As you can see from the massive flow of content on this blog... (?!?) summer's hellish heat is here so I'm doing minimally interesting projects in the shop until relief...
Some recent non-shop projects are crown molding and flooring. I used to loath the idea of either because of needing to carry around a pancake compressor, its noise, the oily footprints it leaves, its noise, the hassle of a 50' air hose, and lastly its noise.
Now some details...
The knob under the output pressure gauge is actually on the bottle and allows you to turn off the flow before the regulator. It is an option. I chose it since a bottle laid on its side has liquid CO2 at the pin valve and the regulator. Some regulators have issues with this and freeze up. The COMP regulator is not supposed to have issues with it, but I'd rather just not have the liquid CO2 in the regulator during storage. Since I go long months without using a gun, it seems smarter.
The bottles all come with a blow-out valve if there is too much pressure inside. That shouldn't happen, right? Well, CO2 expands greatly with temperature. If you leave your bottle on the front seat of the car... in summer... in the sun... for a long time... you might exceed the pressure and it will vent. This isn't something you want happening. As an aside, as you use the bottle, the released CO2 greatly cools the bottle, which is awesome in summer.
Okay, so how do you stuff 1,000 psi of CO2 into the bottle? These bottles refill anywhere paintball CO2 bottles get filled. I got mine done at Dick's Sporting Goods as they are just up the street. $4 for 20 oz of CO2 in the bottle. Fifth refill is free so it works out to $3/bottle.
How many shots do you get with a full bottle? 750 brads (18ga) or 350 finish nails (15ga). You can even get 190 8d framing nails. I have some soffit repairs to do in the fall; it will be nice to take this to the roof rather than a hose trying to pull me down. Obviously disconnecting guns or quick-connect leaks can affect these numbers. For a full table, look at this construction-series brochure from Powertank.
As a cost comparison, this system costs more than a 50' air hose and pancake compressor. But, for my use, the cost is justified for the convenience. I think every finish carpenter would want this (or comparable) CO2 system. Also, if you don't use it very often, a single bottle system could be very useful. I tend to overdo things.
Now, I mentioned that I looked at different systems. The best competitor was a Kobalt system from Lowe's. With Lowe's, the system works a little like those propane replacement systems: you buy a full bottle and exchange your empty for a rebate. The cost per fill-up is definitely higher than the $3-4 at a paintball supplier, but there are advantages: Lowe's are everywhere and you don't have to worry about bottle lifetime. Lifetime?! Yes, bottles are pressure certified and the certification lasts 5 years. After 5 years, you can't get them refilled. If you exchange an old bottle at Lowe's, it gets discarded, but that doesn't matter to you. For my Powertank bottles, I'll have to simply toss them out and replace them at a cost of $50 each (less if you don't want the on/off valves). That's $10 a year for the bottle. If you get 1 exchange a year for a bottle, you've paid that. Still, the Lowe's option is compelling for availability. My Lowe's gave me blank looks when I asked about their regulator and bottles; at that Lowe's, it is very new so consider that in your choice.
Now I need a nailing gun worthy of this setup :) Recommendations for a decent pinner?