Homebrew Tire Inflator Pushes The Limits Of PVC Construction

Let’s just clear something up right from the start with this one: there’s literally no reason to build your own tire inflator from scratch, especially when you can buy a perfectly serviceable one for not a lot of money. But that’s missing the point of this build entirely, and thinking that way risks passing up yet another fascinating build from PVC virtuoso [Vang Hà], which would be a shame

The chances are most of you will recall [Vang Hà]’s super-detailed working PVC model excavator, and while we’re tempted to say this simple air pump is a step toward more practical PVC builds, the fact remains that the excavator was a working model with a completely homebrew hydraulic system. As usual, PVC is the favored material, with sheet stock harvested from sections of flattened pipe. Only the simplest of tools are used, with a hand drill standing in for a lathe to make such precision components as the compressor piston. There are some great ideas here, like using Schrader tire valves as the intake and exhaust valves on the pump cylinder. And that’s not to mention the assembly tips, like making a hermetic seal between the metal valves and the PVC manifold by reaming out a hole with a heated drill bit.

We’re not sure how much abuse a plastic compressor like this will stand up to, but then again, we’ve seen some commercially available tire inflators with far, far less robust internals than this one.

23 thoughts on “Homebrew Tire Inflator Pushes The Limits Of PVC Construction

  1. Less than 30 seconds and I’ve already paused the video. Obvious clickbait, just like all those “amazing restoration” videos that pop up in recommended after watching anything technical.

    1. ? I mean it’s certainly “that” type of video, but it’s not clickbait. He shows every step, show every tool he uses and has an working compressor when done.

      Absolutely not clickbait in my book.

      1. Except for the fact that every part is already stuck in place (or hanging magically in air) already before he applies the (super?) glue. It looks fake, like the parts were actually made in advance by some other process and the parts where he fabricates them by hand is just for show.

        1. Or, machining a sharply stepped and even, straight axle by hand against an angle grinder wheel that looks so nice it could be polished (6:38). Or screw holes that are drilled free-hand and just magically line up.

          Good old “amazing skills” switcheroo.

          1. Haha my last reply to you on this is a question: Have you ever worked with your hands, have you tried the techniques shown?

            I have (because I did stuff like that as an apprentice in my first year) and yes, you can do exactly that with a battery powered drill and a clamped down angle grinder and a stiff wheel. It’s called skill (and maybe a sprinkle of measuring and not showing EVERY step on camera).

            My dad had to FILE stuff by hand much more exactly when he was an apprentice like 50 years ago. No angle grinder allowed.

            Get your hands dirty on some metal, it’s fun I promise!

        2. How would YOU do it without making the video even longer? Showing how to glue the pieces in place and pressing them together for a few seconds or even a minute or two before applying the solvent (not superglue obviously! more like MEK or THF) around the edges?

          You can even see the exact drill marks in bores or scratches on surfaces when he assembles/glues these parts later.

          You just WANT it to be fake, no objective view whatsoever. And rest assured, I am not white-knighting for some random youtuber in some country thousands of kms away. I couldn’t care less.

          It’s just obvious that this is not one of those “we’ll put acid and dirt on some motorbike off camera and pretend to restore it for teh clicks!!11!” video.

          1. I wouldn’t. I would simply admit that these parts were machined and/or assembled in a jig instead of pretending to make them free-hand.

            >not superglue obviously!

            In some places it leaves the tell-tale cloudy haze of superglue on plastic – but as you point out the parts are most likely solvent-welded as superglue would be far too brittle for this application. That’s another fake point for the video.

            >You can even see the exact drill marks

            And if you’ve ever tried to free-hand a hole in plastic, you’d know that it never actually follows the drill mark. You end up pushing the drill all over the place.

          2. To me it’s obvious that this is one of those “let’s machine and assemble parts off-camera and then pretend we’re making them entirely by hand for the clicks” -video.

          3. Comment system ate the message…

            There’s tell-tale cloudy patches left over by CA glue. Superglue is too brittle to hold mechanically in this application, so as you point out it’s more likely it was actually assembled by solvent welding, in a jig, off camera.

          4. “And rest assured, I am not white-knighting for some random youtuber in some country thousands of kms away. I couldn’t care less.”

            Then why do you get so excited about some third worlder who made something that needs to work only long enough for him to make a 10 minutes long video. It’s neither designed to last, nor improvising in a dire situation. It’s just “making content” and earning cash by wasting other peoples’ time. Not that different from old TV.

            (Why are all those videos just above 10 minutes long? Because then YouTube lets you manually place a couple of ads.)

  2. It is quite bizarre that folks complain when a master model builder shows his techniques. Must be clickbait, must have CNC’d the parts off-camera, can’t possibly be real!! It is real. I have no doubt that he uses a contact adhesive to hold parts together while they are being solvent welded. Yes, master craftsmen and women exist. You probably believe that the Antikythera mechanism must have been left behind by extraterrestrial aliens. No way that primitive humans could have mastered metalworking and all that complicated math stuff to accurately represent astronomical observation. Rembrandt, Michelangelo,… – all a bunch of fakes. The corollary to Arthur C. Clarke’s famous saying that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” is that “masterfully executed art is indistinguishable from magic.”

    1. “I can’t do that, so you must not be able to either.”

      It’s pretty obvious the video does a lot of jump edits and for the sake of (some) brevity that’s to be expected, but ultimately I didn’t see anything here unbelievable. I am pretty impressed by the axle shaft, but it’s not exactly perfect either as the bull gear has some wobble/run-out once assembled.

      No doubt this took on the order of at least a day to build.

  3. I like It, I’m 100% sure that compressor won’t last long, but I’ve enjoyed the video and I can say the video It’s somehow useful since If you watch It you’ll get some tips or ideas that you can use to build a real compressor, one made out of aluminum or steel.

    1. There is this little known effect that making hard air from soft air produces heat. It is very surprising and not often hear of. Long time scientists were unsure if it ever existed. Nowadays, they follow new leads with the level of pressure, too.

      With that said, I think the chamber walls might have a structural problem.

  4. Have you ever seen a Philippine handbuilt 1911 pistol, made from scrap metal? They’re typically made with nothing more than a hacksaw, assortment of files, and a belt-driven drill powered by an Ox! How about a handcrafted linkage/drive mechanism for a model ornithopter? Made from bits of balsa, music wire, and plastic tubing. I’ve seen tiny CO2 powered model aircraft motors so small that several will all fit inside a single gel cap. Fabricated with simple hand tools and a drill.

    My point, is that yes certain people possess incredible skills being able to fabricate intricate working mechanisms by hand. And no, not everyone, in fact most cannot reproduce the same results from only watching a video and attempting the processes themselves. Even after several attempts at it, many people would still not succeed.

    Check out some books from the early 1800’s on metal working, pattern making, and building fine instruments (music and specialized tools) if you still cannot believe all this is possible. I was kidding about the Ox by the way, but like a small step up from that say peddle-powered, yep for sure!

  5. One thing about the “it won’t last very long” comments. That may be correct. But even so.. he only would have to rebuild the part that wore out, not the whole thing. Just something to keep in mind.

    If you buy it.. you own it till it breaks. If you build it.. you own it as long as you are willing to repair it. Even if you lose it you entirely you still have that knowledge and experience to build it again which only death, head injury or alzheimer’s can ever take away.

    1. At least he made the piston and connecting rod as two separate, articulated pieces. In most commercial air pumps they are a single rigid piece. The piston tilts with the rod on each stroke. Only the gasket on the piston seals, but it wears out very quickly. This is also how portable battery powered pumps are built, which is why they break after a few uses. For example Xiaomi Mi Portable Electric Air Compressor.

    1. There’s a variety of them available in Bezos’ barn for under $20 USD. “not a lot of money” is obviously a relative term, but in the US $20 is generally not considered “a lot of money”.

  6. Wow. Who needs a 3d printer. Some level of skill there to make that. If I tried to make it, even with a 3d printer would be super janky and probably explode in my face. That piston though. Amazing.

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