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Air Compressor Tank Failure Videos


Ian Beale
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Wow,  I saw one that sprung a leak years ago,  it let lose in the bottom (I suspect water and rust but don't know,  it didn't have a drain),  but it just started leaking,  didn't explode.

The portable ones are what always scared me,  I never liked standing right over one when I was filling it.

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One overpressured and blew up in my Dad's shop several years ago.  It put a hole through the wooden ceiling and a piece cut the M&W throttle lever of his M completely in 2.

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In 15 years I never had a tank blow, safety valve and pressure switch always did their job,  but I did have air lines blow, plastic air lines, for cost and weight it was okayed in the 80s to use pvc pipe for airline use, but people forgot heat, cool, oil and knockabout let them break down and explode, shards of plastic blowing out at 125 psi is like little needles shooting out, it is still used but we would never recommend it and I did my last pipe job in '95.

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Crazy..ive seen some other videos about the same. I picked up an Ingersoll last summer and plumbed it with pex to the dryer/filter and up to an interior and another exterior reel..been working fine so far.

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Pressure tank in the well at my daughters blew up last fall. it had rusted about 2 inches up from the bottom and it looked like a frying pan down there and the rest of the tank went up thru the well house roof and landed about 100 feet across the drive in a pasture. It only had 60 pounds pressure. In high school one kid got a piece of 14" pipe and 2 disk blades and made a air tank. He got along with it ok but later in life he hung himself in his garage one night

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Wow!  That video made me realize how fortunate I am.  There was a large, horizontal head-level compressor in the shop that we bought many years ago.  The pressure cut-off was set at 130 psi.  The tag on the compressor showed that it was made in 1944.  When the compressor was about 45 years old, it developed a pin hole on the bottom and started leaking.  Being a resourceful person, I drilled a small hole where it was leaking, threaded it, and installed a small screw with a gasket.  It held for several years until I finally replaced the tank about 6 years later when other leaks developed.  I just never thought of it as a danger. Duh!

Funny thing is, that compressor was regularly inspected by The Dept of Labor and Commerce.   Although the screw was quite visible, the inspector apparently never noticed the screw and I never tried to hide it because I thought of it as just a normal repair.  As the saying goes " if you are going to do something stupid, you better be lucky".

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Had a little compressor blow up outside the shop  on me. I was putting a clutch in a 77 Chevy c 70 tandem grain truck. Shop was full of tractors so I ran it on old grain dryer slab between buildings. Instead of rolling out 175 feet of air hose we had to reach that spot from main shop. I plugged dads 1970 some red and white air compressor in to blow dirt off bell housing and flywheel. This compressor was used in garage for a bit then we left it in tractor storage building to air tires up on stuff when flat from setting. Compressor was in good shape. Entire tank split open about 15 feet from my head under truck but the running boards , frame and gas tank sort of formed a shield. It folded tank sides up like full wings around the compressor. I can still hear the blast in my ears. The feel of the rush of air by me is a very good memerory and just the moment of being lost from the concussion for about a second. Wondering what the heck just happened. . It didn’t wreck anything on truck just the compressor . Like I said it was outside , the compressor was about 10 to 15 feet off the drivers side of truck. I was up inside frame rails wen it blew if I would have been laying down it would have been much worse.

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Well, the compressor in my attached garage is the upright model of the same Husky, and approx the same age, of the one in the topic video.... and I haven't been very good about draining off moisture.... I do believe I will be inspecting the inside of the tank with a endescope this weekend.

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Well this topic has got me thinking……

I have 2 old (20 + years) Craftsman compressors which I have never been real good about draining the moisture from.

For the light duty work I do with them - small tires and blowing dust - I think a couple of hundred dollars spent on a replacement might be a good idea.

Are the pancake style tanks any safer?

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7 hours ago, Dasnake said:

Im asking you welder types, why would you weld on a wheel that was pressured up? I remember split rims on my truck in the 70s and careful you had to be.

Ya I don't know why that would EVER be a good idea.

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I think in the video the original tire pressure was 100 psi after welding and the heat sinking in you see the pressure rocket to the failure point.

As to the other users who now are questioning the condition of their equipment, first draining off water and moisture at regular intervals is your best prevention, we regularly use ultrasonic testing on pressure vessels at work and this is a permanent record measured at certain intervals (years) to determine the corrosion deterioration to safely remove vessel from service before failure.  For a regular guy I would tap the tank in multiple places lightly with a hammer it should bounce back and the steel ring, if it's soft or has layers of corrosion inside it will absorb the tap and be a dull sound.

It is almost impossible to tell from looking outside unless you see the early stages of bubbling like a vehicle and then it's toast, old American quality is probably better than new offshore for wall thickness and weld quality but there are a lot of factors, some think it's better to leave a tank fully pressurized continually instead of pressurizing for use and then depressurizing as the steel is under stress continually, the other thought is a de pressurized tank poses no risk, I have an old good quality compressor and drain water occasionally especially in the summer when our humidity is higher and leave my tank pressurized and power off when not in use, most air tanks should have a manufacturer tag with legally required info a registered number in Canada CRN the max working pressure, date and wall thickness. I will say Quincy makes one fantastic quality product and you are supporting domestic manufacturing.

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The last contractor I worked for before my supposedly retirement had all the stamps to build, repair or alter pressure vessels. All vessels over a certain size sold in the US have a NB (National Board) stamp and number on them. All the build sheets are on file for every vessel. I had a repair stamp in my name once but could not afford the insurance.

While I was never involved in building new ones I was involved in a lot of repairs and alterations. All materials used in the building, repair or alteration have to have traceability such as MTR's (mill test reports) and these have to be approved by the vessel engineer and are recorded on the build sheet.

So lets say the owner wants to add a nozzle or fitting. You pull the necessary permit and you apply to the national Board for a copy of the build sheet and locate on the drawing where they want to add one and give it to the vessel engineer who designs exactly how you do this and the testing procedure. You then give these documents to the vessel inspector for approval before proceeding. If it is a steam or liquid vessel you will have to ultra sound the area to check metal thickness before proceeding. The inspector makes sure you follow the engineers instructions and witnesses the testing whether it be Xray, Ultra sound, Mag particle or hydro. 

The inspector told me most of vessel failures were due to the vessel exceeding the life cycles it was designed for.

 

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20 hours ago, Dasnake said:

Im asking you welder types, why would you weld on a wheel that was pressured up? I remember split rims on my truck in the 70s and careful you had to be.

Some people just don’t realize the danger that it poses. Farmers would be a good example. They see a crack on a wagon wheel, they are in the middle of something and need the wheel to hold. They pull up next to their trusty tombstone Lincoln arc welder and run a bead on it without thinking about it. 

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