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72 of 80 people found the following review helpful
Adequate Guns, Lousy Compressor; 1 year warranty=failure guaranteed
on March 20, 2008
I bought this combo kit at Home Despot a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving 2007 because I was in a jam at work and needed a set of pneumatic nailers and a compressor ASAP. (We had no pneumatic tools at the time and found ourselves borrowing constantly.) I wanted to spend less than $300 but still have a compressor that I could use to run a framing nailer (in a very limited setting) if needed. I had little knowledge about compressors (especially the pros and cons of an oiled compressor versus a "maintenance free" compressor) at the time, and being in a time crunch, narrowed my decision to this set and the Bostitch set of the same components down the street at Blowe's. The specs were virtually the same and both sold for $299. At that point I probably would have gone with the Bostitch kit because a 7 year warranty versus Porter-Cable's 1 year warranty was a no-brainer, but the Despot was offering a free 23 ga. Pin Nailer (the Porter-Cable PIN100) with the purchase of the CFNBNS combo package. I thought I had made myself a great deal, especially when I discovered that I could run a Bostitch F28WW framing nailer on the included C2006 compressor, firing a half-dozen or so nails a minute without a problem.
I know other reviews have commented that the compressor is too noisy, but as someone who always wears all his PPE, including hearing protection, the noise really doesn't bother me. As long as the compressor worked, I didn't see that as a point to complain about for the price. My first actual complaint about the compressor is that from the beginning, I found the tank drain valve hard to turn. Many compressors are made with the screw-like turning valve, but this one required extra effort to turn it in either direction.
In January, after only 60 or 70 actual hours of use, the safety pop-off valve began to engage every time you turned on the compressor to let it air up. Right before it reached 150 PSI, the safety would engage, causing you to lose most of the air pressure you just built up. I had to manually override the valve and push it back in before the pressure dropped so much that you virtually had to start over. After playing with it several times, I finally got the compressor to fully air without engaging the valve, but this quickly became part of the morning start-up routine. Very annoying.
After roughly 80 hours of use, the motor began to freeze or seize up when the compressor engaged to rebuild air pressure. I'd have to turn it off quickly and wait an hour or so before it would function again. The compressor was only ever used indoors, so always in a "room temperature" environment. As the service technician who eventually examined my compressor would tell me, "There's a reason we don't make oil-free cars." I was starting to understand why "maintenance free" wasn't such a good idea after all.
Finally, in February, with maybe only 100 hours of run time on the compressor, the drain valve finally failed altogether, refusing to fully seat in either direction/position, even when "helped" by a pair of vice grips. This forced me to bring the compressor into a local repair shop for warranty service since a compressor which can't hold air is quite useless on the job.
Much to my dismay, the service tech let me peek into the back just to see the shocking number of these "oil free" and "maintenance free" compressors awaiting repair. I was informed that if my compressor lasted 100 hours, then it had lasted "99 hours longer than it did for most people." They would repair it for free, or course, but guaranteed that I'd have to bring it back again for repair before the 1 year warranty period ended. As this was the only compressor we had, I had no other choice but to spend money on a real compressor that wouldn't break every couple of months, as we can't afford the down time. I settled on a Hitachi EC12 (which has 1/4 turn ball bearing style valves for the tank drain) for $205 as our permanent replacement (based on borrowing one for a few weeks and being extremely satisfied), but I'll keep using the Porter-Cable compressor until it dies when the warranty expires.
The guns, of the whole, have worked fine. I can set the regulator on 90 PSI, adjust the depth setting on each gun, and work away. Sometimes the depth adjustment takes several test firings to figure out the right setting, but that's just part of getting used to the tool. I've been very satisfied with the individual guns themselves that come with this combo even though I would never recommend this combo package to another person.
The compressor problems alone justify knocking this product down to 3 stars, but I have a few more gripes. First, the 1 year warranty is absurd, especially when their leading competitor, Bostitch, will warrant everything for 7 years. It's pretty much making a public declaration that our products are cheaply made and will quickly fail. Second, the poor compressor locks you into a situation where you will have to buy another compressor - not only due to failure - but if you ever want to expand your pneumatic tool collection beyond just some small finish guns. I know this complaint is not unique to Porter-Cable, but it seems much more consumer-friendly if they would just sell the guns as a combo and let the consumers choose the proper compressor for their needs (or, alternatively, sell the same combo, but with an oiled compressor that won't fail so easily; ever wondered why all these finish nailer combos come with cheap "maintenance free" compressors?). And finally, third, make sure you look closely at the maximum fastener sizes for these guns. The finish nailer does go up to 2-1/2", but the other two included guns short-change you when compared to the other Porter-Cable models. In other words, the narrow crown stapler maxes out at 1" and the brad nailer maxes out at 1-1/4", even though Porter-Cable makes models that go up to 1-1/2" and 2", respectively. The cost difference is minimal (and might make no difference to you depending on your needs), but it's one of those small things that you might realize later you wish you had the longer length model of and might have to go buy a second gun. Again, this flaw isn't unique to Porter-Cable, but would it really hurt them to include the next model up gun, especially if they're going to short-change you with a lousy compressor?
The bottom line is that had I known then what I know know, I would have stayed very far away from any "oil free" compressor and just spent the money up front on a real compressor and guns that would have driven the maximum length fastener in each category. I'll probably stick to the Bostitch nailers from now on because I've been very happy with them and I feel like I'm getting my money's worth with the 7 year warranty.