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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

Air Pipes.jpg
 

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The local tire place has 3/4" PVC.:thumbup1gif:
 
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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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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

View attachment 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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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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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.
 

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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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QUOTE - "I'm planning on running 1/2" black iron pipe. - Is that big enough and is that the right material?"
"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."



From the looks of the compressor, you should be able to change out the threaded pipe bushing at the exit on the tank, in order to achieve the 3/4" line that you are wanting.

Has anyone ever came up with some sort of heat exchanger coming off of the tank for the air line? Maybe coil up copper line and place it in a water bath or ice? Just something to condense the water and drain it off before using air for plasma cutting or painting? It was just a thought and didn't know if there is a cheap way of doing it or not.
 
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I'd use 3/4" copper for the main run, and 1/2" for the drops. If you're concerned about moisture in the line, especially in high humidity climates, branch off the top of the main run, and put a 1/4" or 1/8" drain valve at the bottom of each drop, and at the end of the main run. As someone else said a dryer can't hurt either.

I'm using 1/2" everywhere and I quickly run low on air that my 20-gallon Sears compressor kicks in.
The local tire place has 3/4" PVC.:thumbup1gif:
That is a disaster waiting to happen. PVC should never be used for compressed air under any circumstances.
That tire place is stupid. What '56 said about PVC being Bad Juju is good advice. Humor yourself and take a 12" length of PVC and throw it as hard as you can against a concrete wall and see what happens. Engage 'safety squints' before doing so!

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:
Type M is the thinnest wall and is more than adequate for any shop air compressor, Type L is medium thickness and Type K is the thickest. www.mcmaster.com has ratings for copper tubing.

I use copper as it's easy to work with (especially by yourself), light in weight, small in size compared to steel pipe, easy to modify, fittings and tube are readily available, and no blasted NPT threads to deal with. If you're concerned about damage to the copper, use Type L in those places and Type M where it's out of the way. You could always fabricate a guard from angle iron or something else for rough service areas.

PEX may be just fine; but I work by myself and there is no way in hell I'm going to wrestle with a coil of that stuff! :banghead: Been there, done that with polyethylene irrigation tubing, and 'Smurf Tube' (flexible ENT (Electrical Nonmetallic Tubing)). :banghead:
 

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I used the 1/2" rapidair maxline system. Maxline Air Compressor Piping | Rapidair Piping | Engineered Specialties I like it. It isn't cheap but has several advantages. It is designed specifically for air systems, it is reasonably easy to install and looks good when complete, the air outlets really rock and it doesn't rust. Rusting is the negative when steel pipe is used.

I used 1/2" because I set my system up with a loop which supplies air in both directions. So, essentially, you have a 1" supply which is more that I can ever use. I feed the loop with an 8' length of 3/4" maxline from the air compressor outlet to the regulator. After the regulator, I feed the 1/2" maxline with a tee. I also installed a tee where I will feed a 1/2" line that will go to the upstairs of my garage.

The key to controlling moisture in an air system is cool the air before the moisture filter. The moisture filter must be placed down stream of the air compressor outlet so that the air can cool prior to getting to the filter. If not, you will get moisture out of you air outlets.

I have my air compressor set up with an after cooler that I built from 3/4" L copper which cools the air to approx. 120° before it enters the tank. Then with the 8' of 3/4" maxline prior to the moisture filter, I get absolutely no moisture at my outlets. In fact, I get minimal amounts of moisture to the moisture filter. I also have a timed automatic moisture drain on my air compressor tank which systematically automatically drains the tank while it is running.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the replies and advice! So copper sounds better to me now. It won't be that much more for my install:

  • 3/4" Black Iron Pipe - $1.68/ft
  • 3/4" Copper Pipe M - $1.96/ft
  • 3/4" Copper Pipe L - $2.50/ft
I ordered the 3/4" outlet for the compressor and I'll get a 3/4" hose from McMaster to go between the compressor and copper. I'll do 3/4" for the main and 1/2" for the drops. The drops will have drain valves.

Should I regulate the air going into the pipe, or run it full pressure? I plan on regulators at the drops anyway. The drop for the air over pneumatic jack at the press will get an oiler, should it also have a filter and water separator? The hose reel drop will have a regulator, filter and water separator.

Thanks again for the help so far!
 

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That is a disaster waiting to happen. PVC should never be used for compressed air under any circumstances.
Thats what I thought, But its still working after several years. I too don't think it's a great idea.
 
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PVC used as compressed air piping is like a spring just waiting to be unleashed. When PVC goes, it goes immediately and in large shards. Very dangerous. There's a lot of energy stored up in compressed air.
 

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I forgot to add that my copper setup was 3/4" with 1/2" tees to the quick connects and ball valves Soldering is very easy if you just read the instructions on the package when you pick up a kit.

I've seen PVC used because it's cheap and easy to work with. It fails in a bad way, and you definitely don't want it exposed to UV light or sunlight daily. The utility I work for uses PVC conduit underground, but all above ground turn ups are rigid galvanized due to mechanical strength and exposure requirements.
 

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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.

I did the 1" black pipe like Jim with 1/2" drops and drains below the air connectors. The oil in the air will attack pvc over time and make it brittle, then it will fail. I would probably go copper next time but only because I cannot tell you how many fittings I returned as I built it because about 30% of the fittings had porosity and would leak. it added to the time and frustration, but 10 years later it does not leak down. I forget why are used black pipe but I think it was because galvanized the oil in the air eats up the galvanization and the flakes will clog things up or be hard on tools
 

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Thanks for the replies and advice! So copper sounds better to me now. It won't be that much more for my install:

  • 3/4" Black Iron Pipe - $1.68/ft
  • 3/4" Copper Pipe M - $1.96/ft
  • 3/4" Copper Pipe L - $2.50/ft
I ordered the 3/4" outlet for the compressor and I'll get a 3/4" hose from McMaster to go between the compressor and copper. I'll do 3/4" for the main and 1/2" for the drops. The drops will have drain valves.

Should I regulate the air going into the pipe, or run it full pressure? I plan on regulators at the drops anyway. The drop for the air over pneumatic jack at the press will get an oiler, should it also have a filter and water separator? The hose reel drop will have a regulator, filter and water separator.

Thanks again for the help so far!
I run my system at full pressure out of the compressor (~130 PSI), and step it down to ~100 PSI for each circuit. I have three circuits (basement shop, yard, and garage). If I need to step it down further at the drop I made a portable regulator that I can move around as required. It's nothing more than an off the shelf regulator with male and female quick connect fittings.

Thats what I thought, But its still working after several years. I too don't think it's a great idea.
Even idiots get lucky, and hopefully the tire shop inDUHviduals continue being lucky.
 
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