Update on my RIX SA-3E...
- I've had a couple of Summers use of my compressor, filling lots of tanks since my last post. So, I thought I'd update this story with a re-cap of all that happened. I ended up getting a lot more help from Antique Diver. And had a lot of fun learning about compressors.
-The RIX SA-3E Compressor... "SA" stands for "Sweet Air" referring to the RIX being oil-less (There's no crankcase and no cylinder lubricant). "3" stands for 3 cfm fill rate. And, "E" stands for Electric motor. (They come with gas engines, too).
- I bought this RIX from a fellow in St. Louis who got it out of some sort of airgun or paintball gun business. It was equipped with some expensive extras including an automatic shutoff switch (center above with wires) and two automatic moisture bleeders (These were replaced with manual bleeder valves for the sake of simplicity). My friend Antique Diver helped me out a great deal via email, text, phone, and VDH forum advice.
- The RIX compressors are said to need additional moisture separator capability... The two black moisture separating towers are not enough.
- RIX sells a 3-4 inch x 2-3 ft add-on moisture separator and filter for about $3,000... Yikes! Antique Diver found me the 4-tube scuba filter array (See earlier post) with an additional back pressure regulator and fill whip for only $400. So, I should have been ready to go... But NO!
- There was a leak somewhere... Traced it to the 3rd stage moisture separator tower (above left vertical black tube)... Turns out it had a CRACK at the tapered thread inlet! Yikes... That's the high pressure separator. It was not repairable and a replacement separator tower was $380. Well, the add-on filter array from Antique Diver actually has enough moisture separation capability so we just re-plumbed the air to bypass the bad separator.
- With that done, I used the compressor all of the Summer of 2014 and filled 40-50+ tanks.
- But the compressor was filling at about half it's supposed 3 cfm rate... Only running about 1.5 cfm. I just thought it was old and needed an overhaul. I priced out all of the parts from RIX and it added up to pretty darned expensive. But I was going ahead with it and called Antique Diver to let him know. He asked if it was actually leaking anywhere and I said no. Then he asked me about the rpms of the motor and the pulley diameters. Turns out, the thing was set up to run the compressor at about 1/2 the rpms it is supposed to be running! We figured out the correct pulley diameter and tried it out... Darned if it didn't fill tanks at the original 3 cfm rate! Eureka!
- This solved the fill rate problem but the $3.95 hardware store pulley I had bought kept loosening up and drifting off the motor shaft. After the first one flew off, I had to keep a constant watch and turn the compressor off if the pulley started to drift. That got old very fast. I eventually got a better quality pulley for $40-$50 from an electric motor repair shop and that baby stays on REAL good.
- With no need for an overhaul, I started thinking to spend some money on replacing the cracked 3rd stage moisture separator we had bypassed. I called up RIX and asked the lady, "Is there any chance I could get a better price than $380 for that part?" She said, "How about $300?" So I ordered it, installed it, and replumbed everything as you see above.
Filling Tanks with the RIX SA-3E...
- This was my set-up for filling tanks in the Summer of 2015. You can barely see part of my filter array in the upper right. I'm filling Twin 38 tanks on the bench with a single steel 50 waiting in "batter up" position on the floor. To keep from having to turn off the RIX between tank changes, I keep the next one ready and also bleed off some pressure in the whip so that the system doesn't build up to the shutoff pressure during tank changes. I keep a baking timer running so I can record total hours between maintenance. The wineglass is official safety plastic... I eventually tidied up my loose wiring and replaced the bleeder valve petcocks for easier access... But otherwise this thing is running great.
- BTW... I regularly bleed the moisture off the petcocks every 10 minutes. So far, only the two RIX moisture separator tubes have had any moisture in them. The filter array petcocks have yielded no moisture.