Our “Serious Air” compressor has been in operation over a year now and we are delighted to say it has performed faultlessly.
The compressor unit is bolted into an under-tray storage bin, hard wired electrically and plumbed into a 9L AOB receiver. Shielded air lines connect the tank to manifolds mounted front and back of the Defender. Each manifold has dual nitto fittings protected by rubber boots. This allows multiple combinations of use as I have divided the supplied airline into a 3m length and then the remainder. Appropriate fittings allow re-joining the lines to the original length when needed. I find the 3m line is supremely easy to unpack, uncoil, use, recoil and pack away. In muddy situations if I’m careful, I can keep it clean. I use it on the Defender while my son in law can simultaneously use the longer line on his Grand Vitara. If he gets that one muddy, he has to store it in his car.
Our first real test of the compressor was at Byfield National Park early 2016. Unless we went down to about 10 psi we were going nowhere in the Defender or the Suzuki up that very long dune. The young guys in front of us had just rolled a front tyre off the rim and had no compressor. In under two minutes we had them set to go on their way again. They couldn’t believe how quickly their tyre stood up and when the bead re-seated I was surprised, but their jaws dropped. They wanted to know all about Serious Air. We were able to then get both vehicles through hundreds of metres of hot, fluffy, deep sand and then go back to 20 psi for the firmer tracks to the beach. We realised it wasn’t a race and we didn’t have to hurry and it gave us time to look and observe.
Serious Air gave us a great deal of confidence on our Central Australia and Simpson Desert crossing in August 2016. 6,500 km in 3 weeks saw lots of different terrain and weather. The compressor’s capacity and reliability encouraged us to drop our tyre pressures appropriately as it is so easy and quick to re-inflate. The unit became very popular with the other two vehicles as we could have two air lines in use. The whole exercise became so much more relaxed. Some days it was bitterly cold with the wind blowing a gale or it may have started to rain. That’s when you really appreciate not having to be out of the vehicle for long. We also found it very handy to help start wet campfires. A minute with the dusting gun generally had the fire roaring.
What would I do differently? Not a lot:
- The rubber boots on the nitto fittings don’t stop really fine grit fouling the sliding collar which then makes them inoperable. So I need to find a way of completely isolating the fittings. Just as well I had four, as at one stage I was down to one and it was barely operable.
- I should double check that I have fittings and tools to isolate either manifold if it becomes damaged while keeping the other in operation, and on that note,
- I also need to be able to isolate the receiver if damaged and still have an air supply.
- The supplied valve removal tool is great and became my preferred method of deflation.
- I kept a rough check on temperature rise – it never seemed to be an issue whether it was four or eight tyres.
- I generally ran the motor while using the compressor but not always.
- After a while I learnt to compensate for hot air IN by simply going over the desired value by two or three psi.
I am looking forward to many more years of trouble free service. It is also a good feeling to be able to stop and help someone on the highway who has had a flat tyre, put their spare on only to find it flat too.
Ralph Johnson. Queensland 24.01.17