Sunday, October 01, 2006

Controlling Air Compressor Noise

For me the real downside of airbrushing is all the racket the danged compressor makes. Since you really need a compressor with a tank to ensure even airflow (not air that flows in spurts, which will be just what your paint does-- flow in pulses), this is mitigated somewhat because the compressor will only kick on when the pressure in the tank goes below a certain level. The downside to THAT is, you'll be jamming along painting, rocking to the backround music of your preference, and when that thing kicks on again the mild coronary it gives you might just cause you to make an errant mark on your masterpiece.
Some artists solve this problem by using tanks of CO2, like those used in soda fountains, but the chore of lugging those back and forth to be refilled would really be a chore for me right now. In the future that might be a great solution, because all I'd hear would be the sibilant purr of paint and air dancing on my substrate. Or if I could find a service that I could rent the tanks from, that would also deliver a replacement while picking up the spent tank, but that sounds like it could get expensive after a while.
There are also so-called "silent air compressors" but they frequently cost 4 to 5 times as much as a regular compressor.

Here is one guys solution:

Well, the neighbor finally complained about the noise. Ironically, she wasn't whining about the incredibly loud riveting, the incessant whining of the air drill, or the pounding on the C-frame dimpler. It was the compressor. "It's such a big generator," she said, "and it keeps going on and off, on and off."
I respect the complaint, because my garage acts as a megaphone and projects the compressor running noise right at her open windows. That kind of sucks. So I finally got around to soundproofing the thing.
Here's the corner where it sits, originally open like this. The motor is kind of tucked up under the shelf, but let's not kid ourselves...that doesn't do squat for noise reduction.

Anybody else out there in blog-land ever dealt with this, or have any ideas for doing this with as little expense and labor-intensity as possible?


Anonymous said...

I tried to find your e-mail address, Honky-Tonk, but I couldn't. So here's a comment and I hope you see it.

Silent compressors may be ridiculously expensive, but the one I bought was well worth it. I picked up a Badger Silent-Air for about $500 over 20 years ago and it only died two years ago, and that was after I left it out in my yard for a year and tried to start it up in the middle of the winter (to blow up snow tubes). These days the same model sells for around $700 retail.

I'd say it's a pretty good investment, all things considered. I carried that compressor down to Wildwood, NJ one summer to airbrush shirts on the boardwalk, dragged it to college -- it was a real trooper. Almost unkillable.

And when they say silent compressor, they mean it. It's not just quieter than a regular compressor. It's almost completely noiseless.

If I were airbrushing in low volume -- I stopped airbrushing years ago -- I'd use a scuba tank. They're built to run for hours on one refill, they're very clean, and they're portable.

punkelf said...

Thanks, Chris.
My GF just went way overboard for my birthday, and got me an Iwata silent compressor. It really rocks. I'm amazed at the difference that it makes in the airbrushing experience. I wouldn't recommend it (becuase of the expense) to someone who is just starting out, and may not know if they are going to take to airbrushing. But if you know you want to put some significant time in the studio or shop, spraying paint, it is definitely worth it.