Forward and Introduction
Several people had asked me to share my experiences from building a fill station for some ideas to in building their own. I'll try to pass on what I learned.
And now, for my attempt at a complete disclaimer of everything in these
High-pressure plumbing can be extremely dangerous when not designed or installed properly. The author assumes no responsibility for completeness or accuracy of the following information, nor any results or consequences of its application. These pages only serve as a compendium of the author's experience and collections of information from other sources, which may or may not even be correct! The use of oxygen in such systems compounds the risk many times more and requires additional care and planning. If you would like to build your own fill station, please have a qualified individual design, source, and install everything! Otherwise, ensure that you really know what you are doing and not just securing a spot on the next Darwin Awards list.
Larger versions of the pictures or links are usually available by clicking on the pictures throughout this document.
Preparations and plans for this fill station began in early 2005. I originally had no intention of building anything as complex as this project turned out to be. The original goal was to have some air banks to prevent having to baby-sit a RIX SA-6 (6 cubic-feet per minute) compressor while filling multiple sets of doubles. This process often caused waits up to 40 minutes to fill just one set of doubled-130's. Additionally, deco bottles and perhaps another two sets of doubles would have to be topped off too, turning this into a several-hour filling-effort. My compressor is now set up to run unattended for several hours at a time, often on cool nights to recharge the banks while I am busy with something else.
Most personal fill stations and compressor setups never really pay for themselves monetarily. You get them because you count convenience, flexibility, and time to be worth the cost. Time is certainly worth something when you are in a pinch or you have a rather large number of fills to do, such as the one pictured here for a tech trip.
Beyond just waiting for a RIX to do its job, baby-sitting a Haskel while filling or re-mixing deco bottles presents more of the same hassle. Although a Haskel should not be left unattended without proper safety measures in place. I began to consider adding an oxygen cascade further along in the plans, with intent to keep it boosted to high (>3000 PSI) pressures. During the previous year, it was not uncommon for me to drain the single oxygen and/or helium supply-bottle with the Haskel in the middle of filling two sets of doubles. This would require trips to the local gas supplier to swap out for a fresh bottles during business hours, or temporarily borrow a couple bottles from a buddy. All this was an added inconvenience that happened too often depending on how many fills I had to do.
I left the original station plans very flexible since the parts to build it
were going to be constrained by safety, cost, and availability.
Before embarking on building your own fill station (especially if oxygen will be involved) I highly recommend that you read the Oxyhacker's Companion book for its insight on oxygen safety and many other recommendations that helped guide the evolution of this project.
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2 - Bank Bottles 3 - Fittings 4 - Tubing 5 - Valves 6 - Manifolds, whips, gauges,O2-cleaning 7 - Results & Pictures