Shop Talk

The "How To" of June 2011

  • How to Replace the Brushes in a Porter-Cable Pancake Compressor


    A good air compressor is a key factor in ensuring the progress and quality of our work. This means that our responsibility to that compressor and its health is equally important. Maintenance, in fact, is our most useful tool in achieving longevity in our equipment and what we produce with it.

    Fortunately, the responsibility of air compressor maintenance and repair is not nearly as daunting as it may sound. In fact, it’s relatively simple when you arm yourself with just a few facts and a few simple steps. Take replacing your compressor’s brushes for example, this procedure is both simple and totally imperative to the vitality of your compressor. And yet, with the following few steps, you can replace the brushes in your compressor with perfect, professional ease.

    Before beginning this repair procedure, though, it is extremely important to disengage and unplug your air compressor. You must aslo ensure the tank is entirely bled of air pressure. This keeps you, as well as your compressor, more protected from injury or damage during repair.

    It is also important to note that you must always replace your brushes in pairs. Regardless the good-looks of one brush, if one is worn or broken, you must always replace both brushes as a set. Oh, and please don’t underestimate the value of your owner’s manual. Read it, make it your friend, and bask in your new-found knowledge.

    Okay. Now, to begin, you must first remove the compressor shroud, or the casing that contains the tool’s motor. To do this, simply unscrew the screws holding the thing together (these are usually set fairly deep into the shroud) and pull the shroud apart separating it at its split down the middle. Set the shroud and screws aside safely. 

    Next simply locate the brushes, there will be one brush on each side of the armature. Disconnect the brush lead terminal, or, the wire connector attached to each brush, of the brush you’re presently replacing. Very carefully move the spring away from the brush ensuring you don’t damage its springiness, get a hold of the first brush’s lead, and remove it from its holder

    Carefully slide the new brush into the brush-holder in the same orientation the former was removed. Making certain the spring rests against the brush, replace the spring as delicately as you moved it aside. Next, reconnect that brass terminal ensuring it attaches in the same manner as prior to its disconnection. 

    Next, simply repeat the above steps with the second brush, carefully and securely replace the shroud, and you and your compressor should be all set. Before you go rolling to the next job or project, though, reengage to compressor and give the thing a minor test-run to ensure your brushes are making complete and proper connections. If the compressor doesn’t run smoothly, remove the shroud once more and retrace your steps to make certain each brush is making a proper connection. If you can’t isolate the problem, it is best to quickly take your compressor to an authorized service center for a more thorough inspection.

    If everything does run smoothly, then, many congratulations, you have successfully replaced the brushes in your Porter-Cable pancake compressor.