Central Pneumatic Air Compressor

If you have a Central Pneumatic air compressor, and you didn’t buy it used, from a garage sale, or from on on-line end-of-line wholesaler, odds are pretty good that you bought it at Harbor Freight.

In 2017, Harbor Freight offers about 35 different Central Pneumatic air compressors, from a 1/6 HP air brush style to a 5 HP, almost commercial type, on a 60 gallon air tank. They even have one model of a gas-powered, wheelbarrow style, that is quite well priced.

Central Pneumatic air compressors can be purchased through Harbor Freight on-line, or at the many Harbor Freight stores found throughout the United States.


Central Pneumatic air compressors - www.fix-my-compressor.com

Central Pneumatic Air Compressor – Photo: HarborFreight.com

Buyers of Central Pneumatic air compressors are, pretty much I think, aware that you get what you pay for. This line of compressors is entry level. I don’t believe they are made for serious compressed air use, where whether or not a compressor works means that trades persons do or don’t do work that day.

Which is not to say, if you are a periodic user of compressed air – the typical small workshop or home garage for example – you won’t be happy with this brand of compressors reliability. I just wouldn’t put the supply of my plants air system at the mercy of this particular brand.

While Harbor Freight boasts of having manufacturing around the world, I would be surprised if they actually owned a factory that makes air compressors. Their entire line is similar or identical to compressors of other brands with different colors and different labels. I could be wrong and will be happy to indicate so if someone can provide proof that HF actually makes their own compressors.

Regardless of whether they make them or not, try to find parts for a Central Pneumatic air compressor. Aside from pressure switches, gauges, regulators, PRV’s and check valves (all the same as those found on many other brands) there are very few repair parts for the compressor pump or the motor. Parts from other Central Pneumatic air compressors can often be used on other models of this brand. If you can scrounge or buy a non-working compressor, some parts from the old can be reused to fix others that have failed. Depends on your skill level as to whether or not this works for you.

If you are having a problem with your Central Pneumatic air compressor why not add a question or comment here? Include the model number of your compressor. As a result, perhaps the Central Pneumatic air compressor owner/user family, which is a huge one, can offer advice as some of them will, undoubtedly, already dealt with the same problem you are experiencing with your HF Central Pneumatic air compressor.


  1. I have a central pneumatic standing portable 21 gallon 2.5 hp 125 psi single stage air compressor, harbor freight item # 61454 (not sure if this is model #). This compressor is brand new. Brought it home, drained shipping oil and flushed with provided oil to remove any slag from machining process. Filled halfway up sight glass with straight 30 weight oil, plugged in and flipped switch. It buzzed for about 10 seconds and tripped breaker on house, not on unit. Reset breaker, flipped switch again and checked for power. Getting power to switch, to onboard breaker, to start/run capacitor, and to motor. Tripped breaker on house again. Since i have both a deep freeze and full size fridge in the garage I assumed it was too much load on the 15A breaker so I replaced with a 30A. Started tripping breaker on unit rather than house. I took the cover off, flipped the switch and spun the motor up by hand and it started. I opened the drain and ran it for a break-in period of 30 minutes, closed the drain and let it fill. It made it to 60 psi and slowly choked and tripped the onboard breaker again. I drained it, reset breaker, and started again. It this time made it to almost 150 psi before I decided to shut it off (prv never popped, not sure what psi it should do this). I drained it to see if it would fill again when turned on and now it will not turn on at all, whether or not I spin it by hand. Spins freely by hand but will not start up. On board breaker not tripped, house breaker not tripped, power making it all the way to motor. I am at my wits end with this unit. Is this something simple I am missing or doing wrong, or should I be taking this unit back and exchanging, or are these compressors such junk I should be trading for a different brand all together?
    Please help

    • The manual states that the power supply be 120VAC / 60Hz / 14A (Dedicated circuit recommended). I surmise that the inrush requirements of the compressor, coupled with it’s distance from the power panel, contribute to the motor pulling more amps than the circuit can handle, and the breaker trips. Try plugging the compressor into a socket as close to the panel as possible, with nothing else pulling power, and see if it starts OK.

  2. David Freeman says:

    How do I remove the black plastic cover on the HF 6 Gallon 1.5hp oil-less compressor model # 62380. Am fighting a leak problem but need tp get at the guts to continue my troubleshooting.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

    • Their are five M6 x 30 screws located in the recessed holes in the top of the cover. You’ll need an extended metric bit to reach them.

      • David Freeman says:

        See the holes but no heads on screws. Seems like they are coming up from below.
        Help !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • David, the manual, which you can get directly from the CP / Harbor Freight website, shows that, for your model, the screws are in the top. Maybe contact them if the manual is wrong?

  3. Hello,
    I have a Central Pnumatic 60 gal. 5 HP 165 PSI Two Stage Air Compressor. this morning when I turned the switch on it started for 1/2 a second and shut down. I checked the fuse box at the house its was still on. I tried the empty the tank to get the pressure switch to activate the power on sequence with no effect. I just checked the motor and compressor both turn freely. I also checked the plug on the wall also. what are your thoughts?

  4. I have the 21gal upright compressor and have had it. I knew going in you get what you pay for and it’s worked “ok” for a few years. Recently it’s started to fail on re-start. It’ll get up to 125psi or so when empty but as I use it, when it kicks back on it chugs once or twice, humms and quits, popping the fuse.

    From my understanding it’s the unloader valve(?). I’ve looked everywhere but as the description above states…basically good luck finding parts. It’s frustrating, but I guess I shouldn’t have had such high hopes for it. In all honesty it never seemed to put out the power it advertised so maybe it’s good I’m moving up to a more robust compressor.

    • Could be unloader, could be start capacitor, if no change in where you use it or the power supply. These are, in my opinion, “light duty” air compressors, and are suitable for hobby shop or home workshop intermittent use. Cheap to buy, expensive to maintain. If you need compressed air on an ongoing basis, moving up a quality notch might not be a bad idea.

  5. David Farnsworth says:

    I have a central pneumatic air compressor model #94667 which has quit pumping higher than 45 psi, so it never cuts off. I have to shut it off to keep it from running constantly and burning up. What may be my problem and can I repair it myself?

  6. I have the 29 gallon 2hp compressor. It’s oiled and has a motor from marathon electric in Wisconsin.

    I did the cfm calculation and it’s giving me 7 cfm on refill from 120psi to 150 cut out. Don’t know how accurate the formula is. Also used my clamp ammeter and found it to spike to 26 amps on start up and runs at 14.9 amps while running.

    Recently it started clicking. Can’t tell where it’s coming from. Goes to 120 and clicks. Clicks again and starts. I used harbor freight oil for the pump and changed it. It’s complete trash. Had a few hours usage and it turned white. Used shell non detergent oil this time. Sae 30.

    What would be causing the clicks? Capacitor? Pump? Valves work and pump can be rotated freely. I want to say it’s the unloaded valve but seems to be working.

    Still has power to run my hvlp guns, blast cabinet and impact.

    • No idea where the clicking is coming from, Chris?

      I wonder if it may be the centrifugal switch, if this motor has one and the clicking may be a warning of the switch gunked up, weakened to the point of failing, or burnt?

  7. Sean Colon says:

    I have a harbor freight air compressor that I purchased used.. it’s a stand up 21 gallon rather 150psi. The tank only builds about 80psi and the the prv pops and starts letting the air out?? I thought maybe the pressure gauge was reading wrong, but tried using my air gun to remove a lug and it does not have enough psi to do it.

    • When you say Harbor Freight air compressor, I take that to mean a Central Pneumatic product? If not, please advise.

      A quick way to check the gauge is to swap the tank gauge with the regulator gauge and see if the same discrepancy in PRV cracking remains, or that it was the gauge that is failing.

      If it is for sure the PRV that’s cracking early, with the compressor off and the tank empty, remove the PRV and rinse it in solvent. Let the PRV dry, reinstall and test. If it cracks again too soon, replace it.

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