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Old 04-15-2015, 07:57 AM   #1
Yakima OP
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Air Wrench question: amps and volts

Greetings

I need an air wrench very occasionally. Rarely. Almost never.

So I went to Harbor Freight, figuring I'd pick up the middle-price-range model.

While there I got to talking to a guy who was also buying an air wrench. He said he had two trucks laid up because he couldn't loosen a particular bolt. Went on to say he built "hot rods" and knew his way around such stuff. (Unlike me.)

He asked me what sort of compressor I had. "A five-gallon pancake," I said.

"Don't buy an air wrench. Won't work. Not enough volume. You'll be frustrated."

"Sort of like the difference between amps and volts?" I asked.

"Exactly" he said.

So is that correct? I ended up not buying the wrench. Haven't yet needed it, but his comments got me curious.

What say you?

Thanks.
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Old 04-15-2015, 08:03 AM   #2
matey peeps
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It's all about the CFM a tool consumes. You may have 100 psi, but you don't have much volume in reserve - volts vs. amps. I've got a small compressor at home and I get about five good braps out of my 1/2" impact before it slows down. My solution was to get a Ryobi 1/2" rechargeable impact from Home Depot, which I use the crap out of.
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Old 04-15-2015, 11:10 AM   #3
Conedodger
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Another option is to plumb in a storage tank between your pancake compressor and the impact wrench.
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Old 04-15-2015, 11:13 AM   #4
Yakima OP
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Guys
Two GREAT ideas. Never would have thought of the storage tank... Hmmm. That will bear some sniffing around.
I did think of an alternative wrench, but haven't heard if they're worth the time or money.
So thanks, both you.

Yak
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Old 04-15-2015, 11:18 AM   #5
DSM8
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The air wrench will work just fine you will simply have a very low duty cycle between full power and time for the compressor to refill.

If you have to spin off lots of bolts using the tool then you will be very annoyed. If you are using it sparingly and in short bursts it will do the job you just have to deal with the constant cycling of the compressor while doing the job.

Small compressors have their place but you have to decide on your utilization of the tool, lots of use needs lots of air (volume and PSI depending on the tool).
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Old 04-15-2015, 11:36 AM   #6
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yep.... air tools are hungry. if you are installing/removing a series of nuts and bolts your little compressor will only have enough air for a couple & then there won't be enough power to do the work. the compressor will run and never shut off. for something like an impact wrench it would be OK for breaking torque
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Old 04-15-2015, 11:42 AM   #7
groundrules
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSM8 View Post
The air wrench will work just fine you will simply have a very low duty cycle between full power and time for the compressor to refill.
In theory, yes. In practice, I can unequivocally say no, it won't work. because I've been there with exactly the OP's setup: pancake compressor and HF gun. It sucks. no go.

THE SOLUTION (heed my words, as I have walked your walk): buy the harbor freight electric impact gun for <$40 on sale or with coupon. It's decent, it works, it hits harder than their shitty air tools, and it's perfect for occasional use by those of us without big compressors.


I don't think an air tank plumbed in is viable- takes up too much space and will work your shitty oilless pancake machine half to death, and you'll have to listen to that thing run nearly constantly while it fills a huge tank.
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Old 04-15-2015, 12:14 PM   #8
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Small compressors are good for nail guns but not much else...
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Old 04-15-2015, 02:17 PM   #9
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If I use my good 1/2 inch impact to pull all 4 wheels off the truck, this thing keeps up...........barely.
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Old 04-15-2015, 03:06 PM   #10
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Cordless impact wrenches are waaay better than they were a few years ago and are a viable option and good enough that many professional mechanics use them these days. I (as an amateur) opted to go that route recently rather than buying a bigger compressor or a corded impact wrench. Did a bunch of reading and learned that a big lithium battery delivers more performance, ended up getting the 300 ft-lbs. Craftsman HD C3 for about $150 (they also sell a lesser 200 ft-lbs version) and it works great for the auto and MC wrenching I do.
If you need something better and more powerful the Milwaukee 18V models are highly regarded, especially the Fuel version, but are considerably more expensive. FWIW TTI makes C3 and Milwaukee.

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Old 04-16-2015, 02:10 PM   #11
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HF has a great Electric impact for $34-$49 range depending sales in coupons.
I have air tools. It's a great tool when no air is available. Battery powered impacts are great for 90% of life. If you need 60+ but less than 95+/-. Electric impact is a great cheap alternative. BTW you need 90+psi air 8+CFM to work an 1/2 impact. Check the tool for bare minimums Amp& Volts is the same polemic as PSI & CFM.........Volt & Air is Horsepower AMP & CFM is torque....
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Old 04-16-2015, 02:22 PM   #12
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I have air ratchets but I picked up a Milwaukee M12 ratchet to do some boat work and have to say, I'm quit pleased with it. They come in 1/4 and 3/8 and the plus side, it's quiet.

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Old 04-19-2015, 04:07 AM   #13
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Another vote for a good lithium ion cordless impact, I happen to use Milwaukee. I have a whole drawer full of air tools I seldom use now, the cordless stuff is that good.

As mentioned a corded impact might be your cheapest option for occasional use, not a fan of the weight of those nor the rocker switch.

Compressing air for tool use is the least efficient use of energy.
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:32 AM   #14
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>>In theory, yes. In practice, I can unequivocally say no, it won't work. because I've been there with exactly the OP's setup: pancake compressor and HF gun. It sucks. no go.<<

This......
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Old 04-19-2015, 06:21 AM   #15
Stan_R80/7
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Air powered tools get their horsepower from air flow x pressure (HP=Q.P). For those inclined, this equation is basically the same as electrical power from volts x current (W=A.V). Without a large compressor motor to pump 90 psi air at 10 CFM, the next best is having a large tank which can supply 90 psi at 10 CFM for some duration (say, 2 min). For air impact wrenches and ratchets, a 30 gallon tank rated at 125 psi is about the smallest practical size with a 120 V compressor pump, IMO.
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