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Respect Compressed Air

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Tony Wells

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Allen wrenches and inserts with holes in them do the same thing. I knew a guy that ended up with 6 stitches from doing that.
 

benmychree

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Another caper with compressed air also took place where I worked at Kaiser Steel Co. in Napa Ca. was that one of my friends loaded up a air lead hose with ball bearings about 3/8" diameter, and when fully loaded had an associate charge the air hose; it was reportedly like a machine gun, and was directed against a corrugated steel wall panel in the pipe mill, made a hell of a racket. I was not a witness to this one.
Another funny thing was that one of the machinists that worked in the Fabrication shop on a huge Ingersoll floor mill had just taken a hike to the vending machine to get a Coke in a paper cup; he no sooner set it down on the machine, when a pigeon flew over and took a dump in it; needless to say, he was not happy, and got his slingshot out and got the crane operator to let him go up on this 30 ton bridge crane and run down and dispatch the offending birds; in the course of this, numerous steel balls (the ammunition) were expended and fell to the floor. I think this took place on an off shift when there was not much going on in the shop; the next swing shift, the maintainance supervisor noticed all the balls on the shop floor, and thought the crane was falling to pieces; of course he never found the cause ---
 

jocat54

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When I was stationed at Fairchild AFB (Spokane Washington). I was in charge of snow removal on the runways (big priority B52 base) We sometimes plowed snow at 60-70 mph with Oskosh rollover snow plows:grin: Anyhow there were times when the big fire extinguishers would get covered up in a berm and then the snow blowers would come along and hit them sometimes breaking the valve off---like a torpedo on snow. Damage to the blowers was usually pretty minimal.
I always thought they were out of their minds for putting a south Texas boy in charge of snow removal.:eek:
 

tdfirearms

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Compressed air, or the release of it, ended my 35 year carrier as a mechanic. When replacing tires for many years, I have released the air from the tire by poking a small hole in the sidewall of the tire. The LAST time I did it, the tire (probably over inflated) split open about 8". The rapidly escaping air blew the knife out of my hand and 3" into my left knee. After healing time, physical therapy and then surgery, I can no longer spend much time on my feet before my knee is in a good bit of pain. Now I am a service adviser, chained to a desk. Taking a lot of getting used to. Also started a gun shop to build a little more freedom for myself.

Dan H
 

Keith Foor

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As far as shop air being dangerous. Don't forget about the storage tanks themselves. Old rusty tanks are not to be trusted. And there is a water drain in the bottom of those tanks for a reason. To use them. I have both heard of and seen where an old tank would rupture a seam and dump all the air at once. Saw one that blew a chunk out of it that hit a guy in the leg and created a cut serious enough that he would have bled to death if he was alone. I can't tell you the number of old galvanized water tanks I have seen used as air pressure tanks that showed visible signs of rust coming through the galvanize. And those tanks working pressures were only rated at 60 to 90 PSI to begin with. That sort of thing may look like a good deal at an auction, but they typically are not.
 
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Definitely a bad idea, Keith, using those tanks! Even proper air tanks, if bought used or of questionable quality should be *hydraulically* tested to at least 1-1/2 or 2 x the highest pressure in use, if possible until a relief valve (though many don't have them...) or rupture disc blows.

If you think about it, a 3HP compressor is putting (assuming about 25% efficiency, a WAG) about 500 Joules of energy *per second* into compressing the air, say it takes 2 minutes to fill the tank to pressure that's 60 KJ, if my schoolboy physics serves that's about 45000 ft-lb, or about 120 500 Joule/370 ft-lb .45 ACP rounds... Would you stand in front of that?

Dave H. (the other one)
 
B

British Steel

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Compressed air, or the release of it, ended my 35 year carrier as a mechanic. When replacing tires for many years, I have released the air from the tire by poking a small hole in the sidewall of the tire. The LAST time I did it, the tire (probably over inflated) split open about 8". The rapidly escaping air blew the knife out of my hand and 3" into my left knee. After healing time, physical therapy and then surgery, I can no longer spend much time on my feet before my knee is in a good bit of pain. Now I am a service adviser, chained to a desk. Taking a lot of getting used to. Also started a gun shop to build a little more freedom for myself.

Dan H
Dan, that's a bad one - and probably why it's a get-your-cards-and-get-out here in England (and probably most of Europe) and would get worker and company a prosecution and big fines if caught / an injury resulted. How long does it take to unscrew the valve core, 20 seconds?

Dave H. (the other one)
 

Keith Foor

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Well. as far as a catastrophic tank failure and sudden release of air through the hole lets do some math. A compressor will typically pump up to over 100 PSI. We are gonna go with this number because it's an easy number to work with doing the math. PSI is Pounds per SQUARE INCH. That means that for every square inch of area on the wall of a tank, it has 100 pounds of force applied to it when the gauge says 100 PSI. Here's why that is significant. If you were to open a 4 square inch hole in a tank at that pressure the force applied to the outside area, beyond the envelope of the tank would be 1600 pounds. Now, if your compressor is not bolted down and this happens in the bottom of the tank, it's gonna take off flying. Also, if that 4 by 4 piece of metal comes loose completely. It has a launched force of 1600 pounds. So who wants to catch that in the leg. Not to mention that flat squarish sheets of metal don't fly that way for very long. They tend to lay down because of wind resistance and fly edge to edge. SO now you have a .25 inch piece of metal flying across the shop that was launched with 1600 pounds of force. At yes, I understand drag and ballistics but again the numbers are interesting enough and if you were close enough it's not going to matter all that much. That .25 inch wide 4 inch long piece of tank is now moving at some high rate of speed. With a force of 1600 pounds per square inch. When that hits you, it's enough to tear through frail old you and make a hole for the red stuff to leak out.

This is another reason that shop air can be dangerous, is it can pick up small things and propel them with alot of energy. Which is the reason that OSHA has regulations about the maximum amount of shop air in PSI that can be used to clear dust and such on a job site.
 

Superburban

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There used to be a picture floating around the net, that had a ruptured air compressor on the roof of a two story apartment building. The story I think was that the tank had ruptured, and flown over a block. Just Google air compressor failures, and you will get a new respect for the power contained in an air tank.

You can't just go by training, or "Thats the way we been doing it forever". Back in 1980, when I went through the Army truck drivers school at Ft Dix, NJ, They had a bunch of us changing tires on the two piece split rims, with a pry bar, sledge hammers, and an air hose. Now I know how dumb that was, but back then, it was just the way it was done. Reading reports over the years, it is obvious that the Army does not learn from others mishaps. It seemed like every installation had to have a death to get them to change.

We could also discuss the stupidity of using PVC pipe for shop air lines. There is still way too many that think it is ok.
 

ddickey

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Five years ago yesterday I was going to tech school in St. Cloud when the Verso paper mill had an explosion. It was an air compressor that overheated. Killed one person and shut the plant down permanently.
 

Reeltor

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These stories are just downright scary!
When I first saw this thread I thought it was going to discuss people horsing around and injuring someone with compressed air. I remember reading about two occurrences of horseplay with a air hose. In both cases some idiot took the air hose and shoved it at someone's rear end. IIRC one was at a high school and the other was in a factory setting. One recipient of this prank died and the other had serious internal injuries. I don't know if the new style blow-guns limiting the amount of air will prevent these injuries or not. I learned way back when (in the olden days:rolleyes:) that shop air is dirty and full of bacteria, that a nasty infection can be gotten by blowing the air into (and under) the skin.
 

tdfirearms

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Dan, that's a bad one - and probably why it's a get-your-cards-and-get-out here in England (and probably most of Europe) and would get worker and company a prosecution and big fines if caught / an injury resulted. How long does it take to unscrew the valve core, 20 seconds?

Dave H. (the other one)
Dave, not that it makes it ant better, but the reason for doing it that way is that the core seizes in the stem. The valve stem is also the tire pressure sensor and is aluminum. The valve core is steel. dissimilar metals and they corrode and break if you try to remove them. The cost to replace one and program to car is $275 US. All it takes is one time for the cost of trying to save the customer that cost is very high. I consider my self very fortunate, it could have been much worse.
 

koehlerrk

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This past year I've gotten into HPA (High Pressure Air) rifles. These are NOT your old Daisey Red Ryder BB gun... My guns currently charge to 2000 and 3000 psi. My storage tank gets filled to 4500. You're darn right I respect those things, they're bombs waiting to explode. But dang if they aren't fun to use! One simply needs to pay attention to what you're doing, and do all the steps in the correct order, no exceptions.
 

KBeitz

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I did that with a 12" machine gear. It went through a block wall...
 

tjb

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Back in 1980, when I went through the Army truck drivers school at Ft Dix, NJ, They had a bunch of us changing tires on the two piece split rims, with a pry bar, sledge hammers, and an air hose.
I knew a guy back in the '70's who lost a friend that worked at a tire shop. He was changing a tire on an old-style snap ring wheel. Did something a little too hastily, and the snap ring blew off. Took most of his head with it. Not too many tire shops will even touch those things anymore.
 

pontiac428

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It's no mystery why OSHA forbids cleaning with compressed air unless it is regulated below 30 psi. I prefer a shop vac and a chip brush...

After reading this thread, I'd say y'all are lucky. "Learning by doing" has some serious limitations in this case.
 

Silverbullet

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My first day in the vocational school in machine shop we were worned about air pressure and it's power. Our shop time was book time before machine time. So we had pictures of injuries and missing parts . Stands out when it's seen. I keep my compressor set at 125 with 90 to the lines and restart at 80. Blow guns are all reduced nozzle types. Best thing to do on any compressor tank is have a drain added to where you can blow off moisture daily . I piped mine out side with a ball valve pet cocks are boys toys use the ball valves .
 

jdedmon91

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I know about exploding compressors. I had about a 25 year old oil less CH compressor and tank. That sucker was noisy so I mounted it to a lean to outside. Several months ago I was working and shooting video and the tank exploded. Video attached


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

vincent52100

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Pressure uncontrolled is a dangerous enemy. Several years ago I was trying to remove a pin from a Komatsu loader. Oxy torch with large heating tip. Got it really heated up and was getting ready to try and bang it off. Heard a bang, the grease fitting on the end of the went off like a bullet, buried itself in a 3/4 inch sheet of plywood. Scared the you know what out of me. Captive pressure not respected can be a killer.
 
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SCLead

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My dad once told me a similar story with water. He was a brand new apprentice pipefitter working on a Dow Chemical plant. They were bleeding water out of a system that had a 10" cap they had to remove to do their job. The guy he was working with walked away for a bit, and he saw the 0-25psi gauge drop to near zero and started unscrewing the cap. Next thing he knew, he was pinned to the wall on the opposite side of the room and couldn't breath, then the site foreman pulled him out of the stream of water. This was back in the days of "well, hope you learned your lesson" and work carried on.

Edit: Or another one of his stories along the lines of British Steel's: somebody in his highschool welding class dropped a compressed gas cylinder unloading it out of a truck, sheared the valve off and they watched it punch through a foundation wall of a house under construction in the field next door.
 

Aukai

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Experience is something you get right after you needed it......:big grin:
 

mcostello

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Had a Boss that would not send 2 men on a job when only 1 was needed. Had a small job come up on a Sunday night and did not want to call factory labor in for a 10 minute job,4 hour call in rate. He tripped a switch and a cylinder closed pinning Him in an akward position where He could not release it. Had to stay in that position for 8 hours till morning shift came in. Adjusted His attitude quickly, not hurt just embarrased.
 
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