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Recommendations For Replacement Sears 30 Gallon 5.5HP Air Compressor


Nov 22, 2023
Had an old friend die this week.

A Sears Craftsman 30 gallon 5.5 HP air compressor I purchased in 1999 for a whopping $260.99 ($276.65 less a $29 discount for signing up for their credit + $15.66 tax).

Specs attached from cover of manual.

I've had no problems other than swapping out hoses that get too old. Two 50 foot hoses attached.

Heard hiss coming from area of unit but assumed it was in one of the hoses, but instead found there was a 5/32" hairline crack on the underside of the tank a couple inches from the water draining outlet.

I am assuming this must be due to rust on the inside of the tank, although it has no rust on the outside so perhaps it was a defect in the metal.

Looking for a replacement but it would seem all the stores have dumbed down their compressors. You might get a 30 gallon tank but you don't even get a 2 HP motor.

I use it mainly for cleaning items for short spans of time - occasionally for tires.

I may use a couple air tools I inherited from my father later on - such as a small grinder.


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I bought a 30 gallon Champion that only need a rubber spacer underneath the tilt rest. Otherwise the angle of tilt would not drain as well.
I've been using a Devilbiss that I bought from Lowe's in '95.
My shop went full time in 2008.
It's been running everyday since.
As soon as it goes out, I'll probably buy one of the tan Ingersoll colored ones from Tractor Supply .
There are a lot of local mechanics using these in their shops.


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I bought a 3 cylinder80 gallon Kobalt from Lowes 10-15 years back never had a issue cept the switch nob cracking . Commercial tank with inspection Bung . Think I paid in the hi 600's .
I see that California Air Tools has many highly rated tanks on Amazon with aluminum tanks.

These are all with smaller tanks which would mean the motor is going to run more often and wear out faster.

Also aluminum oxidizes so I frankly do not see how you are ahead.

Frankly amazed at the massive dumbing down of all the compressors since I bought the Craftsman. None of the ones I've seen come close on the SCFM unless you want to spend a fortune on a commercial unit.
Two comments:

1. Aluminum does oxidize, but the oxide layer tends to be protective; steel oxidation tends to be cumulative.

2. Today's specifications of "big box store" air compressors might well be less exaggerated than what was claimed decades ago.
Not exaggerated - my old compressor came with a 5.5 horse motor with 8.6 at 40 and 6.4 at 90.

The aluminum tanks are less than 1/3 the volume and thus the motor would have a lot more on and off cycles which in turn wears the motor out faster.

I am guessing it must be an issue with making aluminum tanks above a certain size.
The original probably failed because the tank had no automatic drain. Water collected in the bottom, and combined with pressure in the tank, it caused the steel to corrode. The water is a consequence of compression; compressed air cannot hold as much moisture as uncompressed air, and it collects in the bottom of the tank. Such compressors need to be drained from time to time (which reminds me that mine is overdue).

You should buy a new compressor with an auto-drain, install an aftermarket one (I bought one, but there's that laziness gene that's kept it uninstalled for a few years now), or drain the tank from time to time to get the water out. Motors and compressor heads are easier to replace than tanks.
Not exaggerated - my old compressor came with a 5.5 horse motor with 8.6 at 40 and 6.4 at 90.
Sears was well known for underrating the horsepower of their air compressors back in the day. The amount they miscalculated their vacuums was to the point of being comical.