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In the Shop

RSS By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal

As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.

My Compressed Air and Air Tool Goofs

Feb 22, 2009
In the mid-February issue of Farm Journal there's a multi-page story, "Adequate Air," about designing compressed air systems for farm shops. I've set up, remodeled and repaired several compressed air systems, and gone through a variety of air-powered tools. And boy, I've made a lot of mistakes. Here's what I've learned:

-Always spend the extra money and use air tool oil designed to clean and lubricate air tools. For some reason, I thought lubricant was lubricant. I cheaped-out and tried using WD-40, JB-80 and whatever other lubricants were sitting on my workbench to lubricate my air tools. Bad decision. Those products are penetrating oils with low viscosity and additives to bust rust. Air tools need a more viscous oil with additives designed to cling to metal components. Once I got done paying for repairs or buying new air tools to replace the ones damaged by my use of penetrating oils, I invested in a big bottle of air tool lubricating oil.

-Whether you add a few drops of air tool oil to the air inlets of air-powered tools before or after you actually use those tools, be sure to do it. Mechanics who use their air tools daily tend to add a few drops of oil before they couple their air tool to the air hose prior to each use. It's a habit that ensures the tool is always oiled. Farmers who use air tools infrequently might reverse the process and drip oil into the inlet after they get done using the tool. This ensures the tool's innards are coated with oil to resist moisture corrosion in the days or weeks when the tool is idle. The only problem with that strategy is that after adding the oil, the tool should be recoupled to the air hose and triggered a few times so air pressure distributes the oil throughout the tool's moving parts.

-When designing and constructing a "header" pipe to run along the side of a shop and distribute air from the compressor, be wary of 90-degree bends and reducer fittings. Every 90-degree fitting reduces air flow a measurable amount. So do reducer fittings. Street (or straight, depending on how you pronounce it) "L" fittings that have the same interior diameter (I.D.) at inlet and outlet are more efficient than 90-degree fittings constructed from an elbow and a couple reducing nipples.

-If you're replacing or sharpening blades on a disk, or the disk openers on a corn planter, be very careful where your rubber air lines are located if you set the disk or planter down onto the ground. Unless you have need for a lot of 3/8" x 11" segments of rubber hose. (If you set the planter down on the hose, the segments will be 3/8" x 30".)
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