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Feasibility of compressor purchase??

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.

Simon Blampied

New Member
Oct 16, 2001
Being a fair weather diver nearly all my diving takes place over the summer. I own my own gear and tanks, but a days diving costs about 8 - 10 pounds on fills. Although not much individually this rapidly becomes considerable by the end of the summer. Is it worth purchasing a compressor between three or four mates? If so any ideas on models or sites/businesses where one can purchase them?


Hi Simon,
IMHO, no. Although it sounds like a good idea, there are several things to think about. The cost will be several thousand dollars for a new/slightly used compressor. You will have PM to do, consumables such as oil, filters, ect. The cost of the additional electricity to run it. It would be nice to have some storage capabilities for those spur of the moment trips. The smaller "noncommercial" type compressors generally are low cfm, so it takes along time to fill tanks, especially if you have several(thats where storage comes in). You will need space to set up your system, making sure the intake is far away from exhaust or other poisons. Liability could be an issue if you started filling other peoples bottles and something happened to them(you suddenly have more friends when you have a compressor). Also if a bottle ever failed while filling the person filling,depending on proximity, will either be killed or hurt very badly. Not to mention the structure the bottle was in will probably be destroyed, i.e., garage, house, shed,ect.
That being said there are several manufacturers that make good compressors. Mako, Quincey, Ingersoll-Rand to name a few. You'll have to weigh your options, but I think if you add up the purchase, setup and operation cost you'll see that you can get many years worth of fills for that price. Again just my humble opinion.
I would agree with Jay.

Unless your mixing it is just plain cheaper to pay the dive shop for air. Some friends of mine have small (4cfm) compressors and their fills end up costing about 30% more than if they just went to the shop. The reason is all of the consumables and the power that they use.

Of course I have other dive buddies with their own compressors because we mix our own gas for deep dives. This makes it a lot nicer than trying to do top off fills at the dive shop.

Jay's right...again?!

Monsignor Styron is correct and for the right reasons. I got involved with some friends and got a compressor and ended up doing all the maintenance and the like.

As with boats, the 2 happiest days are when you get it and when you get rid of it.


Whattya mean again....
That hurts.
And last but not least on the boat analogies....There's no such thing as a free boat!
Compressor calculation

Hi Simon,

I am new in this scuba forum but been around a week or so in hunting forum. Just want to share some ideas on compressors because I have a few shared-units and my friends owns a few personaly.

Here in Indonesia, the most popular brand is Bauer from Germany. I am not familiar with other brands. In fact in South East Asia this is the leading brand. I maintain my group compressors and I can detail you on the cost of operation if you or any other readers really wants 2 know.

I dive almost all year round but less during the west wind season which occur 3 months a year. The reason I and my group owned a compressor is because our diving area has no refill station and without a comp, we need to bring too many tanks.

In Jakarta-Indonesia an average refill cost anything from US$ 3.50 to US$ 7.00 depending on location.

A 3.5 CFM Bauer JUNIOR selling at +- US$3,500. It fills an 80 Cf at 3000 psi in 23 minutes. This is a 3-4 divers comp. 5 HP Honda driven and operational speed of ( I forgot exactly ) +- 2,200 RPM crankshaft speed at the compressor and Honda speed at almost maxed out at 3,600 RPM. I don't reccomend this unit because not only it is slow ( but light weight at +- 50 kg ) it is also high speed operation in both the Honda & the comp itself. High speed means more wear & tear. A friend of mine has this and we almost never use it unless as back up. I hate this unit and I don't mess around with this often.

A 5.0 CFM Bauer CAPITANO. It fills 80 cfm/3000 psi in 16 minutes.
I share this unit between 9 divers. We bought it second ( almost 99% new condition ) hand at +- US$ 4,500. I think the retail is like US$6000 something. This unit I play a lot with. It used to come with a 5HP Honda. The comp operational speed is 1,300 RPM, while the Honda is nearly maxed out at 3,600 RPM. A 5HP Honda is way underpower. I replaced mine/ours with a 7 HP Honda and set bigger pulley so that Honda operational speed maintained at +- 2,700 RPM and still have enough torque to run the comp. Gas engines will be best to operate at 75% maximum RPM to last long. The comp is reliable, the Honda only weakness is the exhaust system. It corrode and grow loud within only 150 hours of operation. Is best to change it at max 200 hours if u want ur neigbours to love u. In Jakarta we can get it for US$75.00. The standard Bauer air cartridge filter retail at +- US$36.00 and in our 80% humidity and 30 * Celcius temperature, it can last up to a maximum of 120 air fills. I always refer to air fill as 80 cf tank at 3000 psi.

Based on my calculation, if I remember correctly, here are the cost to operate based on Honda driven, I have no experience with electric motors because our comp have to be mobile and independent of electric supply :

01. Air filter cartridge. US$ 36.00 for 100 average air fill. US$0.36 per tank.

02. Honda engine oil at 1.2 liters per 50 hours. Average oil quality US$ 9 per change. Average cost per tank = US$0.05.

03. Fuel at 0.8 liters per tank. Calculate ur own country rate. Mine is at US$0.23 per liter. US$0.19 per tank.

04. Bauer compressor oil at 1.6 liters per 300 hours or 6 months, I waste a bit here. Manual Book say more, but no way. Estimated cost US$ 50 for oil change. US$0.05 per tank.

05. Bauer air pre-filter. US$10-15 ( I forgot ), last hell of a long time. I think fair price is US$0.01 per tank.

06. Hate ur neigbours & change exhaust muffler of Honda at 300 hours. US$ 0.07 per tank.

07. Fan belts, spark plugs and overhaul Honda for all the way to 1,000 hours. Piston over size one step up, valve job & crankshaft bearings. In my country is only at US$ 250 maximum. US$0.07 per tank. Double this for any developed countries. At about 1,500 to 2,000 hours, best to buy a new Honda.

08. Bauer compressor service at 1,000 hours. Change all inlet & exhaust valves for three pistons and some other minor bullshit. Get US$ 1,000 to be safe. US$0.27 per tank.

Rough estimate for the first 1,000 hours of operation is about US$1.07 per tank, in my country for a 5.0 CFM Buer CAPITANO.
This is based on ideal operating condition and not bringing it on board a boat. Rust damage from sea salt spray is number 1 compressor killer.

By the time u hit 2,000 hours, expect to spend double this. One thing 4 sure you need a new Honda and your compressor overhaul will be more costly because pistons will be more worn out. It will be save to calculate that a 1,300 RPM compressor should last easily 5,000 hours if well maintaned and no bad luck for owner. Safer calculation is to double the purchase price
( brand new ) and divide by 5000 hrs of life span. Double is to take the per 1,000 overhaul expenses into consideration for the entire life of the compressor. So the actual total cost in my probably wrong calculation is at approx US$ 1.50 a tank.

In actual life scenario ur comp will get damage more often by sea water, rain, operation in unshaded area too long in the heat of the day, bumped around in the boat in bad weather, main pulley get hit during transport and so on. Only compressor immobile in a dive shop rather far away from the beach, will last long.

If you scuba to remote area, a compressor is better than a wife.
If you are within easy air fill area, not worth it.

I also shared another group a very old & used 1983 6.0CFM Bauer MARINER with 6 other divers. This baby has consumed about US$ 5,000 in the last 5 years. US$2,000 was rebuilding her from a sorry state & a new 9HP Honda purchase. US$ 3,000 was to maintain her in the last 5 years of abused usage .......not as per operational hours.

When u are doing airfill by the water, be very careful with the air suction hose. One of my friend's MARINER compressor suck in sea water when this hose fell into the water at a marina. All of the gasket blew apart, even the crankshaft was distorted because water is incompressible, it cost US$3,000 to repair. This unit is about US$8,500 brand new.

All in all I have 5 compressors within my core divers group either shared or individualy owned. It gave us big time convenience, dive anytime-anywhere but it sure blew a big hole in our pockets.

Well I hope the info is massive enough.


I was wondering if you might have a copy of the operators manual for the 5CFM Capitano Compressor and maybe a little bit more info on the way you added a bigger motor. I just bought a 1983 5cfm Capitano, without a motor and i am about to get one put in it. I'd like to do what you did with 7.5HP but I'm not sure what size pulleys you used or other parts you might have needed.

Do you think this is an okay compressor. The hour clock reads 237 hrs (I hope it's corrrect) and it was said to be used by the government. It does have some rust, I wonder how bad that will be? I paid about $1500 for it and am having a company called breathingair.com in ohio, pa, overhauling it and getting it up to speed.

How long do you think it would take this comp to fill a 4500 PSI/444 CF stoage cylider.
I'm thinking about using it with an air bank. Is this a good idea?
And lastly how long do you think I can let it run for?

Thanks so much


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Hi Simon
Enough info there to talk anyone out of owning a compressor.
May I suggest an alternative.
Since you have a few mates and abviously have quite a few fills during the season, you could negotiate a reduced filling price from a dive shop.
I pay for 20 fills in advance for around 28% discount. Plus if you have a certain number of fills over a pre-selected time frame, (I've forgotten what it is) you get a tank test included in the price.

Good luck
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