4 Wheel & Off Road - - CONTENTS - Verne Si­mons BY EDI­[email protected] PHO­TOG­RA­PHY VERNE SI­MONS

Power Tank ver­sus elec­tric air com­pres­sor

IF YOU HARKEN BACK TO THE EAR­lier days of Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road about 20 years ago (OK, now I feel old), you might no­tice a black-and-white ad in the back of the book for a lit­tle out­fit called Power Tank from Ad­vanced Air Sys­tems. Power Tank was started by Steve Sasaki in a quest for a fast and por­ta­ble way to do some­thing we all do just about ev­ery time we go off-road; namely, air tires back up af­ter a trail ride.

Back to the present, and a few of us are still here. 4WOR and Power Tank are still two names in the off-road in­dus­try, al­though we’ve both changed a lot. Sasaki built his idea into the Power Tank brand and even got in­volved in some of our ear­li­est Ul­ti­mate Ad­ven­tures to test his prod­uct (with help from an iconic red Toy­ota 4Run­ner). Our nos­tal­gia over­floweth. Since then Power Tank has grown and grown. We still see Sasaki and Power Tanks all over the off-road world from events and con­struc­tion sites to RVs, the back of trail rigs, and off-road race cars.

The idea was (and still is) to use a tank of liq­uid car­bon diox­ide to prod­uct CO2 gas to air up tires and run pneu­matic tools. The uses are many: fill­ing tires af­ter patch­ing a tire; fill­ing trailer or RV tires; run­ning air tools for con­struc­tion and plumb­ing; us­ing com­pressed CO2 to clean parts, run air lock­ers, and seat a tire bead on the trail; and more. And the Power Tank is fast—re­ally fast.

That’s why we’re bring­ing you this story. A Power Tank is a super-fast way to air up big tires at the end of a trail ride. Our plan is to use our 42x14.50R20-wear­ing 1949 Willys Truck to show you how fast a Power Tank setup is com­pared to a high-end elec­tric air com­pres­sor. But be­fore we get started we have one ques­tion for Sasaki: Where is that red 4Run­ner?

All right, here’s the plan. We de­flate this


42x13.50R20 tire com­pletely and then use a Power Tank to fill it back up to 30 psi. We’ll time it and com­pare these results to the same test us­ing a high-end por­ta­ble elec­tric com­pres­sor. Zero to 30 psi twice us­ing dif­fer­ent meth­ods. We’ll also count the num­ber of times this PT10

10-pound Power Tank will re­fill our 42-inch tire even though chances are you’ll al­most al­ways be us­ing it to fill a tire from trail pres­sure (6-10 psi) up to road pres­sure (25-35 psi).

Let’s in­tro­duce the con­tenders. In this

2 cor­ner we have a beau­ti­ful Candy Red PT10 Power Tank (10-pound CO2 tank) that came as part of a Pack­age C Sys­tem. The sys­tem starts at $509.95 with a Power Flow II tank and was

$639.95 as tested with op­tional up­grades, alu­minum roll bar mount­ing clamps, and a $20 CO2 fill-up. Vis­i­ble in this shot is the op­tional an­odized tank knob ($30), new to Power Tank, on the COMP Series HP250i reg­u­la­tor. The reg­u­la­tor is also an update with heat vents ma­chined into the cou­pler. Also vis­i­ble and new is the ToolGrip han­dle grip with a hose and air tool holder. The two reg­u­la­tor gauges tell you what’s go­ing on. The one in the back tells you the pres­sure of the tank, but this is not a fuel gauge; rather, it gives a rough in­di­ca­tion of when you are nearing the end of the CO2. The gauge to the front is your out­put pres­sure reg­u­lat­ing the amount of psi the hose sees. This is ad­justable based on what you are do­ing, such as run­ning air lock­ers, run­ning air tools, or in­flat­ing tires. We’re gonna crank this mother all the way up for this test.

Shown here is Power Tank’s new Ul­traFlex


30-foot straight hose. The de­sign doesn’t pull on you when you’re run­ning air tools; it lays flat on the ground so as not to be a trip hazard, and it still comes with high-pres­sure swivels ends. Also shown is the op­tional dig­i­tal tire in­fla­tor ($30 over ana­log) which uses a new, more durable and ac­cu­rate gauge. Dura­bil­ity is good given our ham-fisted ways. The in­fla­tor’s air line is also more flex­i­ble and eas­ier to use than pre­vi­ous mod­els, and the body is an all-new de­sign with smoother ac­tion. The in­fla­tor has a 400-psi in­let pres­sure rat­ing so it can be used with Power Tank’s high­est-pres­sure reg­u­la­tors with­out worry.

The reg­u­la­tor and hose come with Power


Tank’s high-qual­ity air Power Flow II hose cou­pler at the reg­u­la­tor and Super Cou­pler (shown) on the busi­ness end of the hose. Both types of cou­plers are durable and re­sis­tant to the dirt you will en­counter on the trail. The Super Cou­pler has a lock­ing ring that pos­i­tively con­nects it to the male cou­pler and a se­condary sleeve that is an on/off switch. With this sleeve in the rear­ward po­si­tion no

CO2 can flow through the cou­pler. This makes chang­ing from in­fla­tor to air tool easy de­spite the pres­sure from the reg­u­la­tor.

Our 10-pound Power Tank PT10 came with 5

this mount­ing bracket and two black roll bar clamps as part of the Pack­age C Sys­tem. This makes se­cur­ing the Power Tank easy in just about any 4x4. The alu­minum mount­ing bracket is also avail­able pow­der­coated in black. The clamp­ing band se­curely holds the tank to the bracket and is pad­lock-ready for se­cu­rity (sec­ond photo). The Su­perFlow Series reg­u­la­tors all come with a lim­ited life­time war­ranty; the tank and guard have a life­time war­ranty; the hose has a two-year war­ranty; the in­fla­tor has a five-year war­ranty. Power Tank is con­stantly mak­ing im­prove­ments and of­fers an up­grade pro­gram that al­lows you to up­grade to the lat­est parts with trade-in val­ues given for old Power Tank parts.

With the tire’s valve core pulled and am­bi­ent

6 air pres­sure in­side and out of the tire, we re­placed the valve core and set our stop­watch. The Power Tank sys­tem is easy to set up and is as fast, if not faster, than set­ting up any elec­tric com­pres­sor we’ve met. Next thing you know we were off to the races. The Power Tank filled our 42-inch tire from dead-flat to

30 psi in just over 2 min­utes. That’s fast! Sub­se­quent tire fills from zero to 30 psi were just as fast (and even faster when we cheated up the pres­sure above the rec­om­mended static

200 psi for air­ing up tires). Drilling and tap­ping our wheels for the com­pany’s large-di­am­e­ter Mon­ster Tire De­fla­tor valves would speed the process a whole bunch more.

The com­pe­ti­tion is no slouch. In this cor­ner 7

is ARB’s Por­ta­ble Twin Air Com­pres­sor, a mean machine with two elec­tric mo­tors promis­ing high-per­for­mance com­pressed air ($835). Enough per­for­mance, in fact, to al­low ARB to claim that it can quickly in­flate large tires and even run some air tools. We’ve used this unit sev­eral times (in­clud­ing on a cou­ple Ul­ti­mate Ad­ven­tures) since we ini­tially tested it a few years ago ( It’s rel­a­tively fast, and as long as you have a battery it will make com­pressed air, but is it Power Tank fast? We doubted it be­fore the test started. We also had to fire up the old Willys to keep the battery charged, mak­ing the air com­pres­sor’s re­ward­ing dual-mo­tor hum prac­ti­cally in­audi­ble. The Power Tank is vir­tu­ally silent.

With our rally-race-stage-like air pres­sure

8 test, we set­tled in to let the elec­tric com­pres­sor do its thing. Like a tur­tle, it took its merry time. The Power Tank’s light­ning-fast first zero- to 30-psi fill was of­fi­cially 2 min­utes

9 sec­onds. The ARB Twin filled the same tire from zero to 30 psi in 7 min­utes 12 sec­onds. That’s a dif­fer­ence of roughly 5 min­utes (maybe enough time to fill a sec­ond 42-inch BFG from zero to 30 psi with the Power Tank?). Also, the one PT10 Power Tank suc­cess­fully ran our zero- to 30-psi test six times and aired up all four tires at the end of the trail from about

10 to 22-27 psi for the road. That should be enough for 10-12 sim­i­lar tire air-ups and many times that for rigs with 37-inch or smaller tires. If that’s not enough, 15-pound and 20-pound Power Tanks are also avail­able.

With the Power Tank mounted on the C-pil­lar 9

of the rollcage we can eas­ily air up tires at the end of the trail with the tank in its stor­age po­si­tion (you can’t do this if your tank is mounted hor­i­zon­tally be­cause com­pressed CO2 is a liq­uid). That makes the whole or­deal that much faster than break­ing out the com­pres­sor, open­ing the hood to get at the battery ter­mi­nals, run­ning the hose and in­fla­tor out to each tire, and so on. In­stead, all you have to do is open a cou­ple valves and hook up the hose and in­fla­tor. That’s fast. Fast enough to let us en­joy the sun­set.

Just for com­par­i­son’s sake we also did

10 the same zero- to 30-psi test with an older Power Tank PT10 unit we’ve had for years. Our test sub­ject was our 1997 Wran­gler with

LT315/70R17 (35X12.50R17LT) Milestar Patag­o­nia M/Ts. The Power Tank filled that tire from zero to 30 psi in a blaz­ing 1 min­utes 20 sec­onds. The

10-pound tank can fill these tires from zero to 30 psi a full 10-12 times be­fore run­ning out of CO2 and should air them up from trail pres­sure of 7 psi to road pres­sure of 25 psi roughly 30 times.

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