on the road or camping as my older boned don't fair well sleeping on rv mattress short queen without an air mattress.
I have faced this my compressot. I am running standard size 3/8-inch ID hose, and it doesn't matter if I connect the short or long hose to my little piece of garbage compressor.
 
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