SCUBA Compressor Rack
In late 2008, my son decided to purchase a small SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) Compressor for DREAM AWAY. This decision was made while we were selecting and purchasing tools for projects upcoming in 2009. We opted to go with a 120 VAC compressor rather than an engine powered compressor. We opted to go with the 120 VAC because it could be used at the dock and at anchor, using the generator. Because it produced no engine exhaust fumes, we would not have to worry about compromising the air being compressed into the SCUBA tanks.
After qute a bit of research, and compromising on capacity, size and weight, we decided on the Bauer Junior IIE. This unit met all of our requirements. When we made the order for the compressor, we also ordered spare filters and extra compressor oil. After more research we discovered the same oil needed for the SCUBA compressor would also work in the high pressure pump for the water maker. This meant carrying only one type of oil.
Another compromise was that the compressor would have to be stored on deck. The unit weighed 89 pounds, and if it was stored down below, it would be very difficult to get the compressor on deck for use. Also, there was really no place to store the compressor below deck. We calculated the dimensions of the Bauer Junior IIE compressor, and found a place to store the compressor on the aft deck, over the aft cabin, between the two opening hatches. That also made it "easy" to run a 30 amp electrical cable through the aft deck boxes, and would allow us to run the SCUBA compressor, and the Miller welder from the same cable.
As with most of the projects, once the decisions were made on the “how” and “where”, the really difficult part of fabrication and implementation came into play. The first thing on the list, after arrival of the compressor, was to make sure everything that was ordered had arrived. So, we validated the inventory. Next, we needed to get the motor wired properly, and the unit checked out. The motor used on this model SCUBA compressor can run at 120 VAC or 240 VAC. The schematic drawing that was provided from the company was OK, but of course, it did not match the labeling on the motor, and the colors did not match anything on which I had ever before worked. After a few phone calls to Bauer, I finally got in touch with someone who had a clue what I was talking about, and who helped us got the motor properly wired.
Next I had to actually check out the compressor and make sure it would fill a SCUBA tank. I went through the complete start up procedure to make sure I had oil where it was supposed to go, the correct filters installed, and all the safety devices installed. I brought over one of my SCUBA tanks from DREAM AWAY, and attempted to fill the tank. I tried several times, checking to make sure all was working, but everytime I made the attempt, the over pressure valave kicked in.
This was rather dissappointing, and you can imagine there might have been one or two bad words spoken. Then the dawn broke! I was attempting to fill a filled tank! That was why the over pressure valave kicked in. I connected a die grinder to the SCUBA tank, and ran all of the air out of the tank. Then I connected the tank to the compressor, started the compressor, and lo and behold the compressor filled the tank, and the over pressure valve kicked in at 3200 lbs.
Now that the compressor was working, it was time to start building the rack to hold the compressor on the deck. On one of my many frequent visits to Momentum Recycling, I had found several pieces of square tubing. The tubing was 1 1/2" square, and 12" long. I had used the same tubing to fabricate the rigid spreader bars for the tender hanging from my davits on the stern of DREAM AWAY.
I made sure I had plenty of the material. Then it was just a matter of cutting all of the pieces, and welding them together. The difficult part of fabrication was to make sure all of the parts were clamped down to a solid surface so that the welding did not twist the metal because of the high heat produced the welding process.
After I had the basic frame fabricated, I welded on some pieces of tubing to be used as places to fit in the rubber feet on the bottom of the compressor. This would effectively keep the compressor from moving around in the frame.
There were two remaining items to be welded on the rack. The first was the feet on the bottom of the compressor rack. These were necessary to allow attaching the rack to DREAM AWAY. The second item was a stainless steel chain so the compressor could be locked to the rack. This would make it very difficult for someone to walk off with the compressor. When I completed these tasks, the SCUBA rack was completed. Now it had to be installed on DREAM AWAY.
We had chosen a place on the deck above the aft cabin between the two hatches opening into the aft cabin. This was really the only place for the installation as it kept the compressor outside the boat yet out of the way of most waves and sail handling. In fact the cover I was planning for the SCUBA Compressor would provide a nice flat surface on which to stand when working on the mizzen sail. I cut some pieces of plate fiberglass to glass onto the cabin roof. Then I could set the rack on top of these plates and through-bolt the rack to the cabin roof.
I glassed the fiberglass plates onto the deck, and finished the work by applying finishing putty all around the plates to give them a nice finished look. When that was completed, I dry fitted the rack so I could mark the bolt-hole patterns on the top of the fiberglass plates. I then drilled the four holes into the deck, down through to the aft cabin. Before I did the drilling, I had Kitty help me. We removed all of the bedding from the aft cabin, so none of the fiberglass dust would get on the bedding. I also had Kitty stand under where I was drilling with the vacuum cleaner running so the vacuum would pick up as much dust as possible. When I finished drilling the holes, I went into the aft cabin and had to cut out the fiberglass liner so I could put backing plates under the SCUBA rack bolts.
When all of the cutting was completed, we cleaned up the aft cabin, and got all of the bedding moved back into the aft cabin. I went back over to the shop where I cut out the required backing plates, and also found pieces of teak I could use as covers to make the aft cabin overhead look trim and neat. When I got all of the backing plates cut and the teak trim pieces cut, I went back to DREAM AWAY.
I got all of the fastening hardware together, and again with Kitty's help we did a dry fit of the SCUBA rack on the aft cabin deck. When we were satisfied with the dry fit, we applied the sealant and did the final installation of the SCUBA rack. The backing plates fit just right, and the teak covers over the holes for the backing plates, covered the holes in the fiberglass liner beautifully. This went very well, and we were satisfied with the installation so far.
The last item of the installation before I could call the SCUBA rack installation complete was to fabrication a cover. I built the cover out of some scrap fiberglass covered plywood I had in the shop. I pretty much knocked it together so it would be serviceable and protect the compressor. It was not beautiful, but it fulfilled the intended purpose. In 2010 when we were at Monkey Bay Marina in the Rio Dulce of Guatemala, I rebuilt the SCUBA rack cover. The finished product was much more attractive than the original. So now we have the SCUBA compressor, installed in the newly fabricated SCUBA Compressor rack.