1927 Ingersoll-Rand Portable Compressor

Once on the Brink of Becoming Salvage Yard Fodder, this Waukesha-Powered Compressor is Back at Work


| August/September 2002



Ingersoll-Rand compressor

Brian Ferrence poses with his 1927 Ingersoll-Rand compressor shortly after purchase in the summer of 2000 and upon getting the unit home. Power comes from an inline Waukesha four-cylinder engine, which remarkably needed only minor work to get fully operational.

In the summer of 2000, while visiting Harry's Old Engine page on the Internet and checking out the classifieds, I came across an ad for an old portable Ingersoll-Rand air compressor. It was listed as a 1927 Model, and the pictures made it look every bit that old. The compressor caught my eye because I had been toying with the idea of buying a used, portable compressor to provide air for sand blasting and blowing steam whistles. The little shop compressor I had couldn't supply the air volume to do these things, and I'll admit that the prospect of using an antique unit had a certain appeal.

Unfortunately, the compressor was located in northern Connecticut, a six-hour drive from my home in eastern Pennsylvania. Even so, I gave the owner a call and asked about the condition of the compressor. It sounded like it was worth checking out, but I was still unwilling to drive that far for just a look. It turned out, however, that my daughter, a student at Boston University, would be heading back to Boston for the fall semester in a few weeks, so I told the owner I would call before taking my daughter back to college, and if the compressor was still available I would stop to take a look.

About a week before my trip to Boston I called again, and the owner still had the compressor. He gave me directions to his home, which was only a few miles off my route, and we arranged a time to meet. He promised to see if he could get the unit running before I arrived.

The finished unit, mounted on a new frame with uprated spindles and wheels so it can be safely towed on the road. Brian used one set of the original leaf springs. Note the manifold of steam whistles, just visible to the right.

And indeed he did, for when I arrived he started the engine, running it briefly while I checked out the compressor. It didn't run very well - the choke had to be mostly closed for it to run, it seemed to be firing on only two cylinders and it couldn't power the compressor. But it ran!