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Lessons Learned From An Air Compressor Explosion
James Kelley does what many FARM SHOW readers do – take a piece of equipment and modify it. He recently learned you have to be very careful if that piece of equipment is an air compressor.
  At 5:53 a.m. one January morning Kelley heard a “sonic boom”. Later, returning from morning coffee with friends, he discovered the source of the noise when he noticed a hole ripped through the steel metal siding on his farm shop. All the windows were blown out, welding helmet view lenses blown to pieces, tools destroyed, metal posts and braces bent, and there was debris everywhere.
  The volume tank he had added to his 42-gal. air compressor had blown up.
  “The cause for the explosion was not having a popoff valve and not having a magnetic starter on the tank,” Kelley says. He explains that he had put a new motor on the air compressor and didn’t realize that 5 hp and larger motors carry 22 amps, and that ordinary pressure switch points wouldn’t be able to handle that. The higher amps require a magnetic contact on the starter.
  It appears that the points on the pressure switch melted down so the compressor didn’t shut down, blowing the tank. The air compressor gauge was frozen at 600 psi after the explosion.
  Though he had repairs to make and a mess to clean up, Kelley felt very fortunate. Just the night before he had been painting framework on a ladder right over the tank that blew up.
  He fixed up the unharmed compressor, but this time he eliminated the second tank and invested $185 in a magnetic starter, a new pressure switch and a pop-off valve as a safety release.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, James Kelley, P.O. Box 302, Tuscola, Texas 79562 (ph 325 554-7734).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #4