Champion Compressor


I bought this compressor by responding to a craigslist ad that offered it for $25. Loaded out by Machinery Movers of Chicago. Here's how it looked when I brought it home. The compressor was described as not working. This being a USA made honest compressor, I agreed sight unseen (I would not take a broken dollar store import compressor even for free). Upon my visit, I figured that with the single phase Baldor 5 HP motor attached, I could not go wrong in any case. This page describes my adventures with this compressor.

This compressor is in some way a sad story. It represents someone's failed attempt to convert a 3 phase compressor into a single phase compressor. The person who worked on the motor, apparently, failed to wire the motor correctly. The motor is a older Baldor 5 HP, single phase capacitor start, capacitor run motor. The following was found to be wrong with the motor:

  • Shot drive end (front) bearing
  • Motor miswired to run the wrong rotation. This was a particularly bad issue, as the wires did nor retain their numbered markings, and did not have intuitive colors, and so I had to figure it out with an ohmmeter.
  • Bad starting capacitors made the motor impotent and unable to start the pump.
  • Start winding centrifugal switch contacts were corroded.

I unloaded it with my Harbor Freight truck crane.

The fix was to properly correct these problems. Starting caps replaced, contacts cleaned, direction changed. That made the motor start and run strong (but not as strong as to run the pump without overheating, see below).

Champion CompressorChampion Compressor.

The pump is Champion RE-20. I called the manufacturer of this pump, Champion, now acquired by Kellogg, and found out that this is a 5 HP pump with 500-600 RPM range. Being a finely made 2 stage pump, it produces 20 CFM of air.

The motor is a Baldor 5 HP, 1725 RPM, Spec 36P17-2385, Frame 184T, S/N 1176, 5 HP, 25 amps motor. The modern equivalent is a Baldor L1430T.

One issue that I spent a while on, was that the motor did not seem to have enough power to run this pump, even after all of the above problems have been corrected. It would run, and pump would pump, but it ran unevenly and slowly and the start winding was kicking in a lot and got hot quickly, so I stopped it.

Nevertheless, that let me pump the tank to a low pressure of 23 PSI. The tank proved to be leak free and did not leak any air, over 24 hours. The years, if not decades, that it spent being someone's "project", it spent with the drain cock open, so it did not rust through.

After that frustration, I decided to take a break and repainted it. My father in law painted with red paint, and I painted with green paint. Proper cleaning procedure were followed in preparation. Painting was possible because originally, the compressor was relatively clean to begin with. The greyish color on the pictures on my truck, is from past paint overspray.

The ultimate issue with the motor, was that the DE (Drive End) bearing was shot. After I replaced it, the motor no longer vibrates, purrs like a kitten, and runs this compressor quietly. Proper adjustment of end play, as well as belt alignment and tensioning, made the motor run fully to spec within 25 amps.

(Click on the thumbnail images to enlarge)