Author Topic: Fixed air line system for the shop  (Read 7269 times)

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Offline ryanjg117

  • Posts: 291
Fixed air line system for the shop
« on: May 27, 2019, 05:04 AM »
Having recently installed my dust collection ductwork, I knew I wanted to move on to an easier shop project - installing fixed air lines along the ceiling. I did quite a bit of research on the best pipe material to use, considering iron black pipe--cheap and strong, but susceptible to interior corrosion over time; "systems" like Rapid Air--slick looking, good performing, but expensive and then you're locked into those expensive fittings if you ever want to change/expand; and copper--actually quite cheap in 1/2" diameter, but time consuming to cut, prep and sweat. I settled on copper and made sure to pick L pipe, which is thicker walled than M pipe and only slightly more expensive. All of the fittings were purchased in advance from SupplyHouse.com which ended up saving me quite a bit of money. I already had plenty of propane and cutting tools. This was actually my first-ever project sweating copper pipe and I have to say, it can be challenging to get "good looking" joints but even the ugly ones are perfectly functional and reliable. Gave me an appreciation for why this is such a mainstay building product even today.

I first mocked up my air lines using my shop SketchUp model. I deviated from the plan a bit as I went along only slightly.







The next part of the project was determining how I was going to hang/mount the air lines. Having had good success with threaded rod hangers with my 6" PVC ductwork for the dust collector, I went with this same approach for the ceilings. Since this pipe didn't weigh much and I wanted the flexibility to locate these ceiling hangers just about anywhere, I decided to hang them with toggle-style drywall anchors, which necessitated an "adapter" of sorts to provide me a surface to hang the threaded rod. I found a simple solution and just welded a bunch of 3/8-16 nuts to some large washers. The screw for the drywall anchor went through the middle nut, and the threaded rod went into the other nut. Soaked the fasteners in vinegar for a day to remove the zinc coating, tack welded, primed and painted.



For the wall hangers, I had a couple of different designs. First, I stumbled upon these tubing hangers which provided a nice tight fit on my 1/2" copper pipe, but didn't provide a stable enough mounting platform and would have wobbled quite a bit even when screwed to the wall. So, I designed a larger base for these hangers with a female key hole friction fitting into the plastic mount base. Painted, and then a little CA glue locked it in place.







The other connection point on the wall were the 90 degree elbow fittings. These would hold my air quick disconnects I would fiddle with frequently, so I knew I wanted them to be screwed into the wall for stability. But I couldn't just screw them into the wall because the tubing hangers extended the pipe 1/2" off the wall. So, I had to build a similar spacer, settling on the below design which uses just a single screw hole in the middle. Just like the other spacer, cut on the Shaper, and painted.





All my spacers ready to be mounted:



I decided to start at the air compressor. Here you can see the 3 foot whip, providing me a little mobility for the air compressor if needed. For all air couplers, I went with Milton V Style high-flow fittings, which are great. From the compressor, air goes directly into the ARO Filter-Regulator-Oiler combination unit. I'm undecided on whether or not to use the oiler--if you have any thoughts on this, let me know!





Here you can see the purge valve with muffler. Works great for cutting down the sound when depressurizing the system.



From there, we go up to the ceiling:



Here you can see me wrapping the air lines around the other side of the garage port, and also going through the wall where most of my tools reside.



Here's another air drop. I have four of these wall-mounted style drops in the shop, along with numerous "hanging" drops. I opted for a drain at every one of these wall drops, though it was probably overkill. It is nice to be able to purge from multiple valves at the same time though, and if I ever have water build-up in the system I can purge from any one of these low points.



Here you can see how I finished the wall penetration with a little custom-made bulkhead cover painted to match, and also an example of one of my hanging drops with an air coupler.



I've had this reel installed for the better part of a year, collecting dust, so it was great to get this incorporated into the system as well. I discovered how much of a workout it is to uncoil this behemoth! It serves no practical purpose other than to extend air far out into the drive way, now that I have so many air outlets in the walls and ceilings.



I wanted my air drops to be convenient but out of the way, so I went with coiled air hoses.





All said, the project probably cost me $400-500 in materials. And the best part: when I went to activate the system for the first time, there were NO leaks from the copper joints. The threaded connections to the air couplers, on the other hand, hand some issues and I had to re-apply pipe dope very liberally to both male and female threads. No perceptible leaks as of now, and a good 100 PSI anywhere I want it.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2019, 05:14 AM by ryanjg117 »

Offline Sparktrician

  • Posts: 4273
Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2019, 07:25 AM »
WOW!!!  I am seriously impressed by your design and workmanship!!!  Well done!!!   [thumbs up]
- Willy -

  "Show us a man who never makes a mistake and we will show a man who never makes anything. 
  The capacity for occasional blundering is inseparable from the capacity to bring things to pass."

 - Herman Lincoln Wayland (1830-1898)

Offline tjbnwi

  • Posts: 6582
  • No longer in Cedar Tucky Indiana
Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2019, 08:54 AM »
Do not use the oiler. If you get a spray gun that uses the compressor air, the oil has contaminated every component of your system. If you really need oilers, use point of use oilers.

Very nice system by the way.

Tom

Offline ERG

  • Posts: 35
Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2019, 10:22 AM »
Really nice.


Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9784
Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2019, 11:13 AM »
Nice job...I especially like the Shaper parts to mount the copper to the wall.   [big grin]

Copper's a great choice for this project. I also purchase from Supplyhouse.com as they stock long turn (large radius) copper elbows. Not so important for air but very nice for water systems.

https://www.supplyhouse.com/Copper-Fittings-130000

As Tom mentioned, don't use the oiler. Small point of use oilers are available for the individual tools.

If you get too much water in your drops, you may want to come off the top of the copper line rather than the side of the line. A 2"-3" inverted "U" off the top of the copper line really cuts down on the water issue. Cash Acme SharkBite fittings work well if you do have to reconfigure some of the drops.

https://www.supplyhouse.com/SharkBite-Fittings-595000

Is the copper line pitched in a downward direction like a rain gutter?  That way all the water in the line will drain to a single point.

Offline neilc

  • Posts: 3077
Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2019, 01:55 PM »
Ryan -

Nice work.  I like the use of the Shaper for making the wall brackets...

I installed one of these on my compressor which is set to purge air periodically through the day and does a great job of removing any water condensed in the tank.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00S89W2KQ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I also did all soldered copper fittings, but went with these drop manifolds which work great... each with a drain valve out the bottom.  Pipe was attached with the copper clamps around the perimeter.

https://shop.rapidairproducts.com/compressed-air-outlet-block-only/

You can see the manifolds and purge valve in the attached photo...

I did spend quite a bit more than your $500 on the pipe, manifolds and disconnect fittings.  I think total was closer to $1200 for a shop that is 50x75 with 14 drops.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2019, 03:36 PM by neilc »

Offline pettyconstruction

  • Posts: 684
Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2019, 02:10 PM »
Looks great.
Can a system like that be build with pex pipe?
Both copper and black pipe are so hard to deal with in comparison .
I would like to do something similar , but try to put it behind the Sheetrock.
Charlie


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Offline cpw

  • Posts: 358
Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2019, 03:20 PM »
Looks great.
Can a system like that be build with pex pipe?
Both copper and black pipe are so hard to deal with in comparison .
I would like to do something similar , but try to put it behind the Sheetrock.
Charlie


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
Depending on your number of drops, you might checkout the Rapidair maxline offering:
https://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200484023_200484023?cm_mmc=Google-pla&utm_source=Google_PLA&utm_medium=Air%20Tools%20%2B%20Compressors%20%3E%20Compressed%20Air%20Piping%20%2B%20Accessories%20%3E%20Air%20Compressor%20Piping%20Kits&utm_campaign=RapidAir&utm_content=20923&gclid=Cj0KCQjwla7nBRDxARIsADll0kA_o6DZAX1zoqb7qK2fqOO4EEEipW09EYLD-tRoDBKtC1gMzC-AzDUaAh-lEALw_wcB

The fittings are very expensive compared to copper, but you really only need them at the drops, for moderate turns you can bend the tubing instead.

Offline Bob D.

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Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2019, 09:28 PM »
" I'm undecided on whether or not to use the oiler--if you have any thoughts on this, let me know! "

DON'T use an oiler at the source, you will contaminate your entire system with oil. If you need an oiler for a particular tool or tools, then have an oiler you plug in and a dedicated length of hose, preferably a different color, for oil use only. You can also get inline oilers that you put in the whip hose of tools that need oil like impact wrenches.

In the future, when you branch out off the main, it's best to have your TEEs looking up. That will carry over the least amount of moisture and help keep the branch lines cleaner too. Takes a couple more 90s but it's worth it.

I would not use pipe dope, Teflon tape only. Unless you're going to use leak lock or something similar. But tape is cleaner and cheap and fast. Leave the first thread uncovered and wrap in the right direction about 3 or 4 warps and you should be good to go. If you over tighten a copper or brass threaded fittings, don't back off more than 1/8 of a turn or IT WILL LEAK (because they stretch). Slowly make another full turn and don't go past your stopping point.

For your ceiling hangers, did you consider using a 3/8 or 1/4 hanger bolt? Hanger bolts have a wood screw thread on one end and a machine thread on the other. screw it into the joint, then add a rod coupling and whatever length of rod is required to reach your pipe. Use a split ring hanger to attach to the pipe. You could also use ceiling plates which have a 3/8" tapped hole in the center and two screw holes at each end. Your home brew bangers do look very nice though, I like them. And good use of the lug ELLs at your hose connections.

You will be sorry if you put oil in that nice clean copper system. If you plan on using your air a lot consider a drier. A multistage desiccant drier would be a good choice for a small shop, next step up would be a refrigerated drier.

I've worked in a couple plants with large compressed air systems for supplying air for tools. One has welded black pipe (6" and down) and the other is copper (4" and down). Both have thousands of feet of installed pipe. The black pipe system requires so much maintenance they cry every month for the last 30 years, but not enough to replace it. Would be too expensive to do that. But still it takes a toll on all the tools and pneumatic equipment that is connected to the system. Your copper system was worth the extra bucks, now keep it clean, don't spoil it with oil.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2019, 04:36 PM by Bob D. »
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9784
Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2019, 11:36 AM »
Here's a photo of a point-of-use oiler, one on each tool. They run in the $8-$15 range.

The alternative is a dedicated whip/oiler which I prefer, as I tend to monitor the oil level in the oiler closer because it's used on several tools. This approach also doesn't extend the length of the tool.





Offline ryanjg117

  • Posts: 291
Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2019, 03:42 AM »
Thanks for the advice on avoiding the oiler at the compressor. While it would be convenient to never have to manually oil air tools, I don't like the idea of that oil permeating the air line interior, and there are certainly some use cases (filling up a tire, or just blowing air around the shop) where you don't want to be spewing oil. Glad I held off on using it.

There is some kind of moisture filter built into the ARO wall mount, but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to use dessicant crystals in the chamber or just monitor water levels and drain as needed. I've been using the compressor quite a bit lately, and have only noticed the smallest of water droplets (more like condensation) building up on the viewing window.

Also, I built my own auto-drain for this compressor with a Asco Redhat 220v solenoid and timing relay. Right before the compressor cycles, it opens the drain for about 3 seconds to purge any accumulated water. So I think that helps as well.

@Bob D. I wasn't aware of those hanger bolt but I was trying to avoid drilling into the ceiling trusses if I could avoid it. I've already put quite a few holes in them for mounting the 5/8" ceiling drywall and 6" ducting for the DC, plus I finished the upper crawl space and put some additional decking above. The ceiling trusses are only 2x4s and 24 OC, plus there's no support posts throughout the garage (nice but it does limit the weight I can put up there). Probably being overly cautious.


Offline Bob D.

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Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2019, 04:33 AM »
"There is some kind of moisture filter built into the ARO wall mount, but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to use dessicant crystals in the chamber or just monitor water levels and drain as needed. I've been using the compressor quite a bit lately, and have only noticed the smallest of water droplets (more like condensation) building up on the viewing window. "

From the description this sounds like a moisture separator, no desiccant in those that I have seen or used.
Good move on adding the automatic drain, I don't know why compressors don't come with this from the factory, but then again if they did you wouldn't need to buy a new compressor in 5 or 10 years. They need repeat, not one-time sales to stay in business. :-)
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline dataz722

  • Posts: 22
Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2019, 09:36 AM »
Looks really good!  Where did you get that muffler?  I used black pipe on my system so it cools the air a little slower and I have a radiator of sorts right off my compressor with a series of vertical loops with ball valves at the bottom of each and it is deafening when I open them to drain the water.

The dryer you have is pretty much the same as mine.  It will only separate out water droplets that are in the air, not water vapor.

Offline Jiggy Joiner

  • Posts: 1111
Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2019, 07:16 AM »
Beautiful job, and lovely workshop.
I’m with Tom and Cheese regarding oiling. The auto oilers that fit onto individual tools are the best option in my opinion.  [thumbs up]

Offline Mario Turcot

  • Posts: 1290
Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2019, 03:45 PM »
@ryanjg117   Ole macaroni man, are you building a museum  [tongue]

 [thumbs up][drooling]
Mario

Offline Peter_C

  • Posts: 1363
Re: Fixed air line system for the shop
« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2019, 01:17 AM »
Making each individual mount for an air system must have taken a lot of time, but it looks great. Choosing copper was the best move you could make.

The drying filters need to be further away from the compressor to give the air time to cool and the water to condense so it can be removed. When running a compressor hard you can feel the heat off the tank. Since copper makes an awesome heat sink, just running a line around the shop will help cool it, angled slightly down with a drop that has a drain right before the filtration. Nothing beats a condenser drying system though.

Also prefer to have an easily adjustable regulator at some drops with a gauge for dialing down the pressure. A whip hose with a regulator on the end works pretty well though and is kept handy. Sometimes you may only want 5 psi of air so as not to damage components.

If you find the 1/2" pipe to restrictive for air flow, you can add in a scuba tank. 150 psi isn't enough pressure to worry about blowing one up and they can be placed near the furthest drop to give it a boost. 3/4" guns and some other tools require a lot of CFM. Not sure you will see those kinds of demands in a wood shop though.

Correct or not, I would prefer to see the drain drops be far longer. Always figured at least a foot lower than the air chuck, then after the valve they get run to just above the floor and I find if near the garage door they do a wonderful job of blowing the debris out the corners.

For spraying or anything water sensitive like a plasma cutter the Motorguard filters work pretty well.

Been using air tools for decades, and found the only thing I need is a small bottle of oil kept in each drawer that holds air tools. EVERY TIME an air tool comes out of my tool box it gets oiled. I still have my first Snap-on 1/2" impact gun that still produces plenty of power, for which I attribute it's longevity to oiling it. Also if using air tools for extended periods of time they get routine oiling. Inline oiler's are not needed nor desired. Dry air is important, and if the air is wet...use more oil!

Reelcraft  [thumbs up]