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A bucket of worms

Got a call from a chap who had a electrical problem with a 15 year old screw compressor. Apparently it had a small wiring problem that shouldn't take much sorting out.

This type of call normally translates into a machine which everyone has had a mess around with and there will be wires hanging everywhere, with bits hanging off here and there.

Of course no one tells you this or will admit to it either. The best way to sort this type of thing is not to mess about unless you really do know what you are doing. People who are skilled enough to tackle this type of job are always neat and tidy workers and work very methodically - this is the only way to tackle electrical problems.

This one was so bad we had to have it in the workshops and spend 12hrs labour on it - basically we had to rewire it to sort things. But at least it is working again now, but if it had been left alone in the beginning an hour or two would probably have had it sorted

This is the second electrical job this month where people have made it much worse than it was to start with.

A much easier electrical job

Monday morning 0800 precisely and we had a call from one of our customers to say his machine wouldn't start. Luckily he is only 15 miles away and the easiest way to sort this type of job is to go straight away.

When we arrive all looks ok, but true enough the machine wont start. We carry out all the normal checks but all is ok. At that I give the printed circuit board a wiggle and guess what, all is ok.  On this model the board plugs into a holder and in this case had manage to work loose. The machine had recently been moved from one site to another and this had probably dislodged it a little.

Once reseated all  appears to be ok - a nice easy job for once.

Lots of machines sold

We always seem to get our fair share of machine sales, but this last week has been better than ever. In one day alone we sold 4 machines - long may it last.

We seem to specialise in the small to medium sized company, normally run by the owner himself.

I am known for my straight talking and no nonsense advice and many people appreciate this in a world full of people who seem to know so little. I enjoy helping people get their problems sorted and I suppose this helps a bit.

So if you want to talk to a compressor engineer with a lifetimes experience, you are welcome to call me on 07904 - 471183 and I will see if I can help you.

Another busy week

Well we covered a fair few miles this week and met a lot of new people.

On Tuesday we went down to Devon and Cornwall to deliver a new machine to a woodwork shop and a real nice used machine to a bodyshop. The work in itself was no problem.

The problem was the satnav, it got us lost for over an hour down some of the longest narrowest country lanes that I have ever seen. The lanes were so narrow and unused that there was moss and grass growing in the middle. I was oh so glad to find a main road and get back to civilisation.

Out for 14 hours, 480 miles and 2 more happy customers.

A mile of wire

We had a call from a chap this week who was in big trouble with his screw compressor. The machine had stopped and it appeared to be an electrical fault. His neighbour is an electrician and knows all about these things - I've heard that one before. Anyway after a few hours of messing around the said electrician said he was a bit to busy to finish the job and left it.

By the time we were called in it was a real mess, wires everywhere and bits hanging off.

I have a lot of experience with compressor electrics and know all the tricks, but this one was beyond any quick fix and we have taken it back to our workshops for some careful attention.

A good study of the wiring diagram and a few hours work should see it working again, it might have been a very simple fault but we will never know now.

Never mess about with complicated electrical systems unless you really know what you are doing, it always ends in tears. I will let you know how we get on with it.

Travelling Man

Its no secret that Compressorman covers lots of miles in the course of a week, but this week has seen us even wider travelled.

On Tuesday we installed a machine for a customer of ours in Hamburg Germany. An easy enough job but the customer insisted that we did it as he needed peace of mind and he felt that the expense was money well spent.

Travelling Man 2

We also have to install a new machine for a customer in Spain next week. We are happy to install anywhere in Europe and so a trip to a customer anywhere UK is a breeze.

Travelling Man 3

We are based in Swadlincote almost in the centre of UK and will travel anywhere to our contract customers - we have 26 contract customers in Glasgow alone and over 100 customers within the M25 circle. So whether you are on the south coast or in Scotland we are happy to help you and anywhere in-between.

Distance no object

We have 2 service customers in The Outer Hebrides and they take longer to get to than our customers in Europe. We make regular trips to The Isle of Man and Guernsey. All in a days work for Compressorman.

A few things you didn't know about the big dealers.

What many of you don't know is that the big boys are buying up small to medium dealers up and down the country. They don't have a change of name and so most people are not aware what's happening. Slowly just like playing draughts or chess they move around the board taking pieces as they go.

This has a big knock on effect to you the end user. These dealers then have a bit of a monopoly and can charge what they want.

£60 per hour during normal working hours, £90 per hour up to 10pm, £120 per hour in the night. a minimum of 4 hours charge and a £180 call out charge.  That's from  £400  to around £600 minimum charge.

That isn't the most you can pay just a typical example of what you may pay, I know others that charge a lot more.

So you thought that was bad.

That's only the beginning.

What about a large national name in the compressor world who charge at least that much.

But there is a sting in the tail.

The service engineers are not allowed to carry any parts at all, not one.

So how does that work.

The engineer calls takes a look, truthfully tells you he hasn't got the parts required and will need to return with the correct parts - so far so good, but £400 is added to your bill for that.

He comes back in a day or so and repairs the machine.

You get a real big invoice and may have only needed a small simple parts.

This happens all day - every day.

More of the above.

The above is not an isolated incident and we hear many such stories almost on a daily basis.

I have never understood the need to do this, basically its just greed.

So how do we do business.

Well its no wonder we are so busy, all of our service customers have clear lists of our charges and many of them have contracts that cover them for everything. 

One payment a year and its all covered - if this interests you call us on 07904 - 471183 for some sensible talk.

Nothing but trouble to come.

We had a call to provide a dryer to a customer of ours who was installing a £250K machine for a new customer of theirs.

The compressor was nothing to do with them and was provided by their customer, but the air quality was the worst I have seen in years. All that money on specialist equipment and a compressor from hell. Any day now and it will all end in tears - glad its nothing to do with us.

What a busy week

I don't know where it all comes from, we have so much existing service work and new work that there is never a spare moment. Of course it helps if you have been around for a few decades and have a good name to start with.

We don't mess around with customers and we don't charge silly prices - its never cheap, cheap is always nasty, but we do a proper job at a proper, sensible price. 

We are always onsite long enough to do a proper job, 2hrs for a small machine and up to 4 hours on a larger machine. We never do more than 2 jobs a day - do you want it right or just a quick job.

01/08/06 Talking of quick jobs.

Quick is never cheap and when they have to come back they charge you again.

Some of the stories that I hear about the prices some dealers  charge verges on criminal. £60 per hour, every hour, £0.80 per mile both ways and unbelievable parts costs. It all adds up to big big bills.

Why is it so expensive.

Its a simple calculation really. Engineer on £25K plus, 56 registered van, corporate uniform. 5 weeks paid holiday + bank hols. Every time they fill the van up its £50+.

You owe them money and you have not even rang them yet.

That's why the big dealers don't want to know about your little problems unless you want to pay and pay big.

You ask - You pay

A phone call to a big dealer for help will cost you dear.

For a start you always end up to talking to a girl who answers the phone, her job is to stop you talking to anyone who can help you, she wants you to book a service call. That's the best part of £100 and the rest.

The service engineer turns up and gives you some weak advice and you feel cheated - you have been.

So why are we so different

To start with the phone is always answered by me or some other family member who knows about compressors. 

We will talk to you and answer your questions without the need for a service call.

We don't need to sell any service time, we have no shortage of work and don't need to create work.

Product knowledge.

I as the principle of this business, believe very strongly in product training. So far this year in seven months we have been on 17 manufacturers  training courses. That way who ever attends your machine will be fully conversant with the make and model, having attened the appropriate manufacturers training course.

Lots of new machines

We have been more than busy lately and sold so many new compressors that things must be getting better. Its always nice when we sell new machines as we know that there will be no trouble with new machines. Our sales of rebuilt machines is also on the up and so things look good at this end.

Many of the competition are suffering.

There are lots of struggling compressor dealers out there at the moment and they are all squealing and crying about too much competition. Competition is not always healthy as someone always has to pay and its usually the end user who pays.

I have no sympathy with dealers who only like the good times and then moan when things don't go their way.

What a busy time

We have been so busy in the last few weeks it has been impossible to keep up with this section - but I will make a start now.

30 years old and still going strong.

A good customer of ours in Manchester is still running a pair of Hydrovane 120's which are both over 30 years old and still going strong running a factory with over 20 workers in it.

Of course the machines are always serviced on the dot and have plenty of money spent on them, but have given fantastic value for money.

I cant imagine a cheap Italian Screw Compressor giving that sort of service - I now of plenty of good old Hydrovanes still on front line service and plenty of rubbish Italian Screws waiting for the scrap yard.

Take some advice from a man who knows.

Compair / Hydrovane are the best machines man ever made, of this there is no doubt.

I would always specify a Compair / Hydrovane to my customers as I know the quality of these machines, but occasionally we get a company who want a Screw Compressor and nothing else will do.

If this is the case we sell Compair Screw Compressors, again the best that is available.

Should you prefer a piston compressor, again we have a top British machine for you.

Piston Compressor Sales are up.

We seem to be selling our fair share of quality pistons at the moment - the emphasis being on the word Quality.

You must steer away from the cheap and nasties as they will give you nothing but grief and go bang in no time.

Our machines are assembled in the UK and use only the best components - so they are not the cheapest - but they are the best.

We consider the life expectancy of a top quality piston to be 10 - 15 years in a moderate industrial application. You will not get that with a cheaper machine.

Time for a change.

A local engineering business called us in during the week as their old compressor was about to give up on them. It was a quality make but almost 30 years old and was ready for the skip. The budget did not allow for a new replacement of a similar quality and so we suggested a top quality piston compressor as the answer.

We fitted a really nice 30cfm piston and I am sure that they will get many years out of it.

Pistons are not all bad

A piston compressor of top quality will outlive a cheap screw compressor by many years. The problem that you have is trying to buy a top quality machine. Most of the traditional outlets for pistons, such as tool shops, all sell cheap and nasties.

A really good piston is never cheap, but it certainly never nasty either.

We have a good range of UK machines which are happy in an industrial application, give me a call on 07904 - 471183 and I will try to help.

That was a bit of luck

We had a call from a local company who had a Hydrovane 711 Air centre which had stopped running and wouldn't restart. They didn't have anyone looking after the machine and were glad to meet us.

At the same time to make matters worse they had a small piston compressor for backup and that decided to pack up as well.

Anyway it as a fairly simple control fault and  got it going in a couple of hours or so.

They are now considering a suitable machine for backup and a service contract for both.

It could have been much worse, but luckily we are experts on Hydrovanes and all is now ok.

Buy cheap - buy twice

There are so many people selling cheap and nasty screw compressors at silly low prices and so many people are falling for it - and regretting it badly.

If say a quality 10hp screw with tank and dryer is say £5K and someone starts selling the latest offering at £2000 you just know its going to end in tears.

I had this situation only the other day and tried to advise the chap but he was hell bent on this cheap new brand - complete with everything for nothing - He would be better to buy nothing as at least he would still have his money to spend. I bet he buys one and then the fun will start when it all goes wrong, as it will.

Reputable dealers can choose what they sell and they wont sell anything which is at all suspect in the quality stakes - its not worth the hassle. But the fly by night brigade don't care and will sell anything and then shrug when it goes wrong. You have been warned.

Can you afford what you want - or do you know what you want.

Every day of the week I have people seeking advice and I cant believe how many don't have a clue what they need. In today's world compressed air is a very different thing than it was say 20 years ago. Originally you bought a compressor ( Most probably a piston compressor} and stuck a pipe in the end and off you went - the more informed of you would have fitted a water trap as well.

Today we need "clean dry" air for almost all applications - this is where the problems start. An ordinary compressor does not make "clean dry" air, it makes "Hot wet" air - remember your physics lessons at school ?

It doesn't really matter how expensive the machine is either - at worst it will be very wet and very hot - at best it will be over warm and damp - even the best machines. You will then need an receiver and a refrigerant dryer to sort things out, followed by a set of good filters - not water traps - filters. If you do it properly there wont be any water to trap.

What quality do I need and how much will it cost

Now this is a difficult question at the best of times because no one wants to pay too much and we all want a bargain.

As a rule of thumb if you wanted a Merc, then a Fiat wouldn't be the answer and its the same with compressors. Decide what you need and what you want before you start and go from there.

Consider that if you were in the big car showroom wanting a brand new quality car and someone tells you about a 10yrs old Mondeo, you know that's not the one for you - so why be silly when it comes to your compressor.

You need to buy the right one for the job and you will need advice.

Call me on 07904 - 471183 and I will try to help you.

Strange but true

Probably one of the most common calls we get is from people who only just found out that they needed a compressor.

Lots of companies buy factory machines that will not run without compressed air. Some of this equipment can cost £50K Plus and you still need air - not just any air either - "clean dry" air will be needed. In many cases this can add  £5K - £10K to the job and it comes as a shock.

There is no chance of using a little cheap compressor as the air quality will be too poor and the compressor would blow up if it had to run all day with your new piece of machinery.

Call me on 07904 - 471183 and I will try to help you.

Quality air is not cheap to maintain.

We had a call out this week to a large insurance bodyshop who were complaining of oily and smelly air in the spraybooths - not good to spray with and dangerous to breath in a mask.

The system that they had was more than adequate but filter inserts had not been changed often enough and it had all ground to a halt. 

Basically, the oil separator in the compressor was past its service life and needed to be changed and it had let dirty, oily air down the line to the filters and we now needed to change £500 worth of inserts to improve things

By the time everything else was serviced and sorted it was one big bill.

Keep on top of service work and this type of breakdown will not happen.

£££Million and a rubbish compressor

A well known local company and part of a monster group of companies gave us a call for help this week. They have a tired old Hydrovane that runs one of their factories and it had developed a noise they didn't like. It sounded like a noisy bearing in the motor to me - there was no problem with the repair, but they asked me to fit a replacement for them and repair the old one.

The replacement turns up the next day from one of their other companies - what a mess it looked, broken control box, wires everywhere and looking very sad for its self.

Anyway we took it away and fitted a suitable star delta box and the machine ran quite well, we gave it a good service and separator change and its now back in service.

But its not a cheap way of doing it and if it was me I would put a brand new machine in and worry about something else instead of the compressor. But the customer knows best and we do what they ask.

Not so cheap in the end (1)

Man rings up and asks if we have some piston rings for a small single phase unit he has just bought - cheap on ebay.

We don't supply parts for that machine and suggested he ring a xxx dealer - surprise surprise he has already done that and the rings are £300 a set, he needs 2 sets and the machine worth a couple of hundred after he mends it - sad story.

Not so cheap in the end (2)

This is a good one - chap rings up enquiring about the price of a new 10hp screw compressor - he seems pretty clued up and when asked what he is using at the moment, he says he has a 3yrs old screw of xxxx make. When asked why he wants to sell he answers that in 3 years he has spent more on service than it cost new and its now getting troublesome. Some bargain that was then.

Why don't people listen

We get lots of calls for advice which we freely give and on many occasions it brings us new business. But far too many people want to buy on price alone and that always ends in tears for them.

Lets not be silly, price is very important, but not as important as getting the right machine for the job from the right suppliers.

The compressed air world is full of people with little to no knowledge busy trying to sell boxes - add that to a buyer who is not really sure what he needs and you get a disaster situation.

I am 52yrs old and have been in the business since I was 15 and so have a good idea of what's required. I find that when people will listen and then consider what has been said, they often realise that they may need to consider another machine or another approach to the problem.

It is very satisfying for me to see a customer with the right machine for the job at a good price, knowing that he will stay with us for years to come. 

Another nice installation

We have just installed a nice new 10hp screw compressor in the workshops of an Instrument Repair and Manufacturing Company in Chesterfield. They needed air for general use and to power a small shotblast cabinet which we also supplied.

The company had been quoted by several suppliers and I know we were not the cheapest price, but following a couple of phone conversations we were given the business and the machine is now installed and looks the part in their new factory.

Its nice when people listen and are prepared to take good advice, they always benefit from it in the long term.

Another happy customer

A national name in the world of tow bar manufacture called us to help with a compressor problem. They were very local to us and we were able to attend straight away. The owner was considering a new screw compressor to replace an old noisy piston he had. 

An order was placed for a new screw and it is now in and running very nicely and our new customer is delighted.

Yet another customer who will listen to sound advice and the benefit from it for years to come.

Cheap and Cheerful

There are so many cheap compressors about at the moment and most of them are rubbish.

We do a lot of repairs for other traders and one of them has recently started selling a new make of cheap screw - and it is absolute rubbish. He sold 4 machines in the first week and then called us to go out to 3 of them that all broke down in the first few days. He has stopped selling them at the moment whilst things are sorted and has had to give one customer his money back already.

Buy a proper machine from a World Class Manufacturer - We sell Compair / Hydrovane.

We are asked on a regular basis to sell new makes of compressors and we are never tempted to sell anything cheap and cheerful because it always ends in tears.

Cheap and Cheerful - 2 

We often come across people who want to buy on price only and we rarely deal with them as they generally have the wrong attitude towards compressed air. The initial cost price may be very different to the true cost of owning the machine and there are too many "dealers" who want to sell boxes and then cut and run. It is important that you get the correct machine at a good price from a reputable dealer - more difficult than you might think.

Cheap and Cheerful - 3

Take the man who rings me asking for a 15hp screw with dryer on a tank - we quote him Atlas Copco. He needs 150ft of solid pipework together with 4 work points complete with filters. The price we quoted him was very sensible and he seemed very keen. The next we hear he can buy it cheaper some where else. Not quite the case as he is now looking at a 10hp machine no dryer on a tank from a DIY manufacturer. The machine he is now looking at is absolute rubbish and will let him down within weeks and then he has to live with it. Even worse the people he is buying from are a bit "sharp" and have a poor name in the trade.

So it sounds like we have a case of sour grapes - not at all we get more than our fair share of sales - we just cant understand how some people can be so silly.

Car body shops

I cant believe the amount of small car body shops still using cheap piston compressors, the air quality will be rubbish and they are so noisy when used hard. We can supply nice entry level screw packages which are so much better - ring 07904 471183 for details.

A new lease of life

A new customer to us has just asked us to rebuild his 1960's Hydrovane back to new spec and don't spare the rod. It goes to show the quality of real compressors that it has run almost 40 years and is now being given a new lease of life.

After a good strip and rebuild it will be good for another 25 years or more - you can't say that about some of today's new machines.

We rebuild many older machines and they out live most of the new "cheapies".

For details call 07904 - 471183

Another new customer to the fold

This week we delivered a new Atlas Copco screw compressor to a small CNC Engineering Company in the Midlands. Its always a pleasure to see companies doing well and investing in the future. We hope they do well and look forward to a long business relationship - thanks for the business James - well done.

New Warranty on used machines

We have now introduced a new warranty system on our used machines which will appeal to buyers of our machines. Most sellers offer some sort of warranty but we have decided to go the whole way and offer the same as on a new machine - unheard of in the trade before.

Basically all our refurbished used machines will carry a 12 month parts and labour warranty on a return to base basis, or at extra cost we can change this to an on site agreement. The full details of this scheme are available from us but basically to qualify the machine must be serviced by us in accordance with our service schedule and it will be covered. The scheme is extendable on some models up to a 5 year scheme - subject to a service agreement with us.

This new scheme in addition to our keen prices will make this scheme very popular with buyers from home users to very large companies.

What a nice installation

Just fitted a New Atlas Screw for a company in the midlands. The man in charge had a good idea of what he wanted and between us we agreed at a nice packaged machine complete with dryer, additional filter and condensate system. He also ordered a ring main system for the factory and we arranged a service contract and extended warranty.

The customer now has no worries about compressed air or unexpected costs, all areas are covered. He didn't try to cut corners, he ordered the best and now has a fantastic system that will last for many years to come. His service contract means that the machine will always run as new and he has us on call at no extra cost if he need us.

Well done that man - that's the way to do it.

No more worries

Another new customer this month had been having problems with his compressor and contacted us to see what we could do for him. His problems were caused by poor maintenance from his existing compressor engineers and he had parted ways with them.

Although his old machine was repairable he decided on an brand new screw compressor and to have his old machine repaired and used as a backup. 

We have now installed the new machine and returned his old machine. He is delighted with the situation now and has a service contract in place with us for the next 5 years.

Another happy customer.

A quick history

Those of you who already know us are well aware of my views on the trade and most of the people who work in it - to be straight we are not impressed.

We seem to thrive because we are a small family business with honest and genuine intentions. The aim has never been to get rich quick and we are always prepared to go the extra mile to help.

In over 25 years we have grown from myself (redundant from a very large dealers) starting of with a toolbox and little else other than a lot of knowledge and a desire to succeed - to the where we are now - myself and my son + two other compressor engineers who sub to us when required.  We are not going to get any bigger and this is our strength.

When you deal with us you deal with the people who are doing the job, no girl on the phone will tell you I'm in a meeting, or unavailable until next week - I even take the mobile on holiday with me.

So are we big enough to cope

Well we are not work shy and always get the job done - it helps if you like what you do and we do. We cover the whole UK and it is not unusual to travel 1000 miles in a week. We have customers who are prepared for us to travel to London at the drop of a hat and still find us better value than who they may have used locally. Last year we were paid to travel to The Hebrides and were still cheaper than our rivals in Scotland.

So how do we do this, easy really, we are not greedy. 

If we had a picture on our site of a large new premises and 15 new vans and engineers, an office staff of say 5, a couple of directors, you would not want to deal with us - the costs to you would be out of this world.

Luckily there are only the two of us and no silly overheads - that's why we are successful.

Negative Profits - Don't be silly

Just reading through my emails this morning and I have just come across a new business tactic - Negative Profits or something like that anyway. We have just quoted an enquiry for a 15hp screw compressor with fridge and tank, auto drain and separation - a full package, delivered and installed. So we quote a very fair price and the customer would get a top package with the advantage of dealing with us as his compressor engineers. Someone else in the trade has quoted a very similar system, but not installed at just below cost price to the dealer.

So how do you think that this deal will go ??

Well without a doubt the said dealer will be looking for a profit somewhere and I bet it will be a big one when it surfaces - probably silly high service prices and lots of hidden extras. There are no free meals in this world as we all know and the compressor business is famous for its big appetite - so think on.

We for our part have gone back with a revised figure which reflects the work that the customer now wishes to do himself, but still with a margin allowing us to provide him with a top standard of service. After all if there is a problem or he turns out to need more help than he thinks he certainly won't get it from the "discount boys".

More on Negative Profits

Don't feel that we have sour grapes about someone who will quote less than us to clinch a deal - it happens to all businesses all the while - including yours as well.

Our "beef" is that compressed air is not a business where you can compromise on the job, it has to be right and it has to be a proper job. So selling boxes cheap and then winding the customer up later is bad for our industry and the end user - YOU.

Don't feel sorry for us as we sell our fair share of new compressors to customers who know what they want and need proper back up, which is going to be there when they need it.

The person who suffers is you the end user. I always think that compressors are a bit like computers. How many of you have bought a computer from the big discount dealers and lived to regret it. Was it as cheap as you really thought - no deposit, pay nothing for 12 months etc. etc. or was it a disaster. We all know it never works out the way we want and you end up paying lots of money out. Well that's nice business for them at 25%apr and £1 a minute on the phone to the help-line.

I buy my computers from a nice little business that I found by accident, no silly low prices, just value for money and proper service with a smile. And if I need help or advice then I get it straight away - for free - enough said!!

How many cfm is it?

One of the most frequently asked questions from smaller users is about cfm. For users on 240 volts this is always an issue. People in home or smaller workshops all wish they had 3 phase power when it comes to compressors. The big problem is that 240 volts is not enough power to run proper spray guns, shotblast cabinets or DA sanders and there is not really a way around this.

So what do sellers of 240 volt compressors do to help - well basically they stretch the truth and then when that's not enough - they lie about it.

The first thing that you need to know is that the only figure you are interested in is the " free air delivered " - known in the trade as "fad".

The last figure that the supplier wants you to know is the fad because this is the real figure, they want to quote you a theoretical figure which can be stretched as far as you like. So 3hp piston compressors get quoted at figures anywhere up to 20cfm, it doesn't matter what figure you are quoted unless its fad. I have never seen a 3hp piston that makes more than a TRUE 8cfm fad - no matter what the seller tries to claim. That figure is for a decent quality piston compressor, cheap nasty imports are more likely to be 5 or 6 cfm fad.

Real industrial quality compressors always quote cfm as fad and so 10 cfm fad from a 3hp screw would be about correct and would be much greater than from an equivalent sized piston compressor.

But that's not everything about cfm

So just when you thought that you had got a reasonable grip on the article above - there is one other factor to consider.

Most of the everyday piston compressors pump to about 10bar pressure and so you would assume that all cfm figures will be quoted at this pressure - maybe not.

The industry standard for cfm readings has always been at 7bar, because that was the normal pressure of a standard compressor for many decades.

At 10bar the cfm would be less - not what some manufacturers wants you to know really.

So a cheap and nasty imported piston claiming say 10bar pressure and 18cfm capacity is probably say 6 fad at 7bar and about 4 fad at 10bar pressure.

That's why your DA sander doesn't work properly for more than about 15 seconds and your shotblast cabinet is even worse.

So what's the answer then

The real answer is to get 3 phase electric and a bigger compressor. If that's not an option then there are still ways around the problem. It wont be cheap and it wont be a 100% answer but it will work. For details of how we can help - call 07904 - 471183 anytime.

A man who knows what he wants

Its always a pleasure to do business with a man who knows what he is trying to do. This particular customer didn't have too much knowledge on the subject, but he had a spec to work to and knew he needed a quality machine with good back up.

I would assume he had done the ringing around and probably wasn't getting told what he wanted, when he rang us. I took the time to explain what he might need and what he didn't need. I don't try to be clever with customers who are not experts in the subject and I think he appreciated this.

Two days later he rings back and gives me the order for a really nice system, all the whistles and bells, everything and a deposit by card.

That's the business everyone is looking for and the type of customer that is golden, for our part we will give him what he wants and needs and serve him well.

Interestingly he is about 250 miles from us and there are a lot of compressor dealers between me and him. What were they doing wrong because we didn't win it on price alone. Its called good old fashioned service, that and a genuine understanding of what he wanted, that's what won the order - probably.

In the next few days we will install his new Atlas Copco Screw and then we will see him twice a year for service and it will be the start of a proper business relationship. There is more to life than shifting boxes, my competitors would have died for an order like this.

Its hard to have faith

If you knew what I know about compressor servicing you would find it very difficult to have faith in the industry. You see, most engineers have a rather limited range of product knowledge and almost no electrical knowledge. This is a bit of a problem as 90% of all compressor problems will be electrical.

Main agents will train their engineers on their specific machines and either employ an electrical engineer (If they are big enough) or put the work out to someone who does know about electrics.

We sort out the electrical systems on compressors for lots of other dealers and are amazed that they can not attend to this work themselves.

Its easy if you know what you are doing

Working on new compressors is always a pleasure, they are clean and shiny and a joy to work on. Lots of technicians (that's the new name) don't wear or own overalls - they don't work on machines where you get dirty. I know of many companies where the technicians go on jobs in a smart shirt and trousers, looking like they are off out to a business meeting, not to service your compressor. Looks nice but they wont want to mend your compressor unless its new, under a service contract and their brand of machine. It doesn't help if you don't fit their customer criteria - fancy having to "qualify" to be a customer.

Only easy jobs - please

3pm on a Monday afternoon and we get a call from a local electrician. He has a manufacturing customer with a Hydrovane 66 not running. Production has stopped and the people who normally service the compressor say they cant help.

The starter is damaged and no one has a replacement - we hold 6 in stock and have a massive knowledge on all things Hydrovane. So off we go, when we get there its the usual 20 year old wiring on the machine and so it all has to come out. 4.5hrs latter and all is running again as new. Got home at 8pm and so its another late tea.

We have to go back to see the customer latter and discuss a proper service package and a back up machine so that this type of situation does not arise again.

Why are there so many useless people in this trade

One of my pet hates is people who claim to be experts and know nothing about anything, let alone what they are supposed to know about.

A chap rings me up depressed because he cant get his compressor to work and he has paid people to work on it and it still does not work - can we help.

He is 160 miles away and on the M25, its doesn't sound the type of job that my dreams are made of, but I agree to help. The money side of things has to be agreed first and then we are on his team. A 5am start gets us there at 08-30, he shows us the problem and goes to make us a cup of tea and we start work at 08-40. At 08-45 ( That's 5mins latter ) the machine is running and the problem solved. So what am I then a brain surgeon or just someone who knows his job. We stay for another 90mins to do some checking and adjustments and the man is happy to pay to be out of trouble.

So what were the people he paid in the beginning doing for their money - who knows?        Anyway we got a new service customer and everyone is happy.

Tools are mans best friend - maybe

As a man who uses tools all day every day to make my daily bread, I realise the importance of good tools and equipment, I buy good brands but nothing fancy, just the proper tool to do the job.

I like cordless tools as the are so much more convenient and there are no extension leads to plug in and trip over. I have tried most makes over the years and my last cordless drill was a B+D Professional range model - no problems really, lasted 5 years of serious use and was not over expensive. The battery was a bit tired and finding that a new battery was the same cost as the drill was, I decide to have a change.

A 24volt B**SCH was the choice and I was expecting big things of it, sad disappointment was to follow. Only 1 battery with it - never a good sign and it is rubbish. Always needs charging and guess how much a new battery is - slightly more than a new drill.

I am fast coming to the conclusion that we will all grind to a halt as far as engineering is concerned in this country and everyone will work in a fast food outlet ( part time and minimum wage )

On a brighter note

I have recently finished a nice project for a new customer in Glasgow. He asked for a purpose built Blast Cabinet and a Refurbished Hydrovane for use at home. He wanted a proper job to be proud of and made of proper metal and not thin tin. The machine is just about to go out to him and it is a real beauty and I myself am very proud of it - and I am sure he will love it over the coming years.

It is always a pleasure to work on a special project for a man who is prepared to pay for the time and effort and it is always worth the extra money - pics of the project will follow shortly.

Whilst I am still in a good mood

Just looking outside my office door into the workshop, I can see some lovely compressors which we have just finished working on. There are some real strong machines with many years of life left in them. They will still be performing in some distant factory in 20 years time which is more than I can say for some pieces of tat that I see in my travels - have you seen the rubbish on Ebay at the moment. Most of it should be straight in the skip - still we will get paid to fix a lot of it and so I shouldn't grumble - but I will.

Now that's a nice one

A new customer mailed us wanting to visit to discuss a small shotblaster that he needed, he ran a small business and needed a good machine for occasional use but wanted a good price - no problems there. Most people contacting us need a good price, but should realise that a good price and a cheap price are two very different things - especially with shotblast equipment.

The market for secondhand shotblast equipment has always been a mine field. Used machines tend to vary in condition from poor to scrap and are always expensive, especially if you make a mistake. Then to make matters worse for the consumer we now have lots of inferior machines being imported from China, some of the ones I have seen have been nothing short of dangerous. We have looked at various of these machines to see if there was a market for us and soon decided not to sell or even repair them, many are potentially lethal - you have been warned.

So the options for the smaller consumer wanting a blast pot are not good, old and very expensive to update, new far east and potentially unsafe, new from one of the big boys (expensive) or find a small independent like me and have a new one purpose built or a refurbished unit.

Anyway our man came to see me and went through all the options and ordered a nice 1 bag machine which was awaiting a rebuild and a new helmet and breathing filter, a good choice at about 60% of a new one. He paid a deposit and two weeks latter he has just collected the finished job from us.

It is a real nice set up and will do exactly what he wanted - a nice machine at a sensible price and a happy customer.

Comments on above

After 30 years in the trade I could go on for hours about buying a shotblaster and bore people to sleep, but when you realise that I have met probably hundreds of people who have got it wrong then perhaps its worth a moment or two to listen. The most regular scenario is the man who bought a secondhand pot from an auction or internet and probably paid about £500 for it. Without doubt it will be 100-1 on that he didn't see it going - if he had he wouldn't have bought it. Usually he can see it will need a "bit of a tidy and a few bits and pieces" - well that's what he has been told by the person who sold him it.

The reality is usually very different - parts are always expensive - best part of £300 for a helmet etc etc. So it is not unusual for the machine to need around £1K spending on it and it will still be an old heap at that, but hopefully it will work.

A new set up from one of the big names will cost you £3k++ and then you need a compressor to run it. At that we hear people say that they have been quoted much less, they hadn't they had been quoted less for the basics, when they finally get all they need it will be £3K++  and often more. We sell the whole show for £1845 including all the extras - big difference in price for the same product - perhaps we sell it too cheaply, but that's the price we charge.

Of course if you do decide to spend your money with the big boys don't think they will get the red carpet out - £3K is peanuts to them and it will be all they can do to take your money - so if its advice you need forget it. We offer a nice friendly service and try to tell it as it is, if you cant spend enough for what we consider to be a minimum set up then we would respectfully suggest that you look at other options, otherwise you will waste what money you have.

All that glistens is not gold and all that

For some months we were doing steady business selling service kits for Hydrovanes on Ebay. They were top quality kits which we use ourselves everyday, we also included a detailed instruction sheet and a helpline number in case you got stuck and needed some advice. The prices started at about £25 for the smallest of the popular machines and we were doing a steady trade. But after a few weeks several others were selling "similar kits" for only £10 and our sales dried up.

Guess what? Within days people were ringing us for help they had bought kits from elsewhere and machines which just needed a service now had big problems or wouldnt run at all. The people who sold them shrugged their shoulders and left a lot of people in trouble.

We came to the rescue and have earnt a lot more money sorting other peoples problems than we did out of the original kits - which never gave any problems.

The moral of the story is that you get what you pay for - where were the offending kits made - China - enough said.

So how important is your compressor to you?

Not a trick question, but one which most people don't fully consider. Well perhaps now is a good time to take a light hearted look at the situation. Start with my workshops, I am in a unique situation in that I can have any compressor I want, big or small, new or old.

I chose a machine suitable for my needs, a 15yrs old Hydrovane 5.5hp in nice order was a good choice. I service it twice a year and it probably has another 20++ years in it. If I went out and bought a cheap imported piston then it would last about 2 years and be loud - not what anyone wants. I use compressed air for a blow gun, spray gun and a small shotblast cabinet. Total use of air is about 5hrs a week max - no big deal. The air is still important when I use it but a temporary loss would not cripple my business.

So lets look at say a car body shop - no matter how small. The air quality needs to be good and reliable. If you loose your air then it all stops, you may as well lock up and go home - of course a backup machine would help. So what if you have a line of cnc machines that rely on air 100% - no air, no production. Of course there is one thing worse than a compressor breakdown and that is an unreliable compressor.

So if your business relies on compressed air, then you need a new quality machine + backup - or if finances do not allow a new machine then you need a really sound used machine + back up as soon as you can.

Beware though - be realistic. If a new machine is £5000 then you wont find your answer on Ebay for £300 - The bigger the compressor the worse it gets. Think about it. A good sound compressor is not an old heap with an oil change, its a not so new machine with a service record and preferably the backup of a good compressor engineer. See our Ebay page for more details.

So why do they run hot?

There can be several reasons for this, but most of them are obvious.
If you have a new (Quality - don't start me on that one again) machine and it lives in a cool part of your factory or in a ventilated compressor house then I doubt if you will ever have a problem.

In big industry this is how its done and so they don't have problems - some major manufacturers have bigger compressor houses than many small factories - 1,000 sq ft is not unusual.

About 95% of our business is with the small to medium business and they can not afford such luxuries. Compressors are not new, often not that high a quality, often had a chequered or uncertain past and often sited in cramped conditions which are far from ideal.

As compressors get older they definitely start to run hotter - that's a fact and there is nothing you can do to stop it. What you can do is allow for this factor and ensure that everything is working as well as it can.

A quality machine of say 10 years of age, with say 25K hours, with a good service record should be ok and probably will still be ok in another 10 years time. That's a fact - I look after many machines in this class without a problem.

A lesser quality machine will not have 10 years or 25K hours in it - I see lots of new customers who have machines like this and cant understand how they fall into this trap.

I feel for these customers but have to smile at their perception of compressed air, not many realise the importance of their compressor until it becomes a big issue.

Hot or What

Following on from my article below on a lesson in physics - I have never seen so many machines running warmer than I would like, it must be the ozone layer or some other invisible force. Or are people just not thinking.

Ventilation is the answer, whether you force air in with a fan or put the machines out in the cold it doesn't really matter - but if you are running on the warm side in January, then you will melt in the summer.

Get it sorted now, don't wait until you breakdown and start losing money.

A Lesson In Physics

Compressors get hot and that's official - its all to do with taking air at room temperature and squashing it hard - it gets hot, very hot. The oil is not just a lubricant on most machines it acts as a coolant. It then often passes through an oil cooler and then has air forced over it by a fan, all in the hope of keeping everything from melting.

Assuming that everything is in good working order and the machine is properly serviced then you stand a good chance of everything being ok. PROVIDING that the input air is not silly hot to start with - consider that room temperature is say 20dg C in your office ( if it was any hotter then you would put a fan on ) then at this temperature your compressor will run nicely within the limits with a safety margin of around 10-15 deg C. But if the room temperature is 30-35 in your compressor room then you have big problems. I have been in three compressor houses this week which were over 30degsC and had compressors either tripping out or running on the limit. The answer is simple - compressors are like polar bears and penguins - they like the cold. Put them outside in a protected shed or cover with lots of ventilation.

If your site is secure don't even bother with all that, you need a big lean to so that the machine electrics are protected from the rain and weather and all will be fine, no matter how hot it gets - that's how they do it in hot countries.

Now I can hear many of you saying - " Well I don't have any problems " - but is that with a margin of 1degs C or 20degs C - If you C what I mean. Keep them cool and all will be well.

Hot or What

A good customer of ours has a pair of Hydrovanes in a brick built out house.
The door is left open and ventilation has been adequate to date ( they have a broken window which helps air flow ).

The machines are elderly but in generally good condition and are well serviced by us.

One machine has always run at around 88 degs C and the other machine which stands in the corner and breathes in the other compressors hot air, usually runs at 93 degs C - not over hot but it doesn't want to be any more. Service time is due, but the customer beats us to it by saying that one machine is cutting out and appears very hot. So off we go to sort it out. When we got there they were both running but it was very very hot in the compressor house.

We gave both machines a big service, but they were both still running hot, one of them very hot. We did everything we could think of but they continued to run hot.

Whilst we were pondering what to do next when one of the the workers commented on how hot it was and then added that he wasn't surprised as there was no draught about since they put a roof over the passage way the other day - Problem Solved.

Another Old One Saved

A call out of the blue from a new customer who had a 66 which made no air.
Apparently the machine had been moved and when the wiring had been reconnected the 66 ran backwards - well it wont make air like that - change the wiring and all should be ok - no he had already done that.

He wanted to bring it to us and he turned up latter that afternoon. So we got it running in the correct direction and guess what - no air. A few little clever checks and still no air - when we did the final checks we found several broken vanes - it must have fun backwards for about a week to do that.

So off upstairs to the attic and get a refurbished 66 bottom end and the rebuild is underway - some time latter and its like new again - another one saved.

Air Compressor Heaven

We don't like to be beaten but some machines are just determined to play up. Our customer had a new Hydrovane from us in 1996. It ran on a stop start basis on a 24-7 basis for the next 8 years, which is over 20 years of normal use - so its not all bad.

In January of this year it decided that it was time for early retirement and started to play up. It had a habit of cutting out and all the things that cause that were either replaced or disabled and it would be ok for a while and then do it again.

Finally when there was no reason for it to play up again it decided to go mad and try to disintegrate - it had had enough.

So it got its final wish and is now in Compressor Heaven (Our Attic) its where compressors go to die.

More about Compressor Heaven

So what will happen to the tired old unit above? Firstly Daniel our new trainee will get to play with it, he is fast becoming the 502 king and the experience will do him good. The problem with the machine will be that its just worn out and you could throw a lot of money at it and never be 100% confident of it.

The customer who has a very successful business took my advice and replaced the old machine with a refurbished unit and all is now well.

Pipes, Pipes Everywhere

Its the same old story, not enough skilled worker and so people can't get jobs done.

The latest area this is showing up in is pipe fitting, if you want a proper job at a sensible price you have a problem - a skill which has been slipping away quietly and now the average age of really skilled fitters is nearer 50 than it should be - this is a young mans job, but there are not many being trained.

We get so many requests for traditional galvanised steel air pipe work that we could leave every thing else and just do that.

Suppliers have realised this and created all sorts of clever push together air systems - but they are not the answer and most of them leak from new - even the good ones - and are they expensive or what. They do have an application but not always what people want them to be.

We get calls from all 4 corners of the UK to fit pipes and have recently completed some big jobs including a large vehicle repair centre in Warwickshire who work for a major car manufacturer - a weeks work in all. Currently we are working on a quote to fit pipes offshore in Scotland and so it goes on.

A Quick Look Upstairs

Well the long awaited clear out in the attic is getting nearer and I decided to go up an see what we were going throw out.

A quick look found many lost treasures - well to me anyway - and I don't think much will get thrown out, it just needs sorting and organising. There are Hydrovane spares from about 40 years ago, some are new and although we will never need them in the course of everyday business I cant make myself get rid of them.

Metal parts for many quite modern machines are in very short supply and some are now extinct, yet we have several tons of them. I cant wait to start the sort out as I know there are parts up there that will not be available probably anywhere in the World. Nothing for anyone else to get excited about though, but I cant wait.

No Need To Go That Far

There's no need to go up to the attic to find exciting things, now we have started the big tidy up downstairs we are finding some amazing lost treasures in the main workshop.

I have always had my own special little places for parts that must not be lost and over the years they have taken over every possible position, to the extent that exciting bits are lurking everywhere.

A couple of years ago we needed a minimum pressure valve for a 3 series Hydrovane and there were non at the main warehouse and all the usual supplies had dried up. There is a supplier we use in times of emergency and they could supply all but the most important piece for about £200 - yesterday I found 3 of them in a corner, and so I await further discoveries with great expectation.

Why me?

Friday afternoon at 3pm and our best customer is in big trouble.

The no 1 compressor has just tripped out and wont restart - the backup no2 started ok so it wasn't the end of the world. But this customer is a very heavy user of air and the backup is an old lady, nice order but definitely elderly.

Of we go in all the Friday traffic to see what the problem - years in the trade tell me to cope with what I find and not to second guess. Check oil level first - and guess what it was very very low - this was a surprise as this is a well serviced machine - no oil leaks evident. The cause was a faulty valve which had bypassed the oil filter and cooler - the oil was hot and the inbuilt sensors stopped the machine - the lost oil was somewhere carried over into the receiver.

The job took over 5 hours and was completed at 10pm that night, but at least we all slept well in the knowledge that all was well, and the no 2 could rest up for another day - all in a days work.

Silly Prices

Why are some suppliers out of control with their price control. The prices that some of them charge are ridiculous in the extreme. I suppose they think that if you need them then you will have to pay and of course many people will.

Last week a customer of ours with a shotblast cabinet managed to damage the footswitch. This customer is a 24/7 operation and time is everything. They asked us to come take a look and get a new switch and fit it at a shift change over - no time to stop.

The manufacturers of the equipment had a switch - I would have valued it about £75 - it was £277. The customer said to go ahead, price was not important.

Anyway, back to base and into the attic, I knew we had a couple of used switches somewhere and I wanted to see if they were serviceable. As I went through the box there was a brand new one in a packet - I cant remember where it came from and why it wasn't used - anyway its on their machine now and we only charged £75. What a star I am - does anyone notice I ask myself.

Welcome to Daniel

I am pleased to announce that my son Daniel has now joined the company. He has just finished his exams and left school, he is not quite 16 as yet, but is legally able to start work with us on July 1st.

For the past two years or so I have had Daniel working with me at weekends and in the school holidays, working towards him joining us and that time has now come.

He will be attending college on day release and attending as many trade courses as possible - knowledge is everything in this trade.

I will keep you posted on his progress and look forward to that distant day in the future when he can do all the hard work for me.

A big clear out

On of the 1st jobs we will tackle in the workshops when Daniel joins us is a big tidy up and re organisation. Those of you who have visited will know how cramped we are and that I am not the tidiest man on the planet + we have vast amounts of used parts which I cant possibly dispose of just in case.

I don't envisage finding any rubbish or junk at all - only parts which I have lost that are someone's salvation one day. I have parts going back 40 years and they can be so useful. Only this week we found parts for 2 different customers which could not be sourced elsewhere.

Cheats and robbers everywhere

Ebay - a marvelous invention - well it is for me anyway, I get so much business from people wanting help and repairs to machines they have bought which turn out to be not so perfect - long may it continue.

Anyway, I sell service kits and the like on there and have met and helped a lot of nice people. Then I meet this gentleman - he orders a service kit for a Hydrovane 501 and I tell him how I want paying - Cash, postal order or card, no need to wait for cheques to clear etc. He said he would pay by card. So what does he do, sends me a cheque. Anyway nice chap me send the goods to him and the cheque back asking for payment as agreed. No payment received no reply to emails.

Another one with no blow

I suppose that I should have been suspicious from the start, a 100cfm Hydrovane and the air outlet was bushed down to end up with a 8mm nylon pipe.

Anyway it was a bit down on air so I was told, I removed all the outlet pipework and the flow from the minimum pressure valve was so low that I suspected the valve must be seized. So I took the valve cover off and was surprised to find that it had been assembled back to front and that it was then not working at all.

Looking at the state of the machine and the dirt in the top of the allen bolts this had been like this for a long time. I would guess it was making about 5cfm @ 100psi using a 25hp motor - that's a real expensive way to make air.

Anyway at the end of the service it was probably about 20 times more efficient than when I started. After over 30 years of Hydrovane servicing I have never seen anything like this one before.

I thought we were a bit low on air

Another good one this - Called in on a customer for a 6 month service on their Hydrovane 33 and an old piston compressor - they couldn't find the keys to the compressor room either in fact no one knew what they looked like. So that another 2 machines that no one loves - 6 months without an oil check or anything. So a few days latter they find the keys and I return to do the job.

When I opened the compressor house door, oh what a surprise, bits every where on the floor, the piston had lost both belts and was playing to itself and making no air. So 50% of their air had disappeared at some time or other.

Oh well that's life as they say.

What keys???

About 12 months ago I fitted a new 5kw screw for a high tech local company. We did the job through a third party electrical company who handled all the business side of things and paid us themselves - no problem so far.

The machine had a lube service at 1000hrs to make sure all was well and everything had settled down.

Then the electrical company fell out with the customer over something or other and then a change of management at the original company confused matters even more.

Anyway at 12 months I went along to introduce myself to the new management and to arrange about the annual service. No one knew any thing about anything, the keys to the compressor and compressor room were lost and it was all locked up. No one has been in for 6 months to switch it on or off and no one had checked the oil. I was asked to send in a quote which i did and 6 weeks and 2 phone calls latter still no arrangements have been made.

Basically the warranty is now in doubt and as it is running 24/7 it is well over hours, the whole packing department depends on the air, if and when it gives up they will be desperate for help and with the best will in the world the bill could be massive. We will wait and see and I will keep you posted. If you neglect your compressor it will have the last laugh - big time.

Not the bargain you thought - all that glistens and all that All of a sudden we are busy selling spares kits and advice to people who are buying compressors on ebay and needing help.

There are bargains to be had and there is no doubt of that, but you need to know what you are buying. If you have no experience of these machines and by them blind then then basically its a 50-50 situation - Its either ok or its not.

Now how much of a problem this is will depend on what you are buying - but a 20 year old screw compressor - 25hpand you cant see it going is not a good bet - the work and cost required if there is a big problem is colossal. I have known people pay say £400 for such a beast that turned out to be a heap and the cost of repairs meant it was scrap - and the man who put it on the auction probably knew all about it.

No come back - no nothing - always try and see it running before you bid - even if its cheap. A chap bought an old Hydrovane 66 on ebay recently for £700, didn't see it running and needed to spend £600 to get it sorted - that's 1300 for a still old and unknown 66 - we had one in stock all sorted for £995 - you just cant help some people. Without a doubt he would have been better with us but we aren't complaining because we got the repairs and sold ours elsewhere.

The old ones are the best

A small manufacturing company in Birmingham rang me to take a look at their Hydrovane 66 - it was very old and dirty, but ran quite well. A major service and a separator rebuild plus a good clean up and it runs like new - lots of years left in that one yet.

Where's your back up compressor?

In only 9 trading days this month I put out 4 emergency hire machines out to people I don't know.

Why do people take big chances and when they loose their air end up loosing money that they cant afford - It is obvious if you use air as an essential part of your process - THEN YOU MUST HAVE A BACK UP. I knew you'd be glad you met me

Going back to case study 1 at the bottom of the page, I have dropped in a couple of times on this customer to make sure all is well and then last week I got a call to say it had stopped and the red service light was on - luckily I was local and was on site in 15mins.

The overload had tripped and i reset it and used an amp meter to check loads on motor were ok and increased the setting very slightly. Probable cause was a small surge in load current - any way all is well now.

Of course there was no long wait, no call out, no nothing - that's why you pay for a good job and get a warranty.

How Much ??

Being a little bored early one Sunday morning I was surfing along just to see what my comrades and friends in the trade are up to when I came across a well known name claiming to have a bit of a clear out.

The prices they were asking were ridiculous in the extreme - £5000 not even £4995 for a mid 80s 178 Aircentre - They were just over £3K new - 20 years ago.

Seems they are some kind of investment or something.


A 1970s 68 ( Very Clean ) at £2995 - dream on that's what I say.
They will be in their stock for ever and ever at those prices. 

Who designed that

All service engineers know that designers never have to work on the machines they design, if they did they would do a better job than they do. I have just finished taking the motor out of a Hydrovane 68 Aircentre. On a conventional 68 the job takes about 30 minutes on an aircentre it takes 4 hours and longer to refit it. What a pain of a job.

I wish the man who designed where the motor should go could have been there to help me at 19.00hrs on a Friday night. Also for some unexplained reason almost every aircentre I have ever seen houses a miserable leaking pump and everywhere is sodden in old oil and goo - that's probably why they put them in a box to start with.

Plug it

On Friday morning we had a simple enough job - Standard service to a Hydrovane 43 + 33 at a customer who uses them well and has them serviced accordingly on a 6 monthly basis.

I drained the oil on the 33 and was replacing the sump plug when I realised that not a lot was happening - a stripped thread in the sump is a nightmare as it can involve a front end strip - however we have had some longer modified plugs made and in 99% of cases they go straight in and are as good as new.

I was more than relieved that this one went in ok as the last thing I wanted was a front end strip down on a Friday when my next job was 75 miles away.

The customer doesn't even know there was a potential problem and all is well - That's what they pay me for - to keep them out of trouble and that's what we do. Not only did I not hassle them with the problem, I didn't charge any extra either - Saint Antony, the patron saint of compressors - that's me.

Check your oil

It never ceases to amaze me that people don't check their oil level.
Every machine we look after has a sticker saying "Check Oil Weekly" and most of them don't check it at all. 

Now most of our machines don't use oil at all and the rest use very little, but if a problem arises and you don't spot it in time then things can get very difficult We have a handful of customers who really should and don't, so we do it for them and at least we all sleep quietly in our beds.

Ironically we have a customer who always checks it weekly on a Friday afternoon and is probably the lightest user we have and it never ever uses a drop ever, but still he checks it - clever man.

A very expensive oil drip

Real nice customers, a small family firm but right up to date equipment, producing top quality shop fittings. Their machines are all new and use air. One of their men noticed an oil drip coming from the bottom of their 5hp vane compressor and being proper people rang me straight away.

Upon inspection it looked like it was coming from the main seal between the compressor and motor - a simple enough job. So we removed the pump end only to find no leak from the seal - the leak was from the oil cooler and these can not be mended - cost £300. Although the seal was not leaking it was worn and had to be replaced £70, that's right £70.

When will manufacturers get it right and be realistic about spares prices - probably when its too late for them.


I bet you won't have one of these

We had a call from an Historic Railway Society who have a 40+ year old diesel compressor with a damaged oil cooler. Their usual repairer of radiators said a repair was doubtful and would cost around £400 or a specially made unit would be £600++. Anyway we had one which was £200 and that's that. I remember working on those compressors back in the 60s-70s, I doubt if there are many spares about now - although there are a few up in our attic.


The Attic

Whilst on the subject of the attic - We have spares going back to the 60s. I have always kept all our spares and don't believe in sending things to scrap just because the machine is no longer current. We have complete machines for breaking which almost no one else has left and they have helped save a lot of other machines from the scrap heap - we actively buy in scrap machines for spares.

Most dealers laugh at our philosophy but soon ring up when they need a part themselves, we supply them at a good price and many of them make a killing out of it.

About 3 years ago a major UK Compressor Manufacturer told one its southern distributors to clear out all spares for machines 15 years of age and older. The idea was that if spares were not available people would have to upgrade their compressors.

Around 10 builders skips of new spares were destined to be melted, but the scrap dealer called a local independent and offered him the lot - he paid him about £500 for the lot - real value £super mega - lucky man. Any way more of that another time.


I told you so

The first interesting shout for help was from one of our customers who run a Medical Lab. Lots of micro air tools running all day - no air and it all stops It turns out that the compressor had suddenly started to use more oil than normal and no one rang us to say. It was a small Hydrovane 15 which usually gave no problems and so we were surprised to get a call in between services. It had stopped more than once with low oil and they finally decided to call.

By the nature of their operation if a Hydrovane is using oil it is either an oil leak, a blocked separator or its in need of a big rebuild. I knew it didn't need the latter as I service it twice a year myself, no oil leak and I changed the separator at the last service (5 months ago).

Upon inspection the separator was worn but still working, the seals in the front end had all gone hard and brittle which allowed oil to leak from the separator and down the line - hence the oil loss.

One of the things which had contributed to this problem was the heat that the compressor was subjected to where it was sited. In their wisdom the supplying dealer had put in under a bench in a small unventilated room along with a small furnace. Even in the depths of winter it is sweltering in there and it does not help things - mind you the customer said he has nowhere else to put it, so he doesn't help either.

As long as the compressor is running no one worries but if it stops its the end of the world.


December has been and gone and it has been more than busy, with far too much to do and so little time. We finished our last job of the year at 4pm on New Years Eve and that was the end of the year.

The day before that we were still working in Nottingham when we got a call for help from a company in Wakefield and so off we went up the A1(M) to solve another problem - An extra 150 mile round trip at the end of a busy day, good fun or what.


We always start December thinking that this year it will be nice and steady, but no, as always unexpected jobs turn up and time just disappears.

On Thursday of this week we had a call from a UK Company who needed a 50 hp compressor for its overseas branch in Central Africa. It was paid for the next day and collected ready to be air freighted before Christmas - That's what you call a rush job.

One of our bigger customers asked if we could move a couple of air lines for them. One was a 6000psi main - not everyone's cup of tea - and modify a normal line. That was a nice way to spend 2 days.

Then there was the big job for a major Classic Car Restorer in the Midlands - they needed a new pressure fed cabinet and compressor complete with everything. Not too difficult a job really except I had the flu for a week and that never helps. Anyway its in now and will revolutionise their workshop - another job done.

Of course this is apart from a diary full of service work that always needs doing.

Christmas Eve was spent on a petrol driven portable that wanted to be troublesome, but that's sorted now and we are about to enjoy a couple of days off and back to work on Saturday 27th - no long holidays for Compressorman.


Well November has been fairly uneventful to date - no major events to report. 

Did save one customer from a big bill though -

The Leaking Pump

A good customer of ours with a wet blast cabinet, reported a water leak from the main spindle in the pump. Now this can be a very expensive repair at best, to a ridiculous situation at worse.

Compressorman attended site first thing next morning and decided to check if main pump nuts were loose - and they were - a gentle retighten to the correct torque and problem solved. No big bill, one happy customer.


Desert Storm

Another good customer of Compressorman called asking if we could take a look at his Shotblast Cabinet which had developed a dust problem. The machine was kept in a partitioned off area because "it had a dust problem" - well it had decided to get worse and the room was covered in a white powder dust, which the extractor was belching out at an alarming rate. It turned out that the fan motor had recently failed and had been replaced by a local electrician. However, he had not resealed the motor flange plate and we assume it must have leaked and he decided to tighten down the flange bolts, more and more and more until the threads started to strip and so allow a leak to develop.

We helicoiled the damaged threads and sealed the flange plates and that was the end of that problem - Job done.


Forward Planning

In January 2001 Compressorman installed a rebuilt Hydrovane 23 in the premises of a new customer.

The brief was to provide a nice cost effective air system - on a budget - and capable of coping with some proposed production expansion due within 2 years. 

The system was installed and all ran well - Mid 2003 whilst attending their site for planned maintenance, the proposed expansion plans were mentioned again.

The Expansion Plan

The Company manufacture a range of commercial and industrial lighting products. The were experiencing some difficulties with premature failure of the battery screw drivers they were currently using.

The companies project engineer was looking into the feasibility of using air operated screw drivers and was concerned about the amount of air available as most of the screw drivers he had found used between 8 -10cfm and they needed a total of 4 units - more air than they had.

We liased with our suppliers and found a nice professional unit which uses only 2cfm and at a good price.

Armed with this information we were given the ok to install an extension of the ring main into the assy area, complete with filtration and pressure regulation at each work station.

Our supplier has provided us with a new screw driver for trials and initial tests look very positive and we now await an order for four new units.


Case Study 1

These customers are the proud owners of a Worthington 10hp screw. 
They had owned it from new in 1999 and had never switched it off - or had it serviced.

They had an absolute minimal air requirement, they had leaks which were greater than the demand - so they were doomed from the start.

From new it had been switched on for approx 35K hrs with about 6K load hours, but less than 0.5Khrs of required air.

Anyway the star contactor failed and allowed power on 2 phases only - probably at 17.05 on a Friday night.

The result was big overload, the overload failed and the motor and contactors went US.

Its lucky it wasn't a factory fire instead.

They found our name on the internet and called us for help.
What a mess, a new star delta starter, timer, new motor, repairs and make up for 4 years lack of servicing. The oil was 25% liquid - water.
A disaster is a disaster and there is no way out of it - it was not a cheap repair.

But we gave a full 12 month warranty, got the customer on a full service schedule, and got them to switch off when they go home.

IF this customer had been with us from new we would have supplied a Hydrovane and with our service plan there would have been no problems - that's confidence.

Case Study 2

A referral from our local electrician - that's another drink we owe him.

A wood working company making garden sheds, with an old Hydrovane 43 and a 7.5hp piston as back up - so far so good. We got a call to ask if we could take a look at the Hydrovane which had gone BANG. When Compressorman arrived there were bits of alloy fins all around the Hydrovane.

Someone has left some thing on top of the after cooler which had fell into the lantern and jammed and shattered the impeller housing - Big Big Problem.

This item has long since been unavailable from Hydrovane and the only hope was to find one secondhand - many thanks to several friends in the trade who offered one for £350-400 - but no thanks. A real friend in the trade found us one in Pembroke of all places and we passed it on at cost - that means what we paid for it - no add-ons.

When all finished and serviced it was a fair old bill but it was fair and everyone was happy. Again this is another new customer for us and they are on our regular service list.


What we didn't tell you was that 2 weeks before the disaster the machine was "Serviced" by a so called specialist company who charged £369 and did very little for it. Needless to say Compressorman is now the approved supplier at this company from now on.

Case Study 3

Yet another call from an electrician - this time in Birmingham.

He had a customer with an old Hydrovane 170 Aircentre - contactor problem, overload failure, sound familiar - electrics need service too. The motor was US and they needed it taking out for them - why does Compressorman get all the good jobs.

Miserable job, but 4 hours later the motor is ready for collection by electrician.

It is pointed out to him that all 8 drive pins are US and need replacing.
Electrician thanks us for our efforts said he can replace and rebuild himself - don't forget the drive pins we said.

Some time later the electrician called about something else and we asked how the aircentre was - ok but a bit noisy they said - did you fit new pins? What new pins, they said.

It could be a decade, a year, a month, a day or an hour - who knows, but when it goes it will be a big expensive bang - we are glad on our invoice to the electrician we put in bold letters YOU MUST REPLACE DRIVE PINS.

Some people just seem hard to help sometimes.

Guess What?  03/11/03

Call from said electrician - his customer had reported a tapping noise coming from the aircentre, he didn't attend and next day his customer said noise was now worse and more of a banging sound.

This electrician is a bit of a laid back fellow and left it another 24hrs before attending his customers site.

When he got there it had just died - bits everywhere - no compressed air - and a nasty looking customer.

Would we like the job - "I don't think so" was our best reply. Compressorman enjoys a challenge and will tackle most jobs, but does not get involved in hopeless causes. 

Anyway, some friends of ours in the trade have taken on the job, they are looking for a male and female coupling, new drive pins, bell housing and are concerned about damage to the compressor main shaft - sounds like big grief to us - the bill will be enormous and the end user probably thinks its the electricians fault and hasn't even paid the first invoice as yet. This extra work will create an even bigger invoice and no one will want to pay.

Points to note;

Always use a reputable compressor company for servicing and repairs.
Get a Preventative Maintenance Programme and things will never get to this stage.

Consider a hire contract and none of it is your problem or cost.

We can help you with all of the above.

Case Study 4

This was another good one.

An existing customer of Compressorman this time - they have 2 sites one well maintained by us on a service contract and the other for breakdown repairs only - no service.

The second site was having a big revamp and needed to be bought in line with the main site. The piston compressor was 5.5hp, old - very old and made in S. Africa. The chap on site said it squeaks and squeals a bit and gets hot - he was about right. The pressure valve had failed and at 200+++psi the belts squeaked and squealed quite a lot.

A new valve, its first service in memory, new belts and its seems fine now and of course a regular service plan.

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