Motorcycle Engine As Air Compressor?

This probably seems way over the top, but interesting nonetheless. I looked at the cubic inch displacement of a Honda VT1100, and did some calculations to determine that at 14000rpm, the CFM it could produce maybe be as high as 217. I have heard of conversions like this before though, and apparently they can’t go above 120 psi. I don’t know much about what I’m talking about, which is why I’m asking here. My idea is utilizing a significant portion of rear of my car, and mounting the engine to one of the rear control arms. A chain belt would be hooked to the rear axle and engine, and the motion of the rear axle would drive the engine. Of course, this is only theoretical. What are your thoughts?

I know a K5LA only uses 150 CFM, so if this feasible, you could use a five gallon tank, and you could keep on blasting endlessly if you wanted. The issue I see is having a pressure switch that can handle being consistently turned on and off several times a minute, and having a blow-off valve that could dump air fast enough to prevent an explosion if anything ever went wrong, as this would be a compressor that could possibly fill a five gallon tank faster than a K5LA could dump it.

If successful, it would pretty cool for the average horn collector to go out in the woods, and blast the horn for a good 10 minutes. Even better for a rail cart excursion run, or if your home sports team wins a championship.

Again, all theoretical. I’m really interested in running a dual York 210 setup though. 55 CFM at 4000rpm is pretty amazing still. I have been interested in the Mopar RV2 as well, but I don’t know enough about its performance to make any judgements.

Use an air tank to store a compressed air reserve.

My 15 gallon tank permits plenty of toot-time before the compressor kicks on, even when running my 219 SCFM Kahlenberg 117 whistle.

A York 210 can only run at 4000 RPM without damaging its bearings when it’s being used as an air conditioning compressor.
When used as an air compressor there’s a difference in lubrication. Running it over 2000 RPM splashes the oil in the crankcase away from its bearings and damage or seizure may occur after 2 or 3 minutes.

Thanks guys. Wingless, although 15 gallons is a lot, I can see myself using a lot more than that. I do plan to use it on a rail cart one day and do the horn sequence pattern for crossings. With railroad permission of course. That’ interesting your whistle goes for a while. I do need to get a regulator still, which I’m sure will help.

Dan, now that I think about it, you said the rpm limit in a previous thread I made. Doh!!! Sorry about that. I’m guessing there’s no way to fix the oil splashing issue? I’m wondering since you said you were able to fix the heavy oil consumption issue with a piston control ring on the York, so perhaps this could be fixed as well? Does the Mopar RV2 have the low RPM limit as well?

Now that you explain that though, I can see that 217 CFM under heavy pressure is unlikely. I saw somewhere that a conversion was done to make a motorcycle engine produce 58 CFM up to 120 psi. Four Yorks could pretty much do that, and that’s still smaller and much lighter than a motorcycle engine. An 1100cc anyway.

I know nothing about the Mopar RV2, sorry!

It takes more than a piston with 2 rings to reduce oil discharge. Basically, the cylinder walls need to be replaced with ones that have been honed, or the dual ring piston will be too tight and won’t move, and hardened or the oil control ring will gouge them.

Our vendor incorporates all of these modifications including the internal crankcase breather and finned head.

No worries. Sounds like an expensive modification. I wish there was more information about bus air compressors. Their A/C compressors surely have to be like a York on steroids, and are probably more durable too considering how much they get used. Thanks again.

The Oasis air compressor kicks butt and takes names. My custom Oasis air system is not just for my horns and whistle. I use this as my home / garage air compressor and is VERY useful.

This thing is happy to run continuously during high-usage projects.

My custom setup provides extensive cooling. I can grab onto and hold the cylinder head during periods of extended operation.

That is a sweet setup. Unfortunately, my alternator isn’t nearly strong enough to handle an Oasis compressor, and an upgrade would be quite costly. Maybe if I ran a dedicated battery and alternator setup off the rear axle. I can certainly see how an Oasis would be good for a boat, especially since you have less options for belt drives. Once the electric car craze gets going, I’d sure be interested, especially if an AC compressor is made. I couldn’t imagine the amount of CFM that could produce.

I did have a York 210 on a bicycle trailer along with a battery.

worked alright, along with a 7 gallon air tank. B)

I still haven’t done anything but am considering locking down on a dual York 210 setup. It will probably be a bit maintenance heavy and a hassle, but I have no interest in running a gas compressor in the back of the car, nor running a compressor that requires a new alternator.

I plan to use 20 gallons normally (because you need to let people know who’s boss in the city), and 80 gallons total for runbys. I’ve heard of stories where people’s York’s simply seized up under long heavy use, though I’m not sure if they let the oil run low or not. I’ve heard of multiple stories of York’s catching the car on fire from heavy use as well.

So nonetheless I am a bit skeptical of trying this. The heaviest use I can imagine is filling 80 gallons to 175psi, draining it to 125psi with an M5, and filling it back up to 175psi, then drain and refill once more time. That’s nearly 8 minutes of use running continuously at 2000rpm, which from my understanding may be too much for a duo of York’s to handle. I guess I could install a fan to circulate the air, though I’m not sure how effective that would be.

York ET210’s discharge 1 ounce of oil every hour of run time, even with any oil reduction method you can think of, and 99% of seizures are from low oil. I haven’t heard any fire stories but they get hot.
When they’re engine driven the best thing to do is keep them filled with oil but don’t over fill, shield them from engine heat, and provide as much outside fresh air as possible.

Or … use a winch motor.

I’ve got a buddy in Helena, Montana, with a 5 gallon tank and a York 210 that’s belt driven off a winch motor from Harbor Frieght, if I remember correctly.

You shouldn’t kill the stock battery/alternator, and you could add a second battery with an isolator to help.

Just an idea …


Thanks Dan. If it doesn’t restrict airflow, I may run about four feet of 3/4" piping from the suction port down to the floor of the engine bay where air will be coming up through the gap. At least then it won’t be breathing in really hot air.

I’ll definitely look into that Kris. I’ve been wanting to get a winch anyways since I go offroading quite a bit. A simple trailer mount would work well I’d imagine. Thanks.