When last we left our intrepid contractor, the walls were framed, power was on, insulation was underway, and he had a mild case of gas.
Now was time for compressed air line to be installed.
This posed a couple of challenges. The existing corner post for the structure are 6×6’s with a 2×6 on edge between it and the exterior metal panels. That leaves only around 1”, to maybe 1-1/2”, space to install a 1/2” or 3/4” pipe and an elbow, around a blind corner.
I had already decided to fur my new walls out to be flush with the corner posts (and center 6×6 posts), to maximize space, and really eliminated any way of getting a pipe installed through the corners of the shop. I can get a ¾” pipe in behind the 6×6’s that are in the middle of the walls, just not in the corner.
I also could not easily remove the exterior metal since they run vertically 13’. I would have had to remove the entire skin of the shop and leave it open to the world, to be able to install a single 90° at two corners of the shop. I needed something that would not be a threaded or welded connection, but still be safe for compressed air.
Like a number of other Lumberjocks, I went with the Rapid-Air system, and there are a bunch of great posts on this site reviewing the system already. I chose the 1/2” Master Kit (the garage – hobbiest kit). I have read reviews that are 50-50 good and bad on this product through Amazon and garagejournal.com sites. I could not tell if it was the installer or the product, but it seems to be split right down the middle for a system that works or leaks like a sieve.
Since I have 2 blind corners with no space, I needed a press in fitting that could be made behind my columns. Plus I like the idea that this system is very easy to add branch lines onto, or move around an outlet.
I purchased through Amazon for $80, and I got the basic kit. This had 100’ 1/2” OD 3/8” ID pipe, (1) manifold, (2) Air Outlets and enough 90’s and tees just to supply the (2) Outlets.
I ordered additional Tees, 90’s and 4 more outlets (btw, the outlets are EXPENSIVE so cautious. $28 each and that adds up quick.
I have (5) outlets inside the shop, and mounted (1) outside for working on my truck, so I don’t have the drag line out the door of the shop, and installed one outside for the future compressor dog house.
The quick connect coupler ends are not included in the kit, but since there are 3 different types out there, it makes sense that they leave that up to the installer-user.
Even though I use the universal couplers, I have been swapping out all of my automotive fittings for the industrial style so all my tools are uniform.
With how Rapid-Air designed their mounting blocks, the system gives you the option of surface mounting or running the pipe inside of the wall cavity. You can move the location of the air supply to come in through the back of the Air Port or the top.
A number of people on Amazon and other forums (garagejournal.com forum for one), report get horrible leaks with a system that does not hold pressure overnight, while others notice nothing. Since this is not a production shop and more for just me, I could justify a system that leaked out over night, if that was the worst case. If a line ruptured I can replace it easy enough with my access panels. This system, just like my gas line and PEX, uses a Shark-Bite style press in connection. No threads or pipe wrenches are needed (except to assemble the Air Ports).
This was perfect for getting in behind the 6×6’s at (2) corners of the shop.
I was able to snake the lines back, and by feel install the 90° corners between the posts and the exterior metal panels.
The finished ports for the connection are very nice looking and well made as well. This even worked phenomenally with my MDF electrical chase design. Drill a hole in the MDF, push the blue tube through, and press it into the back of the aluminum block…presto done! 4 screws hold everything in place tight to the MDF.
Yes, I do have a leak, but I have not tracked down where yet. It is a low priority for me right now, and I am sure I can find it fairly easily when I install a permanent compressor. For all I know the leak is in my old compressor or in the jumper line I made.
I am currently running off from a Porter Cable pancake compressor and it doesn’t seem to cycle any more than it did before being hooked up to the pipe system. I have a slow leak in my compressor so I guess I am used to it cycling every few minutes when not in use.
-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.