About 12 years ago I bought a small portable compressor on wheels from a well-known chain of DIY stores. I seem to recall it cost me £189. Made in Italy (the main source of cheap power tools back then), three-horsepower motor, belt drive, 50-litre tank. After a few months the wheels disintegrated, so I bodged up some replacements. And since then it has been used just about every working day, and absolutely nothing has gone wrong with it. It is still on its original drive belt, and I have never changed the lubricating oil in the pump, because I wasn’t expecting the thing to last more than a couple of years anyway. (I take the same hands-off approach to maintaining cheap rotary lawn mowers.)
Sadly, last week the pipe between the tank and the pressure sensing switch fractured due to metal fatigue. The switch itself had been playing up for a while, the quick-release air couplings are worn out, and I can’t help feeling the mechanical bits are on borrowed time. So I have gone out and bought a shiny new Chinese compressor, with a larger tank, for a few pounds more than I paid in 2005. I wonder whether it will last as long as the old one?