The Best 12V Compressor Money Can Buy?
This ain’t your grandad’s air pump, this thing seriously blows! Er… in a good way There’s a few ways you can look at compressed air, and unfortunately 99% of accessory manufacturers look at it the …
This ain’t your grandad’s air pump, this thing seriously blows! Er… in a good way
There’s a few ways you can look at compressed air, and unfortunately 99% of accessory manufacturers look at it the boring way. The basic intro most people have to compressed air off-road is the ability to pump tyres back up after a day on the tracks. The huge marketing hype can basically be summed up into ‘you don’t have to limp to the servo after a day on the tracks’. Exciting stuff, right? Didn’t think so.
While that snooze-fest carries on, an American mob by the name of Oasis Manufacturing has been quietly building what is unarguably the most powerful 12V air compressor money can buy. The idea was simple. Get a pump so big it’s normally run directly off an engine, strap it to a modified 6.4hp winch motor, and screw it all together with all the bells and whistles so it can run non-stop. Oh and did we mention, it packs enough punch to run a half-inch rattle gun straight off the compressor?
Sound impressive? We thought so too. A quick phone call to Australian importer Jedair and owner Dan had one on its way to us with instructions to try and break it. Challenge accepted.
Pulling the Oasis XD4000 from its box, the first thing we noticed was just how big it is. Not in a novelty inflatable Viking helmet at the Easter Show kind of way; more like this thing is seriously overkill for our needs. At 450mm long it’s pushing close to half a metre, it’s also 180mm wide and 270mm high. This is no small unit. Lifting it up from the box proved a struggle for my delicate physique, too. It’s just 500g shy of a full 30kg – making it nearly six times heavier than most portable options – requiring an Olympic-style deadlift just to move it (something to be considered if you’re close to GVM). That size and weight does translate into performance, though. At full noise the 4.8kW motor sucks down 180A, giving you an unheard-of 200psi in return.
With the compressor on the bench and instructions in hand it became obvious just how serious this thing is. It came included with mounting brackets, bolts, a huge pressure cut-off switch, and a stainless steel braided line for the first section of hose. Without the stainless section, the Oasis will burst a plastic or rubber hose before you’ve reached the first tyre… ask us how we know. The XD4000 was developed with industrial and military applications in mind and this shows through on the fit and finish. The hardware is plated, powder-coating is thick and strong, fittings are robust; and everything felt just that little bit over-engineered. You don’t really see similar features on mass-produced gear, at least not since the 1950s.
Up top there’s a sealed and filtered air intake port that can be extended up out of harm’s way if mounted in a dusty location. There’s a sight glass on the back end to monitor oil levels, and twin fans keeping temperatures under control enough to run continuously. The compressor also came supplied with heavy-duty 3m power cables – although with such high power usage the shorter you can make the cables, the stronger the motor will run.
So how did the Oasis XD4000 perform in the field?
In short: Flawlessly. Heat and back pressure are the enemy of any compressor and with that in mind we didn’t exactly take it easy on the Oasis. On a stinking hot day with the black compressor parked in the sun and the full 3m length left on the cables, we lined it up against our 35in tyre-wearing LandCruiser. The old cast-iron 6 up front weighs a tonne so the compressor was fighting uphill the whole way; the valve cores were left in too, to simulate real-world scenarios. It effortlessly pumped all four 35in tyres from zero to 38psi in under five minutes, and honestly most of that time was spent shuffling the air hose from one tyre to the next.
It did place a huge load on the engine – almost stalling it out when the Oasis was flicked on at idle – although bumping the hand throttle up to 1,500rpm kept the engine and the compressor running strong. Heat build-up was less than expected too, with the Oasis warm to touch (but not hot) after back-to-back runs (although you’d still want plenty of air flow around it).
So the million-dollar question. Would we run one of these? The answer ranges somewhere between hell yes! And no… but we’d love to. It’s kind of hard to hide the fact it’s closer aligned to a workshop compressor than one that comes in a fabric handbag (sorry, I mean carry bag). It’s not portable at all and will take up huge amounts of real estate in the back of a wagon – making it more suited to under-tray mounting in a ute. But it’s fast, scary fast. It also opens up a whole world of possibilities that you’d never even think of with your typical tyre pump-up compressor. Dizzy fills with water? Quick spray with an air gun will fix that. Busted shock?
A zap with a rattle gun will get those stubborn bolts cracked. No more hand cranking stabiliser legs down on a camper trailer either; a quick squirt with an air-powered drill will get them down in no time. You could literally air up all four of your tyres before your mate had finished one of his – meaning no more 20-minute waits on the side of the track with a sea of cheap compressors wheezing away. At $2,850 plus GST it’s not a cheap purchase. But after one trip away with it we’re already warming up the credit cards.
WHAT WE LOVED
- It’s a comprehensive on-board air system, not just a way to pump up your tyres
- This thing is seriously stout. Stay on top of the maintenance and it’ll last you decades… how many Alibaba jobs won’t last a year?
- Did we mention just how fast this thing is? Hook it up to an air-tank and you might as well have a workshop air supply with you everywhere you travel.
WHAT WE DIDN’T LOVE
- Weight. We love this thing so much we carry around a photo of it in our wallet: but there’s no hiding that bulk.
- Size. It weighs more than a case of beer and it’s bigger than one, too. Wagons beware!
- Cost. We’re not in the business of telling you what you can and can’t afford, and there’s no doubt the Oasis is worth every cent to the right person… but it’s more than triple its nearest competitor’s price.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Back in Issue #17 of Unsealed 4X4 we put together one of the most comprehensive comparisons we’ve ever done, putting 18 compressors head to head. With much of the crowd essentially being different paint jobs it’s not surprising the ARB twin piston compressor took the crown – but how does it stack up against the new kid on the block? To find out, we lined the Oasis up against the same five 31in mud terrains with a tyre pressure monitoring system keeping watch. Straight from the numbers it performed around 50% better again than the previous winner; but the real surprise was it was pumping faster than the TPMS could register. By the time it flashed up 30psi and we switched off the pump, the actual pressures were up closer to 40psi. Without more accurate equipment it’s a safe assumption that each tyre was pumped from zero to 30psi in roughly 50 seconds (one after the other).