Using A CO2 Tank to Quickly Inflate Tires, Operate Air Tools & More

Discussion in 'Off-Roading Your Raptor' started by MagicMtnDan, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. MagicMtnDan

    MagicMtnDan FRF Addict

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    Having a liquid CO2 tank with you on the trails is very helpful and convenient mostly for airing up your tires very quickly. You can air up your tires and your friends’ tires. In addition to airing up tires after offroading, CO2 systems have a multitude of other uses. A CO2 tank can be used on the trail to re-seat a tire bead back onto the rim, run air tools for any emergency field repairs, and are even used to run air lockers.

    Picture below: 10 lb. Power Tank


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    These tanks use liquid CO2 gas which is an inert, non-toxic, non-corrosive, non-flammable gas. The two main suppliers use aluminum tanks which are D.O.T. (Dept. of Transportation) approved. CO2 goes through a phase change from liquid to vapor as it releases its energy. This evaporative process slows the pressure release rate meaning that a CO2 tank will not become a high speed rocket like a scuba tank would in the rare event of a valve decapitation. Power Tank claims that a tank is as safe as a CO2 fire extinguisher.

    10 lb. and 15 lb. (capacity) tanks are most popular but there are larger sizes (and smaller ones too). A 10# tank will typically have the capacity to fill ~16 tires j(filled up 20 psi with each one filling in about 38 seconds/tire). The 10# tank weighs 28# full and is 24” tall. A 15# tank obviously has 50% more capacity than a 10# tank and typically has the capacity to fill ~24 tires (filled up 20 psi at about 38 seconds/tire).

    The tanks use quick-disconnects on the hoses and you can get a one-piece tire filler/gauge with trigger for filling tires so you won’t need to go looking for a gauge when airing up your tires.

    Tank fill-ups are about $15 and are done at soda fountain distributors and industrial gas companies. A fill will typically last for months and you can use it to top off all your tires at home and on trips.

    Suppliers – there are two main suppliers: Power Tank and Outback

    Power Tank: http://www.powertank.com/

    Outback: http://www.outbackequipped.com/air.asp

    Power Tank appears to be the most well known of the two and their prices are higher than Outback’s. Outback’s package is about $260. Power Tank’s similar 10# tank package is almost twice the price!

    Picture below: Outback’s 10# tank


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    The tank can be mounted sideways or even up side down but the tank must be upright or at least at a 30-degree angle while being used. The reason it must be upright during use is because you want the liquid at the bottom of the tank and the vapor at the top coming through the valve and regulator. It’s highly recommended that the tank be mounted in a vertical to 45° minimum angle position so it does not need to be removed from its mounting bracket for each use and so it is never mistakenly used in a horizontal position.


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    “Can the Power Tank seat tire beads? “Hellyeah!” One of the advantages of the awesome power of the Power TankTM is its ability to quickly and easily seat tire beads without the need to remove the wheel from the vehicle or hassle with a tire tourniquet. All you have to do is lift the corner of your vehicle with the unbeaded tire. Get the tire straight and clean the rim bead. Remove the core of the wheel stem. Set the outlet pressure of the Power TankTM up to 200 psi. While pulling the tire out towards the bead of the rim push the end of the hose quick release coupler straight over the stem giving the tire a quick blast of air. The sudden rush of air into the tire will push the sides of the tire out and onto the sides of the rim. Hold it there until the tire has “popped” over the rim bead. Remove the hose from the stem and replace the stem core. Reset the tire pressure, lower the jack, and you’re on your way.” (from Power Tank’s website)


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    “If you do any serious off-roading you know the importance of on-board air. On board air can be used for re-inflating your tires due to leaks, reseating tires back on their rim, aiding in tire repairs, and for running air tools like impact wrenches. The more serious off-roader even relies on his on-board air to run his axle air lockers or provide a quick lift to his truck with an air jack. Of course, if you have a powerful on-board air system you might find yourself also blowing sand and water out of your air filter or inflating your crushed fuel cell back into shape.” (from Power Tank’s website)

    Got questions? Here’s Power Tank’s FAQs: http://www.powertank.com/faqs
     
  2. SLB8SNK

    SLB8SNK Full Access Member

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    This is cool but why not go a much cheaper route of using a small plug in air compressor? Very cheap, easy to use, endless air, and easy to store? I am confused?
     
  3. BigJ

    BigJ FRF Addict

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    Not at all... in theory. In practice, the answer is a bit more complicated. I'll try to boil it down:

    The biggest issue with a small plug in air compressor is going to be "duty cycle". How long can it run before having to shut down and cool off? Even the best small plug in versions will probably only hit a 50% duty cycle. Use it for 10 minutes, let it cool for 10. And so on. (In reality, I believe "duty cycle" in terms of air compressors means how much time can it run in 30 minutes. So a 50% duty cycle unit can run for 15 minutes in 30).

    The second issue is time. Even beyond the duty cycle time issues mentioned above, it can take a loooooong time to fill a tire back from say 25psi to 44. I can't remember exactly, but the last small plug in type deal took maybe 12-15minutes per tire? Typically I see folks carry two or even three of these to help with that and the duty cycle issue.

    The third is reliability. How long does it last before it no longer works? You have to be the judge of that.

    Hope that helps.
     
  4. SLB8SNK

    SLB8SNK Full Access Member

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    Yes it does... you can tell my novice brain LOL... I use them to air up a low tire, never in the situations you state above, so yes it makes perfect sense... Glad I ask the stupid questions, so we can all learn LOL... thanks!
     
  5. Xjrguy

    Xjrguy FRF Addict

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  6. BigJ

    BigJ FRF Addict

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    Hey no worries! I didn't know any of this stuff before this truck either. And learning is what these forums are here for. Never feel stupid asking questions.
     
  7. BigJ

    BigJ FRF Addict

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  8. MagicMtnDan

    MagicMtnDan FRF Addict

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    Good questions!

    Speed and reliability are two key issues.

    It all comes down to how you compare the benefits of each. Many people carry both a tank and a compressor as a backup. Tanks are fast and easy but need to be refilled on occasion. Compressors are typically portable (like tanks) though they are often hard installed (as Jason is doing).

    Do some reading on the sites provided in the threads on compressors and tanks and you'll start to develop a preference.
     
  9. BigJ

    BigJ FRF Addict

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    If I wasn't going the hard install route, I'd be all over the Outback Air option Dan found and posted above. If I get into this hard install and don't like the way its going, I might just back out and go the CO2 route anyway; the choice between the two is just that close in my own head. Both are great options, with the clear winner in portability being the CO2 option. And given the pricing Dan found, I'd probably not even consider picking up a couple of the cheepie plug in versions if I was starting out fresh.
     
  10. BigJ

    BigJ FRF Addict

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    Quick couple of questions since my recent experience with the electric solution has me rethinking all this...

    Has anyone actually mounted one of these in a Raptor? If so, where?

    It looks to me like the magic in this is the valve. And for $55, one can be had at Outback. Anyone ever used a good ole fashion fire extinguisher as the tank? We've got a handful of 10# empties laying around the shop and I'm wondering if one can be used? Any thoughts on that?
     

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