Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Big Compressors

I recently bought a Airbrush Depot TC-196 (169$, and an Iwata Hammerhead Shark compressor (1056$

The TC is an oil-less dual piston compressor with a 1gallon tank and weighs 16lbs.

The Shark is a oil-bath compressor with a 1.5gallon tank and weighs in at a whopping ~50lbs.

I decided I wanted something quiet, and the tcp global website says the TC was quiet, only 59db! it says.  The thing is LOUD, but its not really the volume that bothers me, it's the quality of the sound, which is very grating, and pulsing and grinding.  The machine also lets off a loud bursting hiss when it's finished compressing to release the air from the piston chambers.

It's fairly light, but really ugly.  The machine comes with PTFE tape, and is very airtight (maintained pressure over a week).  The compressor ships with the regulator separate, so it does take a tiny amount of assembly, but no big deal, but there are no directions.

The compressor easily reaches 60 psi in a reasonable amount of time (switch position 1) but if you set it to the 80psi switch, it grinds for a long time, and watching the regulator, the needle crawls up painfully slow.

I think the Iwata powerjet pro (379$) would be a much better choice for this size range.  I did receive one in error and returned it, but I did listen to it running, and it sounds more like a loud sewing machine than anything else, and doesn't produce that loud hiss at the end of the cycle. (they sent me the powerjet instead of the custom micron I had ordered).

When I first saw the hammerhead box, I was shocked at the size.  I was also unable to lift it from the box, even straining to my maximum strength.  After getting help removing it from the box, the bag it was in was covered in oil and the bottom of the box had a huge oil soaked mark in it.  The wheels had to be attached, and there is some small assembly required.  Once the wheels were on, I could move it on my own.

The directions were confusing and unclear, and I had to guess what I was doing.  I also had to pour a large bottle of oil into the compressor, and do some initial checks.  I found one of the factory installed joints was leaking air so I had to disassemble it and wrap the joints in teflon tape.

As for sound, although it is called a silent compressor (as opposed to quiet), it is by no means silent.  I read many reviews that compared it to a fridge cycling on and off.  It does have that quality of sound, but it is pretty loud still.  It sounds like a 20 year old dying fridge.  The tank says it is 48db, but I feel like the sound is not of a disturbing quality, so it's not as bad.

When filling, it runs a very short amount of time and shuts off quietly, and the tank lasts a pretty long time before it needs to fill again.

One concern I have is the smell of the air.  Although both have traps on them, the TC has a strange metallic smell.  The Hammerhead has a strange sweet smell.  I am not sure I am comfortable using the air from either of these on my face.

I am still unsure on how I feel about these two compressors.  I think I will keep the hammerhead, as the sound is acceptable to me, and it's too heavy to move!  I may sell off the TC and pick up a powerjet in it's place though.

I have video of all of the compressors mentioned here running, but I don't have a youtube account so I will post the videos when I figure that part out :)

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