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Thread: Convince me not to buy a California Air Tools compressor.

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Posts: 41-49 of 49
2021-07-19 20:52:25
2022-07-15 15:03:22
Okay, so I never posted the update about the parts I needed. They arrived and the repair went well. I'll post pics some day. But a year has passed and I have a new problem now. Read on.

Originally Posted by BenFenner
I have it running through a long extension cord right now, so it can only fill while empty. If it tries to fill again with some pressure inside, there isn't enough amperage to get the motor started. So I have to fill it up then turn it off and use it until I'm done, then drain it for the next fill.
I was using it again on an extension cord today with an air hammer to break up large chunks of concrete to use as gravel. I didn't turn off the pump after one fill and figured I would eventually get to it but I went through air quicker than I thought and forgot. Then I started to smell something awful. Turns out the motor was trying to turn but just did not have enough amps and the unit has burned itself out.

I am really angry with myself for letting this happen. And it is super obnoxious because I need it for the next ~5 day to crush this stuff up before July 20th when a new shed is being built. I'm using the gravel under the shed for leveling and to help stave off rotting of the base supports.

So now I guess I need a compressor ASAP, so I'm looking at local units, which means I'll probably get stuck with something shitty. Or maybe I'll borrow/rent one. We'll see.

I really can't believe I let myself ruin this unit. It has been very good to me. I'd actually like to purchase the newer version of it. The new version claims to have an "Easy Start Valve - For Less Starting Amperage" which might have actually prevented my issue. Or maybe even the "Thermal Overload Protector" would have helped, but who knows...
And they really haven't gone up much in price, which is extremely surprising.
California Air Tools - The Largest Manufacture of Ultra Quiet, Oil-Free & Lightweight Air Compressors - CAT-10020C

Edit: I spoke with a CAT tech and he said those features are also on my unit, so would not have helped. The "Easy Start Valve" I think is actually a capacitor.

So I'm off to find something, or bash these thing with my mini-sledge manually, or just give up on the idea. Woe is me.
Last edited by BenFenner on 2022-07-15 at 20-24-32.
2022-07-15 20:17:36
Well, this Garage Journal thread clued me into a decent local option from Harbor Freight so I picked one up today.
Replacement Air Compressor Options

And here's a link to the FT26175 unit I got:
26 Gallon 175 PSI Ultra Quiet Vertical Shop/Auto Air Compressor

It is 26 gallons, so much larger than my current unit which is good and bad. Not great because I do lug it around some times and am somewhat space-limited. It is just as quiet (these days other companies have picked up their dB game) as my old unit so I'm very happy there. It has less flow (4.5 CFM @ 90spi versus the 5.3 CFM of my CAT unit), and similarly runs on a 120V/15A circuit. Part of my mistake with the previous unit was running it on an extension cord, so I'm going to invest in some longer hoses and hopefully this one can stay put. I paid $399 plus $32 tax for this, which is decent especially considering prices these days.

I still think I might repair the CAT unit with a new motor for about $200, and then maybe sell one of them but we'll see.

At least I can continue smashing rocks for the next few days and life marches on.
Last edited by BenFenner on 2022-07-16 at 08-04-44.
2022-08-02 07:30:25
So you have convinced yourself to not buy a California Air Tools compressor. Nice.
2022-08-02 07:54:39
I've been working with this new compressor a lot and it is just too much compressor for me right now. I don't like to leave a full compressor in my garage for long periods of time, or really any length of time, so I fill my compressor from empty at the beginning of jobs and then completely empty it at the end of jobs. Doing that on a large compressor like this takes a long time, and I just don't need this kind of overall volume in a compressor (it also takes longer because it peaks at 175 PSI versus 150 for my old unit).

With the smaller jobs I'm typically doing, it is just overkill. I actually much prefer my 10-gallon unit for the kind of jobs I do, which I didn't ever think I would say. I just assumed a bigger unit would be better. It did work great for what I needed it for, but I'm going to call the manager at Harbor Freight and see if they will accept a return (their policy is 90 days) and return to using my 10-gallon CAT unit after I order a new motor for it.
Last edited by BenFenner on 2022-08-02 at 07-59-17.
2022-08-09 09:45:54
Well, I returned the 26-gallon unit with a 20% restocking fee ($80) so I essentially rented it for ~4 weeks and used it quite a bit. And I learned I don't want a compressor that big any time soon, so I'll be placing an order for a new motor for my 9-year-old 10-gallon unit.
2022-08-09 11:52:23
Ugh, it seems the tech on the phone a month ago severely miss-quoted the price of a new motor for my old unit. I was told ~$200 but it is actually ~$435 which makes this whole idea of repair much less appealing, especially since a new unit is similar in price. I'm going to have to take a step back and figure out my next move.

(For the record, the part number for the old motor is MP-200 but has been supplanted by the newer SP-9421: SP-9421-11060 2HP OIL-FREE MOTOR PUMP 110V/60Hz - Master Tool Repair )
2022-08-09 12:09:16
Well, while researching other compressors, I actually found CAT sells their motors on Amazon much cheaper than at the official repair vendor's web site.
Still not ~$200 but at ~$285 + tax (~$308) I might just bite the bullet and get this saga over with.
Such an expense and hassle to learn something I essentially already knew (don't run the compressor on an extension cord).

Amazon | California Air Tools SP-9421 2.0HP Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free Air Compressor Motor

Last edited by BenFenner on 2022-08-09 at 12-22-15.
2023-02-24 08:58:14
Originally Posted by BenFenner
I upgraded from the typical "M" fittings to the "V" fittings for more flow once I learned they existed.
This is a no-brainer.

Milton-M-style = 5.12mm
Milton-V-style = 6.90mm

Well, seems the TTC just did a video on stuff like this, so here yah go:

Last edited by BenFenner on 2023-02-24 at 09-15-53.
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