Air compressor piping
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    Bubber's Avatar
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    Air compressor piping

    It's finally time to move the compressor to the barn. I've got a Kobalt 60 gallon compressor. Mine's a little older, so it's not exactly the same as the one pictured there, but pretty much the same. My piping run will be all along one wall. The total run will be 54 feet with horizontal run and vertical drops. I'll have one drop to power the air jack for my press and another that feeds a hose reel. I plan on having a regulator, filter, water separator at the hose reel.

    I have a couple of questions

    1. I'm planning on running 1/2" black iron pipe. - Is that big enough and is that the right material?
    2. My manual says the outlet is 3/4 npt, but it's 3/8. - Will this be an issue? I'll only be using one tool at a time.


    I don't want to make this thing super complicated, but I don't want to have to worry about limitations.

    Super basic drawing

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Air Pipes.jpg 
Views:	39 
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ID:	386690

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    The local tire place has 3/4" PVC.
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnH123 View Post
    The local tire place has 3/4" PVC.
    That is a disaster waiting to happen. PVC should never be used for compressed air under any circumstances.
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    Air compressor piping

    I like copper, yes it's more expensive but it doesn't rust and the labor savings offset the price IMHO. I think 1/2" is fine for the home shop when your generally only used one thing at a time. It's easy to add a drop later too if needed.


    Use the thicker of the two available grades, M or L...I can't remember now :headscratch:
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubber View Post
    It's finally time to move the compressor to the barn. I've got a Kobalt 60 gallon compressor. Mine's a little older, so it's not exactly the same as the one pictured there, but pretty much the same. My piping run will be all along one wall. The total run will be 54 feet with horizontal run and vertical drops. I'll have one drop to power the air jack for my press and another that feeds a hose reel. I plan on having a regulator, filter, water separator at the hose reel.

    I have a couple of questions

    1. I'm planning on running 1/2" black iron pipe. - Is that big enough and is that the right material?
    2. My manual says the outlet is 3/4 npt, but it's 3/8. - Will this be an issue? I'll only be using one tool at a time.


    I don't want to make this thing super complicated, but I don't want to have to worry about limitations.

    Super basic drawing

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Air Pipes.jpg 
Views:	39 
Size:	389.4 KB 
ID:	386690
    Someone makes a piping system just for what you want to do. For the life of me I can't remember the name. Seen it advertised on the Saturday/Sunday car shows. Think the pipe is made of aluminum. The pipe is blue in color with black plastic connections. It al fits together kind of like the Shark Bite fittings. You are also able to disassemble and reuse them.

    Black pipe will work. Almost every shop I ever worked in was done this way. Eventually it will rust on the inside from the moisture. The outside will also rust unless painted.

    I'd also recommend putting the dryer before any outlet. The bike shop had problems with water getting into a air powered bike lifts. It will corrode the inside just like an air tool. The water also makes a big mess when you hit the dump valve to lower the lift.
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    I'd suggest 3/4" due to the length of run involved and the fact that you're likely to stick a 1/2" hose off the end of your hard line and choke it down even more before ever reaching the tools. I run 1" black pipe main line with 1/2" drops to the quick connectors and drains (one drain per drop) and just use a 1/2" ball valve below a "T" and have the quick connect threaded into the horizontal leg (drop comes down from ceiling, through the "T" and into the drain valve). I think I have 7 or 8 drops in the shop.


    As was said: PVC is not appropriate and downright dangerous! DO NOT USE PVC!


    PEX on the other hand, is actually pretty attractive for air line service and will likely be how I go when I move to my next shop.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Timber View Post
    I'd suggest 3/4" due to the length of run involved and the fact that you're likely to stick a 1/2" hose off the end of your hard line and choke it down even more before ever reaching the tools. I run 1" black pipe main line with 1/2" drops to the quick connectors and drains (one drain per drop) and just use a 1/2" ball valve below a "T" and have the quick connect threaded into the horizontal leg (drop comes down from ceiling, through the "T" and into the drain valve). I think I have 7 or 8 drops in the shop.


    As was said: PVC is not appropriate and downright dangerous! DO NOT USE PVC!


    PEX on the other hand, is actually pretty attractive for air line service and will likely be how I go when I move to my next shop.
    Couldn't have said it better myself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Timber View Post


    PEX on the other hand, is actually pretty attractive for air line service and will likely be how I go when I move to my next shop.
    That's exactly what I did for my previous shop and it's what I'll be using on my new shop. I used 3/4 PEX because of the closet the compressor was in and I avoided about four 90's. My layout was basically what the OP has but with a few more drops. Super easy, no leaks and quick. I ran a Quincy two stage 60 gallon tank with pressure valves at all of the drops so that I could control the air pressure locally and never had an issue.
    Last edited by addy; 06-10-2017 at 11:03 PM.
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    Lots of people claim PEX's downfall is that it doesn't act like a heat sink, but in the 10 years I've been using my steel lines, I've never drawn water off the second drop. I get water and blow-by oil out of the inlet pipe's drain leg (where the compressor is plugged into the system), but not out of the rest of them with the sole exception of the air-blast on my CNC mill. That leg will produce copious amounts of water, so I think it has to do with a dynamic relationship to the volume of air being released.

    With that knowledge, I think the guys who run PEX main lines and then copper or steel drops are on the right track. Use a medium that's capable of extracting the water where the water is going to be released, and use something easy and cheap where it doesn't really matter. You gain the durability of the metal where it's most vulnerable and save a ton of money and time on the rest of the system.

    I burned up 2 electric pipe threaders on my 125' of 1" main line. I spent a good 4 days working up on a ladder to do it too (I'm slow on ladders because of my knees).

    Just make sure you account for the flexibility of PEX by having the middle between drops higher than the "T's" so that no water is captured should it somehow manage to drop out of the vapor while passing through. Droops are bad - remember that one aspect and the rest of it is super easy.
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    I know nothing about it personally but have seen this stuff advertised.

    Rapid Air
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