Cheap air compressor tank drain option I never knew existed

Started by TJ Hopland, February 18, 2018, 02:38:56 PM

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TJ Hopland

Figured lots of people here have air compressors and are like me knowing that they need regular draining but most of the time I just don't feel like laying down on the floor to do it so it doesn't get done as often as it should.   

Short version with no back story:

Under $10.  Threads in in place of the typical wing nut style drain most compressors have.  Has a cable you attach somewhere easy to reach like near your main valve or power switch.   You then just tug on when you turn the compressor on and off and maybe a few times during a big project.   

There may be other manufactures but the one that was recommended to me was from a company called CDI and is a model DP25.  Lots of places sell this brand so if you are not an Amazon person you can likely find it many places.  I got mine from Graingers.

https://www.amazon.com/Control-Devices-Brass-Cable-Operated/dp/B0081TJ04O



Longer version:

I tried the harbor freight automatic drain system for a few years on one compressor and it didn't seem to work well or maybe at all.   Theirs is a valve that taps into the pressure switch line so it opens for a second or so every time the compressor shuts off.  Seemed like a good concept but I never saw any puddle under the valve and when I manually drained it I got lots of stuff out.   

I was considering the fancy and expensive electronic timer options but with my irregular use patterns those too looked like they could be a hassle and lead to not getting used.  Not a wise investment considering they can cost as much as a small compressor.   

I posted on another forum looking for ideas.  I had conceived of what would have been a Rube Goldberg Dr Seuss sort of thing with various fittings, levers, and springs.   It would have likely worked but I'm sure I would have ended up with $100 of parts and fuel for extra trips to the store by the time I got to a working revision.    It was that forum that another user posted this $10 option. 

One member there bought one based on that thread and said his didn't seal.   I bought 2 just in case there were lots of duds but the first one seems to be working good so far.  I'm only 2 days in but so far so good.

One thing I did was put an old folded up shop towel under the new drain valve just laying on the floor.   This dampens both the sound and air flow so you don't end up deaf or blowing stuff all over the garage.   Also catches that nasty brown juice so you don't end up with a stain on the floor.
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

73 Eldo convert w/FiTech EFI
80 Eldo Diesel
90 CDV
And other assorted stuff I keep buying for some reason

fishnjim

A lot will depend on where you live, as humidity is the culprit.  I've lived mostly in hot humid climes.  I lived manual for 20+ years and never liked because I always forgot to do it, and when I did I usually had a massive wet oily mess on the floor, when the catch pan overfilled.    My compressor is powered 24/7.   When I bought a new one, it was time to upsize, so draining was more of an issue, so I opted for the ~$80 electric timer this brand offered.   I'm completely happy.   I tubed the drain outside, and even with the winter, the line stays clear.   There is a small 1 sec hiss noise that happens every 45 minutes, so if you have close next door neighbors that may not work, but ways to silence.   This larger compressor runs a slower rpm and very quiet compared to the usual 5 hps and certainly less than the "silent' 7.5 models and for same money as a loud one.   Plus with higher Hp, I was facing upgrading electric for the higher starting amps, and this one avoids that with slower speed and runs within 5 hp supply.
I hope then internet police doesn't shut this down as it's not a Cadillac, so I didn't mention brand.

TJ Hopland

I have too many neighbors too close to have anything making noise continuous noises plus there are times I could go a month without using any air.

I suppose an option with the electric timer drain would be to rig it up so it only would operate if the power was on.    That way it could stay on and do its thing over the work in the shop weekend but then it could be off along with the compressor when you had to go work your day job. 
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

73 Eldo convert w/FiTech EFI
80 Eldo Diesel
90 CDV
And other assorted stuff I keep buying for some reason

Glen

I also bought an automatic drain for my compressor.  It was from Harbor Freight and used the air from the compressor to momentarily vent the water from the tank as the compressor started or stopped.  And it worked well for a while.  It got gummed up and was leaking, so I removed it.  I replaced it with a different scheme.  I liked so well I am implementing it on all the compressors I deal with.  (I do volunteer work with an operating railroad museum).  What I do is first I put the largest diameter pipe I can on the drain, and run it out from under the tank.  There I put the valve, or I attach copper tubing and run that outside where the valve is.     
The advantages are 1) the valve is easy to reach and 2) the water is now sitting in the pipe vice in the bottom of the tank, meaning less rusting in the tank. 
My compressor is on 24/7, but it runs only when I use the air.  I sealed all the leaks. 
Glen Houlton CLC #727 
CLCMRC benefactor #104

savemy67

Hello,

fishnjim - I'm sure you have the "Cadillac" of compressors, so no need to worry about being censored :)

T.J. - The drain seems to operate in a way similar to the '70s hood ornaments.  How reliable do you think the mechanism will be in light of the price?

Christopher Winter
Christopher Winter
1967 Sedan DeVille hardtop

TJ Hopland

I don't know how reliable it will be long term.   That was one reason I bought 2.    I can handle laying on the ground to mess with it a couple times a year if I had to.  I do think it could end up wearing since it has some sort of soft sealing material and you are not operating it in a precise direction. 

Glen, when you said your HF one gummed up you mean the drain section got blocked or the mechanism quit?  I didn't bother taking mine apart when I gave up on it so I don't know what wasn't working.   It was doing something, I could hear the woosh when it operated but I suppose the woosh could have been its operating air, not air coming out of the tank. 

On those where someone was adding the pipe and valves how were they staying all at the bottom level of the tank?  Or is the thought that there is enough air flow to push water out most of the time so the gravity option would only be needed without air?  That was where my design got complicated.   I was thinking you would want to stay low to make sure you got as much water out as possible so there was going to have to be cables and linkages to 'remote' the valves or they would have to be electric. 
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

73 Eldo convert w/FiTech EFI
80 Eldo Diesel
90 CDV
And other assorted stuff I keep buying for some reason

5390john

I installed a stupid simple drain system on my compressor years ago. See photos, it's nothing more than a few pipe fittings from Home Depot with an open/close quarter turn valve.
I installed two valves and leave them open all the time except when I need to use the compressor. All I do is turn the compressor on, wait a few seconds for any water to blow out, then close the valves which are very easily reached. When I'm done with the compressor, I open both valves to release the air pressure.
Been doing this for years.
John Adams
1955 CDV "Marilyn"

"Panic Accordingly"

TJ Hopland

One of my goals was to eliminate the excuse of not wanting to even bend over to open a valve near the floor.   

Interesting that you empty the tank when not in use.   Is there a reason behind that practice?  I'm not saying its good or bad just wondering what the benefit is?  Just water drain?   Looks like yours is a modest size tank so not that long to empty and it doesn't take that long to refill.   I currently have a 60 so it takes a bit of time to empty or fill completely.   

I was thinking about the clogging issue.   'My' valve could be more prone to that than some of the other options.   The original petcock style the valve seat is the size of the whole assembly just guessing maybe 3/8.   When you open it the valve rotates and lifts off the seat leading to the 1/4 passage.  The valve being large and rotating would tend to disrupt and break up any 'chunks' that were there and they would likely get spit out the valve within reason.   My valve the valve and seat appears to be within that 1/4" passage which is down in the recess of the body so a good place to concentrate and trap crap.   

That sort of thing could easily be the primary issue with the HF auto one we were talking about.   That has to have a fairly complex and compact passage for the stuff to negotiate on its way out.   If you do 1/4" plumbing with a ball valve in theory you are maintaining that 1/4" ID all the way so anything that can fit into a 1/4" hole should be able to pass all the way through.
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

73 Eldo convert w/FiTech EFI
80 Eldo Diesel
90 CDV
And other assorted stuff I keep buying for some reason

gary griffin

In 1961,    I  was stationed in Germany and assigned a 2-1/2 ton truck with hydraulic brakes and air assist. The conflict between keeping my boots polished and my fatigues creased caused me to often bypass the draining of my hard to reach air reservoir too often. Not much of a problem until spring time,  I almost had a bad accident due to reduced air availability. A lesson I never forgot!!
Gary Griffin

1940 LaSalle 5029 4 door convertible sedan
1942 Cadillac 6719 restoration almost complete?
1957 Cadillac 60-special (Needs a little TLC)
2013 Cadillac XTS daily driver

5390john

TJ:
The main reason I release the air pressure in the tank is so that there is no internal pressure on the tank, my thinking it might last longer, and also to minimize water accumulation.
Never had an issue with clogging, only occasionally water vapor would freeze and slow down the air flow
John Adams
1955 CDV "Marilyn"

"Panic Accordingly"

John Washburn CLC 1067

Folks,

Interesting the commercial guys have been using this procedure for years. Especially those who have air compressors on their trucks and work outside.

The Johnny
John Washburn
CLC #1067
1937 LaSalle Coupe
1938 6519F Series Imperial Sedan
1949 62 Series 4 Door
1949 60 Special Fleetwood
1953 Coupe DeVille
1956 Coupe DeVille
1992 Eldorado Touring Coupe America Cup Series

Glen

Quote from: TJ Hopland on February 19, 2018, 10:31:51 AM
Glen, when you said your HF one gummed up you mean the drain section got blocked or the mechanism quit? 

I am not sure why it failed but it was leaking, I could hear it hissing.  I assume the way it worked was it had a spool valve pushed in one direction by a spring and in the other by the compressor output.  The only time it vented was when the valve was in the middle of moving from one end to the other.  It sealed at either end.  A bit of dirt could cause it to stick and leak. 
I never turn my compressor off unless I will be away for a week or more.  It takes too long to fill the reservoir.  I have turned it off for two weeks and when I turned it back on it still had enough pressure that it did not start. 
My main concern is rust in the tank, that is why I use a large drain pipe to collect the water.  The added bonus is the valve is then easy to access and I drain it more frequently. 
Glen Houlton CLC #727 
CLCMRC benefactor #104

TJ Hopland

I just discovered that Powermate sells a version of that pull cord drain for anyone interested.   Powermate I think use to be related to Coleman and makes compressors, pressure washers, and generators.   They seem to possibly be doing other store brands now but seem to still sell the accessories under the Powermate brand name.    I have seen that drain in stock at a few different 'big box' stores now.   I guess I never looked that close before. 

It seems to be working well.   Only issue I had is a few times the water must have been froze so I didn't get anything.  Once time I got a slight about of air then a gurgling sound with a hiss so some ice must have got stuck in the valve.  I had to get my hand on it and wiggle it a bit to get it to reseal.   I thought it was still leaking but yesterday I shut off the outlet valve and it held steady for 20 hours so I must have developed a leak in my distribution system.   
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

73 Eldo convert w/FiTech EFI
80 Eldo Diesel
90 CDV
And other assorted stuff I keep buying for some reason

The Tassie Devil(le)

Trucks have been using the pull-cord valves for years.

Bruce. >:D
'72 Eldorado Convertible (LHD)
'70 Ranchero Squire (RHD)
'74 Chris Craft Gull Wing (SH)
'02 VX Series II Holden Commodore SS Sedan
(Past President Modified Chapter)

Past Cars of significance - to me
1935 Ford 3 Window Coupe
1936 Ford 5 Window Coupe
1937 Chevrolet Sports Coupe
1955 Chevrolet Convertible
1959 Ford Fairlane Ranch Wagon
1960 Cadillac CDV
1972 Cadillac Eldorado Coupe

TJ Hopland

I still love the concept but that specific brand I originally linked to doesn't seem to be good. 

I bought a spare originally.   The first one worked a few times but then started leaking unless I got down on the ground and wiggled it so it would seat and seal.   Thought maybe it was just damage from freezing so I replaced it with the new spare.   New one worked for a few weeks then started doing the same thing and this time it never froze. 

I think I am going to try the powermate branded one.   It looks different so maybe its got a better spring or sealing surface that will work better.   If that doesn't work then its gonna be Rube Goldberg Dr Suess sort of arrangement I make myself. 
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

73 Eldo convert w/FiTech EFI
80 Eldo Diesel
90 CDV
And other assorted stuff I keep buying for some reason