New Air Compressor...Well, Almost New

jshortApril 2, 2008

Hi all, I was recently looking for an upright electric air compressor to do some inflation tasks as well as running a few air tools. I ended up finding one at a local bargain house that was a display model. Iron Horse 20gal, 5hp, 5.0 CFM @ 90 psi. The Model is Iron Horse #IHAC5V. It was missing a few screws, had a crack in the fan cover. The manager let me take it away from $75 with a return policy in place. It seems to run fine and hold pressure (after I replaced the air drain on the bottom). It was missing any manuals and perhaps a few other items. I was wondering if anyone has any idea, a similar machine or advice on the following. I have already inquired about a user manual to Iron Horse and did not receive a reply:

Air Compressor oil, what type and or brand to use.

Air Intake Filter, is it needed and where can I get one. There is a threaded intake hole that looks like a lawn mower engine muffler hole in the cylinder head of teh unit.

Manual, any idea of where I can find a manual..model # is not listed on Iron Horse/Eagle site.

Other recommendations for tools (ie. recommended brands), I plan to buy some basic air tools in the near future.


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green_valley(7 TX)

That would be a 2 HP compressor at best as a 5 HP will produce 15 to 20 CFM.
Oil use a 30 weight non detergent.
Air filters are generic and can be bought for most by thread size.
Basic air tools like ratchet and small impact will work ok but anything larger or a sander is out of the question.
These brands are using pumps for other manufactures so it may be a lot of brands. A manual may not be any help at all. Many of these chinese pumps do not offer parts here but some do.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 5:42PM
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Well, if ya get it to pump air, and the tank don't leak, and the motor is ok, you might be able to make air. but--don't expect it to keep up with air tools, except maybe an impact gun, or blowing up tires.
As for compressor oil-yep-thats what ya use. Ain't many to choose from. I've used engine oil, in an old compressor i had, but not my good one.
The main thing to remember--when buying an air compressor, is this: Get the highest amount of Cubic Feet per minute (CFM) production of air, and a larger than 5 h.p. motor to run it. Any compressor will pump up to 100 lbs pressure, but---it will not keep up to very much use of air tools, nor have the "punch" to operate a 1/2 inch drive air impact wrench. Might as well bite the bullet and buy something you will be able to use for most any air tool, rather than to buy a low power compressor! Penny wise and Pound foolish!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 8:54PM
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The 5hp is listed on the motor. I was looking for a 5cfm unit and this is listed as such. The tools I want to use all have around a 5cfm requirement or less and it should handle what I need to do as regular homeowner duty. The information is very helpful and appreciated. I am looking more for operation/maintenance advice vs buying advice.
I woudl really like to locate or obtain information about this unit to operate and maintain. I cannot find the model or reference to it anywhere. Any help or ideas are greatly appreciated. I guess I'll try the outlet for more information also. Any tool brad recommendations...I'd like to use one brand.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 12:39PM
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green_valley(7 TX)

Again a true 5 HP compressor will pull 24 full load amps and produce about 4 times the air you are currently producing. Using a 5 CFM tool can deplete the compressor very easily if use more than short burst or at best the compressor runs wide open while you are using the tools so go easy on it or it will not last.
Change you oil regular.
Keep the air filter clean.
Drain your tank a lot.
The folks giving you buying advice are trying to help. Because if you use this at the loads stated you will crater this thing pretty quick and may need the advice sooner than later. But you can modulate your usage and help extend your pump life. Proper sizing a reciprocating air compressor one would try to get a unit that puts out double the air you will consume. That way the unit can cycle and have a chance to cool down.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 1:21PM
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Well, just revisiting this post in an effort to find some information on repair and parts for this compressor. Over the past year I have been using this for general tire inflation, impact wrench for rotating tires (I do this at every oil change for 3 vehicles and a lawn tractor), general air ratchet use and some finish nailing. It does everything I need to do with it. I have been pretty happy with it and it has saved me lots of time and effort.

I believe a problem has developed with the controls as it only holds around 40psi and the motor continues to run... as it never gets to full tank pressure. This has just started happening. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas of what to check. I am hoping the parts are available or some substitute. Any information is greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 10:31AM
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masiman(z7 VA)

I hope you can fix it.

If not, I'd spend a little bit more and get a compressor that is a little more reliable and has better support.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 3:45PM
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And now, you have found the draw-backs in buying one of those cheap off-shore make of air compressor! They are made mainly for airing up your tires, and blowing the dust off the tractor, and a bit of paint spraying, such as the bottoms of your fenders. Anything that needs higher cubic feet per minute will tax that little compressor until it finally gives up. Look all over it--see if you can see its tongue hanging out somewhere!
CFM is what you look for! The cheaper compressors say something along with CFM, and it means it might put out a lot of CFM--and then again--it might not!
If you are sort of younger than a lot of us here, and intend to need air for years to come--do this:
Go to a place that specializes in auto body shop supplies, tools, air compressors, welding stuff, and pick their brains. And take their advice. And buy the highest CFM compressor that you can afford, even if it takes a loan at the local bank. Just make sure you have the electrical input it will need! Usually 220 volts is needed, with a 5 or higher H.P. electric motor.
Then, if you intend to stay where you are living, install piping around the garage, with plug in air connectors, at 20 ft. intervals. And have all lines sloping up from the compressor tank/ outlet. And, believe me-you will thank me and others for our advice!
Rusty Jones (55 years in the automotive trades!)

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 9:28PM
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canguy(British Columbia)

If it will not build pressure it has a leak or there is a problem with the reed valves in the head. Possibly one or more has gotten lazy or is broken.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 9:59AM
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For all air compressor tools etc,, you gotta go to Northern Tool. They are The BEST!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 6:55PM
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O!M!G! Northern Tools? Gee, you are really smart, and well informed!
Thats the trouble with trying to educate the modern man! They've had their brains poisoned in the schools of this time period, to the point they can't see the woods fer the trees!
didn't you read what i posted in this section? About going to a place that supplies auto body and auto repair shops, and buy what they recommend?!? I'll tell you this--all of the places i have dealt with over the years would hide their laughter behind their hands, if i asked about an elcheapo air compressor, to be used for painting, sanding, and using air tools!
Well, i have heard that ya can't teach a young dog new tricks, if he doesn't want to learn! Go ahead, spend more of yer hard-earned cash on cheapo foreign junk. A new compressor every 5 years will probably be cheaper in the long run---or not!I bought a 15 h.p. Emglo compressor 20 years ago, and it still puts out all of the air i need in my work!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 6:16PM
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canguy(British Columbia)

Go easy on him Rusty, he is happy with his choice. Obviously he has only occasional need for his tools where you are used to more serious work. You are right, the stuff from Northern Tool, Harbor Freight and the like will never stand up to hard use. Like you, I would never buy from them even for occasional use because I appreciate quality tools.
In a moment of weakness (and in a hurry) I once bought a cheapo Craftsman air impact made in China. I tried it once, clumsy thing with no power. Saw the light and sprung for a much better CP. The clunker is still wasting space in the tool chest because I lost the receipt.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 10:32PM
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Zoulas-I will put my Rol-Air against your Northern Tool?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 9:00AM
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Interesting, I just saw this post. very similar to my story.
almost 5 years ago ,I saw same compressor at local bargain store. I asked price, Store owner was mad at manufacturer. he said many of them broken and returned, he will never sell that brand again. He told me he can give it away for $90. It was steal for 20gal compresser 5yrs ago, lately I see some low cost models in $100-150 range but still 20gal is impossible.
Anyway, I used it in my house for many jobs. Ive done hardwood floors and many other restoration projects. Even some spray paint jobs. Its ok with nailers and similar tools, it has difficulty with catch up industrial sprayers, hvlp prayers ok. Air blowing quickly drain it.

2 yrs later presure adjustment knob broken, threads inside was worn. I mailed manufacturer company but no reply.
(was eagle compressors lately changed to wood industries. their web address is www. eaglecompressor. com)
I found cheap filter-regulator-oiler set from harbourfreighttools, and used brass tubes from homedepot to extend and add second regulator on it.

couple weeks ago, air manifold cracked. Currently , it leaks air from manifold near safty valve. Im lookin for replacement part. Its called TT-unit I think. If I cant find I will replace manifold-regulator-switch asmmbly with some standart units.

Its motor and pump are still runing great, my opinion , its perfect small house projects. 5yrs use for $90 great bargain.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 2:53AM
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Wow' theres a bunch of uninformed people on here. First off I have owned an Iron Horse compressor for over 5 yrs and its never failed me. My bro has had 2 in his auto repair shop for yrs without issues. The 5hp is its peak not its running hp. For yrs most companies used that spec, big deal.
I own IHP5120H1-US 20 gallon 5hp model. It has a 100% cast iron Vtwin oil style pump and is ASME certified and I can tell you quick the only time I ever waited on it was using a sander. I expect that from any 20 gallon tank because its a small tank and runs out.
I can also tell you your wrong about them all being made in China...Its made by Eagle Compressors and was built in Canada and all main parts are available if you would just call them unlike other companies!!!
BTW: They build them here in the states too. All their manuals are posted on their site at If you want a nice one look at their MaxAir Premiums there's a tuff unit. Much better than I/R or CH. Quincy or Jenny is much better but they are twice the price easy.
I know they import the oiless versions and those I agree are junk. They need to stop that, Its just killing their name.
I use mine daily with impacts and air tools. Eagle makes or made compressors for our military. They have made our navy's scuba compressors for decades. Ya' they must be junk...Please learn before you spew guys. Just call them if you need help.

You can contact Wood Industries, Inc.
customer service department at
Toll Free: 1-800-551-2406
Belmont, Ms

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 2:06AM
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BTW: About the OP having issues with the control switch. Ive never had that issue nor my bro's but I do know its been a common issue with brands as well. Its been going on for several yrs. My cousin replaced his on a 3 yr old IR 80 gal last yr and was told by them to step up to a 26amp from 20amp switch because of so many failures. He sent me several youtube videos on it. It burned out he said.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 2:25AM
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There use to be A Middle Of The Road Compressor that you could depend on for Medium Home Use vs Supplying Auto And Paint shops. Campbell Hausfeld was probably a good Brand Name and probably what my 1972 home use compressor is from Sears.

We have used the 1hp compressor to pant many VW cars and do many automotive jobs over the years. It has never failed to remove a lug nut using a 1/2'â impact or keep up with medium duty auto body tools.

I can remember it not breaking some 200 ft lbs VW nuts (rear axle and flywheel) or giving it a âÂÂshort breatherâ on some air body tools or not getting a quick wet coat on a full car vs quarters or halves. The bottom line is it has served me well since 1972 for "Affordable Home Use".

I replaced the pressure regulator switch about 15 yrs ago (with a genetic) to solve a pressure related problem.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 3:55PM
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Yep' thats a CH built for Sears Craftsman. Buddy of mines tank just rusted out on his. I would of took his pump if I known he was going to give it away because my cousin owns one too.
Those were built when CH and Sears cared what they sold. Shame neither one cares anymore, not since Kmart bought Sears anyway..
Thats a very well built cast pump and if my bud would of drained his more it would still be goin.
fyi: Todays IR guns will work fine with that little thing. His ran my 1/2in 2132G impact easy. Guns 600ft/lb runs at 5cfm, use 3/8 air line it will suprise you how well that compressor handles a good gun. He got his ford trucks wheel off and back on without it kicking on and 4 nuts were over It got 5 off and none torqued to spec with my old HF 1/2in impact. lol.. The poc just sucked air too bad since day one. Like all HF china products..Lesson learned.

I see both the Craftsman and CH versions like yours E auctioned all the time. They sold a boocoo of them in the day.
Grab any of the belt driven Eagle made brands, IR, SpeedAire or Puma, any one would be a great replacement when it goes south. Quincy is king!
No aluminum pumps for me either & no buyers remorse after 5 yrs, I still love my Iron Horse. I kept it longer than I did my first wife.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 4:11PM
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My Craftsman/Campbell Hosfield has worked Great since 1972. I have an identical for parts as needed. A friendâÂÂs stopped and he upgraded w/o investigating and gave me all except the motor and tank. Later he learned the motor needed resetting. I have had a new tank that was returned to Sears with a bad seam weld that I repaired. My needs and upgrades since 1972 are below.

1. A pin-hole in my tank had me thinking it w/n last long. ItâÂÂs still original with a sheet metal screw and O-Ring in that only pin-hole.

2. It finally needed a pressure regulator switch. I found a generic local and R&R power cord at the same time.

3. I replaced the motorâÂÂs bearing and cleaned the motorâÂÂs starter relay contacts and int due to paint residue (erratic start and noise).

4. I finally added a 3/4th galvanize pipe as a moisture reservoir to help save the tank and drain easier (attached).

5. In 2012 I chanced the 40 yr old serpentine belt vs getting caught. A dated oil and air filter schedule is attached to it.

6. Recently I replaced the 1-12 hr timer that I run it from vs it waking me up later saying, âÂÂWhatâÂÂs NextâÂÂ!

7. The Monster has been worth the 200.00 I paid in 1972 after trying to rebuild 2-3 with no luck.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 8:13PM
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