How to make a portable air hose reel cart

Friday, February 22, 2019

How to make a portable air hose reel cart


Wondering about how to build a portable air hose reel cart? In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley shows an install method for his new air hose reel that's portable and uses a new-to-him construction material: SteelTek. There are many ways of mounting an air hose reel but sometimes you don't want it in a permanent location. This option will allow you to move the reel around. This is a small test to see the applicability of this product for future SteelTek projects.

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For a written transcript, go to How to make a portable air hose reel cart

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0 by Kevin MacLeod at
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing"
Incidental: "The Whip Theme", "Pump", "There It Is", "Guiton Sketch", "Cool Rock"


There's got to be a better way.

Hi. If we're just meeting, I'm Harley and this is the House of Hacks where we use our God-given creative talents in the workshop to make things out of wood, metal, electronics and other things like that.

Today we're going to be working on a storage system for this compressor hose.

As part of the car project, I picked up a new air compressor. And along with that came a number of new things that are related to the air compressor itself. Things like the air hose and other miscellaneous bits and bobs that are used to connect hoses together and things like that. And eventually I expect I'll be getting some more air tools and I need a place to store those. To help keep the garage organized and less cluttered, I need a place to store some of this new stuff.

I got a ReelWorks hose reel to store the hose on but now I need a place to mount this and I don't want to mount it permanently to the wall anywhere in the garage because I don't really have a good place for it in there and I don't know exactly how I'm going to be using it, where I'm going to be using it, so I wanted a portable solution.

So today I'm going to look at making a cart that this hose reel will mount to and then will also have additional storage that possibly in the future might be expandable to store additional air tools and things like that in that I purchase in the future.

Let's open this up, get some basic dimensions on it because it will be kind of the core around which everything else will be built.

[Unboxing ReelWorks hose reel]

This is what came in the box: the reel, a manual, a strain-relief spring, a connector fitting and the handle.

A little tiny bit of assembly required.

When I ordered the air hose, I also ordered an air filter and a three foot section of hose.

The idea was I will mount the air filter close to the hose reel and that will filter out any contaminants that are in the air line.

I'll get another hose, probably in the 20 foot range, that will go from the air filter to the air compressor.

From my research online, that's a good length to have between the air compressor and the air filter in order to allow time for anything that's suspended in the air flow to condense out and for the air filter to actually be able to be effective.

Then I'll have the longer hose that will wrap onto the hose reel to move around for actual use of the compressed air.

So, let's assemble this, make some drawings and see what we come up with.

[Hose reel assembly]

[Drawing cart elevations]

OK. Here's the concept.

We've got elevation drawings for the front, the top and the side.

The hose reel goes right here and we've got castors on the bottom.

It's 19 inches from the edge of this handle to where this curves up and it's 13 inches tall from the base here where it mounts to the outside edge and it's 11 inches around in this direction.

So the idea is to build a square base that has castors on it depicted by the circles down there so that'll allow it to roll around and have a plate on the bottom that the reel will mount to and then also have two supports that come up and that are joined at the top and it's going to be offset from the center.

It'll be behind the reel.

And that will be what the air filter connects to and then there will be a hose that runs from here down around into the bottom of where it mounts to to connect the incoming air from the air filter into the hose reel.

And I may think about putting some sort of storage media on top here somewhere.

I need to be careful about how big this is though because I don't want it to go above the handle, so it might look like something along these lines where it covers a portion of that space to hold odds and ends and nick-naks.

I don't want it to get all the way to the edge though otherwise it'll make it hard to spin the handle.

So that's the general idea. Let's go see if we can find some parts to build this with.

[Parts shopping]

[Parts cutting]

I was walking through Lowe's the other day in the plumbing department and noticed this really cool material that I hadn't seen in there before.

It's a whole system for making things with. It doesn't really belong in the plumbing aisle as far as I'm concerned other than it has these tubes that kind of looks like plumbing but it's not a plumbing system at all.

It's really a, basically a, Tinkertoys for adults.

They have all kinds of different connectors. These happen to be Ls and I also got some intersection connectors that have one pipe go through on the one direction and has another connector attach something in.

But they have all kinds of different connectors for Ts and multiple intersections coming together in pretty much all the different configurations you can think of of pipes coming together.

They also have adjustable connectors where you can have set screws and put the pipe in and adjust it to different angles depending on the purposes for whatever it is you're building.

It seems like a really cool system.

According to the web site, it comes in 3/8, 3/4 and 1-1/4 inch sizes and in galvanized and in black.

Now my local Lowe's only had it in 3/4 and 1-1/4 sizes and only in galvanized so I haven't seen the smaller size or the black.

For this particular project, the 3/4 is what I got because that was the smallest size they had but it's really overkill.

3/8 probably would have been way more than sufficient.

Each of the connectors have set screws in them that are tightened with an Allen wrench that tighten down onto the pipe and hold it in place.

It seems to be a really solid, robust system and I have a number of projects that I think it'll work really well for but I wanted to use it on this smaller project just for testing things out.

It is not a very cheap system.

These eight connectors and a 10 foot section of pipe ran me about $70 so compared to like copper or PVC that you might use for a similar application from the plumbing aisle where the connectors are in the cents to dollar range, it's much more pricey but it also is much more robust, rigid system.

The pipe comes pre-cut in various lengths from about I think 4 inches was the smallest in I think 2 inch increments up to a certain size and then it started going in foot increments.

The pipe was pretty expensive when purchased in the smaller sections so I ended up getting a 10 foot section which was the longest I could get and the cheapest per foot and then just cut it up to what I needed for this project.

I cut three 20 inch sections for the cross members and four 15 inch sections for the width and the height and now it's just a matter of connecting everything together with the Allen wrench.

Let's put it together.

[Frame assembly]

OK, that's all there is to it. This is a real sturdy system. I'm real impressed. Like I said, this is way overkill for this particular project, but don't have to worry about the hose reel going anywhere.

The next step is to cut some plates to mount things to.

A buddy of mine gave me some of these surplus moving dollies that his company built.

It's basically a piece of heavy duty sheet metal with a bunch of castors on the bottom.

The castors are a little gummed up, a little worn out possibly, possibly just dirty.

So, I'm going to tear these apart, clean them up and cut the metal down to fit in here and use a couple of the castors for the four corners of the hose reel.

[Moving dolly disassembly and cleaning]

OK, that worked really well.

I first started by trying to spray some WD-40 in one of them and realized that was going to take a lot of WD-40 and a lot of fiddling with things so I had the idea to take it upstairs and run them under some water and within seconds of putting them under water they immediately freed up.

That tells me that the thing that was really keeping these things from moving freely was dirt and probably soda.

These things were used to move soda vending machines around and my guess is they just got a lot of soda in there that kind of caked the dirt in there and made everything really gummy because, like I said, within seconds of putting it under the water they were moving freely.

I did use some soap and tried to clean things up pretty well. Had a lot of dirt come out of it as I was running it through the water and now I've kind of soaked them in WD-40 to drive all that moisture out, to lubricate them a little bit and to protect the surfaces from rust.

WD-40 makes a great solvent and water displacer. It does a little bit of surface protection and lubrication but that's not really it's strength.

So, once this WD-40 kind of evaporates out and displaces all the water, I'll get some oil, 3-in-1 oil or something similar to that, and just kind of lubricate this up for long term lubrication and protection.

The next step is to take those metal plates and cut it down to try to make it fit for the frame that I made earlier.

[Metal cutting, filing and drilling]

[Final assembly]

Well, that's a lot more compact and I think it's going to be easier to use. I don't have to unroll the whole hose in order to use things and we've got the filter on it now.

I didn't get it as far done as I would have liked. I would have liked to have painted the wood and gotten the storage system on top but I just have other projects I need to get to and ran out of time.

So, I'm going to call this good for now. Eventually I can do those as future upgrades.

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