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a successful learner…… loves learning…… seeks challenges…… values effort…… persists in the face of obstacles

All content copyright Willem Winch or otherwise credited.

…one does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore…

Tires Part 2: …a backup for your air compressor

…more 4x4 Tech Articles here:

I highly recommend such a backup when going off roading in the bush and for longer trips; it is a very small investment for a very good insurance and might “save the day” one day.

The better ones cost approx. AU$ 30, available at Kmart, BigW, evil bay etc. The cheaper ones you can buy for approx. AU$ 15, but the AU$ 15 saved are not worth it as they wear out very fast  - the difference wrt quality between a pump for AU$ 15 and a pump for AU$ 30 can be significant.

If you have air bags / air springs in the rear an electric air compressor is anyway not really suitable to adjust the pressure as the bag volume for those springs is just to small, hence this would be another reason to get a foot air pump. They are also available in a double cylinder design; such a design will likely speed up inflation significantly.

With all the reviews, comparos and discussions on forums and in magazines about air compressors for 4W-driving, I never came across comments that recommended such simple manual tools for inflating a tire - strange, isn’t it?

Considering that it takes me approx. 8 minutes (easy going) for each tire to get the pressure back from 23 psi to 35 psi a standard electrical air compressor with 72 L/min isn’t even significant faster! (Note that the capacity for electrical air compressors is always stated in Norm Liters or Norm Cubic Meter.)

My cheap ALDI air compressor - I bought it for less than AU$ 100 - died one day. It blew a few fuses - at the end I used a fuse with a 10 amp higher capacity - before it finally refused to work totally…so should have I invested in a more expensive (= better?) brand?

First I thought to chuck it in the bin intending to spend no time to find out whether it could be repaired, but then I had a few minutes for a closer look.

The "autopsy" disclosed that condensed water caused a slight corrosion in the cylinder (while the cooling fin housing outside is aluminium, the inside is a steel cylinder sleeve, I guess that is the case for many other compressors) and the higher resistance caused the motor to work harder and to blow the fuses .... and due to the stronger fuse I used at the end the thermo switch died.

(Note: not every air compressor has a thermo switch - e.g. the older ALDI compressors don’t have it!)

I googled the thermo switch and ordered it for approx. AU$ 6 (for 2 items - so I have a spare - incl. shipping) via evil bay. After polishing the cylinder a little bit and replacing the thermo switch the compressor is now as good as new.

Part 2

…does an expensive air compressors represents really more value?

…and if you are in doubt how reliable your cheap air compressor is, here I show you an inexpensive backup for the piece of mind…


…you can leave a comment on the message board for this article; any comment is accepted as long as content and language is appropriate and civilized… more about site rules here...

To prevent such mishap in the future I spray WD40 or INOX into the suction pipe and let it run for 20 sec after every usage and after it has cooled down.

Condensation can't be avoided for such small mobile air compressors, they get hot when in use, and as there is always some moisture in the air it will condense when the compressor is cooling down, but running the compressor at normal temperatures for approx. 20 sec plus the WD40 or INOX will reduce condensation and will lubricate the cylinder.

While I had it apart, I reinforced a little bit cables and the connections inside - there you can recognize that it is a “cheapo” as some connections seem to be not really sound to withstand vibrations, but it was easy to reinforce the connections.

Actually, there are not many other parts that can fail, a little bit TLC and some oil and I assume also my “cheapo” air compressor will last the next years to come.

Now, every air compressor will fail one day, no matter how much they cost, and if this is in the middle of the bush when needed to inflate a flat tire, it could develop into a nasty scenario.

To address this risk there is a simple, inexpensive and reliable backup:

I use a foot air pump, ideal for adjusting the pressure in the air springs, but also absolutely suitable to inflate a chunky 4WD LT tire from 0 psi to 40 psi.

I did some comprehensive testing with my Pirellis LT 265/75-R16 to verify this:

it takes approx. 1,400 strokes and 25 minutes to get it from 0 psi to 40 psi; to 29 psi - enough to get me out of the bush - it takes only 15 minutes and it is even not hard work.

The advantage of those foot air pumps over hand air pumps is that I have my hands free, so I’m able to have some “refreshments” when inflating the tire. Such a pump doesn’t occupy much space, they are easy to operate and they don’t cost an arm and a leg.

p. issued: 19-01-2013   -   last update: 23-02-2013
4x4 Chautauqua
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