Check out the ancient air compressors below. It’s hard to believe they still run and how different (and the same) some of the design features are from those of today.

This WWII era Lindsay with a Briggs and Stratton engine still runs. I like the wheelbarrow setup; the handles look like they could have come from an actual wheelbarrow. Given the time period this would have likely been built for use in the military. It’s an interesting design; there isn’t a belt because the compressor piston is integral to the gasoline motor. I’m not sure I’d want to use this thing without first testing the integrity of the tank.

This Lindsay compressor from the 1920s has iron wheels and the latest hand crank starting mechanism. The motor is from Merkel, a company that made motorcycles and provided the engines used in early Indian motorcycles. The exposed mechanisms may be dangerous, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fun to look at. All in all, this compressor is an incredible gizmo. Skip to the 3:30 mark if you can't wait to see it run.

This restored 1928 Lindsay has a Briggs and Stratton gas engine with an integral compressor. It looks and sounds great though I’m thinking it would be a bear to lift the thing into the back of a pickup.

This 1930s electric compressor was made by Kellogg Manufacturing Company in Rochester, NY. Parts of it look kind of cobbled together—did they really use plumbing fittings when they built these machines? And how about that gauge that goes up to 400 psi? It’s cool that the thing still runs but I’m not sure I’d want to work close to a compressor with an exposed belt and flywheel that size.

I’m not sure this is any brand of compressor. It looks completely home-made—like someone had a pump and put it and a motor on top of a frame they built around a tank.

Compared to some of the others this 1960 Quincy model 210 is almost modern. It appears to work just fine though it’s hard to believe it requires such a big motor.

This 1925 Champion is still in use—and it’s a beauty. The camera work is a little shaky but worth putting up with so you can see the pump casting. I like that you can look through a window and see if there is enough oil in the machine. This compressor was made in Chicago by the Champion Pneumatic Machinery Company.