Compressed Air Storage Tanks

Submitted: Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 16:23
ThreadID: 67255 Views:11459 Replies:8 FollowUps:15
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Hi everyone,
There have been a number of threads on various forums about the merits of compressed air storage tanks and from this information it appears that a number of people have spent a considerable amount of time, energy and money to make them out of old fire extinguishers, gas bottles and high pressure polly pipe.

Is it really worth the time and effort??

My reason for asking is very simple, I pulled my Arlec 18 litre tank, purchased awhile ago for $22.00, out of the shed to give it a run with my compressors and I can’t say that I’m (pun intended) blown away by it. My ARB compressor took 4 minutes to pump the tank up to an indicated 85psi before the compressor shut down and nearly three minutes to pump each 31x10.5x15 tyre. During that time the compressor was running continuously and would be close to its recommended duty cycle by the time 4 tyres were inflated?

Maybe I'm just looking at this the wrong way and I'm looking forward to your thoughts, replies and experiences.


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Reply By: Dave(NSW) - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 17:17

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 17:17
You have to have the right size tank for the compressor, An 18lt tank for an ARB compressor would be to big. find out Liters per minuet the compressor puts out then you can work out what size tank you can use.

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Follow Up By: Wayne's 60 - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 00:03

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 00:03
Hi Dave,
Thanks for your quick reply, unfortunately work got in my way for a little while.

The compressor specs are
ARB Compressor CKMP12
Air Flow rate - No Load - 75.1 litres per minute
Air Flow rate - @ Tyre Pressure (?) - 61.6 litres per minute.

Does this help?


FollowupID: 624735

Reply By: Flywest - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 17:37

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 17:37
Can't see what point exactly your trying to make - is it, that your better off without a tank/receiver, than with one?

I seem to recall something like 20 minutes per tyre without a receiver from 9 psi back up to 45 psi.

Thats pretty slow without the receiver tank (a mandatory 1 hour 20 minute stop to re inflate after beach work)?.

Compared to what? a total of 16 minutes to inflate your 4 tyres using the 18 liter Arlec tank & ARB compressor?

For me it wasn't that hard or expensive to convert a near new 5 liter fire exteinguisher into a air receiver, albeit not as big as your Arlec receiver @ 22 liters.

It's really very simple to do, in that the fire extinguisher comes with it's mounting bracket making the install quick & easey.

Activated the extinguisher into a big garbage plasic bag to catch all the white powder and disposed of it in the trash.

Removed the handle and delivery pipe by unthreading it at the neck.

Blew out the bottle with compressed air until clean.

Activated the handle and blew the delivery pipe and handle with compressed air until clean.

Took a drill and drilled a hole in top wall of extinguisher sufficient to take a tubeless tyre valve stem. Added silicone to the base groove of the tubless tyre valve stem. Used a tyre valve stem tool to seat the new tubeless valve stem from inside the bottle - pulling it out into position so that the wet silicone got a chance to dry in the tubeless valve stem groove and too the steel wall of the extinguisher to create and air tght seal.

Fitted the valve.

Re inserted the handle and pickup tube and tightened using thread tape for an air tight seal.

Test inflated the extinguisher to 85 psi - which using the gauge on top of the extinguisher shows it to be below the normal full operating capacity of the extinguisher when loaded with powder and propellent gas. The full capacity appears to be closer to 120 psi = so 85 psi seems like a safe operating load & co-incides with the automatic cut out switch on the arb compressor anyway.

Plumbed the outlet rubber pipe with compressed air snaplock fittings etc and ran too snaplocks on front and back roo bar and bumper for tyre filling duties.

It's not at all difficult to make a receiver for the arb air compressors system indeed even to add an arlec 18 liter receiver as you describe.

I guess the "advantage" of having one in a practical sense is that:-

e.g. While exiting a beach etc - you can activate the compressor and store up a volume of air ready to inflate tyres when you reach hard ground / hard top road.

Any time saved out of the 80 minutes to re inflate tyres - when it's hot outside and your tired and want to go home is welcome time saved.

You save time for example as the compressor stores air while your coupling and uncoupling from each tyre and from front or rear snaplocks during the tyre filling process.

When you think about it - even a long air hose stores a little more air (but not much) so you can use the ARB compressor without a reciever quite effectively, IF your patient and havent got to be anywhere ina hurry!

Different story if you have say 4 employees in a 4wd spending an hour 20 minutes twice a day re inflating tyres on and off a beach (5 hours 20 mins at what 60 bucks an hour)?

Time is money as they say.

I see that in the USA where they do seem to like to have air horns (train type) in the SUV's - it is not at all uncommon to have 2 or 4 arb type air compressores installed in a box in the back of their trucks, with a large receiver - and use air tools etc to work on their vehicles

Perhaps our use of these arb type compressors - i a little less develloped than the yanks (understandable givenour costs to buy the compressors!).

I would think - if talking multiple arb type compressors - maybe it would be cheaper - more effective to use an old vane type air conditioning compressor run off the engine.

All come back to just how much aor do you want and hhow quickly?

Different users needs will vary.

There are still times I wish I had more!

AnswerID: 356614

Follow Up By: Wayne's 60 - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 00:16

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 00:16
Hi Fly,
Yes, that is my question, am I better with a tank or without.
On an initial test, may need a more indepth study, it appears that inflation times are slower and the compressor is nearing the recommended cycle time. I did some testing here and the compressor will fill my tyres from 10 psi to 40 psi in 2.5 minutes.

With regareds to your fire extinguisher tank, I'm thinking that the cost may be a moot point, there would've been a cost involved with the set up. However if you are happy with it then all is good.
BTW, nice bit of work you have done there.

An endless air unit is supposed to be a very good set up, I'm still hankering for a turbo and apparently this makes the fitting just that little more difficult.

There are some VERY hi flo US units on the market, as seen on e-bay, unfortunately they cost a lot, money that could be put to diesel for touring :-)

Thanks for your reply.

FollowupID: 624739

Follow Up By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 10:48

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 10:48
A nominal size air tank (say 20 litres) will be good for an initial blast of air to seat a bead or blow dust out of a air filter of bugs out of your radiator. It might even have enough capacity for some light-duty air tools. BUT, anybody who thinks it's going to speed up their air-up times is dreaming. Once the air pressure stored in the tank is depleted, the compressor is going to be working harder because it's going to be trying to pump up the tyre AS WELL AS the tank.

Ideally, you'd have a tank hooked up to the compressor with a tap that allowed you shut off the supply line to the tank, and direct the compressor's flow directly to the airing-up hose.

I have a Grand Boss compressor hooked up to a GME 16 litre air re-charge tank, all hard-mounted in the Patrol. I don't worry about doing what I said in the previous paragraph, I just have the tank always in the "loop". I use mine to operate air horns, front ARB locker as well as Ryco outlets front and back for tyre inflation and to use my blower gun.

Works for me!! I keep the tank pressurised all the time whenever I'm driving. It has a ARB 80 to 100 psi switch as well as a governing switch in the cab and another switch at the compressor in the cargo box.

FollowupID: 624787

Follow Up By: Wayne's 60 - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 15:21

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 15:21
G'day Roachie,
The reason I dragged the tank out was to see if it WOULD assist and now I know ........... that it doesn't and thanks for adding the reason that it won't.

A long story on how I ended up with three compressors, though before this happened I did look at the continuous rated units like the Grand Boss etc and unfortunately didn't have the dollars at the time. Maybe when the turbo and lockers are fitted, a serious upgrade to a similar system will happen.

Thanks for your reply.

FollowupID: 624815

Reply By: Danielle T - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 19:02

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 19:02
We have a tank under the cruiser and an air compressor that runs off the motor. The tank is from a truck (I think) and is fitted between the chassis and outside, basically under driver. It stores the air for the air bag suspension and also for any air tools we need. He has lots of friends when we go superlite racing at Northam. They all like using the air for pumping up tyres or for rebeading them (Sorry if thats not the right word!! LOL).
I like the fact it takes just the amount of time for him to walk to all four tyres, connect pump and disconnect the air after we have been on the beach. Probably 10 minutes tops. Wouldnt be without it.
AnswerID: 356631

Follow Up By: Wayne's 60 - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 00:18

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 00:18
Hi Danielle,

Yep, sounds like an endless air set up with a pressure tank in line, just wondering what the tank pressure is set to?

Thanks for your answer.

FollowupID: 624740

Follow Up By: Danielle T - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 20:21

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 20:21
Tank pressure is 138psi. At least thats what hubby said LOL.
Hope that helps
FollowupID: 624844

Reply By: Crackles - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 19:05

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 19:05
Wayne an 18L tank would probably better match a 12 cfm compressor not a tiny unit from ARB.
I run a 9L water fire extinguisher as a tank for a 3 cfm Big Thumper compressor & has no trouble filling it quickly. The main benefits of the tank is I start filling it before stopping to re inflate. The 1st tyre then inflates far quicker with the compressor continuing to charge the tank while fiddling with the valves between tyres. Overall I estimate with the tank I fill 25% quicker. The other reason for fitting one is as a reservoir for using the blower nozzle & for a fast rush of air to reseat beads on tubeless tyres.
The 2nd hand fire extinguisher cost nothing & has the threaded inlet already in it so for the cost of a couple of brackets, hose & a threaded Tee its a great option if one has the room.
I'd probably use the bull bar for a tank next time thereby saving a little weight.
Cheers Craig...............
AnswerID: 356632

Follow Up By: Wayne's 60 - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 00:23

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 00:23
G'day Craig,

The first tyre did seem to inflate quicker, my observation at the time was that the compressor had to fill the tank before starting to reinflate and was running continuously will inflating two tyres, only dropped pressure in two as a test. My initial thought was that it should have taken less time to reinflate ... not more. Will have to do another test, as time permits and see how the results compare.

Thanks for your reply.


FollowupID: 624742

Follow Up By: Crackles - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 10:45

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 10:45
Wayne when you add the time it takes to reinflate the tyres you don't add the time it intially took to pump up the tank in the 1st place as this is always done before you stop. (Or the tank is always left fully charged) The other small saving is that the compressor doesn't stop between tyres so no air is lost.
If you don't occationally repair tyres or use a blower for cleaning the benifit of a tank is fairly marginal.
Cheers Craig............
FollowupID: 624785

Follow Up By: Wayne's 60 - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 15:30

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 15:30
Hi Craig,
The time it takes to pressurise the (compressor) tank and hose, isn't very long at all. While it may be a small time saving item between tyres, it's the fact that the compressor is running continuously and after 4 tyres would be close to the recommended duty cycle, with only two tyres being pumped during the test the compressor, fittings and hose - I've already had the end of the hose blown apart - get VERY hot.

Many thanks for your reply.

FollowupID: 624816

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 20:20

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 20:20
I don't have a fixed tank - for me it is wasted space.

If I need to reseat a bead (which is not often), I use one of my other tyres pumped up to 80psi as the tank.

To double the speed of my compressor, I bought second compressor and pump up 2 tyres at once. Also means that I have a spare should one fail.
AnswerID: 356644

Follow Up By: Wayne's 60 - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 00:29

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 00:29
G'day Phil,
At the moment it looks like the tank will end up back out in the shed, if follow up testing reveals that it is a waste of space.
I currently have three compressors, as per the link above, although it's a long story why this happened and we used to run two slow compressors to get the job done.

Thanks for your reply.

FollowupID: 624743

Reply By: Nolo (QLD) - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 22:33

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 22:33
It is worth the effort for all the reasons above. My 3 gal tank under the tray inflates the tyres quick smart.

I also have a "curly" hose extension teed off the air line and it lies neatly up under my seat with a trigger blower connection. This is great for blowing sand etc off my sand grabber floor mats or many other air jet functions which I can do without hooking up my tyre inflation hose. I even use it to blow up the birthday party balloons which all fathers will appreciate.

AnswerID: 356666

Follow Up By: Wayne's 60 - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 00:33

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 00:33
G'day Nolo,

Thanks for your reply,
from yours and others comments, I think I will have to get the stop watch out and do some serious time trials.


PS apparently the fathers that you know ... don't have that much hot air .. LOL

FollowupID: 624744

Reply By: Robin Miller - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 08:02

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 08:02
On your model Wayne its not worth it - you need a different model.

In my case the air-tank, my spare tyre, holds more than 60lts and adds no extra complication to the car.

This capacity is sufficent to re-inflate all 4 tyres from 18 to 30 psi without requiring the compressor.

So its quick simple safer and effective.
Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 356693

Follow Up By: Wayne's 60 - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 09:31

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 09:31
Hi Robin,

I'm thinking that it isn't worth it too, just that there are a lot of people who have put time and effort into a tank system. Maybe I should've asked what type of compressor was on their system.

I'm curious about what pressure you have your spare tyre inflated to, to be able to reinflate four?

Thanks for your reply.

FollowupID: 624778

Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Sunday, Mar 29, 2009 at 08:57

Sunday, Mar 29, 2009 at 08:57
Thats the key point Wayne , your tank needs to be able to pump up 4 tyres without requiring you to break out a compressor.

This is what makes it worthwhile.

4 tyres from 18 to 28 means you need 10 psi per tyre from the spare tyre.
So spare needs to be 28 + 4 * 10 = 68 , mostly keep my spare
at 75 psi which is well within its capacity.

I don't even carry my main compressor any more (I have a smaller Air locker one fitted permanently though)
Robin Miller

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FollowupID: 624887

Reply By: offroad Bob - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 11:11

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 11:11
Hi Wayne

I have run an old piston type air compressor pump on my HJ75 cruiser for years going into an old truck air tank. Quickest way I found to inflate tyres. At first I used a standard air compressor - like you find in most cars now but it would pump all the lubricating oil out and run dry. Also without the air tank this the a/c pump would pop a fitting if you were not quick enough between tyres. With the old truck tank I could fit a blow off valve like what is fitted to standard compressors so when the tank got to 120psi the valve would release. With the rev screw on the HJ75 cruiser I could up the revs to inflate faster.

Unfortunately my new cruiser has no room under the bonnet for an extra a/c compressor so I purchased an electric 100% duty cycle (100l/m under load) compressor and run it with a one way valve into a tank with a 140psi shut off switch. The new tank also has a water drain as it is surprising how much water gets into air tanks. My work 240v air compressor will get 1/2 litre of water in a month easy. This air tank also services the air bag suspension but comes through a water trap so I don't end up filling my air bags with water.

This has been a very fast way to reinflate tyres but I do notice it slows down a bit after 8 tyres or I just get bored of inflating so many tires. My old system would inflate faster but needs more room. The only other system I have seen that works faster was a guy with a scuba tank inflating tyres. He said he can get 30 tyres from one refill. But of course you need room for a scuba tank and that is a potentially dangerous high pressure vessel to take off road.

Just a question to those who use spare tyres as storage tanks - How does the tyre cope with 80+ psi over a time - do the tyres start to separate or damage by over inflating - would an insurance company cover you if you used that tyre as a spare after having over inflated it for a while.


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Follow Up By: Wayne's 60 - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 16:00

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 16:00
Hi Bob,

An endless air unit with tank would be a very good system, though from my research, it gets in the way when a turbo is fitted to the 1HZ. Yep I agree, after filling eight tyres you are probably getting bored with doing all the work!!

I agree that you can buy a High Pressure Cylinder to reinflate VERY quickly, I recall that the tank was pretty expensive to purchase, hire possibly??, though there was no indication of the cost to refill the tank. A S.C.U.B.A. tank is another opion that I have seen used, again expensive and the cost of refill and as you mentioned, safe storage is the question

Thank you for your reply and I will just have to boil the billy while pumping the tryes up.

FollowupID: 624817

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Mar 29, 2009 at 10:02

Sunday, Mar 29, 2009 at 10:02
Gday Bob,
"How does the tyre cope with 80+ psi over a time "
I've done this for about 10 years now - most 10ply rated tyres specify max pressure of 80psi and most 8 ply specify 65psi. So mine are inflated to whatever the max pressure is. Tyre casings are very strong provided they are undamaged. Had a friend's tyre explode in his shed at 40psi from delaminating after a rough trip.

FollowupID: 624894

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