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Compressor Conundrums

Discussion in 'Dive Equipment' started by Alex Denny, Mar 24, 2018.

  1. Alex Denny

    Alex Denny Active Member

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    Compressors can be expensive things to pick up, and I imagine pretty expensive to maintain... But just how much?

    It's something we're thinking about as a club but would like to understand the overheads...

    New, I can see options that look good for a club (smallish and semi-transportable) for around £5k

    https://www.mikesdivestore.com/prod...iBICKODvU8_je1fbPTf9ahq9dnnTmJBAaAmG1EALw_wcB


    Second hand, the cost could be half that for something which (on the face of it) looks decent:

    https://m.ebay.co.uk/itm/HAMWORTHY-...vr_id=1476634001838&_mwBanner=1&ul_noapp=true

    What would the annual upkeep on these cost, and would the second hand one cost so much for an initial service that you may as well start new?

    Ebay also offers a load of flimsy looking Chinese things which apparently work to 300bar for under £500. They seem to lack all of the filters etc. you would normally expect on a breathing air compressor. Presumably these are outright dangerous??
     
    Nick Ward likes this.
  2. El Spread

    El Spread New Member

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    The Bauer Junior is a cracker of a compressor although there's no denying that it is pricey. Bauer customer service and after care is very good and they do come with a good warranty.
    As for running costs they aren't really that much and it won't take long to get your money back from one of them - plus they hold value quite well. The biggest cost with Bauer compressors is the pre packed filters. You won't get much change from £30 from one of them and they don't last long. You can get round this by adding another filter tower or by getting a repackable filter - they're not difficult to make if you're half decent at welding. Doing so will reduce your filter change costs to about £1.50/£2.
    Oil change intervals are ridiculously long too - something like 2000 hours?! The oil is a wee bit expensive but you only need 600ml or so at a time. Even if you do it once a year it's no great cost. Being German Bauer are a bit pedantic about servicing and say that you should get it sent back to the factory to get checked out every so often. Tbh if you have half a brain and are capable of changing drive belts etc. then you should get years of trouble free performance from them. I've seen a junior 2 compressor stored outside on a scallop boat on the west coast of Scotland working like a dream even after 5 years of heavy use!

    Have a look at L&W compressors. They are extremely well made (just as good as Bauer) and cost about 15% less. Some people dislike the coltri subs but I personally think that for the price they are great wee units and got a good few years of nitrox blending out of my last single phase model before i got 3 stage at home.

    You can often pick up bargains second hand but if you don't know what you are doing then I'd stay clear. Older compressors tend to run on highly refined mineral oil which can be tricky to get. That in itself isn't too much of a problem if it's been well maintained, however people often top up with Anderol (synthetic) or similar which absolutely destroys them before long.

    Sorry for the lengthy reply. Good luck whatever you decide.
     
    Nick Ward, Wibble and Alex Denny like this.
  3. nickb

    nickb Active Member

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    I bought a Bauer Poseidon (PE100) for about half of the price of that Junior II. They have the same 3-cylinder block and use the same filters but the Junior has some nicer features including a better filter housing. Two whips are pretty pointless at that fill rate.

    I'm more than happy with it but, at 100l/min, I reckon it's way too small for a club compressor. It takes about 20 mins to fill a single 12l from 50 bar. Some poor chump would be giving-up their weekends filling tins for a pool session. Trust me, two of us used to spend our entire Wednesday afternoons filling tins at uni when we could have been in the pub!

    @El Spread is spot on about buying second-hand from an unknown source. Unless you (or a knowledgeable you can rope-in for advice) know what you're looking for, it's a big risk.
     
    Alex Denny likes this.
  4. Harvey-NG

    Harvey-NG Member

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    I've used many a Bauer Junior on boats before, and they are great little compressors. Were you planning on getting one with electric or petrol drive though? Fuel power is a bit of a faff, and provided you don't need a totally set up absolutely anywhere compressor, best to be avoided. This is just because of the exhaust and air intake issues, one less thing to worry about with an electric.

    One thing I do know though, is the fill rate of a junior is pretty damn rubbish when everyone needs a fill. If you want more of a permanent solution in a club house, a junior is not an ideal model, but arguably neither is an old hamworthy that will empty your pockets just to maintain it.
    For filters, as previously mentioned, with a tiny bit of know how, you can do away with the pre-packed cartridges and fill your own - it's only silica gel, carbon, and a molecular sieve which really doesn't cost much if you do need to reduce costs as much as possible.

    I would recommend a coltri that'll do you a nice 13cf a minute fill to 300bar and produce bs8478 'clean air' for nitrox - but if that's out of budget, it's out of budget. The Bauer Junior is a great model - but the electric version is a tad better.

    Oh, and avoid the £500 Chinese knock offs!
     
    Alex Denny likes this.
  5. Tel

    Tel Super Moderator
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    Depends on the demographic of the club so this may not apply, but worth saying anyway just in case.

    Have you done any basic cylinder calcs?

    How many would use it?
    How many would want Nx/Mix etc.
    How many would still use a inland site/local gas station etc?
    What number of cylinders on average would you expect to pump?

    And the main one, where do you get you gas from now?

    That last one is key, if the LDS is getting all the trade they'll be losing it to the compressor and that
    could well effect shop sales as well. If they felt they'd lose the trade could you negotiate a deal
    to get it cheaper as long as more from the club used them in return?

    It might seem drastic, but it can be worth investing in stock club cylinders that can be pre-pumped
    at the LDS or a cheaper site ready for trips.

    None of the above takes into account the magnet for members of having a compressor sure,
    but it can be surprising when the cost vs benefit is set out on paper.
     
    Alex Denny likes this.
  6. Alex Denny

    Alex Denny Active Member

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    The people who run our LDS are retiring and it’s not quite clear if there is a buyer for the business yet... I really hope there is, but it is a factor in our thinking...
     
  7. nickb

    nickb Active Member

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    Maybe their compressor will be up for sale ;)
     
  8. Alex Denny

    Alex Denny Active Member

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    It’s a bit big!!
     

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