Air compressor trade talk
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This is a light hearted look at the life of a compressor engineer out in the field. Every effort has been made to disguise the poor unfortunate customer, but they know who they are;
Your Compressor Engineer and You.
Now there is a strange heading you may be thinking - but read on.
A good Compressor Engineer is hard to find and the Industry is littered with luke warm self taught pretenders - after all there are not many people who cant change an oil filter or drop in new air filter .
You should be using a Company who employ Engineers who are properly trained and competent - Factory Trained is best and with certificates to prove their competence.
There are a lot less truely competent qualified Compressor Engineers out there than you might imagine.
If I were on the other side of the fence I would want to check up on the credentials and qualifications of the people that you are currently using.
Also and probably more important is the fact that in law YOU are responsible for who you task to look after the equipment - the fact the person may not be qualified is no excuse - its down to you to check as best you can.
If you are looking for a new Compressor Engineer anywhere UK then call Compressorman on 07904 471183 - We are factory trained and have enough certificates to paper all the walls in our offices - Enough said.
Its best to be nice with people if you can.
Friday afternnon at 3pm and like clockwork our friend in the trade Kelvin knows its tea and cake time in our workshops - Just like clockwork he comes in for a chat and some parts he needs for next week.
The good thing about Kelvin is that he keeps us up to speed with all the trade gossip and whats going on with our competitors - we dont mind if he tells them about us we only tell him what we might want the others to hear anyway.
Apparently he has been harrased by a customer who had previously taken advantage of a tricky situation regarding Kelvin and a Hydrovane compressor he looked after for them - Long story but Kelvin got the honours for a machine that went wrong when it was not his fault ( well not completely ) and his then customer decided it was all Kelvins fault and he should suffer for it.
Even allowing for a bit of exaggeration in Kelvins story I know it cost him a packet to sort it out when at worst he might have made a contibution to the situation by offering free or reduced labour costs.
This customer was having non of it and really enjoyed putting the pressure on until he got what he wanted and made Kelvin suffer financialy - nasty trick that.
The old saying of " Whats goes around etc etc " has come back to bite the chap and at least give Kelvin a bit of pleasure - and brighten up our afternoon too.
So the guy doesnt have it serviced for the next 2 years and then obviously has a problem and starts ringing Kelvin for assistance - Kelvin is having non of it and wont even answer his phone to him and the guy keeps on ringing and ringing as he gets more desperate - even ringing on different phone numbers - but to no avail,
This guy has already annoyed different suppliers in the area over the years and it turns out that everyone is "busy"
Of course there is always someone to ring and he is now in bed with the most expensive Compressor Engineers in the country - I wont name them as we have no axe to grind - the end bill will be heart stopping and by the sound of it he deserves nothing better.
It could have all been so very different if he had been decent with Kelvin instead of taking advantage of the situation.
Karma is a wondeful thing - "Do not let a small dispute finish a great relationship"
The 3 phase myth - busted.
Lets try and solve a couple of myths that surrond 240 volt single phase electrics and 415volt 3 phase electrics.
There is no such thing as a dual voltage 240 volt motor - well not in general terms - if you see a motor that is rated say 415v - 240v - that does not mean it can run on either 3 phase or single phase. What it means its is a 3 phase motor that can run on either 415v or 240v 3 phase electrice only - it can not be directly connected to 240 voly UK electrics - Shock horror, but that ends that myth.
In short if it doesnt say 240v - 1ph - then its no good to you for single phase use.
You can however use a 3 phase converter to run off a 240 volt supply but that will probably cost about 3 times what you hope and are generally not that good when it comes to running a compressor - the larger the compressor the more it will cost and also the less effective it will be.
Its hard enough to run a small simple piston compressor on a converter - to run a screw with controllers and electronics is super difficult and expensive beyond your wildest guess.
The converter also isnt going to run off a 13amp household plug in your workshop
The next myth is the converter sizing - as an example a 7.5kw converter will not run a 7.5kw compressor you will need one twice the size and again this will be expensive.
A cheap older converter off ebay will probably run a small lathe or extractor fan - but a compressor will consume lots more power and so will not work.
So if the definative answer was can it be done - yes or no - than the answer would be yes but the whole set up and wiring changes needed in your building will probably cost as much as the compressor and the results will be about 85% ok.
If you then said well thats ok but I will pay whatever it costs to get it right - the answer is simple - get 3 phase connected instead.
In conclusion - if you need to run a 3 phase Compressor then you need 3 phase electrics to do the job properly.
240 Volt - Single Phase Hydrovanes
People as fasinated by small Hydrovane compressors and how powerful they are and what they can do - strangely many people get it wrong and the problems that arise are amazing.
In recent years as a stock production item Hydrovane have made 2 models in single phase for the UK market - they may have been others but they would not be catalouge items and not easily available.
Starting around 1984 there was the model 5 which was 1.5hp and the model 15 which was 3hp - the 1st misunterstanding is the model no does not relate to the cfm produced - although a model 5 does make around 5cfm - but a 15 produces only arounf 8cfm - Almost all of them were 7bar models - The no 5 relates to the model series no ie Hydrovane 5 Series. They can be relatively easy to age by the plate on the tank and the colour of the tank was usually black. These models are getting very long in the tooth now and most will be beyond serious useage.
Then in the mid 1990s there was a bit of an upgrade all over and a mini restyle with the tanks now being silver and the pressure being upgraded to 10bar. Also an oil over temperature switch was introduced.
Around the year 2000 there was a bit more of a restyle again and the models were renamed HV01 and HV02 - also they were now in a blue colour - more electrical upgrades.
The above is correct in general terms but there are always specials but again they would not be on general release.
The main advantage of a small Hydrovane as opposed to a piston compressor is that they are definatley quieter - but definatley not silent in any way - They are more powerful - but not in a big way - Where they do score heavily is that Hydrovanes are true industrial guage compressors and can run 24/7 - no cheap piston compressor is capable of this.
But a new Hydrovane will cost up to 4 times the cost of an equivalent new piston compressor and why shouldnt it - the Hydrovane will be head and shoulders above the piston when it comes to quality and legnth of life at this the Hydrovane wins everytime - except for the cost.
Do you really want one or not
So how do you get to a fair and accurate comparisson between a Piston and a Vane compressor.
One of the first things you need to understand is that 20 - 30 years ago there were much fewer one man band workshops in little starter units or in converted farm buildings - no one had a small Hydrovane in a home workshop - 99.99999% of new ones would be going into Industry and most would be 3 pase units, They were often run very hard indeed sometimes up to 24/7 - assuming they were serviced properly then they ran faultlessly rather like a Swiss watch.
As the ecconomy changed and small units were built or converted for small business use, then people wanted a quieter top of the range machine like the Hydrovane and the more affluent businesses were able to buy new 240 volt models and the rest had to just wish until something suitable became available.
At this point in time you had little choice but to buy an old Piston or a new cheaper one from places like machine mart or similar and so the search for used Hydrovanes was born.
Move forward 10 - 20 years and there are a lot more small business and many have 3 phase and many only single phase.
At that there became a massive market in people wanting a small Hydrovane and that market and the need is just as strong today - but most of the used machines that become available are old and tired or have passed through many hands because of these faults - the chances of finding a realy good one at a sensible price is very slim and ebay and gumtree are full of tired old models that are well past their best.
If you want a good used Hydrovane you can by one from us in total confidence and with a warranty - we also have some fully rebuilt ones from time to time and these offer superb value.
So all is not lost - call us on 07904 - 471183
Not enough power and no hope
Friday afternoon is usual time Kelvin turns up to buy his bits for next week - drink our tea - and amuse us with tales of what he has seen in the week gone by.
A guy down the road from him who does car repairs in a tiny 600sq ft unit, decides to buy a compressor - he has a problem with it and rings Kelvin - the man who can.
When he turns up he finds in the corner a 22yrs old 45kw Screw Compressor taking up a big percentage of the already crowded workshop and with all its covers off - never a good sign.
The guy tell Kelvin that its tripping fuses and can he sort it for him - well thats not going to happen as the workshop is sharing a 100amp supply with a couple of other units and the compressor needs its own 100amp supply without running anything else. To run one of these and a workshop you need a 200amp supply to the workshop - so its on ebay now - if you are looking for a pup you know where it is - but please dont ring me for help with it unless you have enough supply to run it.
What the guy really needed was a 11kw screw that would need about 25 amps to run it and now hes spent his money and no compressor that runs - he will probably be back on an old Machine Mart Piston by now.
Customers having a good year.
I have just about lost count of the number of our customers who have bought new compressors from us due to them expanding their operations.
Its always nice when existing customers are having a good time and its a bonus to us when they buy more compressed air equipment from us.
We would also like to say how pleased and thankful we are that so many have chosen to confirm their faith in us and continue to use us as their suppliers of the new equipment.
Also to the many new customers we have gained this year - we welcome them and look forward to working together.
Why are people so easily fooled.
Over the course of a year I see hundreds of compressors and speak to probably thousands of people about compressors.
Most of these people are glad to speak to someone who knows and understands how compressors work and are receptive of any suggestions or advice that I may offer. Many of these people become new customers and we hope that their problems are over and we start on the voyage of a working relationship - At Compressorman we still look after the first new compressor we sold in 1981 - so we are into long term working relationships.
Along the way we meet a lot of what we call information gatherers - some are a lot more genuine than others and they are always welcome - then we meet the people who have become 5 minute experts and tell us what they want when its obvious that they have no idea at all - they have spoken to several other dealers and are now the World experts.
Usually these latter group of people gather all the information they can and then go off on ebay to buy a worn out compressor for a few hundred and nearly always end up with a pup.
The next step is always quite interesting and amusing - the same person then comes on the phone pretending to never have spoken before and asking for help with their faulty compressor.
All and everyone of the people that they previously rang will no doubt tell them the reality of their situation and all the bravado and self confidence soon disappears and then the machine is back on ebay for the next victim.
The moral of all this is that you will almost never get the chance to buy a good expensive compressor for buttons and if you do it will never be there when you want one.
People do not put perfectly working compressors on ebay for silly low prices - most owners know what they are worth and then some more - also most are far from truthful - add to that the auction fever and what a recipe for a vey expensive disaster.
Do you understand Ebay talk
Ebay is better than Sky TV for entertainment and the descriptions that people put on there are amazing.
There are several key phrases that should ring alarm bells straight away -
1) Only available due to recent upgrade - this one always makes me smile.
So what do you think that means, is it that this person had a really nice and perfectly working modern compressor but they have expanded and they needed the same again but a larger size - of course this does happen but its probably only happens as YOU read it in about 5% of cases.
The real reality is the old one was too much trouble, getting old and unreliable, needed lots of money spending on it with no real hope of success. Their upgrade was probably the same again but with fingers crossed this time.
But of course thats not what you want to hear is it ? - of course people do upgrade to brand new units and their old unit is working well - but they wont be selling that machine cheaply on ebay - after all its a good example and will sell for a premium price.
Think of it this way - how many people trade in a 52 plate Nissan for a 67 plate Merc - it does happen - but not that often and do you want their old Nissan - think on !!
2) Only available because our new workshop does not have 3 phase and so cant show it running - This one needs no explanation - Dont even think about it - Biggest scam ever.
3) Working but a service would be advised - Means they cant find the problem and neither has anyone else and so thay will be glad to get rid of it.
4) Too big for our electric supply - probably has a serious electrical problem and blowing fuses - or how big is this compressor then.
5) Machine is far too big for our needs - well if its connected and you can see it running - you decide.
6) Only for sale due to business closure - same as 5
7) Selling untested as dont have power to run it - If you do buy one of these - please dont ring us afterwards - it will not be good news.
We get at least one of the above senarios almost everyday of the week and it almost never has a happy ending.
Our New Onlike Shop
As many of you will know I have mentioned that we have been looking at an online shop for several years now - its a difficult thing to do properly and its easy to get off to a false start - we had such a situation earlier this year and what should have been a sucessful trading relationship with a big supplier failed to come up to our standards and we had to scrap a palett full of catalouges and look for a new partner.
I am pleased to report that this new venture is almost ready to launch and I am confident that it will be a big sucess.
Our customers will be able to order from a massive catalouge of parts on line and get a next day delivery to their door - they will be able to order all of the normal consumables right through to a new compressor.
Its very busy out there
It seems that many of our customers are doing very well and looking to upgrade their compressed air systems - we have taken orders from 4 existing customers and 3 new customers in the last two weeks alone.
Some of our customers are so busy that it seems strange, but long may it last and be beneficial to us both.
Warranty and all that entails
In a typical month we will hear more moans and gripes about warranty issues with almost all manufacturers being talked about.
Whilst most of the manufacturers are lacking when it come to dealing with warranty issue - and there are some bad ones - the customer also has to be reasonable.
I have been involved in this trade all my working life and I dont know of ANY manufacturer that offers extended 100% warranties for FREE - it doesnt happen and so you can stop looking.
Let me explain how it works - All new compressors carry a 12 month warranty no matter who makes them - thats trading law. After that it all becomes very fuzzy and is not what you are hoping it will be..
So 99% of manufacturers will offer extended warranty - SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS. It is this bit that covers the sins and hides the clauses that you wont like.
I can hear shed loads of you saying that your machine has a 5 or 10 year warranty and so you are fine - I am sure you have - but what does it cover - do you really know ? When your machine fails to start because of say a faulty contactor or controller after say 5 years - are you confident that it will be 100% free repair to you - I would doubt it very much ( although there are exceptions on say a total care plan - more latter ).
So how does the Warranty work then ?
The most important thing you need to realise is that when you buy a small size screw or vane compressor of say 7.5kw - and you have squeezed every bit of juice out of the deal to get the absolute lowest price ever - you think that dealer and manufacturer are then going to sit back and wait for your calls over the next 5 - 10 years to come out and attend to all you problems or issues for free.
Do you really think that ??
Its at this point I usually have a serious fit of laughing and then this changes to despair as I realise that 95% of people really do think thats how it works.
The only way this happens is if you take out a Total Care Plan with your chosen supplier and manufacturer - but believe me that will be eye watering expensive - Try £1500 a year assuming you only run 2000hrs a year - if you want to do more hours thats no problem as there will be a price for that too - are you getting the flavour of this yet ?
You need a proper Maintenance Contract at the very least.
The very least that any manufacturer is going to require is Annual Servicing or every 2000hrs if that comes before the 12 month period. The service has to be done by the manufacturers agent and you have to use genuine parts and oils - there are NO exceptions to this.
Also as the hours clock up the service prices vary upwards with the 2K service always being the cheapest - 4k is more - 6K even more - until you get to around 20K and then its megga expensive - An airend rebuild and motor re - bearing.
All that is to keep a standard warranty in place - is it worth it ? - only you can decide that one.
So what parts will be covered ?
Obviously its difficult to comment for every manufacturer and they will all make different claims - generally speaking they like to say " all major items " - the issue is what is a major item - unless its a motor or pump - maybe a cooler - slim chance of a controller - after that you will be paying for whatever has gone wrong.
If you are happy with the extended warranty terms then make sure that you comply with them and make sure you understand whats covered and whats not.
If you want better than that then sign up for a total care plan and you will have no worries ever again.
Be Realistic or be Dissapointed
We get so many calls from people who either dont understand or are expecting a miracle - its important to be realistic.
One of the most common is the company that has just bought a new laser cutter of cnc machine costing £150K - they then are told they dont have the right amount of compressed air and need to find a compressor.
They then try to find something for £1000 on ebay and want to run it 12 hours a day to start with and then hopefully 24 hours a day.
The budget they need will probably need to start at is about £6K and upwards - it can only end in tears and is usually does.
On ebay for £1000 you will get a 20 year old screw compressor that is basically scrap and has no hope of doing what you are hoping - it will probably pump oil and water into your new machine and cause loads of trouble and expense you dont need.
As above - Take 2
The next most common would be - " Im just starting in business and have spent so much money that I have almost nothing left to spend on a compressor "
Thats the compressor that you hope to run ragged - thats got a dryer, tank and filters - all in perfect running order - with a full service history - and you want it for buttons.
There is nothing that you can say to this person that they want to hear.
They will buy off ebay and probably do it about 3 times in 18 months - before they finally realise that it cant be done for nothing.
Last Chance Hotel
Well thats what a new customer told us when we arrived at his workshop.
He has had a VSD Compressor from new of one of the big name manufacturers - they paid well over the odds for it and have had it serviced by the manufactures agents twice a year - they tell me this has been a more than expensive experience and had never been comfortable with any of the 3 distributors they have used.
Of course I know whats been happening here - engineers in a hurry - do a quick oil and filter change and that will have to do till the next time - of course the next time its just the same and on it goes - complete with a big invoice.
During the years the machine had a few problems and the engineers knew all the factory bodges to keep it going - until the machine comes up with a real problem that they cant sort in a hurry.
Two different big name distributors were called in and neither of them could sort it out - to cover their tracks both said that the machine would not be an eccomomical repair and a new replacement compressor was the only answer.
" But I have a 10 year Warranty " said the owner - Apparently the Inverter only has a 5 year warranty - Sadness all around - Still its only £5K for a new part plus whatever else that leads to.
Finally they find out about us and the Compressor arrives at our workshops - within 30 mins we had it running again - so the inverter was obviously not scrap as they had been told.
The machine does need an inverter repair and quite a bit of electrical work, but is far from scrap.
The conclusion is that their engineers are not that clever or that their sales dept need to meet their sales targets - my money would be on both.
Even worse service from a Distributor
Well if you thought the above was bad enough - this one is more of the same but worse.
Different Distributor but same Manufacturer - Glad I dont sell that make - but happy to mend them all day long,
Very large company has a complete new Compressor Installation fitted just over 2 years ago - 3 new Compressors and everything that goes with it - very expensive.
6 Breakdowns in 6 months and its time to sack the Distributor and get a new company in to look after things.
The company come to us and we agreed to take the task on and what a task it was - the 3 compressors were basically ok and were doing the job asked of them - but the dryer was lots of trouble - it kept freezing and air was lost to the production line of a major company.
To make things worse the previous service company were out of their depth and could not sort the problem and so committed the unforgiveable act of opening the bypass valve by 50% to keep things going. So the factory was now getting wet air and all the problems that go with that.
We have fitted a new dryer from our own range and are pleased to say that all is good to date - we have had the old dryer to bits to try to repair so that they would have a backup. But things do not look good for the dryer at the moment.
Of course most Compressor Manufacturers dont make dryers ( most dont make compressors either ) they have them made out and branded in their name and colour.
My impression on the faulty dryer would be - Nice packaging on outside, but its all Tesco no frills inside - Not much value in that £8k product then.
Will report back as the situation progresses - but at least its all under control now.
Genuine Parts and Spares
You will see time and time again about Compressor Manufacturers warning that you should only use their genuine parts or you will damage your machine and invalidate any warranty.
Well lets take a look at that myth in more detail - the only part that is 100% correct is that it will invalidate your warrantty - more about that latter - thats if the warranty is worth having.
Regarding wether the genuine parts are the only ones that are any good is a matter open for serious debate. I have been in the Compressed Air Trade for in excess of 40 years now and in that time I have seen it all and could tell many worrying tales about the activities of some of the manufacturers.
But back to genuine parts - I dont know of any that manufacture their own oil, air filters, oil filters, oil seperators, drive belts, electrical switch gear, electronic controllers, electric motors, suction boxes, solenoids, valves etc etc - the list goes on and on.
All of the above parts are made by independants and bought in by the manufacturer - then into the manufacturers packaging and so become "genuine parts" - they usually gain a 400% markup too.
So next time you are paying silly high prices for genuine parts you have an option - now obviously there are some poor quality spares out there made in china and such places - but most compressor engineers know what suppliers to use and what to leave alone.
I had to smile a few years back when I sold compressors for a well known manufacturer I needed to pick up 25 sets of the same service kit and was told they would be ready on that friday to collect - on the thursday I was working on the next industrial estate and decided to call in to the parts dept on the off chance they were ready.
I spoke to the stores man who said they were actually doing them as we spoke and they were all but done but they had been waiting for some air filters - he took me through to the back to see if they were done and sure enough they were in a large box waiting for me to collect - and on the bench next to them were about 25 empty air filter boxes from an aftermarket supplier - the part number was the same as for the air filter in my genuine kits - of course I knew this is what happened anyway - but it makes you think ?
Your Manufactuers Extended Warranty.
I could write a book on this one and I am better placed to comment than most.
95% of the manufacturers that I have sold new compressors for have had a rather poor attitude towards warranties and love you to take out the extended warranty that they will offer you.
All new compressors have a standard 12 month warranty and that is normal - in that time all items except service items are covered and that is how it should be.
Extended warranties are full of clauses and conditions most of which are against you and the whole excercise of offering you say a 10 year warranty is to make more money from you.
Obviously you are expected to have the machine serviced on time and by the manufacturers approved service agent and use only genuine parts - sound quite reasonable really.
Then you are covered for 10 years - thats true.
But covered for what - now here is the rub - after year 1 the list of items gets less and less and your costs get higher and higher.
Different manufacturers cover different items in the extended warranty - but in general terms they like to call them "Major Items" - what you need to understand here is that they decide what major items are and no you.
If you check your warranty terms carefuly you will be very suprised at what is and is not covered - generally the bits not covered are the bits that will almost certainly fail in that period - and the bits that are covered are the bits that usually dont fail in the 10 year period.
Many of the items covered are still subject to clauses and conditions - as an example your air end will be covered for 10 years - but it must be rebuilt or swapped for an exchange unit at 20K hours - obviously it must be a genunine airend and believe me it wont be a cheap experience - and then its warranted again for the next 20K hours - are you getting the idea now ? - The same with the electric motor etc - and you thought it was free - I bet your starting to feel a bit concerned by now.
If you do the maths you will find that during that 10 years period you could have bought 1 if not 2 replacement compressors for what you have spent on the warranty - makes you think doesnt it ?
But all is not lost
At Compressorman we run our own warranty scheme and you have a choice - we can offer basically the same as all the manufacturers do - but at a much better price to you - and we will fully explain what is and what is not covered.
If you preffer then we can offer a Total Care Package ( Of course this will cost you more) which covers 100% of all and any part of the machine for the full period of the extended warranty.
We are not the only supplier that offers this - but I bet we have the least clauses and will definatley be the cheapest - try us and see.
The Compressorman Airzone Extended Warranty
We can alter this and adjust to to meet your needs - but if you are happy with our normal extended warranty you will find the prices very attractive compared to most - thats why so many people use us.
Recently we were made aware that one of our ex Compressor suppliers had sent a team out canvassing my customers who I had previously sold one of their machines to - the object of the excercise was to try and win back my service work - it appears it was a bit of a wasted excercice as far as I can tell no one wanted to jump ship.
Apparently they offered plenty of offers and incentives but it just wasnt enough to steal any of our business - but it was a good try on their part.
You couldnt make it up!
Because really good used compressors are getting harder to get, then the quality of what you have to accept gets worse and worse.
Add to that the fact that buyers are trying harder than ever to save money and the situation gets worse and worse.
Half decent machines appear on ebay at higher prices than they are worth and when you look at the name of the people selling it then you realise its a scrap yard - you can call it abcd metals or abcd reclamations or whatever you want - its a scrap yard.
The thing is its not just one or two doing it - if a scrap man sees an old industrial compressor its on ebay before you can blink - and some poor devil thinks it may be a bargain.
Beware cheap compressors
If you buy a cheap new compressor it wont grow old, no matter what - Buying from a known name may not save you either - 90% of big brand names actually make "lesser quality" compressors, but they dont call them that.
I wouldnt buy a compressor from the "light industrial range" or "automotive range" because unless you understand compressor speak, that usually means cheap and cheerful.
What really happens is that if the market ( you ) wont pay the proper price for an industrial quality then some manufacturers will make what you are prepared to pay for.
The result is usually a miserable cheap and lightweight offering that does what it says on the tin for the 12 months it should and after that you are on your own with all the problems that a cheap machine brings.
Strangley enough all and everyone of these companies can offer you the real thing - at the real price - so if you dont want to be buying a new compressor every couple of years then be sensible about what you buy.
Luckily you wont have that problem at Compressorman as we only sell proper machine and nothing else.
My friend Kelvin (name changed to protect his identity - poor chap), who is a one man band outfit, called in our workshops last week to buy some parts and see if we could help out with a problem machine he had bought - Kelvin spends too much time on ebay late at night and ends up buying all sorts of cheap compressors in the hope he can sort them and make a profit.
Nothing wrong with that but he ends up in some real pickles - I think it's a mixture of being hopeful, drinking cider late at night and being taken in by other peoples flowery ebay descriptions.
So lets set the scene - its probably 9pm on a Sunday evening and Kelvin is on ebay trawling for the elusive bargain - his heart misses a beat as he stumbles across it - could it really be true as he quickly reads the description and needs to make a quick decision in case he misses it.
Its a 7kw Screw Compressor with built in dryer on a receiver - a popular type of machine amongst the engineering and garage trade - its listed as for repair or parts, but it is stated as a runner - it has a few electrical gremlins and leaks oil from somewhere - thats all in the descripion.
Probably nothing that Kelvin wont have a go at - or so he thinks, especially after a few tins of cider - the price is quite low too and the guy wants rid of it - finally its only about 10 miles away - this must be a sign from above for Kelvin and he hits the buy it now button - its his for only £400 - at this point in the conversation I just know whats coming next !!
It cant be that bad - can it ?
So he gets it back to his place and has a look around it - he isnt that dissapointed in what he sees at first glance and decides to run it up. The electrics are a mess but they run - there is no oil but thats easily sorted.
He starts it up and it actually sounds ok and so there is great hope in the air, no sign of an oil leak yet either. Well thats until the thermostat opens and oil spills out of the rad under pressure at a great rate of knots - so he hits the estop and it doesnt stop - so he kills the power and machine stops - oil comes out the top of the unloader valve like a Texas oil well and paints the ceiling of his workshop.
The rad cant be repaired and needs a new one £800++ trade - the unloader valve has been bodged up in the past and needed replacing £450 + trade.
The sad story goes on and on - what he will do with it we will have to wait and see - but there will be no money made on that one.
The guy selling it didnt tell any lies in his description, but then he wasnt as honest as he might have been.
So if Kelvin cant sort it properly what hope does the normal ebay punter have ?
A new Can of Worms
Its a well known fact that cheap and cheerful piston compressors are a nightmare and that many small companies long to upgrade to something better.
Well this is where the problems all start - Most of the big manufacturers are just too expensive and to counter this have created a range of automotive compressors - usually but not always this means cheap and cheerful - but still expensive.
As if that was no bad enough the cheap and nasty offerings from the far east are here now and they are mostly pityful excuses for a compressor - there must be a good one somewhere, but we havent seen it yet.
So we now have people who are getting rid of their nasty cheap piston compressors to be replaced by even nastier offerings but costing lots more and causing untold problems.
We have been warning of this potential situation for a couple of years now and it seems our fears have been well justified - we are getting a couple of calls a week now from people who have made this mistake and are in trouble.
There is no such thing as a good cheap Industrial Compressor - you will only be buying grief and often from day 1 - you have been warned - Again !!!
A Workshop full of other peoples mistakes
I was just having a walk around our workshops and yard on Saturday afternoon and there is not an inch of space to spare - we are full to bursting with machines needing attention and most of them dont look an easy fix at all.
Whilst we dont look for trade work, we have a few traders who bring us their problems and are happy to pay the proper price for specialist attention - all the easy jobs they can cope with themselves and the difficult jobs or the mishaps tend to come to us. Then there are the people who have a bit of knowledge about things in general and think they fully understand compressed air and get themselves into all sorts of problems - usually expensive ones at that.
Here are a couple of examples of whats in this week and the story behind them - a small engineering firm about 75 miles from us had been thinking of upgrading for some time - what they had was past worn out and so they were keeping an eye on ebay and the like - they didnt use a compressor company as they felt they could do whatever was needed and more or less managed to keep things going - in a fashion.
According to the owner he was not prepared to pay silly prices and would sort it out himself and save a fortune - a few days latter he sees 2 quite modern vertical hydrovanes on ebay and was convinced this was the answer. He made sure he won the auction and paid just short of £2K for the pair - if they were nice machines with lowish hours and a full service history then he had hit the jackpot - you can guess whats coming.
Both the machines had been heavily used in a dirty enviroment and had plenty of small dents and scratches, they had been serviced ( in a fashion ) but showed no signs of having been loved. Worse still both of them had run large hours and these machines need an overhaul at 20K hours if you follow the manufacturers guidance.
He gets them back to his base and wires them up to see what he has - both are runners but there are problems - both have oil leaks and in his wisdom he decides a good service will sort them out. As a Hydrovane Engineer with a lifetimes experience I know what a good service is and it is a lot more than the oil and filter change most people attempt - anyway, he does his service of sorts and the oil leaks are worse than he thought and he calls a local service company in - they are frightened of big Hydrovanes, especially ones with an oil leak in the middle and decline the work.
Eventually he comes across us and in his frustration agrees to pay us to go out and take a look - we do that and when they are running there is oil escaping from the centre seal on both and they are unuseable in that condition - the cost of a repair is very considerable and there is probably lots of extra work needed to bring them back to good order. He pays for our times and says he will decide what to do and we are relieved that he didnt want to make a decision straight away - to be straight forward about things, we didnt really want the job, lots of money but far too time consuming and times is always precious in our workshops - so we thought that was that.
Fast forward a week and it gets much worse
The following week we get a call from the chap above - he has looked into the work involved and not only is it too big a job for him but no one local will take it on - the parts kit is wildley expensive and you have to have the factory tool kit to attempt it - then there is the cost of 2 days labour for each machine - its one big job to do and I know of less than a handfull of people who could do the job - also if it came here then I would have to do it myself - its not looking too good for this chap is it ?
After some pleading on his part we agree a price and he decides to go ahead with the job and I send our big van and driver off to collect them - I get a call from our driver to say that when he arrived they had been jetwashing the compressors and there was water everywhere including in the electrical cabinet - not a good idea with these machines as they are not waterproof in any way shape or form.
The machines are back here now and I checked out the motor windings before connecting to power and on both machines there is water in the windings and are shorting out across the phases - what a disaster
So now both the motors will have to go off to the rewinders to be stripped and dried out - that alone is a big job, let alone the oil leaks we have to sort out and anything else thats wrong.
This is now going to be one very expensive repair and at the end of it all they will run like new but still look scratched and miserable - a total nightmare for everyone.
You get what you pay for - But is it what you want ?
Regardless of all the hype about an upturn in the ecconomy it isnt actually doing the compressor trade a lot of good - or anyone else for that matter.
Its true that a lot of the compressor dealers are very busy, but thats because margins have to be dropped to get the sales and they need more sales to get the money that they need to operate at the level they have chosen.
This is not good for the end user as there will be very little good will about and these discounting outfits will be charging you for every inch of pipe and every jubilee clip that is used - and you will be paying a premium for every little extra that can be charged for.
Someone has to pay and it will be the end user - and it comes sharp.
It doesnt happen at Compressorman as we already operate at keen and realistic prices and dont offer silly prices and then give you the sting latter.
Remember - if the price is too good to be true - then it probably is - think on now !!
A Common But Sad Little Story
Was drinking tea with one of our " friendly competitors " the other day and he looked a bit down in the mouth - a life time in this trade told me it would be a sad tale - Awkward Customers - There are plenty out there and to some suppliers I may even be one.
In my experience customers are not normally awkward, but are unrealistic or do not realise the extent of their problem or the work and cost required to do the job.
Anyway, our trader / dealer friend had picked up a new customer in his home town and they were eager to deal with him as they had problems. They had bought a new Atlas Screw from a large Compressor company and didnt like the service costs and so didnt have it serviced - nothing for 6 years - not even an oil change.
It now decides to start making strange noises and cutting out - somehow they find our friend and he goes down, discovers its a mess and low on oil. He tell customer the situation and the machine has a big service at considerable cost - all is now running again but machine sound tired - trouble will only be around the corner for sure.
The customer is informed of the situation and advised that the next big purchase should be a new compressor and he was given prices etc.
All was well for a few weeks and then he got the call that it was tripping out again - up to 10 times a day - it would worry me that someone would keep resetting it and trying again - so down he goes and finds that the mcb is only a type C and should really be a D, but of course the machine has ran on the C for 6 years - but if its not right then it should be changed - customer reluctantly agrees.
Compressor company calls in the electrician that they use but it turns out that the original installation 6 years ago was a bit of a bodge and the wiring would not take a type D fuse. New wiring and new fuse installed at a cost of £400 nett.
However, whilst the electrical installation was now correct it did not sort the tripping problem - customer was now in a pickle and had no backup - so against better judgement the trader took the offending machine out and put in a loan machine - apparantly it was a real pain of a job and took a full saturday morning to do.
This sad story goes on for ever and so I will speed it up considerably for you.
Trader takes it back to his workshop - cost of new motor is about £1100 and it really need a new set of contactors which are another £300 - customer is not happy - dealer begs a favour from another dealer and get a used motor for £250 - fits it and returns machine - another saturday mornings work.
He is not too sure how to play things cost wise and decides in the interest of customer relations to let things run for a while and see how it goes.
Fast forward about a month - the trader is in the local nut and bolt supplier and who should walk in but the customer.
So Trader says "Hows the Atlas doing now"
Customer says " No idea mate - got rid of it and bought a brand new one "
" What about the work I did for you " says Trader
" Dont make me laugh " says ex customer "
So the Trader is £650 out of pocket plus pay his lads for 2 saturday mornings work and all for nothing.
So whos to blame for that sad little tale
Well they both are really.
The chap with the Atlas didnt have it serviced and so apart from breaking every HSE guidline and running a machine in a potentially dangerous condition - he didnt do things properly - plus he sounds very unrealistic about things
The trader should have known better and stayed well away from the job as it was bound to end in tears with that type of customer. He should have explained the situation as it was, straight away and told them that they needed a new machine straight away and a proper service plan.
Sad tale above gets even better
Customer with the new compressor has problems with it and contacts his new supplier - they say they dont do service calls in his area and he should put it on a pallet and send it back to them - or get someone more local to look at it - so last I heard he was struggling on with it as he had rang a big national company and they were happy to take a look at it - but with a call out charge of £249 + vat paid in advance by card before the call can be arranged.
But you can see why they do this - probably been bitten before themselves.
Modern Industrial Compressors are quite complex and its important to have a good and sound relationship with your supplier or service provider - if not you really are on your own in this industry.
The Variable Speed Nightmare
From day 1 I have never been that keen on variable speed compressors.
They are a nightmare to own and look after and when ( not if ) they go wrong then all your troubles will begin.
The manufacturer will almost certainly deny your warrantty claim, saying that the inverter has been used incorrectly or it has had an over or under voltage or a voltage spike - anyway, the fault will almost ceratinly be all yours and it will be a very expensive fix indeed.
The advertising hype is all about the massive cost savings you will make in electricity - from about 45KW upwards that is quite valid in certain cases - But at 7 or 11KW there is not a lot to save to start with.
All this must be offset againt the cost of the new inverter and repair you will without doubt need - whats the point in saving say £2K over 3 years if a new inverter and repair costs you double that - at this point you should start to get the idea - and thats on a small machine. A big inverter costs big big money.
But all the claims cant be wrong - can they ?
Of course some of them are correct - but when you see claims of £25K savings a year in power costs, thats not in a small 3 man band company, it will be at a large industrial site running around the clock.
Also if their original compressors were running properly and sized properly then they would not be wasteing £25K a year - But wait till the problems start and you find out what backup or expetise is or is not available to you - even on a new machine
So what does Compressorman do regarding Variable Speed Machines
Firstly we wont sell you one unless its going to be a viable financial proposition for you - 95% of people who think they want one have got it wrong.
If you are one of the 5% we go through all the costings and probable pitfalls and what you can expect in the way of savings and costs - if we then both agree its the right thing to do, then we will supply one.
If you are one of the 95% who shouldnt have one and we cant get you to see that - then we let you go elsewhere - we take our responsibilities and duty of care very seriously
But if you do go elsewhere and it all ends in tears, please don't ring us to sort it all out - it will be wildly expensive and you will hate us instead of the snake oil salesman that sold it to you in the first place - now think on.
240 Volt Screw Compressors
Now this is a real mine field - Remembering the Compressorman motto - There is no such thing as a good cheap compressor - and all the fun starts.
Consider that the price of a machine is what most people look at first - but thats not the way to do it - it doesnt matter how cheap it is, if it wont do the job then its no good.
Add to that the fact that most people looking to upgrade to a 240 volt screw are coming from the cheap compressor end of the market ( Think £500 M Mart etc ) and they are trying to tempt themselves to spend a bit more - thats all well and good - but they are a very very different type of compressor.
There is nothing that is any good at less than about £2500, although several people have tried - miserably.
Recently a guy has been selling cheap and nasty 240 screws on the internet and they look the part and he always manages to sell a few - but then dissapears when the trouble starts - initially he gets good feedback because people are excited that they have a bargain - if they play with them in a shed they might be ok for a while - if they try to use seriously or in industry and it all goes wrong in just a few run hours.
The seller isnt even in the UK and has either no spares or no intentions of helping and you are left with a machine which wont work - we have had several requests for help from these unlucky owners - but as the machines are cheap and nasty then its a no go from the start.
It wont be long before they start to end up secondhand on ebay as people look to dump them - with no spares available and no backup you can see whats going to happen.
I know where these machines come from new and I can buy them for buttons - which is about their true value - Have I tried one, oh yes - what a pile of rubbish - it sounded rough from the start and I put it on our test rig and it seized solid after 32 hours use - which was about what we expected
So whats the answer - its quite simple really - if you have £2500 and want a proper screw compressor, we can help - if we have stock.
Otherwise its a piston compressor - there is nothing inbetween thats any good.
My choice of screw compressor
The other day I was talking to a good customer of ours and whilst chatting about business in general he asked me why we had chosen our own brand of compressor rather than one of the major suppliers.
As most of you know we sell Air-Zone Compressors - not the biggest name by a long way - but, in my opinion, head and shoulders above the other makes.
I have sold most of the big names over the years - whilst my trading with these big manufacturers was not all unsuccessful, I was never really happy or comfortable with things.
It doesn't take long to realise that they are right in everything and you get no input at all - you need to be grateful for the chance to sell them and keep quiet.
I didn't like a lot of what went on behind the corporate face and never felt valued - I was selling around 75 - 100 new compressors a year at that time.
Having sold most - but not all of the bigger names, it was time for a change.
Air-Zone was created
I needed a range of machines that I could rely on from a manufacturer that I could work with. I found that supplier eventually and together we created and developed the Air-Zone brand.
These machines are rugged and dependable - they do exactly what is expected of them and are simple to service and repair. There is no need to have loads of features that you don;t need or want as that adds to the cost and is something waiting to go wrong.
What we have now is a full range of machines that are great value for money and that we are proud to sell.
Almost everything on the machines is European and easily available Worldwide.
Whilst we can never say that nothing on our machines is from China - I don't know where the nuts and bolts come from or the vinyl for the stickers etc - but what I do know is that none of the major items that we have specified are from China.
So the Chinese Screws have landed
It is with some trepidation and concern that I see Chinese Screw Compressors available in the UK and with a UK based importer
Now whilst we wish them the best of luck in their new venture, if they turn out anything like the other offerings we have seen, then it will be a disaster and not just for them, but for anyone who is unlucky enough to own one.
The quality of equipment that I have seen from China is often very dubious and I would not consider selling Chinese Screws at any price. The cost implications of having serious warranty problems would be horrendeous - many companies would be taken under by it.
When you consider that there are many smaller league European manufacturers who have their hands full with everyday problems, then bringing machines in from China is very risky.
But people will buy them and problems will arise, the machines will not grow old and then the shouting will start.
These views may not be the same as yours, but consider that if they were any good you could bet that we would be selling them already - now think on and be careful.
More on above
I have been asked why I am so adamant that Chinese Screws will not be a good idea.
The bottom line is that there is no such thing as a good cheap screw compressor - there are cheap screw compressors which are never any good and then even cheaper and even worse offerings.
When you create a compressor using only the cheapest of parts and sell it without a proper trading margin, then it will all go wrong.
Its no good crying and wailing when this happens or hoping for some miracle to happen - its odds on that whoever supplied it will try to help but ultimately fail and you will be left in a mess.
I have been in this trade over 40 years and have seen it all before - I have no axe to grind - if they were any good then I would sell them.
So now I will sit back and watch with interest and get ready for the aftermath - it will come, without a doubt.
The Scrap man moves up a league
Now I dont want to get too picky over this - but i take it we all know what scrap men do for a living - they collect scrap and weigh it in at a recycling yard.
Well now they like to sell compressors too - they have them on ebay and the like and do a fair job of trying to hide what they do for a living.
Can you imagine the state of the tat that they should be scrapping and now offering to you instead - even stranger than that, people are buying them and then being surprised when they don't work.
As an example
Lets say someone buys an 18kw screw compressor with the radiator missing - oh well so it will need a radiator.
Think of a highish number in hundreds - not 100 or 200 or 300 or 400 or 500 - keep going for a bit - then put a 1 infront of it and thats the price of the radiator - say 1700.
That spoils it a bit but let's assume you went out and paid for a new rad and fitted it - you will still be in deep trouble as that's not the reason it was scrapped - the swag man ( sorry scrap man ) took the radiator - which leaves you too find out why it was scrapped in the first place
But at least it gives me something to smile about.
Words Fail us
Last week a customer of ours called into the workshops and said he had a bit of a project in the back of his van and would we take a look at it.
He had been playing about on the internet and found a Hydrovane 23 that caught his eye - it was nice and cheap and the chap selling it described himself as "An Independant Hydrovane Engineer" After speaking to the chap who said he was highly experienced our customer decided to buy it - what a disaster.
When he got it back to work he wired it in and nothing happened and after playing around with it for a day or so decided to brave our ridicule and call in on us.
The machine was supposed to have been reconditioned with all new seals and the cooler pack rebuilt - there was supposed to have been a full service and a new seperator fitted.
We spent 15 mins on it whilst he watched and he was aghast at what we found.
1) There was no oil in it
2) No evidence of service work - air filter clogged with muck.
3) Seperator worn out and not new.
4) The oil cooler pack leaked like a seive
5) Electric box has major faults and been messed about with
6) The drive couplings are badly damaged and replacements are like hens teeth.
Basically it's scrap and whilst we could mend it the cost would be through the roof.
So watch out for "An Independant Hydrovane Engineer" from Redditch because if this is typical of his work - you need to give him a wide berth
Well in the end the customer above bought a replacement off us and gave me his old machine to play with - I could not resist trying to sort it out and have just spent a whole Saturday on it and have now knocked it into shape a bit.
The first problem to solve was the electrics - the system on these is quite complex for a small machine and most compressor engineers would run away from them - luckily I understand them but it still took 2.5 hrs to sort out the mess and get it working.
Next I stripped and rebuilt the cooler pack 3 hrs
Changed the seperator and serviced it 2 hrs
Replaced drive coupling with one out of our "lucky" stock 1 hr
Fitted a replacement drain solenoid which is essential if you run this stop start 1hr
Run and tested unit - sounds nice and makes good air now 1 hr
Have put it away in back of workshop now and next Saturday I will make everything neat and tidy and put it on our test rig which will put it through its paces
So far I have spent the best part of 10 hrs on it and several hundred pounds worth of parts to make it decent again - in the real World no one would want to pay a proper compressor company to do this work - and it just goes to show the pitfalls of buying machines you cant see running
The Auction Experiment
As most of you will know I am always suprised at peoples expectation when buying used compressors on auction sites.
So we decided to carry out an experiment just to see how lucky or unlucky you can be - we decided to bid on four small Hydrovanes sight unseen - relying only on the description and the honesty of the seller and see what turned up - I used my own personal ebay name to bid and so I looked like a normal punter after a small machine.
Here are the results and they make sad reading;
Was a Hydrovane 47 advertised about 25 miles away and described as in good condition and running when disconnected. The picture was one of those smaller ones that can not be enlarged on the screen - I wonder why. Basically it looked quite tidy and I won it for a reasonable £350 - The buyer said it was collection only and cash only as he would not accept paypal - also he was now quite insistant that it wanted collecting without delay - He was even prepared to leave a family party to ensure that it all got sorted that Sunday afternoon.
So at 4.30pm last Sunday I went over in the van to pick it up - it was dark and miserable outside and the compressor was under a sheet on his driveway at home - he had a mate with him to help lift it in the back of the van - he seemed amiable enough and not wanting to get wet loaded it up and i paid in cash and set off home.
The next morning at work we got it in the workshop and what a sorry sight it was - control box with big dent in front cover - 2 nasty dings in cooler body, almost certain it will leak, although didnt appear wet, air cleaner cover badly dented, upon closer inspection it looked like it had been dropped from a forklift or whatever - not a good start.
So we decided to see if it ran - opened control box to find most of it hanging loose and there was no chance of it running like that - does it run - we have no idea as we gave up and its in the yard waiting to go in the skip.
Its scrap and would be dangerous to use - not because I am a perfectionist - but because its scrap.
Machines 2 & 3
These machines were advertised seperatly by the same seller - but he wasnt hiding the fact. He had a pair of Hydrovane 15s which looked basically clean and tidy. He claimed he knew little about them as he was selling them for a "friend" - dont you just love that one. He offered me a price of £600 for the pair and I considered that to be reasonable and so accepted - again he could not accept paypal as it was for his "friend" and so would have to be cash. They were a fair distance away but I decided that is how it might be for a normal bidder and to make the experiment realistic arranged for one of our lads to collect and pay cash. When they were collected the seller said that he might be able to get some more if we wanted - his friend must be busy then. They were in his garage at home and apparently there were a couple of other small compressors there in bits.
Back at the workshop and upon inspection it was obvious that they were both bitzas ( bits of this and bits of that ) On neither of them did anything match up. The tank was nothing to do with the motor and the pump had never net the motor before until recently - obviously the handy work of an amateur working from his garage.
One of them ran quite nicely and was quite tidy - to be honest we couldnt find a lot to comment on and it was basically safe and sound to use - so for £300 it was not a bad buy depending on what you wanted to use it for - light to semi industrial use would have been fine, but anything else might be more difficult.
Unfortunatley the second machine was different situation - whilst is too was a bitzsa it was somewhat newer and so we were getting more hopeful - but alas it was not to be. Unpon running it up it was obvious that the bearing had gone in the motor and made a lound noise - due to this we have not been able to test the airend. So it would have been a sad buy for someone.
So thats 1 out of 3 machine that were any good so far.
This brings us to the final machine in the set. This was a Hydrovane HV01 from South Wales and originaly described as believed to be working well but was untested because the seller had no 3 phase power - how many times have we heard that one - but it basically looked ok and I considered it to be reasonably representative of what you might expect to find. Latter in the advert he adds that he has now taken it to a friends factory and had the machine running - he said it runs lovely. I won the auction at £380 including delivery.
The machine turned up on the day we had been told and it looked like an ok but well used 12 year old Hydrovane. It was not quite so good when we checked it over and ran it up - very low on oil and it was very dirty oil. It built pressure quite well up to 10 bar but when it stopped there was a serious outrush of air from the air cleaner end. So it didnt run lovely really and can not be used like that.
We can put it right quite easily but thats what we do - an end user would have been in a different situation and it would be an expensive repair if you went to the wrong people for help.
Conclusion Much as we expected really over £1300 plus expenses spent and we have one machine that worked when it came in and that was worth about £450 - so it was an expensive excercise - but it confirmed what we already know.
If you cant see it running or its not from a reputable source then I would walk away - but people will always take a chance and 3 in 4 will be dissapointed.
Service Plans and Maintenance Agreements
Compressorman can offer you anything from a "Total Care Package" to service as and when required.
We offer set price menu servicing with a fixed final cost before we start - that way you get no nasty suprises when invoice arrives.
Our most popular by far is a Maintenance Agreement nearly always on new equipment and in it we agree to service your compressor for a set fee and also to extend the warranty until the next service is due - very useful and a gentle form of insurance - probably the plan that 90% of our customers choose. Obviously this will be a little more than a standard service - but is much cheaper than buying into manufacturers extended warranty schemes. Also you are not tied into our agreements - you can opt out at any time you wish - not that you would want too.
If you want something different and more suited to your needs - please let us know and we will be happy to give you a price.
Why A Back Up Compressor is vital
I am always advising people about backup systems and those that take my advice are always thankful they listened when the inevitable happens.
On Thursday morning I was on my way down to a job in Hampshire and the phone rand from a valued customer who is in the food packing business. Their no 1 compressor which is a 2 year old screw had tripped out and stopped - when they tried to restart it did the same again - twice. They had already changed over to the backup compressor which was now running the factory and all was well.
I arranged to go in the next morning, which I did and found a minor electrical fault that was covered by the warranty.
Can you imagine the panic if all the packaging machines had been stopped and orders were just backing up and their customers getting frustrated.
Luckily there was non of that and no production was lost at all.
If you havent got a backup compressor or a good plan B - then you need to ring us on 07904 471183 and see how we can help you.
More About Warranty Situations
If you read the small print about compressor warranties you would be suprised - in fact probably very suprised.
Most new machines come with a years warrantty and many have extendable warrantties up to 10 years - but as with all such things there will be conditions. You must use the manufacturers approved engineers and must use only genuine parts and oils - thats only right really if you think about it.
So wheres the rub then - Well its what is and isnt covered - you will be sitting there thinking that my machine is under warrantty for the next few years and so I dont have any worries. The reality is that certain major items on your compressor are covered and not the whole machine . Also you dont get to choose what major is - its usually the pump, motor and radiator - some times other things as well. But the reallity is that most of the parts that are likely to fail are not covered and you will have to pay. Most people dont realise this and so you should check into this before buying a new machine.
Of course you can buy a total care package where everything is covered - but that will be expensive in the extreme - so you need to think about this and choose wisely.
We have several options and are happy to go through them all with you so that you get a plan to suit your needs and budget.
A simple question
The other day when I had a spare minute a question came to mind. Assuming that I wasnt in this line of work, but doing something else, then what compressor would I buy for the business - well theres a good question - thats assuming that The Airzones we sell would not be in existance.
After a bit of soul searching and accepting that I wouldnt know all that I do about compressors - I came to the conclusion that I would probably be in the same situation that many others are. It wasnt a very good thought and there would be no Compressorman either - I soon found better things to think about - Like why is our forklift truck so much hassle to us - might be time for a new one.
Warranties - the inside truth
Someone asked me other day how we get on with warranty issues with our suppliers - we dont have any real issues because we only sell the best machines and if an issue does arise, then we deal with ourselves - straight away.
The reason we do this is because up until we teamed up with Airzone, we had never found any supplier or manufacturer that had got it right - well not to our satisfaction anyway.
Dont let me mislead you - they all attend to the situation one way or another - but it can be a slow miserable experience and worst of all - its never as you might expect from a big name.
Warranty issues are what all manufacturers dread - it cost them money and to be honest most will try and wriggle out of it if at all possible - I have had many new customers come to us because of poor warranty response by some of the biggest names in the compressed air world.
Strange how a little company like us can deal with it quickly and efficiently - perhaps its because we care and you get a personal service here - there are not several layers of people to go to for a decision and no one trying to evade the issue.
The small Hydrovane single phase compressors can give great service and generally are very reliable - However what most people are not aware of is that the airends have virtually no adjustment available of any kind - all the requirements are built into the build tolerances. So they are correct when they are new and from there its down to you to make sure that nothing wears out
If you do not change the oil and fit service kits as and when required then you will head for trouble - when you get there the only way out is via your wallet - it will be a full strip and rebuild - thats £200 worth of parts and labour on top, before you find out whats causing the trouble. If vanes or bores or shafts are worn the cost will frighten you.
Probably why there are so many on ebay at any given time - but of course dumping it on ebay and buying another from there is just a merry go round - you start on the same path again.
So whats the trick - keep it fully serviced by someone who knows what they are doing and dont by cheap kits and oil from the internet - it only leads to problems
Like the man who cancelled his lottery ticket
Well this is the story of an unlucky man who tried to save a few £'s and ended up spending £11K instead
Heard this at a trade seminar the other day and I know its true as I had heard it from the dealer concerned directly. Apparently this small company who had quite a nice air system got fed up with paying for warranty services and decided to try and save a few £'s. They contacted a rival dealer and got an alternative quote which was cheaper - understanably the chap was interested in saving some money and without further ado decided to jump ship to the new supplier.
The new supplier who was "consideably cheaper" goes in and does a considerably cheaper service - about a week latter their is trouble and the air end is knocking due to oil starvation. The machine needs a £4K airend and production stops - The chap decides to have the arguement with his new supplier, he wont accept any responsibility and the new relationship ends in tears. But still no air in the factory, so they do the ring around and all the vultures in the compressor world decend.
With his back against the wall the chap ends up paying nearly £11K for an immediate replacement.
As if all thats not bad enough it turns out the original machine was still under an extended warranty subject to service with the original company.
So it was all in vain - if they had stayed with the original dealer I doubt wether there would have been a failure in the first place - but if there was it would have been replaced FREE under the extended warranty.
There was a lot of smug dealers at that seminar all shaking their heads - Oh and the people who did the cheap service have now gone to ground and are refusing to speak to the poor chap
A proper extended warranty with a reputable dealer and manufacture is worth every penny - now think on.
Its been a busy period at Compressorman
Well quite a few machines have gone out to new customers and some existing customers who are expanding.
Of course price is a big consideration but reliabilty and the long term running costs are also very important factors to be considered.
Some of these cheaper Italian machines can be less than reliable and very expensive on parts. I have never been over enthusiastic about Italian compressors although there must be the odd good one around. They never appear solid to me and I find them quite light weight - I dont know of many with big hours on them. Still if your useage is light, one might appeal to you - but you wont be buying it from us.
Dissapointing results from the big boys.
I was suprised at how light weight some of the normal brand names have become - their answer to this is that people often want a machine suitable for the less arduous tasks - dont be fooled - Its just a cheaper machine in every way - rather you than me if you buy one.
Why does no one want to help?
I was talking with a group of friends in the trade and we have noted the number of people looking for assistance with their compressors or compressor problems.
They all seem to saying how difficult it is to get some sensible help from people in our trade - and the reason is quite simple really - most people in this trade have little to no experience and so many other outlets are now selling compressors.
If you are buying your compressor from a company that sells garden equipment, torches, hosepipe, outdoor clothing etc etc - then you have no hope at all - you may as well ask the girl on the checkout at the local supermarket - in fact you might get better advice there.
Compressed air is a specialist business and the people you choose to deal with should all be suitably qualified and have the certificates and paperwork to prove it. The wrong advice can be very costly and very dangerous in some cases.
Why are service costs so high?
This is quite a simple one really - we live in an expensive world and you only get what you pay for.
If you have skilled engineers on decent money, driving new vans which cost £80++ a day to fill with diesel - then it won't be cheap.
All companies have fixed costs and many have high profit targets which engineers need to meet.
If you don't want to get caught up with companies like that then you need to deal with a decent honest company like Compressorman
Call us on 07904 471183
Time wasters galore
Its amazing how many people don't know what they want or need and spend a crazy amount of time trying to get this information from people in the trade who are not too sure themselves - then they add this mis match all together and become "experts" themselves and proceed to scour the internet for the lowest price available. This is always a recipe for disaster and never works out - generally they end up spending money and then a load more to sort the original purchase out or even worse having to start again.
The vast majority of enquiries come from smaller companies who want a 7 or 11kw screw compressor, tank and dryer. They want it as cheap as possible and could for the right package stretch themselves to maybe £2K, less would be better - assuming you only want to play with it and it's not for serious use then you have a small chance of success.
If you are saying that its to run a new CNC machine day and night and maybe a couple of other things as well - then you are on the road to hell.
Your new CNC cost you £20K - £30K -£50K - £100K or whatever and it won't do anything without compressed air - it needs dry, clean and consistent air - and you are going to run all of this with the equivalent of a W reg Mondeo - you need to think again.
You have the cart in front of the horse - you need a new high quality compressed air system first and then the CNC machine - the CNC is useless without the compressor - think about it.
Now if all this sounds a bit harsh it's because that's the reality of the situation - there is nothing cheap in the compressed air world - well not that works and does the job properly.
The big ticket
This is what all the big dealers and salesmen are waiting for - they have no time or inclination to talk to small users who do not know what they want and then want it cheap.
Most compressor companies are running on very high overheads and need the big sales to keep going and then they will look at the smaller business to make up the numbers - I have worked for several and so I know how it goes.
There are also so many newer smaller outfits all trying to get the business that unless you know what you want then its a minefield for you to decide. If you talk to five different suppliers you will get five different answers and you end up very confused and worse off than when you started.
So whats the answer?
In todays world it's very important to form a working relationship with a sensible, experienced and trustworth compressed air suppier.
Of course my experiences after 40 years in the trade will be very different to yours - I suppose it is fair to say that I have seen most things and met most of the idiots and sharp suited salesmen - past and present.
If you need some sensible help and advice then call me on 07904 471183 and I will see what can be done.
Well the secret is out now - Compressorman has launched RetroVane. Under this Tradename we will Remanufacture Vane Compressors back to as new and beyond condition.
Plenty of people have dabbled at this with a cheap Chinese service kit and a can of silver paint - you could most probably have done better yourself. But to date no one had set up a full remanufacturing facility where the end product is equal to or better than new. With a warranty that can not be matched - even by the original manufacturers.
Well they have now "RetroVane" From Compressorman.
We can supply a massive range of new and used Hydrovane Parts and Spares. Over the years some parts have become very difficult to get and some are now impossible to get. Some suppliers have turned to China for supplies and we all know that is a rocky path. Buying from sources like that is fine if you ask a reputable source to replicate a product to exactly the same spec or better - If they manage that then you have a chance. But that is rarely the case - often you end up with very very inferior look alike products that do not work or fail very quickly.
The main reason for this is cost - people don't look to far eastern countries for supply because of the superior quality - it is for cost savings everytime. If you ask them to make a part cheaply they will and it will be cheap and nasty - just what you ordered - but no good for the job at all. In many cases the quality is very poor and some imported components I have seen have been dangerous - Remember we are dealing with Compressed Air which will soon find the weakness in any cheap part and can lead to disaterous if not fatal consequences.
That is not to say there are not some very high quality parts available from China and the Far East - but the cost is very similar to having it made here. That being so we choose to source our products as near to home as possible - although sometimes there is no option. Of course you and I the consumer are to blame for this - if you buy cheap you will get cheap and thats not what you wanted really.
In the pipeline
Already having produced the first 20cfm single phase Hydrovane - we have been asked to produce a 40cfm model. This will be an absolute 1st - 40cfm from 240 volts - Watch this space.
We are pleased to report that our new range of refurbished Hydrovanes is doing nicely. We are still in the situation that we have little to no spare stock - but forward orders are good and the current lead time is about 10 days.
The Refurbished 25/504/HV04rm models are by far the most popular and we have a steady demand for these. The 240 volt model being by far the most popular. No one else has this model available and we can report fantastic results and happy customers already.
We are also converting brand new models for customers - but without doubt the most popular is our own range of refurbished 240 volt models.
If you don't have 3 phase but need 20cfm ++ then we have the answer.
Genuine Spare Parts - The Myth Explained
This is a bit of a prickly one. All manufacturers tell you that you should only use "genuine parts and oils".
So lets take a look at this then - genuine parts are basically any parts in a box with the manufacturers name printed on it. The usual service items of air filter, oilfilter, oil and separator filter are almost NEVER made by the Compressor manufacturer - in fact if you knew how little they actually make you would be shocked. The filters all come from a filter manufacturer and if the Compressor manufacturer is big enough they come with their name on them - if not they come plain and they put their own sticker on them. Its as simple as that. Do you think they own oil refineries as well - they just buy oil in and have it put in their own containers.
So if all parts are pattern, is it ok to buy cheap parts on the internet - probably not. Cheap copy parts from China will be troublesome and some will be rubbish. So you need to be careful what you buy, but you don't need to pay silly high prices either.
As an example - on a certain make of 45kw machine it has 2 off spin on seperator elements - Manufacturers price is an amazing £600+. They are made by a well known filter manufacturer and sell to the trade for around £150 the pair. So the Compressor manufacturer will buy then for half that - nice profit for someone
Things like electrical items all come from a catalouge, if you order an electrical contactor as a spare part, then the Compressor manufacturer will order it from a catalouge themselves, but put it in their own packaging and multiply the cost price by 400 - 500%.
Things like MPV Kits and suction box kits for screw compressors are all bought from manufacturers who make nothing but these items. Things like cabinet filter mats can be very very expensive and are available freely at a fraction of the cost.
I know a manufacturer who has a 45kw machine which has 2 of these filter mats at £100.90 each and there are 2. These are readily available for around £20 each from a filter mat supplier.
Top Quality or Not
Nothing much to to with compressors but a good example of parts quality.
I recently had a problem that I had a new iPhone 5 and the charger is different on this model - we have plenty of iPhone 4 chargers in the office but they were not suitable.
So I needed a spare charger for home use and another for use in the van - It was all a mad rush and no local T mobile shop to get the real thing from. Like the rest of you I was on ebay and soon had two on the way at about £7 each - a lot more than the cheapo ones but not genuine as there were none on there. So how did I get on - The one for home use worked but was slow compared to the one supplied with the phone - it would take a few hours to go from low to full. The one in the van was slow also but did the job - until the connector broke - cheap and cheerful.
Finally off to T mobile shop and paid £22 for a home one and £18 for one for the van - They are super fast charging and so much better quality.
You only get what you pay for and that is a really good everyday example of this - it's the same with compressor parts and oil
All that glistens etc etc
Had a very interesting conversation with a chap on the phone recently.
He wanted to hire a compressor and had found a chap in the Midlands who was offering a machine at £20 per week. He was 150 miles away in South Wales. Seems too good to be true and it was.
They wanted nearly £500 to deliver and install and then it turns out to be a 30 year old Hydrovane.
Worse than that imagine the senario when it goes wrong - and it will. Will the supplier despatch an engineer in a new van full of diesel and send him off for the day to South Wales - I doubt it very much indeed.
One good call out would wipe out 6 months rental - perhaps they have money to throw away
Things are not what they were
Its a well known fact that men, and particulary engineers, of a certain age are always talking about the past and how things are not as good as they were. Well of course they are correct - today the emphasis is on profit for the manufacturer and meeting the customers budget price expectations.
This is of course a disaster and leads to the sorry situation that many people now find themselves in with their compressors. I you want to buy cheap, thats exactly what you will get and all the problems that go with it. Cheap compressors are a disaster and will cost you so much more even in the short term - there is no long term with cheap compressors
Suprisingly so called cheap, either by name or price, are always more expensive than you want and thats before they go wrong.
Of course paying a lot of money for a machine doesnt always promise you a happy outcome - but the lesser brands rarely work out.
We get so many calls for help from people in trouble with quite new compressors that we are in no doubt that general standards are falling. But of course, the end user has his part to play in this - if you demand a cheap machine by price and discounting, then you will get what you asked for and it will not be a happy situation. We refuse to sell certain makes of compressors because of this problem and its not just the unknown names that can be a problem.
Living on past glory
There are several manufacturers with well known names that have introduced budget compressors and that is fine if your use is only light.
Now this is where the next problem will start - what your interpretation of light use is and the manufacturers interpretation will be very different. It will suit you to think that your useage is only light because you are not a car manufacturer and you dont work 24/7. That wont be the view of the other side when it all goes wrong. Their view of light use will be similar to the useage you give to your fountain pen - are you getting the gist of things now.
You want to think that because it comes from a well known Compressor manufacturer that it will be top quality.
Budget means the following - cheap and cheerful - nasty - not what you want - and probably still at a high price
I work on Compressors every day of the week and see it all.
So what's the answer?
You need to carefully consider your needs and be realistic about costings - once you have sorted that you need to find a good Compressor Engineer - now your troubles will start.
I have been in this trade over 40 years and obviously after that period of time will be fully proficient and capable in what I do - I have enough certificates to paper my office with.
I sell only the best equipment and often modify it to meet my standards and expectations.
Advice is free at Compressorman - so call 07904 471183 and we will try to help you.
We are all in need of a friendly Compressor Engineer
One of our hire customers got himself in a spot of bother the other day.
Machine was cutting out through overheating because it was low on oil and he had used what oil he had and was in a jam. To make it more interesting it was 18.30 on a thursday evening and he was 276 miles away from us - big problem you might think.
Well it all depends who you are dealing with - I rang my man in Glasgow, he turned up on site at 0730 next morning , showed customer how to fill oil correctly and left some spare oil.
Customer was up and running again and we got a bill for £130 which we will absorb and not pass on - Hes a very decent customer and these things happen.
I wonder if your current provider would think like that - if not give us a call.
With our other hat on
Whilst we like to be as decent as we can with our topline customers, if you mess us about and get slippery then you are on your own.
See what you think of this one.
Small local company who we inherited by accident, they were appeared decent enough people but we never really got on that well with them - you probably have customers like that yourself.
Always in trouble, wouldn't spend enough money, always trying to cut corners, cribbed at every invoice and were the worst payers ever. After about 18 months of this uneasy situation we gave them the heave ho and left them to it.
They got another service company involved and we had the luxury of not hearing from them again for over 2 years until the other morning.
They made a very sheepish call to me and asked if I would help out as they had broken down and their present provider wasnt answering his phone - what a cheek.
Anyway wanting to show no malice I offered my next available slot - well that's not quite accurate - it was my next available slot for a non contract, non customer who was a long way out of favour with us - he said he couldn't wait a week (LOL) and so we suggested he went through yellow pages.
In reality for any existing customer or potential new customer we always respond straight away - we know if you have a problem you need help asap.
The story goes on
Apparently, before he plucked up the nerve to ring me he had rang several others - he is well known locally as trouble and a bad payer.
In the end he rang a very large national company who offered and immediate reponse in return for a £249 + vat call out fee - payable in advance over the phone by card.
The engineer turned up within 2 hours as promised and left after 10 mins having confirmed the compressor was dead and wasn't worth repairing - nice work for someone.
Straight after that the sales dept of this large national company rang him and offered him a new machine for £7500 or a loan machine at £200 a week whilst he made his mind up - min charge of £1000. I bet he wished that he had been on better terms with one of his many previous providers - what the end result was I havent heard yet, but I bet it was costly.
Why so Shortsighted
It never ceases to amaze me the amount of people who rely almost 100% on compressed air to run their business and then run a tired old compressor to death.
I was having a coffee with a friend in the trade and this was a topic that came up - he told me of an experience he had just had.
He had a customer who was established and had a nice factory and reasonably modern production lines, but the compressor was old, tired and only looked at once year - thats ok for a backup but not on the frontline. My friend had been busy trying to get them to have a new machine and use this as backup - all to no avail.
In the meantime the compressor fails for the second time in a year and they are on the phone bleating about loosing production etc and the factory was at a standstill. Anyway they loose confidence in my friend and get another company in. They lend them an old piston compressor and take the old one away to repair. That is now back - no doubt with a big fat invoice.
Its odds on it will fail again soon and so on it goes.
Hope this company dont find our number as we wont want to get involved in this mess. In fact we have no customers like that because if they dont listen to reason we sack them - we dont need the aggrovation that these silly situation cause.
Its all to do with cars
Its my experience that the owners of tired old compressor that have to run production lines often don't think the same about their cars.
These companies usually have an 14 plate Range Rover or the like on the drive and a L reg. compressor - Makes you smile doesnt it.
Went out to do a job at a small company and whilst I was there I noticed a small screw compressor and tank standing in the corner that had not been there before.
The guy tells me he bought it for the price of the tank and wasnt going to bother with the screw - his mate who "knew all about electrics" had a look but after using up a box of 10 fuses decided it was probably dead - We could have it if we took it away - so we did.
Back at base I gave it to the young lad to see what he could find with it - within 15 mins he found the fault a burnt out contactor. Last time I saw him he was looking in the lucky boxes for something to do the job. Assuming thats the fault he will get it going and we will see what we have - mind you its a miserable make and model, about 20 years old and done 34K hrs - doesnt get much worse than that.
But, having said all that I have seen some of the ugliest, rough looking screws that sang like a little bird - will report back latter on his efforts.
Had a very panicky call from a nice middle of the road customer who has a fabrication shop in Leeds.
The place is dark, dirty and noisey but hes a nice guy, good payer and always looks after the compressor - so hes an ok guy.
Hes known to be blunt and the conversation at 0630 on a Tuesday morning goes like this - " Aye up Compressors xxxxxd"
So after a few more words off I go to see whats what and when I get there he tells me that they had a big power cut the night before and since then the compressor wont start. He had his sparky on it for hours and they got nowhere.
Luckily I have seen it all before as a service engineer and I found the pcb was burnt out - fitted a new one and it runs like a new one - he now has to try and get his money back from the electricity company.
Compressor electrics are sensitive things and they dont like power spikes or loosing a phase - could have been much worse by a long way.
A Few Busy Days
Here's a taste of what its like to be out on the road as a Service Engineer.
A typical day this one;
No breakdowns or urgent calls so its out on the road at 0730. First call is 35 miles away and the traffic is already heavy. They are a medium sized stainless steel fabrication company. The compressor is a Hydrovane 22kw and they have a dryer, filters, large receiver, 4 auto drains, condensate management system and a smaller backup compressor just in case. On top of this they have a maintenance agreement with us to ensure that all goes well and any problems are sorted with minimum delay
The purpose of the visit is to carry out a 4000hrs warranty service to the complete system, plus check over the backup to make sure it is fit to use if needed. Quite a big job and it takes about 4 hours to do it all and the observe it all working for about 30 mins to make sure all is well.
So its back on the motorway to look in at a large manufacturing customer who have reported wet air at one of the work stations - this shouldnt be happening as its a complete new system and it has only been in about 3 months. A quick check in the compressor room revealed no problems and a quick check of air quality at other work stations showed no faults.
Upon closer inspection the work station in question is at the end of the line and is only used rarely - the problem was that any moisture in the system was ending up there and the only way it could get out was through the air line. We fitted a drip leg and drain and the problem was gone - no further problems reported.
The day was almost spent but needed to make a call at a customer who had reported unusual error messages on his controller. The message told me it was a power failure indication when the customer is confident all is well. One of the good things about modern controllers and the unrestricted access we have to the error logs is that there is no hiding place - they tell it as it is. Sure enough it reported 8 power failures all at the same time - around 5pm every working day.
The message was correct but the coincidence was a bit much and I have seen this several times before. So I spoke to the manager and it turns out they have a new operator in that department and so with the managers permission we went off to ask him how he stops the compressor at end of shift. It turns out that no one had properly instructed him in the correct procedure and he had switched it off at the isolator on the wall when the shift finished.
The correct procedure is to press the red stop button on the controller and it will auto stop, then turn off on wall. By missing out this procedure he was in fact cutting off the power to a running machine and so the controller rightly thought there was a power cut and reported this and would not allow the compressor to start the next morning until someone acknowledged the fact.
What a simple error to make if you dont realise, spent a few minutes with the new operator and explained what had happened and the correct procedure that he should follow and all was well again.
Back in the yard just after 6pm - A nice straightforward day.
Dont get too clever
Most of the manufacturers are mad keen on fitting computerised controllers to all their range. But in many cases it is just an unnecessary expense and probably not needed. In my opinion the worst cases are when it is fitted just to make a smaller quite simple compressor look more hi tech that it is or needs to be.
It all depends how much information that you want or need and you need to realise that in the wrong hands they can be a lot of trouble.
One of the best and easiest to use is the on the Compair Hydrovane range. The clever bits are only available to the Service Engineers via a code and the operator has a nice clear and simple system to himself, this stops lots of problems. There are many options that are available to make the compressor run at its best and once set and locked away they can not be tampered or messed about with.
You would never believe the amount of people who can not resist pressing buttons on a controller and it causes a lot of grief - but one that can be locked or semi locked saves all this trouble.
The ones that make me smile are the ones that are put on just for effect and basically do very little but look the part.
At this you may well be wondering why you would want a computerised machine at all - They do have their place and are a marvellous thing in the right circumstances.
One of the main advantages is for energy saving or to control more than one compressor at a time. If you have 2 or more compressors that need to run together or if you need to control the air pressure accurately then a controller is a good idea.
Computors doing a good job
A local company to us have are a typical example of when a computorised controller is a good thing. They had started in a small unit and expanded into the next two adjoining units over the next few years. At that time they were using an other compressor company and had a 11kw in the original unit and as they expanded had a 7kw in the second unit and a further 7kw in the third unit - thats a total of 25kw all running all of the time. When the time came for replacements we became the new supplier and we were anxious to save energy and bring everything up to date.
In the original factory we fitted a new 11kw Hydrovane and a second similar unit in the third factory. We then linked the pipework in all three factories and set the computors on the two new Hydrovanes to talk to each other and set one as the lead machine which ran more or less permanently and the second Hydrovane became the top up machine and in use runs about 40% of the time.
So we have gone from 3 machines running all the time using 25kw to the new system which uses only 2 compressors and saves about 35% of electric and also provides a good backup as well.
Now they have a modern energy efficient system and all is well.
Smoke and Mirrors
I was at a trade do the other day and was talking to various other compressor distributors that we have know and the subject of "Pirates" raised its ugly head.
To explain, In the world of compressed air a pirate is a person or company who have no accreditation or association with a major manufacturer and whose engineers may not be qualified or competent to do the job.
Basically they are self taught, have little to no back up, are not factory trained or have any trade qualifications. Most of them have never worked for a proper compressor company or they are the rejects that we dont want.
The real problem is that they will have no product knowledge of the latest equipment, they will not be working to any trade guide lines, usually have no qualification of any description to work on your equipment. In reality they should not be working on compressed air equipment.
How do you know that the work they are doing is safe - How do you know they are competent to carry out this work.
ITS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to ensure that anyone carrying out any type of repair or maintenance is suitably qualified. If it all goes wrong and one of your staff is injured its no good blaming someone else (of course they will be called to task), but you are responsible to ensure that the person you employ is competent to do the job - you probably didnt know that.
The days are long gone when the blame can be just shifted to the chap with the spanner in his hand, because if you haven't checked that the person you have tasked to do the job is suitably qualified and competent - then you are liable as well - so be careful who you choose.
Having said all of the above how are you going to choose
Well take a look at us as an example
Our company Compressorman is run by George Antony Teale who is aged 57 and has 40 years experience in the trade - its the only job he has ever done and he often jokes that he has the hang of the job now. He works on the tools every day to ensure that he is at the heart of the company. He is always available to give sound sensible advice - his mobile is 07904 471183.
Georges qualifications are impeccable and the workshops are plastered with certificates of various courses he has attended over many years to ensure that his skills are up to date to the moment.
All Compressorman Engineers are properly qualified and trained, they also undertake in house training to ensure that we give a consistent level of service to our customers.
The company is fully and comprehensively insured and have method statements and risk assessments for all work carried out.
We were established in 1981 and have traded very successfully over the years to the point we are at now and are Official Distributors for several major Compressor Manufacturers and are recognised by all relevant governing bodies.
Apart from the obvious training and qualifications we have licences and training in many associated skills needed to safely carry out our work - from electrical training, through powered access licence to HSE approved First Aid Training.
We are proud of the position we have achieved and whilst we are not the only compressor company who can claim this, we are one of the few.
So when you choose someone to look after you compressors - choose wisely.
Nothing to do with compressors
Although this has little to do directly with compressors, it does highlight some of the silly affairs in business today, which also apply in the compressed air trade.
On Saturday morning I needed some crimped pipes making for an urgent job on Monday, the company I use is 25 miles away and has a trade counter, they get all our business as they make pipes while you wait. When I arrived there was a new chap on the counter who took great delight in telling me they were too busy to make them. I explained they were urgent and his attitude was "tough luck."
In a couple of weeks they will have missed our business and the boss will ring and ask why, I will explain what happened but it will not help them as I am going to buy all the equipment and we will make our own from now on. Its so easy to loose business and people should be very careful about how their staff deal with customers.
We had a similar incidence some years back when we wanted some vinyl lettering for machine and I considered we were overcharged by one supplier and then quoted high by another - I went out and bought the machine to make them with and we make our own.
It just seems to me that the most basic of things becomes difficult and services we all used to accept as basic are now becoming specialist services. All that is fine if that's what you like, but when you expect instant action from suppliers you may be disappointed - I think this is where smaller companies like mine will be head and shoulders above some of the big names who just cant react as you might want - or they will but at a silly inflated price.
How not to buy something
Whilst I was out on Saturday morning, I decided to call in at a couple of Van Dealers as we are due to change on of our vans - I was in for an education.
I sell machines everyday of the week and have been doing so for years and as such I know what's what and can not lead down the path and was looking forward to the experience. Luckily I know what we want and how much we should pay, don't need any finance, no part ex and can make a decision there and then if needed.
I went to three outlets and found it very interesting indeed. The first was a large Mercedes dealership which doesn't open at the weekends - so they did no good. I travelled to another Mercedes dealership which was open. It was a very enjoyable experience and rather like going out for the day, very impressive, non pushy, but expensive in fact very expensive - no business done there either. Then I went to a Citroen dealership to look at there new midi sized van, it was almost as expensive as a Merc and much much lower spec. The salesman went off to get me a best price and failed miserably - walked away from that one as well.
When I got home I rang a large motor discount outfit who were offering the Merc at a fantastic price - guess what, they had non left and non coming in, but could help me at list price - no business done there either.
Latter that day I was reading the local paper and my local Vauxhall dealer was advertising what I want at a really good price - I will call them in the morning and if the deal is correct then we will place an order. As a matter of interest we bought our last vehicle off them last year and they were the cheapest by far.
I find this very interesting as it is a similar situation to us and our Compressors, we sell Hydrovane and Compair and you would expect such a top brand to be expensive, but we sell at prices so competitive that we surprise ourselves how cheap they are. So just like our Vauxhall garage we can sell top names at the best prices and they are there everyday without meeting all the idiots out there.
Why no spare machine
A local company to us have an 11kw Atlas, not a bad machine, but not a good one either. We first did business with them about a year ago when they were having troubles with their existing compressor company.
They took out a fully inclusive service and insurance agreement with us, it cost them about £1000 and it covered them for all service and breakdowns, parts and labour. They had a few problems with it and we definitely made no money out of that one. when it came to renewal they declined the offer - we were not at all upset and we heard no more.
Until last week - it was due for a service and the belts were slipping a bit, so they decided on a bit of self maintenance and tightened them themselves. apparently they did this about 4 times until finally a belt broke and the remaining belts slipped away generating so much heat that the not on the pulley span loose and the pulley came off.
They were extremely lucky that only the pulley and belts were damaged, if the motor stub had been damaged the machine would have been scrap. Production stopped and a small factory full of men standing with nothing to do - no spare compressor either.
So the immediate need was for a loan machine to get things going again - we have suitable machines and put one in, still more problems to come. The loan machine was slightly heavier on the amps when it started and it took about 6 attempts to get it running as it was tripping their fuses. Once running all was ok for the rest of that day, but it was a different story when they tried to start it the next day.
At 0700 the next morning it refused to start properly and kept popping the fuse, when I took a look the fuse they were running the atlas on was a size small and although that one managed to run, ours wouldn't - still no problem change the fuse. Their electrician turns up to say they had not got enough supply in the factory and that's why they were a fuse size down.
What I can never understand with companies like this is they are not a one man band who started last year, but employ 50 people with a £5Million turnover, yet running on a wing and a prayer. We had to fit a smaller compressor whilst we sort out their old one.
Well that should be easy enough - did I tell you that Atlas don't keep parts in this country they all come from Belgium - sounds like good fun again.
The customer will also regret not renewing the contract as he is now on "pay as you go" and that's not cheap with a troublesome compressor.
So what's the moral to all this
Its all fairly obvious really, if you have to have compressed air or everything stops, then make sure you have a spare machine.
Also service and maintenance contracts are good when it comes to compressors - they are not cheap but over a lifetime of a machine can save a lot of unexpected expense.
New v Old - Again
Its an old chestnut but new versus old is a very serious consideration when it comes to compressed air. If air is vital and the quality of the air is important, then why mess around with used - you need new. The more important it is to you, the more you need new.
There is nothing wrong with used machines as long as they are not old and tired - if someone else has ran them for 25,000 then there wont be much newness left in it for you. It will be tired, past its best and probably troublesome.
The fact you are a new company and have just spent £50K on a new laser cutter or whatever wont help you - you will need to spend more or you will be in big trouble, probably from day one.
That's not me trying to sell new machines, its 35 years of mending them every day and seeing so many people fall into the same trap and struggling to get out of it.
Time to upgrade to the latest thing
Just sold the latest Regulated Speed technology to a new customer in Preston. A real nice very established engineering company, passed down from father to sons, just the way it should be. They had a 20 year piston that was banging away in the corner and had promised themselves something nice and modern. They wanted the best and we had a real bargain of a new Hydrovane RS - they don't come more up to date then that and a 10 year warranty to give you piece of mind.
One for the grave yard
Had a call from a company up north who had a 1985 old screw compressor, poor make, no service history, and it had stopped working. In this type of situation its probably too late to do much. Most people have had one or two people having a look at it before they ring us and if they haven't mended it then they have probably made it worse.
Of course there no saying that we would have done a better job, but after others have messed around there is little point in paying us to attend. Even if we did mend it, there are no guaranties with this type of machine at all and it will breakdown again in no time.
The real answer is to buy a new one or get a real good used one.
Do not buy tired old machines and expect them to work like a new one, some of the old machines we are asked to mend were probably no good even when they were new and so 20 years on there is no hope.
Always buy a proper make of machine, cheap alternatives are a waste of time, every time.
Pulled out of the fire
Saved someone's bacon nicely the other day. A small company had bought a small screw compressor from a sale and run it for 18 months without any problems and then their problems began. The machine began to play up and no one wanted to come out and mend it.
When they contacted us we agreed to go out and sort it out. The fault was reasonably easy to mend and we gave it a major service at the same time.
Of course it wasn't a cheap job but it saved a good machine and provided that it gets regular service then all will be well.
The new customer was well pleased that his machine is now working as new and has asked us to look at an additional machine to cope with his expansion plans.
What a noise
Got a call from a panicky new customer, who said that his machine was making a terrible noise and a funny smell. He had his local white vanman out who had told him that it was scrap and was trying to sell him a new one. They just wanted a second opinion before making a decision on what to do.
The fault was a pair of loose V belts and after they were changed it was up an running again.
It always pays to deal with an approved supplier as they know what they are doing and will ( or should ) be honest with you.
From little acorns
One of our customers is a small manufacturing concern employing about 15 people. Last week we went out to carry out a 6 monthly service on his compressors. He has an assortment of 3 Hydrovanes all bought from us over the last few years and all have given good faultless service. But the time has come to upgrade to a brand new machine and he will be having a new Hydrovane regulated speed model which will replace all machines, although one will remain as a backup unit.
Some of the old ones are the best
We sold a very nice Hydrovane 43 Aircentre to a new customer about 6 months ago and have just been over to service it. Although not in its 1st flush of youth, it has behaved very well on constant run for 50 hours a week. If its serviced properly every 6 months it will give good service for many years to come.
The 43 Aircentre is a real rare bird. Basically a standard 43 in a soundproof cabinet, they are so quiet it is hard to tell when they are running. Probably one of the quietest machines ever made.
Over the years we have sold many different Aircentres and they were very popular. I was always amazed at the low noise levels - A truly nice machine, the 68 being the most popular by far.
Back in the 1980s Hydrovane made a 170 Aircentre and I have never heard such a quiet machine in my life. There are still a few about giving good service, we still have a handful on our books.
We are meeting more and more new customers who are turning away from the
new machine market and looking at our quality used and refurbished
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