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Old 11-26-2011   #1
Firefighter, Virginia
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Using my On-Board Air Compressor to fill a Cat

Hey all! So I have a Cataraft I tow inflated on a small trailer behind my jeep. I had recently installed an air compressor in my engine compartment that is belt driven. The system overall is connected to a tank from which I have a couple quick-connects attached. One of these runs straight to the rear of my Jeep putting it in the perfect place to use the hose to fill up the Cat while it's still on the trailer. Here's where my brainstorming started and I want people's opinions. The compressor is regulated between 120-150 which is mad overkill for any raft. If I had to inflate it from completely empty I had just planned on inflating it until it had some shape. A more recent idea I came up with was to build an attachment that included a male quick-connect, a male hose end much like you would see at the end of a hand-pump (on which you could attach other raft-inflating attachments), and some sort of pressure regulator in the middle. Thoughts? Any ideas where I can find a regulator that would work with this setup?

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Old 11-26-2011   #2
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883

You've described a high pressure, low volume setup. Typically, low pressure, high volume pumps are used to inflate rafts and cats. So performance may be not what you expect -- it could take a long time to inflate the tubes of your cat.

Second concern. Some compressors rely on oil-based lubrication, which can be conveyed in small quantities in the compressed air -- along with the inevitable moisture from the compression process. You might want to think about whether the inside of your tubes will like either oil or water introduced in that way.

Others likely will have different thoughts. But as I see it, a small, cheap inverter and a 120 volt yard blower would give you high volume at a low pressure, and remove any of the above possible concerns.


Rich Phillips

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Old 11-26-2011   #3
Whoapiglet's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
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Posts: 296
or just get a $10 12v walmart inflator. way faster/lighter/more compact and pumps harder than my $80 metro air. I've used the same wally world one for prolly close to a hundred river trips. you still need a top off pump but you will need on e anyway for any electric setup.

Coleman 12V QuickPump Air Pump - Walmart.com
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Old 11-27-2011   #4
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Gunnison, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1970
Join Date: Nov 2009
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As stated high pressure low volume compressors are not good for filling rafts. Oil contamination and slow going are the problems. A 12v inflator is a better option. While I run a compressor off my truck for powering nail guns in the field before proper electricity is run, I do not use it for filling rafts. I also run a 1500 watt inverter off my truck for small tools in the field away from electricity. I have a small hand held Oreck vacuum that I never use at home that the hose can plug into either side - inflate or deflate. Runs off the inverter and will pump up 8-9 rafts fast without draining the batteries. Also works great at the take out for fully deflating the rafts and packing them as small as possible to pack more gear into the truck. A set up like this would work much better than a high pressure compressor.
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Old 11-27-2011   #5
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,910
Here's a good thread on the topic.
Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 11-27-2011   #6
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glenwood springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 5
i think im going with the concensus here. using a air compressor is deffinately not a good idea you are asking for trouble with moisture and oil residue in the tubes is inevitable. i use an old shop vac that the canister got crushed on and a cheap power inverter works great. if you are going to use an air compressor you want to invest in a good filter and dryer system habor freight being the most econimical around 30 bucks.
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Old 12-11-2011   #7
Firefighter, Virginia
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Ok so no go on the air compressor. Thanks yall!
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Old 12-12-2011   #8
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Join Date: Jul 2005
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Use what you got, add an inline dryer to stop moisture and oil, add a regulator for low pressure, inflate your buddies' rafts after there cheapo inflators die on the launch ramp, nothing left to do but smile.

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