Anyone know about Air Compressors?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by eric, Dec 20, 2004.

  1. eric

    eric Member

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    When I worked at a lab, instead of having canned air for everyone, the owner had a HUGE air compressor at the end of the hallways. He then ran a line to each printing room with a squeezing thing. This was for blowing air on the negs. Am thinking of doing something the same to my darkroom.

    Do you guys think a 2 HP air compressor is enough? The nozzle end was brass and a type of squeeze grip. I don't know much about air compressors and I do remember, that if everyone uses it all at once, you have to wait a couple of minutes to get the pressure back.
     
  2. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

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    I have a small compressor in my darkroom and it lasts for a while, recharging it takes about 1 minute. Sorry not sure what HP, but I would advise making sure you have a good hose on it. The hose mine came with leaked badly at the joints..
     
  3. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    When I first got out of college, I worked for a medical company that made pneumatic surgical tools. We had a huge compressor. Sometimes we would get too much water in the lines from the humid (near the beach) air. It wasn't something I'd blow on my negs. I suppose if you had some filters, it would be okay. You've got to take out the water and oil and dirt. Now I work in electronics and compressed air can have another problem and that is static electricity. I don't know how many cans of air other people use, but not that much. I use a brush quite a bit.
     
  4. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Eric

    I have used both canned air and air compressors.
    My definate choice would be canned air.
    Air compressors can have oil in them that will transfer to your film , as well moisture within the lines can cause problems. As well if you use copper piping to transfer the air lines, the compressed air will pick up flakes of metal and deposit them on your negatives or lenses.
    I could tell immediately at the numerous labs I worked at, when copper was part of the air system , all the lenses were pitted and oily.
    I print daily and I use the small cans of compressed air (Falcon Dust Off Professional XL) and I find them economical and do not have the above problems.
    I think you should not use a compressor system for your work. Hope this is helpful.
     
  5. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

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    wow, I've never had any issues with the compressed air, now you guys are making me paranoid!
     
  6. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I guess the major factor is if canned air is costing you too much. Canned air is in any case not totally innocuous, if you are not careful a slug of liquid butane can emerge before it has had time to vaporise - if this gets onto glass, it can crack it beautifully.
    Equally, I would not use a compressor without filters. Compressed air is used for all kinds of things, the crudest use would be blowing metal chips off workpieces after machining, etc. Air straight from the compressor would be fine for this, for blowing onto film, lenses, etc. filters are a must. They commonly come in mesh sizes of 40, 5, 1 and 0.01 µm, which one you use depends on how dirty the supply air is (worn compressor + old reservoir means dirty) and how clean you want the filtered air). You could just fit a 1 µm filter on its own, it would clog very fast. Two in line would be much better, even three if necessary, say a 5 µm (40 if supply air very dirty) + 1 µm (+ 0.01 µm to give "clean room" conditions). Any place that sells compressors sells filters. As one of my clients is

    www.festo.com

    I recommend them!

    Regards,

    David
     
  7. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    I've used an air compresser for years. While moisture can be a problem the problem is easily solved. At the end of the session I fill the tank reserve with air then open the release valve at the bottom and let the compressed air expell any moisture in the tant. Then I leave the valve open until the next session.
    I find the air compresser very handy in the darkroom for for cleaning equipment and corners.
     
  8. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Thomas, you're doing it right. Blowing down and draining the air tank is the way to keep the moisture and oil entrainment minimized.

    Getting instrument quality air, that is, clean dry air, is an expensive proposition. Drying requires heated dessicant air dryers plus moisture traps. Not a viable setup for non-industrial use.
     
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  9. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Compressed air is fine, but as has been stated, the air is very dirty. You don't need a high volume of air, just enough pressure to move the dust. Check into a small portable, similar to the type sold in tool stores for finish nail guns (nailers, staplers, etc.) If you are going to use it in the darkroom, be aware that you will not only be moving the dust on the film (or off of the film), but also all of the dust in the room with high pressure blasts.

    There are small in-line regulators made to reduce pressure, get one. The suggestion for filters is correct. You can also add a drier, oil and water trap. All of this is a must. Draining the tank, as Thomas has suggested, will prevent water from collecting in the tank. Moist air is drawn in and heated by the force of compression. As it cools in the tank, water will form at the bottom. Don't buy a compressor without a drain.

    There are plenty of cheap compressors available to do the job, but don't buy one without getting a pressure regulator, filter and drier.
     
  10. eric

    eric Member

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    You guys gave me A LOT of advice. I didn't think it would be that complicated. Thanks so much. I'll have to look at my local pennysavers or mabye a small cheap one I guess would work as well as long as I have the above -- regulator, filter, drier.

    Thanks!!!
     
  11. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Theres also the option of a low volume airbrush pump if space is a problem. I'd assume an inline filter would be feasible on this as well.
     
  12. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

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    I had a look at the air cans, they all seem to pump out some pretty harsh stuff.. big labels on the cans "DO NOT INHALE" etc. I guess I could use it near my exhaust fan if it's that noxious.
     
  13. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    I have a 6HP, 60 gallon compressor in my garage, but I use canned air and static brushes on negatives!
     
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  15. JD Morgan

    JD Morgan Member

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    Hmmm...

    Clean dry compressed air.... where would I look for something like that... hmmm.....
     

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  16. pschauss

    pschauss Member

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    FWIW, Ansel Adams recommended using a small horse hair brush to clean off negatives. His objection to compressed air was that it blew the dirt around which could scratch the negatives.
     
  17. lee

    lee Member

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    sean said, "labels on the cans "DO NOT INHALE" etc."

    I think that they meant don't place the nozzle toward the mouth and squeeze. I would not worry about it too much in general use

    lee\c
     
  18. eric

    eric Member

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    Bwahh! Nice pic. For some reason, I thought he was a septic tank cleaner :smile:
     
  19. kwmullet

    kwmullet Member

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    Hrm..... now that's something I hadn't thought of before. Of course, I'm pretty sure you need to be a certified open water diver to get a tank charged -- I think I've had to show my dive card when doing that if the shop didn't already know me.

    Any of the SCUBA types on apug got idea on how you'd connect the valve on the tank to a hose with a standard compresser "squeeze and squirt" handle? It'd be nice not to have to buy an entire regulator rig just to do this, although maybe one could be found on eBay that has just the valve and the low-pressure part that attaches to the boyancy control vest.

    -KwM-
     
  20. JD Morgan

    JD Morgan Member

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    A dive shop will have a hose that will attach to the first stage and be compatible with a female O2 fitting (have a couple because we sometimes used a SCUBA bottle pig-tailed to the air manifold as a third back-up rather than haul the big 161 out on long structures or small boats). Use a male O2 to 1/4 NPT bushing at the hose end. The 1/4NPT will fit your air nozzle, standard pneumatic quick connects for various tools etc., tire inflator for your flats on the trail or when you go tubin' with all the pretty girls. That way you won't get all silly lookin' and dizzy tryin' to blow tractor tubes up with your face. :wink:

    You can also go to your local welding supply and lease various sized 'breathing air' cylinders and use an air or O2 gas weld/cut type regulator and hose.

    If you have this stuff in a 'maintained climate' you won't have to worry about condensation forming in the hose (almost killed me one day), but be sure to blow it out anyway -- spiders and such find their way into things. Splat a spidey on your neg and ya might end up with an instant macro - life size. :wink:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 21, 2004
  21. JD Morgan

    JD Morgan Member

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    BTW, the first stage reduction on LP is usually between 90-125 PSI. You can cut an old regulator or drysuit hose and attach what you want with hose clamps etc. The older first stages (like 30 - 40 years old) were eassily adjustable for LP pressure, not certain about the newer. But you can make a small manifold incorporating a small pressure regulator to run the bottle to and then hose off of that for whatever you want. Ya don't need 125 psi for negs, that would just waste air.

    There also used to be brass fitting available that fit an LP port on the first stage with a male O2 on the opposing side. You can then adapt O2 to 1/4NPT or use an old O2 hose from a weld/cut rig (green one, red is acetylene with a left hand thread) and then adapt O2 to 1/4NPT at the end of that or ..... endless possibilities.....

    Commercial divers have all that crap in their junk boxes, go visit one. Approach confidently with a smile and a roll of good duct tape as a peace offering offering, sea dogs can smell fear too -- but they luv duct tape. :wink:

    And don't forget about 'Hookah' rigs. Many compressors now are oil-less on the comressor head side. In the old rigs we had to use special oils because of CO if the rings leaked. Been there too.
     
  22. JD Morgan

    JD Morgan Member

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    I'm not really a left coaster. :cool:

    Check out the 'towers' on the left horizon. :mad:

    Oh, and one of my boats.

    BTW, water treatment plants, sewage plants, generating stations, toxic waste pipes, nuclear pools, etc. are all serviced by commercial divers. Darkroom chemicals ain't squat, I had three years in the toxic mud of the East River -- I gotta wear a light proof body suit to keep from exposing the paper. :wink:
     

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  23. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Heck if you are going that route you may as well go to the welding shop and get a tank of nitrogen like I did. Hook up a regulator to it made for the high psi, an acetlene rig will usually suffice. Only cost a few dollars for a refill.
     
  24. kwmullet

    kwmullet Member

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    Hey -- will Nitrogen sink in regular air? If memory serves, it's something like 60-80% of "air". When not blowing off dust, you could use the Nitrogen to displace the air in your chemistry bottles. :smile:
     
  25. eric

    eric Member

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    Cool pix. Come on , show us one where you are coming out of a sewage!
     
  26. JD Morgan

    JD Morgan Member

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    Close as I can find for ya. Had to flatbed an old instamatic pic. :wink:
     

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