You know you are getting old when dependable tools that you’ve used for over 40 years begin to fail. I’ve had the same air compressor since I graduated from college. It has traveled to at least 6 states and has never required much attention. A couple of weeks ago, that all changed. The old boy turned on but the tank would not fill with air. (Judy says that sounds a lot like me!) I decided to just let him rest for a while and hope he was just having one of those days. Last week, I decided to give him another try. I plugged him in, turned him on but still no air.
Over the years, I have purchased other devices that could supply compressed air but I had nothing else that supplied as much air as this compressor. Sure, I could fill tires and blow the dust off some small things, but nothing else could run my air tools like my old friend. In this time of sadness, I will take a brief moment to mention there is one bright spot. One of the handiest tools I have purchased is a small air pump for filling tires. Almost every time I plan to use the riding mower, I find a couple of the tires low on air. In this part of Texas, we are blessed with all kinds of wonderful thorny plants and they love to embed their prickly parts into tires. I have put green slime in many tires which usually seals a leak as quickly as it forms. However, the mower tires still have not been slimed. This little air pump works off the same batteries that run some of my hand power tools, weed eater and grass blower. So, when I discover a flat, I just pick-up the pump, carry to the flat, and fill the tire. There is no messing with hoses, extension cords, moving a heavy compressor or bringing the flat to the compressor. At the moment, tire filling is my most significant need for compressed air.
Since my current need for compressed air is being met, I had to decide what to do with my old companion. This was kinda like deciding the fate of a long time family member that doesn’t talk, always listens, never passes judgment and never asks for money or buys yarn (I just had to throw that in). Who could let such a wonderful part of the family just sit there broken? He was, however, taking up valuable space in the shop. Humm, I wonder if that is how Judy will look at me when I am unable to do much, right before she sends me to the home? I couldn’t just let my old friend sit there, collecting more dust. I had to at least try to fix him, as long as the cost was not too great. Now I sound like an insurance company making a determination if treatment will be allowed!
Some quick research on the internet revealed that the problem could be a sticking check valve. This valve wasn’t too hard to replace and it was a fairly inexpensive part. So, the valve was ordered and arrived a few days latter. When I began to replace the valve, I realized it was slightly different than the original. To install it, I had to cut the airline that went from the pump to the valve. At this point, another decision had to be made. If I cut the line and this valve didn’t work, what would I do with a short airline if I had to get a different but exact replacement valve? This would be comparable to deciding if I should cut off a toe because the new shoes I just bought were too short. What did I do you ask? Being the cold hearted man that I am, I cut the air compressor’s toe off and hoped for the best! It was the wrong decision. Even with the new valve installed he didn’t work and now a new problem developed, air was coming out the intake hole.
More disassembly, inspection and research pointed to some other parts that required attention. The piston seal was worn, the air valves were not working properly and the cylinder was scored. I also needed to replace the electrical cord. It seems my old friend was too far gone to warrant any additional effort. I made the decision to just let him enjoy one last night in the shop and the next day I would tend to his final fate.
It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the temperature was just right and there was a slight breeze in the air. My old friend was positioned next to the door of the shop so he too could enjoy his final moments. With great sadness and much reservation, the operation began. His motor was separated from his tank and his electrical lifeline was severed. In a matter of minutes, he was no longer the proud air compressor that served me so well for so many years. Now only memories and a pile of parts remain. The tank was wheeled to the implement shed where it joined the parts of a few other old friends that had passed and the motor was kept in the shop with the hope that it could one day be transplanted into another needy machine.
In the old days (a few months ago that is), I would have immediately gone out and replaced my old friend. But under the new state of minimalism, that didn’t happen. I would use the tools I currently owned and, if the need arose for a bigger air supplying device, I would decide at that time if a new large air compressor was really warranted. So for now, I will just say goodbye and treasure the many memories we shared through the years. Rest in peace my old friend you are gone but not forgotten.