Air dies out on a Bostitch 6 gallon air compressor

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The Bostitch air compressor starts and builds pressure normally. When the tank pressure reaches the correct level, the compressor stops. All good so far. Then, when air is used, the air immediately dies out on a Bostitch 6 gallon air compressor.

This isn’t that unusual, particularly if the compressor has been around some time. Cheap parts fail faster than quality parts! Here are details to help.

Bostitch 6 gallon pancake compressor regulator control panel
Bostitch 6 gallon pancake compressor regulator control panel

In the photo is the “control panel” from the 6 gallon Bostitch pancake style air compressor. Underneath that cowling is a manifold. That manifold has an air line/pipe coming from the tank, connecting to the regulator on the left side, and then to the air outlets on the right,  of which this style of air compressor has two.

The gauge on the left displays the tank pressure, and that gauge is plumbed from the line from the tank so it displays the actual tank pressure all the time.

The gauge on the right is there to display the setting of the regulator. This setting then controls the air pressure getting to the two outlets on the right, as long as the setting on the regulator is at or below the tank pressure. The regulator cannot increase pressure, only lower it.

Why the air dies out on a Bostitch 6 gallon air compressor

The air manifolds under the cowling are typically cast. Why? Because that’s the cheapest way to mass produce them. Correspondingly, the gauges and the regulator installed in the manifold are also low cost.

Low cost parts don’t last long, relatively speaking, and wear out faster under higher demand use.

In the case of this Bostitch compressor, the rapid loss of available air when an air tool is being used strongly suggests that the regulator in this manifold has failed, and is unable to moderate the air to the outlets as it is designed to do.

The check is to look at the tank gauge on the left. Is there air available in the tank? Is the tank pressure above the point where the air compressor normally starts? If so, then it’s the flow of compressed air through the regulator that is causing the problem on this Bostitch compressor.

The solution? Fix or replace the regulator

But then, fixing the regulator means buying parts for it, even if one has the skills to do so. Unfortunately, for these low cost regulators, parts are typically not available… anywhere.

The Bostitch pancake compressor BTFP02012 has a variety of parts available in the online market, including replacement gauges for the regulator and tank.

But, no regulator parts.

Nor, it seems, is it possible to still acquire a Bostitch replacement manifold for this compressor, one which would include the regulator.

To “fix it” will require acquiring a manifold to fit from another manufacturer. Use your browser to search for “replacement manifolds for small air compressors” – you’ll find a bunch. Check the dimensions of those available. Maybe one will fit but you won’t be able to replace the front cover. That’s up to you.

Or, assemble your own manifold by building it out of brass fittings, fittings that are commonly available from decent plumbing supply outlets. Again, you may not be able to replace the manifold cover, but so what? The compressor is not a show piece, it’s a tool. It might be unattractive after you have cobbled together your own manifold, but the compressor doesn’t care.

If you build one, please add a comment below with a photo or two as others in with the same compressor problem will want to see how you did it. Thanks.

By Ashley Pearce

As a passionate manufacturing and mechanical engineer, I've had my fair share of run ins with air compressors and compressed air systems. With over a decade of experience in the industry, I have both a fresh perspective and time-served hands and mind to help you with your compressor problems (along with our able community!)

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