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Old 08-12-2019, 09:57 PM   #1
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SCUBA compressors

I'm surprised this isn't a huge topic here but maybe I'm just not searching right ?

Our new Willard 40 has an 8 kW Onan generator so we should be able to fill our SCUBA tanks, but which 110v compressor should we chose ?

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Old 08-12-2019, 10:46 PM   #2
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An 8kw is most likely wired for 120/240v, although some are just 120. If wired for 240 that opens up more options for compressors. Maybe 2 or 3hp? Gen can handle that easily. What hp compressor are you looking at? I'd rather have a smallish one and just accept that it must run longer, than have a bigger one that requires load shedding.
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Old 08-12-2019, 10:50 PM   #3
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Diver here. I used to do a LOT of boat diving up in Alaska. We had a RIX SA6 oil-free compressor but mostly kept it in the garage and found it easier to just load up a bunch of extra AL80 tanks into the boat rather than bring a compressor along. I only remember one dive trip that we brought it with us.

I'm not sure the RIX is still made. At least I don't see it on their web site which is pretty much all big industrial stuff. I think Bauer is pretty much the standard these days for small scuba compressors. I think they make them for gas power, electric power, and also that can be driven off a diesel main engine. Unless the boat is a dedicated dive boat, I would think a portable 110v compressor would be the way to go and just bring it on dive trips that you know you'll need a compressor. Play close attention to your intake so you aren't accidentally drawing diesel exhaust into your breathing gas supply.
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Old 08-12-2019, 11:38 PM   #4
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I like the rix compressors, because they were a cool design, but they are finicky over time as they age. There is a reason that Bauer are used in a lot of dive shops. They run continuous duty without unpredictable failing and are quick to fix when you need to update stages. I also had a small 110 volt one and it shared parts with my larger Mariner. The 110 volt could barely get by on a 20 amp outlet, but thatís only enough for about 2 cf, which is quite slow.

A compressor of much value is large and loud. As mentioned, carrying extra tanks is often a practical solution. A small compressor can extend your diving, but usually more of a adding those last couple dives after exhausting the tanks you have. Go 220 for any real capability. You wonít have large banks like a home compressor, so for more than a couple tanks, you really need at least 6cf, and even that is not lightning when you are waiting. The noise level wonít make you popular.

There are quite a few good compressor companies out there, the advantage of brands like Bauer is easy availability of parts. Parts over time, you will go through. Not a big overhaul, but stage valves are a wear part, especially the last stage.

Auto condensate is definitely worth having, as moisture is what kills filters. Packing filters is not at all difficult, but a little messy and shops often cut corners as itís a pain. For portable, you will have a smaller unit, so will be needing to swap filters more often. I mostly bought good quality filters such as Lawrence Factor, cause when the filter needs changed and itís late at night, swapping a new one in in ten minutes is worth it.

Iíve seen Mariner sized blocks put together in small portable configurations. That may seem large, but that would be my pragmatic minimum. You wonít have banks to buffer the load and let the compressor run continuous between fills, so while it may not seem that you need a small shop sized machine, the way you will use it will demand a more meaty machine. Now keep in mind, this is the same basic block that I have in a decent sized Verticus housing that cuts the noise down with a larger size 220 motor so it runs cooler. Like I said, put into a compact housing without shielding, you wonít be popular, but it will get the job done.
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Old 08-12-2019, 11:54 PM   #5
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Come to think of it, I think the RIX ran off a 220 volt motor. On the few occasions when we brought it diving to remote locations in Alaska we swapped the motor out for a gas Honda engine and ran it on the swim step or on shore.

Unless you are planning some sort of big liveaboard operation, I'd just mount a rack of tanks and do your scuba adventures where you are somewhere near a dive shop where you can get fills. Even Alaska has assorted dive shops in most of the towns with decent diving.

I see you are in Costa Rica. Don't you have plenty of dive shops where you can get fills? Or are you planning extended offshore expeditions to places like Cocos Island?
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Camasonian View Post
I see you are in Costa Rica. Don't you have plenty of dive shops where you can get fills? Or are you planning extended offshore expeditions to places like Cocos Island?
I need to update that !

We cruised down the Pacific coast to just north of the Panamanian border. Shipped the sloop from there to Florida where we sold it as we found our 'last' boat back here in California, a Willard 40 PH trawler. Now we're preparing to head back out as soon as we get the boat ready.

The compressor is on the wishlist and might stay there. We have a 12-volt Air Line with 100' hoses for diving around the boat and that might be what we end up doing.

Thanks for the replies !
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