My one year old 10 gal 1-1/2 hp Craftsman had slipped a gasket. I flipped my own gasket. That was the forth compressor of that make I had gone thru in seven or eight years. Each one had suffered a different problem. With each breakdown, I examined the break and decided I had better get a bigger compressor; so back to convenient Sears I went. At some pint, I would find a size that would have the capacity to fit my needs fit my needs. I had hoped this latest would do the job for me, as I no longer had any crew other than myself.
Aside from the fact that my neighbor occasionally called me late in the evening to tell me my compressor was keeping them awake, and the fact that I could not seem to find fittings that kept the joints airtight, the tool seemed to be working ok. I just lost a lot of air due to leakage along the lines. The only fitting that was tight was at the impact wrench. No matter how many times I went back to Sears, I could not stop that air. When the line from the pump to the tank blew out, I inspected and decided the necessary repair would not solve the problem without reaming out the cylinder port and creating a whole new problem. I had to take a different tack.
I had recently visited the ToolNut store in Yorktown Heights, NY to look over their supply/display of Festoys. While there I had noticed several makes of air compressors. Their display signs out in the front of the store advertised an expertise in air tools for the building trades. My infallible comprehensive reasoning told me that anybody carrying a full line of Festoys just had to have the good sense to carry good quality in their other lines. I investigated, thru the toolnut.com website, their line of air compressors and whipped off a couple of E-mails.
Along with immediate replies to my E-mails, I made several phone calls and headed for Yorktown Heights, a little more than a half hour drive. I had planned to purchase their Rolair VT 20 2hp wheeled compressor, but upon looking over that machine and the much smaller JC 10 1hp 2 gal compressor. I decided to take my chances with the smaller unit, I was not sure if it could handle my needs, Sean Ackerman and Doug, one of his store sales men, had both advised me to go with the VT 20. The main drawback they felt was my use of an impact wrench for tire repairs and removal and reattaching blades on my large mowers. The big factor for me was weight. With sometimes debilitating back problems, weight, or lack there of, is often a deciding factor for me. The VT 20 was mounted on a wheeled frame, so it should be easily moved around in my yard. It seemed to be a little out of balance when straightened up for rolling around, so I felt it would be parked in the barn and almost never moved for use anywhere else. The JC 10 I could pick up and carry with one hand. I liked that.
After discussing my thoughts with Doug, I decided to take the smaller machine. My idea was that when I was ready to work, I could hook up the small JC 10 to my old ten gallon air tank and I would have plenty of reservoir to handle my impact wrench. Doug thought that might work and agreed that if it did not work, I could bring the tool back and replace with the VT 20. The stipulation was that I should not spend a lot of action with the JC 10. If it did not work for me right away, “…don’t get it scratched and dirtied up with use.” That seemed fair to me.
Fast Forward to my shop:
I read the directions for any surprises to be found as soon as I got home. No special problems that aren’t part of the territory of compressor land, so I started the machine up. It took all of a little less than 55 seconds to achieve full air. That was the extent of my first trial run for that evening.
TEST #1 The following day, I got home early in the afternoon and decided to give a full trial. The first thing I did after starting the tool was to set the air controls to maximum recommended settings by building up the air and adjusting with the switch on. It took only a minute to set the control.
The next stage was to hook up a 20’ hose and get out my impact wrench. No problem there. I had no leaks at the pump, a new sensation that seemed never to be the case with my previous several units. The connection was tight, as it was also at the hammer end.
I backed my trailer up to the barn and started loosening lug nuts. With just a short brrrrr on each nut, I had three nuts loose before the JT 10 went into action. I continued until I had all six nuts loosened. Without stopping, I spun all six nuts completely off of the bolts, all the time, the compressor kept its silent pumping. I guess at this point, I was probably getting very discouraged as I was afraid I might need to invest in a hearing aid to know whether or not the pump was running. That pump is even quieter than any of the oil type compressors I have had.
Once all of the nuts were completely off the rims, I reset by hand all six to just catch the ends of the threads. By the time I had one or two nuts ready to go, the pump was already up to full air. Once all nuts were ready to go, I proceeded to zap away with the impact wrench. Each nut was spun til it made contact with the rim and then I went right to the next. By the time I got to the third nut, the pump had gone back to work. I just kept zapping away until all nuts were snug against the rim. I then went around to each nut for a final zap, going twice around all six nuts. The next step was to get out my breaker bar to make sure the nuts were all tight. They could have been a little tighter, but I had not allowed the pump to get up to full pressure. I tightened all of the lugs to about what I usually set them by hand. Once satisfied all nuts were tight, I attacked once more with the impact wrench. With just a quick Brrr to each nut, I was able to take each nut up just a little tighter.
The verdict: For the toughest job I will put the compressor to.
Speed of operation adequate for my needs (I barely have a rest)
Operational pressure more than adequate
Silence of equipment I cannot hear it over the crickets I hear all the time day after day after day.
Satisfaction to this point Total
TEST #2 The next test would be to loosen the nuts for my large mower blades. The mower had not had a blade change since late last fall. I do not change blades every couple of days when doing fall cleanups as I do when mowing thru the spring, summer and early fall. I had also run the mower for about two weeks of early spring cleanups. I usually have some problems with tight blades and for first blade change in the spring, I nearly always find it necessary to resort to the old breaker bar. Sometimes I even need to put an extension pipe onto the bar so I can have enough leverage to break the nuts loose. I made sure I had both bar and pipe handy along with the block of wood to hold against the blades as I work the nuts loose. I was very much delited when the impact wrench proved sufficient for all three blades. I needed neither breaker bar nor extra wrench. One blade required three zaps to break it loose, but the rest came loose with the first contact. That has never happened with the first blade change in the spring. From there on, it was only routine to put blades back on. I only zap them up to about 15 lbs of torque. A piece of cake.
The verdict: Disappointment? No way. Rolair Compressors are top quality
This morning, I went out to the barn for something unrelated to work. As I walked past my trailer, I noticed it had a flat tire.
TEST #3 I thought this was the best time to put that little compressor to its final test.
I had picked up some new hose fittings. When I noticed the flat tire, I replaced the old leaky fittings on my 30 foot air hose that had always leaked since day one. Once the fittings were tightened to satisfaction, and attached the 30 foot hose to the 20 foot hose I had been using, I cranked up the new toy and listened for air hissing. Well, as much as my crickets noises in my ears would allow, I could find no leakage. I dragged my extra hose out to the tire and pressed air tool to valve and started pumping air. It took about 7 seconds before the pump ran low and started pumping. I backed off with the air tool and waited about fifteen seconds for the air to come back to full. I then hooked back onto the valve and just continued for about 30 seconds after the pump came back on. In total time of pumping/waiting/pumping/waiting etc, etc, it took about three minutes to get the tire up to 60 #s of pressure. There was not enough air in the tire to register when I started. Some of you might want to know the tire size (215-75-R16 load range E for trailer use only) Three hours since filling with air, the tire is still full of air. I think the reason it went flat was because I had checked the air the day before and it is possible the valve core had stuck.
The Verdict: filling a tire with air is the toughest job for a small air compressor. It took me about three minutes to fill my trailer tire to 60#s. I cannot expect a 1hp compressor to do any better than that. I checked by hand all parts of the compressor to determine if any over heating. Warm but not hot. For such a small compressor, I did not really expect such performance. I have had oil type compressors that made more noise. Larger compressors that were no faster (for my work) (It doesn’t take much to keep one man busy). For such a small machine, the Rolair JC 10 is a Mighty Mite. Bonus: Made in USA
The specs are:
Horse power 1hp
Cu ft of displacement 5.3
CFM @ 90 PSI 2.35
Tank capacity (gallons) 2.5
Shipping Weight 39#s
For my needs as a one man operation, the JC 10 is very adequate. I can run my 500# impact air wrench all day. I can handle my necessary bolt/nut loosening projects as well as with any other compressor I have had. It took about 3 minutes, using 50 feet of hose, to fill a completely flat trailer tire to 60#s pressure. I think it might take at least 10 or 15 minutes to fill one of my truck tires to 50 or more #’s, but the pump is fast enough to get air pressure to a point I can get the three miles to my closest repair station to get the tire fixed. The site literature suggests the compressor can keep up with one air nailer. I do not doubt that.
I am sure there are situations where two nailers could be kept busy with certain framing situations where the impacts might not come in such rapid succession and short hose situations. Not in every situation. The machine might not keep up with shop needs where two or more impact wrenches are required, but I see no time lost where one wrench would be in use. Heavy truck work would be a big problem, but for my one ton trailer and 1/2 ton pickup truck, the tool performed well beyond my expectations.
At only 39 pounds weight, the machine is perfect for me and my bad back. It is fully portable and also very easy for me to hide away totally out of sight in my very open barn when not in use. With a small generator, I can now load the compressor onto the front seat of my truck and take air to the site to a broken down machine. There will be situations where that will be of great help and can cut my labor expenses enough that one breakdown will go a long way towards the JC 10 paying for itself.
Like any undersized machine, the JC 10 has limitations. I just do not foresee serious limitations for my operation. The machine is mightier than it looks.
Note: This tool was not given to me for testing. I paid for the tool from ToolNut with the primary advice from them that it probably is too small for my needs (specifically for operating an impact air wrench). However, just like any other kid, it is sometimes hard to get me to listen to good advice.