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Tool time!
 

This site will not only explain some of the handy tools to help work on the Astro, but gives good general information about tools for working on cars, or anything else.

AIR POWER RULES!!!  The best thing I did was invest in an air compressor, and some air tools.  These things are the handiest gadget you will get in your garage, and you will wonder how you ever got away without one!.  Air tools are more durable, provide more power, and best of all, are cheaper!

Choose a compressor a bit bigger than the largest tool you want to use with it, because chances are, you will eventually buy a tool that uses more air!  Below is a list of some of the common tools, and how much air they take to run properly.  If you size your compressor too small, it will not "cycle" or start and stop, while you are using it.  Instead, the compressor will run continually, and the tool will slow down.

BLOW GUN:  Handy for cleaning up debris and dust
1.0-2.5 SCFM,  40-90PSI

CAULKING ?GREASE GUNS:  Nice for those 14 grease points under the Astro!
1-2 SCFM, 40 PSI

TIRE CHUCK:  If you don't know what this does, you shouldn't own a car!
1.5SCFM,  60PSI or less (depending on tire)

IMPACT WRENCH:  Something to get loose those over-torqued lug nuts!
4-5 SCFM,  70-90PSI
Use maximum pressure when removing, turn back the PSI's if you don't
want maximum torque.

AIR WRENCH: Faster, smaller, and more precise than an impact
3-5 SCFM 40-90 PSI

NAIL GUN: Probably not needed for automotive work, but useful for housework
5-6 SCFM, 70-90 PSI

AIR BRUSH: Useful for making those nice murals
1.0 SCFM, 10-50 PSI

SPRAY GUN:  Useful for painting the whole vehicle fast and smooth
5-7 SCFM 40-60 PSI

DISC SANDER:  Many uses, great for sanding before painting
4-6 SCFM  30-90PSI
Adjust the PSI for how fast you want it to run

DIE GRINDER: Great for exhaust work, and cutting thick metal
4-6 SCFM 70-90 PSI

DRILL:  Just like your electric one, but faster ? more powerful
4-8 SCFM 70-90PSI
use at highest recommend pressure

Take a look at your local hardware store, the supply of air tools is endless!
 

When picking out a compressor, you will notice the most advertised is either the maximum PSI, or the horsepower of the motor.  Disregard the PSI number.  ALL compressors run approximatley 120-150PSI, and there's really no reason to go higher, since most tools don't user higher than 90PSI. You will want to look a little bit deeper though at the CFM (cubic feet per minute) rating, usually on a sticker somewhere on the compressor.  When you buy your tools, they will be rated on how many SCFM they will consume.  The horsepower is a good way to tell what kind of power you will need to hook it up though.  Most compressors below 5HP will use a standard 15amp, 120 volt circuit, while ones bigger than that will probably need a 240 volt, 20 amp circuit, or greater.  Don't try to run ANY other appliance on the same circuit as the air compressor, since it takes the full amount the circuit will deliver.

There are two types of compressors out there.  Most of the ones you see in your hardware store are the oil-free type.  These have the piston directly connected to the motor, and have a teflon-coated cylinder.  Since they require no oil, they are pretty much maintaince free, and are great for cleaning up, or using paint sprayers and such.  For tools, you will need to put a few drops in the air inlet prior to useage.  These compressors are good for the home user, but have a limited life span, and can be quite noisey.
The standard oil type compressors have been around for quite a while, and are the standard for professional use.  They can cost more than the oil-free type, but will last darn near forever if well cared for.   Many of these models are extremely quiet, and make no more noise than an idiling car.  These compressors are usualy belt driven, and have oil resting in a sump in the crankcase.  Some of this oil will get into the air.  This will help out your tools that require oiling, but you will need an oil separator if you plan to paint with one of these style compressors.

The tank size is another thing to take a look at.  Most compressors in the 3-5 HP range will use a 20-30 gallon tank.  While some of the big guys can be as large as 50 or more.  For a Saturday mechanic, you probably won't need any more than a 20 or so.  The tank will keep pressure fluctuations down, and may allow you to use higher SCFM tools than your compressor's rating for short periods of time.

The only question I have tried to figure out is a mathmatical one.  One horsepower is equal to 746 watts.  A 15 amp electrical circuit will deliver approximatley 1800 watts. This is determined by multiplying the voltage, 120 volts, by the current 15 amps.   I have a 3.5 horsepower compressor.  If it is 100% efficent, it will consume 2611watts!  Where in the heck is this thing getting the other 811 watts without blowing the fuse!!!!  Besides motors are never 100% efficent.

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