The Max-Air 35 Portable Air Compressor

By Jim Walker

One of the biggest thrills of scuba diving is in the exploration of the unknown and remote. Yet, the freedom to make such explorations is often limited by the number of scuba tanks you can carry on your boat or in your car-or by the restrictions of a group dive on a charter boat. True diving freedom requires a much more independent air source-a portable air compressor, for instance. Given that, the Max-Air 35 may just provide the perfect combination of portability, pumping power and purification to make your underwater exploration dreams come true.

Portability: Since getting there is the first hurdle in remote diving explorations, you need an air compressor that's easily transportable. As shown here, equipped with the gasoline engine, the Max-Air 35 weighs only 85 pounds! That's light enough for one athletic person to move over short distances and two people can easily carry it down the dock to the dive boat or into the bush, away from the car. Measuring only 28 by 13 by 15 inches, the compressor will fit into a standard car trunk and won't crowd a small dive boat deck. It has a durable, powder coated steel frame with convenient carry handles and rubber cushioning "feet." The four foot long, high pressure fill hose has a yoke-style attachment (DIN available), on/off valve and pressure bleed valve. This and the fact you can operate the compressor on less than perfect-level, offers convenience in positioning both the compressor and the scuba tank you are filling.

Power: Powered by the proven 5.5 horsepower Honda gasoline engine, the Max-Air 35 pumps 3.5 cubic feet of air per minute. In diver terms, that output will fill an 80 cubic foot aluminum scuba tank from empty to 3,000 psi in about 25 minutes. Two AC electric motors are available (3.0 horsepower in single phase or three phase)-though, with these, your explorations are limited to the location of electrical outlets. The electric motors provide nearly the same output, filling an empty 80 cubic foot scuba tank to 3,000 psi in about 30 minutes.

As it provides the most destination flexibility and power, the Honda gas engine deserves a closer look. First, it's rugged, dependable and simple to operate. Then, there's operation time. With its one gallon fuel tank full of regular unleaded gasoline, the four cycle engine will operate for about two hours.

That's four or more standard tanks filled and a good day of diving for a small group. And, if you need more, just bring a gas can. As an added feature, the engine will automatically shut down should the oil run low. Also, a tachometer/engine hour meter is standard with the gas engine. This helps the user keep an eye on proper operation and approaching oil change/ maintenance intervals.

Safety/Purification: The Max-Air 35 compressor is an air cooled, four stage, four cylinder, high pressure (4,800 psi max.) unit. The interstage and final stage coolers are stainless steel. What this means to you is that the unit will provide dependable operation and high output with low maintenance. The compressor has an easy to read, oil filled pressure gauge (5,800 psi maximum) and, for safety, there is an overpressure relief valve (3,200 psi) on the final stage. This prevents damage or accidents, should you somehow leave the compressor running after a tank is full. To provide efficient operation, there are two, manually operated, condensate drain valves and one priority valve, which increases filter cartridge life. To maintain air purity, the Max-Air 35 uses only synthetic compressor oil for lubrication.

The Max-Air 35 air purification system begins with a flexible, six foot long intake hose, topped by a replaceable inlet dust filter. The length of the hose allows the intake to be placed well away from the engine exhaust. There are two filters in the compressor system; one inlet and one outlet (tri-chemical). Both are disposable and easy to change. Their combination of activated carbon, molecular sieve and hopcalite removes water, oil, odors and traces of carbon monoxide.

Conclusion: With its easy portability and simple, efficient operation, the Max-Air 35 could be your ticket to remote diving adventure. It comes with a one year limited warranty. Standard equipment includes the intake filter, cartridge filter, high pressure hose, pressure gauge, yoke-style filling attachment, pressure relief valve, 12 ounces of break-in oil, 12 ounces of synthetic oil, a spare parts list and owner's manual. Factory options include an automatic condensate drain with timer (electric models); a magnetic starter, auto shutoff pressure switch/hour meter; and an air line visual moisture/carbon monoxide detector.

  • Construction: Air cooled, four stage, four cylinder, high pressure compressor with stainless steel interstage and final stage coolers
  • Dimensions: 28 by 13 by 15 inches
  • Weight: 85 lbs.
  • Maximum pressure: 4,800 psig
  • Output: 3.5 scfm
  • Maximum RPM: 2,800
  • Lubrication: Splash type, with oil thrower pin
  • Oil capacity: 12 ounces
  • Oil type: Synthetic
  • Drive motor options: 3 hp AC electric motors in single phase (115/220 v) or three phase (220/440 v), or 5.5 hp Honda gasoline engine