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CO2 Tank System
 

If you are at all into wheelin', you probably know that reduced tire pressure provides you with better traction, among other things.  Running low tire pressures also allows the tire to conform to those sharp rocks and thus reduces the chances of you shredding a tire.  But....once you are at the end of the trail, you need to fill those tires back up to their normal street pressure before heading for home.  Running reduced tire pressure on the street is NOT something you want to do.  A regular air tank, filled from the garage air compressor, does not hold enough air to fill those meaty off-road tires.  If you do not wish to install a belt driven York compressor under the hood and a 12V compressor is not on your list of priority mods, then you might want to consider a CO2 tank.

Powertank offers a variety of ready built CO2 systems.  They are rather expensive, in my opinion.  However, I've never heard anyone complain about the quality of the equipment so it appears you are getting what you pay for.  The Powertank also comes with a couple of things I do not consider necessary, such as the gauges.  CO2 tanks maintain a relatively constant tank pressure until just seconds before they are empty.  As such, a high pressure gauge connected to the tank is of little use.  It will indicate the tank has good pressure until it is just 15 seconds from empty.  Wow, that's really valuable information when you are out on the trail.  Unless you plan on running an adjustable regulator (more about later), having a gauge to monitor the output pressure is also of no use.  The Powertank web site has some good reading info on it and I suggest anyone thinking about a CO2 system to spend some time and browse the site.

You can make your own CO2 system, skip the middle man, and pocket the money you save.  You don't need any special tools for this project (now that is nice for a change!) and once you have purchased the parts, it should only take you a few minutes to assemble it into a working CO2 system.  I've heard that tanks can be had on eBay and such places for a very reasonable price.  As with so many Jeep related projects, take you time, do your homework, and you should be able to save some money and end up with a job well done.
 

Here is my CO2 system.  It consists of a 10# aluminum tank, fixed pressure regulator, and delivery hose.  The remainder of this write-up will go into a little more detail about the system and safety features.  Let's take a look at what I have used on my CO2 system.  This write-up is not attempting to tell you what is best or what components you must purchase.  Instead, I hope to provide you with enough information that you will be able to put together a CO2 system that will suit your needs and not cause you to spend more than is necessary.


Here is the hose, pressure regulator, tire chuck, and blow nozzle that I use on my CO2 tank.  The air chuck, blow nozzle, and quick disconnects that attach them to the hose were obtained from the local ACE Hardware store.  Nothing fancy there.....these are the same ones you would use on any regular air tank.  While the primary use of this CO2 system is for filling my TJ's tires, I have to admit that the blow nozzle is pretty handy for getting those dust bunnies out of the inside of the PC! 


I bought my CO2 system from a friend of mine who had won it in a raffle.  It had been assembled by a CA company who specializes in a variety of gas products.  As such, my tank was put together with, what I believe to be, better quality components than the average hardware store variety project.  Here is the fitting that attaches the hose to the regulator.  It is a screw on fitting that only needs to be finger tight in order to have no leaks.  The fitting has special grooves cut through the threads that safely bleeds the pressure when you unscrew it (after use). 

The regulator is a fixed pressure unit that provides approximately 150 PSI output.  I don't know the flow rate (they make high and low flow regulators) of this regulator but it does a good job on filling tires.  If you require a specific output pressure form the regulator, such as 90 PSI for an ARB air locker, you will want to spend a few more dollars and purchase an adjustable regulator with an output pressure gauge.  A good friend of mine uses his CO2 system to power his ARBs and it works great.  He has a small (low flow) regulator that cost him about $25.  It is on the end of a quick disconnect fitting so he an easily connect it to the CO2 tank when he hits the trail and uses his lockers.  At the end of the trail, he pops the hose (going to the adjustable regulator) off the tank and uses it to fill his tires.  The small adjustable regulator is fed from the 150 PSI fixed regulator.  Doing it this way allows him to leave the fixed regulator connected to the CO2 tank all the time.


The hose I use is specifically made for CO2 and nitrogen tank systems.  As can be seen in the photo above, the working pressure of the hose is 600 PSI and the burst pressure is 2200 PSI.  These ratings are probably over kill considering the hose sees just 150 PSI when the CO2 system is in use.  However, if my regulator were to fail open (I don't know if the design would allow that to happen), the hose should survive the regulator failure.  Normal tank pressure is in the 700 PSI range.


I got my buddy to snap a picture of his CO2 tank.  His does not have the handle/valve protector on it like mine does.  This is a typical steel tank that is exchanged for a full tank at the local weld shop.  The regulator is a fixed pressure regulator (brand unknown).


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