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12/06/2015 10:50 PM  #1

Air compressor aftercooler

I'm going to paint my car and I know my compressor puts out some water.  So I did a little research and decided to make an aftercooler to help with this.  The idea is that if you decrease the temperature of the compressed air enough, the water will condense and drop out, enabling you to remove it before it gets to your paint gun (or air tools).  Some people use transmission coolers or A/C condensers, but I was concerned about friction loss and I didn't happen to have one of those handy, so I did something different:

Each one of the long runs is 24", so the air travels thru about 14' of copper before it gets back to the tank, which allows for a lot of heat dissipation even without fins.  The line coming out of my compressor is 3/8", so I stepped it up to 1/2" to reduce the friction losses and provide a little more area for heat dissipation.  It goes back to 3/8" just before the water separator, which is one of those cheap ones from HF and automatically drains when the pressure falls off.  All the joints are soldered, with the excepting of the compression fittings at the separator, the compressor, and the tank.  I used 3/16" rivets and 1/2" conduit clips to attach the whole mes to the side of the compressor belt guard.  Here's a shot from above:

You can see that previously there was just a short drop to the tank.  So how well does it work?  I used an infrared thermometer (one of my favorite toys) to measure the temperature on the line coming out of the compressor after about 10 minutes of running and got 285 F.  At the end of the line where it enters the tank, I got 98 F.  That's enough of a drop in temperature to condense just about all of the water, which ended up in the separator.  When I drained the tank, no water came out, where previously I would get a puddle.

Cheap, Fast, Good:  Pick Any Two

12/07/2015 7:11 AM  #2

Re: Air compressor aftercooler

Good article!  I' ve made a few of those over the years but never built one on the side of the compressor.  The ones I built were hung on a wall usually for a permanent compressor rather than a portable.


12/07/2015 9:30 AM  #3

Re: Air compressor aftercooler

I use the air tank from a portable air compressor like house framers use for their nail guns.  Found it at a metal recycler.  Just couple it up between my big compressor and the tool (spray gun, sand blaster, whatever). Works well, employs the KISS principle.

Last edited by Pablo (12/07/2015 9:31 AM)


12/07/2015 11:44 AM  #4

Re: Air compressor aftercooler

That's cool!

I used the Mustang Steve Cooler™ I cracked the compressor drain open a bit then coiled some of my air hose in a Home Depot bucket and filled it with ice water. Actually had good results getting the rear quarters, decklid and roof in Epoxy. I only did once section at a time.


5/12/2017 7:06 PM  #5

Re: Air compressor aftercooler

I ran galvanized pipe and a few drains mounted on the wall of my garage and it works great. I do not have a finished picture but I think you all will get it.

Last edited by 70 Coupe (5/12/2017 7:09 PM)


7/16/2017 5:39 PM  #6

Re: Air compressor aftercooler

Wow, that's pretty cool. Why not just get a large dryer?



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