So how much does it really cost?

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swimjim
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So how much does it really cost?

Sun Jun 28, 2015 8:50 pm

The other day I made a comment something on the order of a compressor is expensive, but it will set you free. Ron responded, "How much does it cost to run one"? For me, the initial investment was the mountain to get over. Compressor's are not cheap. I got lucky. I worked with a guy who had a MaxAir 35 that he didn't use much. He wanted to sell it. It only had 11 hours on it. Some cash and a little horse trading and I bought it for $1700.00. I replace the filter every 10 hours. That's about $40.00 and I change the oil at 25 hours. A couple bucks. No biggie. The big thing for me is not having to go to a dive shop, spending the time and gas to do so. Not to mention dealing with the rules they make up as they go along. One shop who has since gone out of business called my steel tanks evil. Really!! They should have rejoiced as the require a little more attention. Attention = profits! By the way, I did take the PSI course so I know what to look for and how to do it as far as the tanks are concerned.
So, you guys who roll your own so to speak... How much does it cost you to run it and how do you justify it? For me it's a simple equation. It's a big time and hassle saver. It takes me longer to fill tanks with no cascade system. But instead of driving, I can work on things in the shop and drink a few cold ones. Works for me!

Jim

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Ron
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Re: So how much does it really cost?

Fri Jul 03, 2015 11:57 pm

Hey Jim, for the compressor newbies like me, how many fills do you get out of ten hours of run time?


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swimjim
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Re: So how much does it really cost?

Sat Jul 04, 2015 8:06 am

Mine is rated for 3.5 cubic feet per minute. I don't think I'm quite getting that, but it's close. So lets say 3 cubic feet per minute. That works out to 180 cubic feet and hour, so around 1800 cubic feet on a filter. So around 25 72's.
Then there is oil. The "MaxAir" oil is around $90.00 per gallon now. I change mine at 25 hours. That uses around 8 ounces. My compressor has 71 hours on it now, I bought it used and it had 11 hours on it when I bought it. I still have some of my original gallon left.
There is an intake filter that you blow out with compressed air when you change the oil. That covers the "everyday" costs except for power. Mine came with a gas engine on it. I repowered with a single phase 220 motor I had on my "spare parts" belt sander. That way I can run inside when it's VIP time in January. It also greatly decreased the chance for carbon monoxide problems. I just had to fabricate the engine mounts for it. Not as hard as it sounds....
Your final investment is time. While I'm filling tanks, I drain the condenser towers about every five minutes. Over kill maybe. The manual says every 10 to 15 minutes. But that way I believe the air is dry and it's easier on the filter cartridge. While I'm filling I usually work on little projects in the shop. I get a lot of stuff done that way. It sure beats the time spent driving to a dive shop. No projects? Time to read! Trust me, when that compressor is running, people leave you alone! :lol:

Jim

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captain
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Re: So how much does it really cost?

Sat Jul 04, 2015 10:38 am

I have been running the same compressor since 1968. My usual routine was to change oil and filter media every year. That has proven to to work. Repackable filters is the way to go, way cheaper than cartridge types. An oil change is a pint so a gallon would last me 16 years.
I figure I at most I averaged about 100 dives per year, that would equate to 41 hours run time. You can even regenerate 13X sieve in your oven and reuse it.
Initial cost is high but freedom from dive shops is priceless.
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Bryan
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Re: So how much does it really cost?

Sat Jul 04, 2015 11:23 am

captain wrote:Initial cost is high but freedom from dive shops is priceless.


I've told this story before so forgive me if you've heard it....

Week after I moved to Florida I went to two dive shops that were within 5 miles of each other and very close to where I was working.

Both laughed at the double hose thing.....Both laughed at steel 72's....I went to both stores with the intention of finding a new LDS that I could frequent, get air, hydro, vip, go on trips with etc...Since I got the middle finger from both of them I went another direction.

Purchased a W32 ALkin from E-bay with 11 hrs on it for $2250.....8 bank bottles from a guy who was moving and wanted rid of them for $800, built a NITROX stick and opened my own air station....

I change oil and filter every 20 hours and when I was open to the public had my air tested 4 times a year...I initially used the repackable cartridge but switched to Lawrence Factor cartridges as the cost was not terribly high. Keep it wiped down, run it in the shade or at night and so far have spent nothing on parts or repair for it.
Compressor now has 260 hours on it, and is definitely one of the best investments I've ever made.

One of the shops closed and the other has had to branch into offering other services to keep the doors open.
Doing it right should include some common sense, not just blindly following specs and instructions. .Gary D, AWAP on SB

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antique diver
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Re: So how much does it really cost?

Sat Jul 04, 2015 12:05 pm

Initial cost is important to most of us, but shouldn't be considered a total loss, especially if you buy a good previously owned one for a good price like Eben,Jim and Bryan did. They just don't seem to depreciate beyond a certain point like an automobile would. I have bought and sold a few over the years, and it's not uncommon to use one for 10 years and sell it for as much as you paid (not counting the inflation factor).

It's fun and convenient having your own, but you have a responsibility to learn all you can about proper operation and maintenance or you may run into problems with air quality and various dangers presented by high pressure air.

Like Jim, I enjoy puttering around the shop while tanks are filling, so the low volume output of a small compressor is not an inconvenience.

swimjim
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Re: So how much does it really cost?

Sat Jul 04, 2015 10:21 pm

FWIW I seriously considered the W32 Alkin. It is rated for continuous running so you can fill a cascade system with it. As compressors go, it's not terribly expensive. My MaxAir is a good little unit. It is not however rated for continuous running. However, the offer I got, I no coulda refused!

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Ron
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Re: So how much does it really cost?

Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:12 am

Do you guys test you air? How do you know it is oil free enough to use?


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antique diver
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Re: So how much does it really cost?

Sun Jul 05, 2015 9:20 am

slonda828 wrote:Do you guys test you air? How do you know it is oil free enough to use?


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Reputable manufacturers know what compression ratios, cooling, moisture/oil separators, oil and filtration is required to produce breathing quality air. The machines will do so if their operating instructions are followed and no unauthorized modifications have been made to the equipment. Deviations from proper operating parameters or component substitutions and modifications are the usual causes for poor air quality or even high pressure accidents.

Common causes for poor air quality include failure to manually drain condensate (oil & water) at instructed intervals if there is not a timer controlled automatic drain system. This can allow more condensate to reach the chemical filtration, overloading it before the recommended replacement hours. When the filtration gets wet, the oil vapors, odors and tastes that were initially captured by the dessicant or molecular sieve and charcoal are released into the discharged air. The result can be bad smelling/tasting or even dangerous air.

Failure to change the filter media at recommended intervals can have the same result even if you have faithfully drained the condensate in a timely manner.

Not following Manufacturers Instructions on oil, operating temperature ranges, etc. can also affect air quality due to internal carbon buildup and even possible "dieseling" of the lubricant in an overheated compressor.

Most individual operators don't do it, but it wouldn't hurt to have an air sample tested when you first set up a previously used compressor with fresh oil and filter media. That may cost 80 to 100 bucks from a licensed air testing lab.

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captain
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Re: So how much does it really cost?

Sun Jul 05, 2015 11:12 am

Actually when I bought my US Divers Cyclone, made in France by Luchard, it was a rather simple machine but all cast iron and tough as nails, no inter-stage condensate traps and a single filter tower with only activated carbon. I soon added inter-stage traps and a second tower with 13X sieve.
As luck would have it, when I began working for Union Carbide Corp, the plant had the same compressor for filling SCBAs for the fire squad. I suggested they add the inter-stage filters and second tower and they did. A number of years later they decided to go with commercial air cylinders for their air bank and discontinued use of the compressor. I ended up buying it and all the spare parts they had in stock for pennies on the dollar. I probably have the worlds one and only stock of parts for Luchard H6 compressors.
Luchard got bought by Compair of England and the H6 hasn't been made in 30 years but several years ago I came across a compressor made in eastern Europe that looked almost exactly like the Luchard.
Captain

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Bryan
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Re: So how much does it really cost?

Sun Jul 05, 2015 11:50 am

I was paying $75.00 quarterly to have my air analyzed.....BUT there was another company I talked with at DEMA last year that would do SCUBA air for $45.00....For the life of me I can't find their info but I'm sure Google can.
Doing it right should include some common sense, not just blindly following specs and instructions. .Gary D, AWAP on SB

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kgehring
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Re: So how much does it really cost?

Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:44 pm

TRI Air Testing Inc. Austin, TX. airtesting.com
http://www.scubamuseum.com
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antique diver
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Re: So how much does it really cost?

Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:47 pm

Bryan wrote:I was paying $75.00 quarterly to have my air analyzed.....BUT there was another company I talked with at DEMA last year that would do SCUBA air for $45.00....For the life of me I can't find their info but I'm sure Google can.


I think that both TRI and TRACE ANALYTICS in Texas have special rates on quarterly testing for PADI (and maybe other) facilities. I'm not aware of any specials for individual instructors, but you can get usually friendly and helpful answers to most of your air testing questions by calling them direct. I have used both labs extensively for testing fire department air systems quarterly, just switching to TRI at the first of this year for ease of tracking clients records only... absolutely no problems with Trace either. You may be required to purchase or rent the test equipment from either.

TRI: Sandra Dudek 800-880-8378
TRACE ANALYTICS: 800-AIR-1024

Another attractive alternative is available from Lawrence Factor in Florida. It's a simple kit that is really the easiest to use, and ideal for just an occasional single air test. Just a miniature air cylinder that you pass air through for 3 minutes, then send the whole works back to the lab in the same box. August Industries is a distributor in Texas, and can send out single test kits that include the lab fees for $90. Contact Casey at 972-245-7000,
( http://www.augustindustries.com )
or Lawrence Factor direct at 800-338-5493.

Of the three, TRI and TRACE seem to be the most dependable and professional, but require the sampling equipment to be rented or purchased, adding to the cost. Lawrence Factor setup is so simple that there is no extra kit required. Everything needed comes in the single box. You must follow the directions well or you may end up with an invalid sample. If that occurs (or you get an actual failed air test) they will send a second kit out at no charge.

I take so many samples (191 last year) that it is more economical and convenient for records to use TRI, but for single tests there is no big advantage.

You can get a lot of good information on air testing from their websites.

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Ron
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Re: So how much does it really cost?

Sun Jul 05, 2015 9:41 pm

Dang there is a lot of knowledge here.


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