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Onboard Air Electric


Well-Known Member
February 5, 2005
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City, State
Portsmouth, OH
Year, Model & Trim Level
94 Explorer XLT 4x4
parts needed
2- empty d-cylinder Oxygen tanks - $80 rated ~2500+psi
1- Truck Air pump $45

2- brass All-tube T's 1/4" $4 each
2- 1/4" tube to 1/8" NPT compression 90 degree $2 each
1- 1/4" tube to 1/8" NPT compression Straight $1.50 each
1- 1/4" tube to 1/4" NPT compression Straight $1.50 each
1- 1/8" NPT to Schrader valve for water heater $4.50 each
~3 ft- of 1/4" Poly Tubing ~$.45
25 Ft- of 1/4" Poly Tubing ~$1.50
1- Size R drill bit, $2
1- 1/8" Morse NPT TAP, $12.50 (WORTH EVERY PENNY)
2-1/8" NPT insert plugs (for painting the tanks)

I used the 3 ft of poly tube for assembly, and the 25 ft is for running around the truck for airing up my tires. basically use the first T to hook the 2 tanks together, and start the run to the compressor, the second T is for the 25 ft line to get around the truck and completes the run to the 1/4" tube to 1/8" NPT compression Straight for the schrader valve. the schrader valve is to keep the Truck Air stock, so it keeps its manufacturers 5 year warranty ;)

Prepping the tanks...

Well I basically tried to use brute force to get them off. after about 3 weeks of fighting it, I just cut the valve at the top of the tank, it leaves about an 1/8 hole, a size R bit is about 21/64 give or take. This took 1 minute with a fresh blade, and I wouldn't recommend wasting the effort of removing them, since the tank may, or may not be 1/2" or 3/4" NPT. I then used several drill bits to step up to the Size R bit and tapped the hole, I then blew the shavings out with my house compressor. the NPT fittings are put in with teflon tape, the red and white container (thicker, slightly more expensive, but SOooo much easier to work with than blue and white) the compression fittings were dabbed with pipe thread compound/PFE paste. I'm leaving out that I took the time to wire wheel the green paint/sticker glue off and scuffed it up to take a coat of primer and a burgundy paint, because its not necessary for fab work.

I will have pics posted tonight!


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Cool! Where are you mounting the tanks? Are you taking the case off of the TruckAir, and mounting just the motor?

Pics are there, tommorow I'll work on a mount, probably leave it in the casing, and strap the tanks to the area behind the wheel well, and make the mount hold the compressor over the wheel well. Its not 100% figured out for the mounting, but I have line left over to put it where-ever it needs to go. it may be one tank on each side of a fenderwell if need be. I'll figure it out.

I think final mounting for the tanks will be horizontal (valves facing front) on the driver side fender well. the pump would be in the rear most corner/ or on the fender well top as well. I think this gives the least storage intrustion, I'm using the driver side since that is the 30 side of the bench, meaning I get more fold down storage. I also tend to keep stuff on the driver side back seat, so passengers don't sit there.

Anyone know where I can get some Non-Flammible stickers?

Nice, I'm going to follow this.

Your setup is looking good :thumbsup:
I am looking into doing a similiar mod and the design and planning stages take plenty of time and thought. The o2 tanks are great for portable air if you have them filled at 2000psi...but with only 300 psi you won't have a lot of volume... as such I was thinking of using a similiar compressor (under 300psi max), but with larger volume (10gal) tank rated for 150 psi... this would require a pressure cut off switch to automatically cycle the compressor on and off with a dash switch overide...

I wouldn't mind 10 Gallons, fo-sho, I would mind loosing that much space in the DD. I'm not looking for enough air to run air tools, just enough storage to be able to get the job done a little quicker, the Truck- Air pump will supposedly pump a 33x12.50x15 up in 9 mins and rated for 8 hours continuous. thats pretty good for a "trunk pump" . the stored air is really in if I need a burst of air, to say reseat a bead. (it did reseat my lawn mowers rear bead, I wasn't game to try in on my truck, too much work)

to keep access to the storage panel, I had to go vertical, I plan on finding a burgundy pillow case or something like that.

edit here- Uploaded pic, I'm going to need to go to the steel place this week (closed sat/sun, refuse to pay Lowes prices) to finish it off. I think for ease of use I'll probably just strap/bungee the compressor down in front of the tanks, on the stock cargo ring, won't be in the way. of the other fold down, or the "tool bin"

pressure held 55 PSI all night, compressor attached, so I'm happy.

I plan to maybe clip the legs on the orange wire coil top and bottom, lower it down, and reattach it that way... If I do I'll post more pics. this is a test fit, it fits! so I'll paint the orange part as well probably, but this is the easy part. more pics will come later today or tommorow


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ok the tanks are in.. pics above, its about 40 degrees out, so sanding and painting is out today, so it'll stay in there as is until later in the week, hopefully it will warm up. I can juuusstt get into the tool crib on the fender well, so it's just fine. :D

That orange part, in case you can't tell is a electrical wire carrier (at big lots for $2) the hose clamps are like 4" I think.. I had em all laying around... imagine that...

I hope you all like the tank mount/onboard air rig I've thrown together. not including the several attempts at taking off the Tap valves, I've got about 3-4 hours actual work, if you have the list of stuff already, it won't be too bad, I spent most of yesterday looking for parts, and about 3 weeks dreaming up the layout so I could spend a weekend getting it together..

if you don't use your back seats at all, I'd consider mounting the tanks under there, the problem is, I wouldn't want to be sitting on it if something fails, but I would say its 99% likely any issues you would have would be hose/fitting related, so make sure those are pointed down or to the rear. possible future upgrades is a remote meter up front with a switch. IMO if you are going to use a pressure switch, it should be wired on the compressor side of where ever your putting it. if you do it that way it will shut off the compressor even if you get a severe pinch in the line (read as heavy tool box/load of wood on the hose) it will still shut off at a safe PSI...

i was thinking of useing a setup for air tanks like what portable nail gun compressors use... i think ki could fit two or three of them above where the spare was. (got a b\l so i have more room)

that wouldn't be bad if its a really small nailer, but you need a 12v good compressor, or you'll be waiting not working.

Where did you buy the tanks? Ive been looking, but most places want big $$$ for them...

sorry for my delay in answering working has absorbed me lately

Where did you buy the tanks? Ive been looking, but most places want big $$$ for them...

I went to a local welding supply(being its a small town they also do medical gas) and bought them, the key is ask for some OLD STEEL medical gas containers, since most of these places can't rent/move them since they weigh about 2x the newer aluminum and all americans are lazy(and they rent for the same price, here)

very nice where did you get the compressor

Kmart I think, still works well, though I'm still looking for something that will pump up faster

so how does it work?
Nice setup, simple and compact :)

i don't know about that compressor- i've found that even the most expensive 12v compressors are just garbage.

I think i've read on pbb a few times about people saying the little 12vold HF compressors are pretty decent. Get one of their 20% off coupons and even if it only lasts a season or two you won't be out much money.


I'd wire it into the electrical system, use a relay, put a switch on the dash somewhere that way you don't have to worry about plugging it in :)

I've always thought it would be uber sweet to find an electric psi gauge, plumb in a sender, and mount the gauge in the dash as well. Once I get the cage and build a new dash for mine i may try haha

My oba install

Here is a pic of part of my install:

I bought a Viair compressor (I think the model is 325C) and a small air tank.

The compressor is bolted to the frame and the tank is attached above the right rear shock. You can see the spare tire winch cable on the left to help you picture where things are.

That black hose heads to a inline air filter that is stuffed in behind the passenger side brake light. Also not shown is a hose coming out of the left side of the air tank that goes to a T fitting. On one side of the T is a pressure sensor that shuts down the relay that drives the compressor when it reaches about 120PSI. The other side of the T feeds a hose that comes out near the driver's side brake light. I have some black plastic corrugated tubing that covers that hose and it rests in the space above the bumper and is covered by the rear hatch when it is closed. I connect a 25 foot self coiling air hose and a tire chuck fitting with a pressure gauge when I want to refill my tires.

That air tank is really too small. I think it maybe only one gallon. Now that I have a 2" body lift there is more space under there and one day I will probably put in a larger tank.

The HF compressor looks good. If I were to do this all over again I would consider getting two compressors like that to feed the tank and hopefully speed things up a bit. The Viair compressor was a lot of $$ :( and I thought it would perform a whole lot better than it does.

retrospectively i just wouldn't even do onboard air unless i was going to an e.d.c.

I realize that my needs (bags) are a lot different from many of yours- but i think you can either just get away with a 12v compressor that you just plug in and use to put some air in your tires (cheap and simple) or may as well make the jump to e.d.c. for most of your purposes.

Sorry for my ignorance, but what is an "e.d.c." ?


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fillup time is reasonable, a few minutes, the two tanks gave me more than enough air to reseat a rear lawn tractor tire bead (ratchet strap method), fill it, and have little leftover. I have used it 2-3 times to air back up after off-roading a little far from home. i pretty much cut it on, start filling and leave it running... this is probably a 20+ minute procedure, but allows for conversation and a damage inspection. I've used alot more it to top off trailer tires and friends cars after plugging a hole.

I feel like as far as a cheap, very workable trunk pump, the Truck air pump is as good as they get under $50. it would work acceptably for everything without the tank except reseating the lawn tractor tire bead

I like that undercarriage setup, mine is staying in the back though, the fittings and so forth go up consideraby when you have to make it live through daily outdoor conditions.

I liked the HF unit as well, but haven't seen a need to upgrade to it as of yet.

if I went to a bigger pump, i'd probably invest in pressure relief valves to make sure theres a weak link steel braided lines rated to 200 psi, fittings to 400psi and a tank thats only rated for 150-180 psi(using the undercarriage photo pictured as an example).... means if you have an issue, its likely to be a bomb of an air tank. (most compressor intended tanks are not rated over 180, medical o2 and oxy/acetalyne tanks are in the thousands of psi)

EDC- engine driven compressor.... which wasn't in my finances..