For the most part, air tools are a convenience, a great time saver. It’s fun to buzz lugnuts off with an impact wrench, and air ratchets make quick work of a variety of underhood or undercar jobs, but you certainly don’t need them for the majority of mechanical work you’ll be doing on your car. If you’re doing bodywork, however, air tools are a necessity, and having a good air compressor for painting is paramount to getting the job done.
We speak from experience, too. We were never able to finish the paint job on the ’64 El Camino in our last paint and body issue (Apr. ’12) because compressor wouldn’t keep up with air demands of the spray gun - it wasn't an air compressor for painting. We could only spray for about a minute before the air pressure began to drop, and when that happens, the spray pattern changes and becomes inconsistent, and we’d have to stop to wait for the compressor to charge back up. When spraying a solid color enamel, painting the car panel-by-panel is possible, but metallics and pearls need to cover the car all in one coat. If not, the pattern of the effects will vary from one panel to the other. In short, when painting a car, you need an air compressor for painting. One that is able to provide enough air pressure and volume to spray the whole car in one pass. The short answer is to buy the biggest air compressor you can afford, but there’s more to the story than that. Read on to find a good air compressor for painting.
|60-gallon air compressor
|3/8-inch lead hose
|Air filter regulator
Harbor Freight Tools; 800/444-3353; HarborFreight.com
Compressor horsepower ratings and tank volume are good selling points, but the real spec t
When pressure in the tank drops, the pump switches on to try to maintain a certain amount
You can remedy this with an air separator, but even that can only catch so much moisture.
Our solution came via Harbor Freight Tools’ 60-gallon air compressor. With a 15.8-cfm rati
The two-piston pump is driven by a 5hp electric motor that operates on 220V power. We had
We also installed Harbor Frieght’s wall-mounted regulator and water separator. This mainta