How I built a Ultra Quiet Shop compressor from a refrigerator motor (compressor) for my Industrial design studio workshop. In the video I show you step by step how to build the compressor from parts you can buy on Ebay and your local hardware store, Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, or a scrap yard or an old refrigerator (fridge). Add your own optional Motörhead badges too.
I sourced a 6 gallon tank on eBay for $35 including shipping from a fellow in Indiana. I then needed a refrigerator compressor. I got lucky and have a buddy I play hockey with that is in the small appliance repair business. He was able to get me a new replacement unit that was not needed on a recent job. He was also able to get me some of the copper tubing i needed for the project.
Everything else was pretty straightforward after that. I have access to a lot of good fabrication equipment. First I built an adapter plate to mate the tank to the compressor motor. I built this from an old “Big Iron” IBM server cover. I made a cardboard template to follow and then transferred it to the sheet metal and folded the edges for extra strength. Then I applied a bit of primer and paint to finish the exposed metal.
I replaced the original oil in the compressor with 10W40 weight motor oil for added protection.
I mounted the motor on the sheet metal bracket I made and connected the compressor side to the tank with some 1/4-20 socket cap bolts. ”
Next I connected the compressor side to the tank with some 1/4″ copper tubing and a one way check valve to keep the air from flowing out of the tank back through the compressor inlet.
On the business side of the compressor I used some parts I had laying around including a pressure shut off valve that I had from when I attended college at Pratt in the late 80’s from my dorm airbrush set up! It still all works great and is able to turn the motor on an off with no issues. I also used a main pressure gauge and added a pressure regulator so I could adjust how much air comes out of the tank. Additionally I added a quick disconnect to I an easily connect an air hose to the tank.
I added a computer electric socket connector to the set up so I can remove the power cord if I need to as well.
The key to making the whole thing ultra quiet is building a intake manifold that absorbs the sound of the compressor. For this I used a spent metal aerosol travel shaving cream can. It already had openings at both ends and was perfect for my needs. I packed it with some brass wool to help absorb the sound and added some pink packing foam for a filter. The combination of the metal can and the brass wool significantly mutes the sound and makes the whole set up extremely quite.
Last but not least I added some Motörhead badges to give it some character. Lemmy R.I.P
A fun build and an essential piece of shop equipment to have when making Industrial Design models and prototypes.
Eric Strebel, is an Industrial Designer living in Southfield MI. He has a home-based Industrial design studio “Botzen Design” and has been designing consumer products for 25+ years ranging from sunglasses for Bauch & Lomb, Traps eyewear, entry level luxury vehicles for Ford, wireless charging PowerMat for Homedics, to magnetic toys for Guidecraft. He specializes in tabletop and handheld products, ranging from routers to cosmetic products to Bluetooth devices and everything in between, he also teaches Industrial Design at Wayne State University and CCS (College for Creative Studies)