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Old 03-14-2014, 04:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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HPA History questions

So I'm writing an article for my weekly blog on Paintballgear's site, and I need a bit of info from those that lived it. The history of paintball gasses is fairly clear up to about 92 when Tom was developing nitrogen systems, after that not a lot of information. So with that said;

when did nitrogen/HPA become commercially available?

When did the move from cradles and marker mounted regulators to the now common tank mounted regulators happen?

When was it more common to find HPA as apposed to nitrogen? I know they were more or less interchangeable..

Do you remember what these systems cost back in the day?


As much information as I can get would be great. Even if it's just to point me in the right direction.
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Old 03-14-2014, 04:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The first tanks I remember seeing were from Air America in'95 or '96. Only in 3000 psi and either 68 or 114 ci. Cost was $350 and up. This was on the east coast. I might be off a year or so. It has been a few brain cells between then and now. I remember watching Sugarstump on ESPN2 playing World Cup in '96 and HPA was already the dominate air source. Legend has it the systems are a carry over from compact emergency systems carried by fire fighters.
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Old 03-14-2014, 04:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Tom Kaye did develop the first HPA system, which was a direct copy of the AIR reg used on Automags. i believe that it was around 96 that first commercially available tanks were available from Air America. TK didn't think that they(HPA) would become profitable so he pretty much gave Air America the designs.

the move to dedicated HPA cradles were necessary because there was no way to get the regs small enough to be in a screw in design.

in 99, the first screw in tanks started to appear, from ACI and Crossfire, from what i remember. as screw in tanks became available, the need or the extra costs for dedicated on gun setups decreased as people who would have multiple guns, but need only one tank to feed them.

though personally, i like dedicated tanks on guns, but it gets very expensive as well as, being able to store the guns with the tanks on them.

the top of the line of Air America tanks were the 4500psi Apocalypse and Armageddon tanks were $400-$500 depending on the size of the tank. they were in 45ci, 68ci, 88ci(the long version-the width of a 68, but length of a 114), and 110/114ci tanks. the cheaper Raptor tanks were available in both 3000 and 4500psi, and were from $300 for the 3K and up to $400 for the 4500psi.

the screw in tanks were generally in the $200 range and it wasn't until about 2002 that the first 4500 screw in tanks were on the market. which i believe were up into the $300 range for the first 4500 systems.

compressed air(which is literally the air we breathe, just compressed) is interchangeable with Nitrogen. its more on the ability to have a gas supplier be able to get the 6000psi bulk tank which many fields use as a cascade system(multiple tanks hook up together), instead of the better on site compressors. because the compressed air and nitrogen is the same, the tanks used on the gun, don't care which is which. so when gas suppliers can't get 6000psi compressed, its easier to get pure nitrogen, as it has use in the medical and welding fields.
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Old 03-14-2014, 04:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spydrmn View Post
I remember watching Sugarstump on ESPN2 playing World Cup in '96 and HPA was already the dominate air source. Legend has it the systems are a carry over from compact emergency systems carried by fire fighters.
Not exactly helpful to the original question but interesting story. In the mid or late 2000s I bought from Sugarstump's store a pair of 13ci 3000psi HPA tanks that were about the size and shape of a 4oz co2. They were used tanks from some other industry, such as firefighting or military emergency raft inflators or something. I occasionally had to yell at the field fillers not to hook it up to the CO2. Other players thought they were pretty cool. Shortly afterward, the longer skinnier purpose-built for paintball small tanks started coming from Ninja, RAP4, and others.
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Old 03-14-2014, 06:46 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I've got a Catalina Cliffdiv aluminum 3000 tank, I can't find any cubic inch markings on it but its pretty big. Has an old brass NitroDuck reg on it. Date stamped into the tank for a birth date is 4/96. Its about 3.5-4 inches diameter and about 14 inches long not including the reg. Thing is brick. Way past ever getting recertified but I kept it as a display piece.
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Old 03-14-2014, 07:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I've always run siphon tanks, but I do remember when they started showing up at the local field I worked at-

Like said above, Tom Kay started pushing for HPA back in 1992, but there was no infrastruture, and MUCH WORSE: Most insurance companies specifically banned it (ie APL, etc).

But it was 1994 when people started becoming interested. Air American sold 3 systems, Nitro LPS, MPS, and HPS. (for low, medium, and high pressure system. Something like 1800psi, 2500psi, 3000psi).

They were very expensive, and interest was mainly from Mag owners... I hate to say it but automags were garbage on CO2, the only propellant used at the time. So lots of interest. By late 1994, insurance companies started lifting bans, and we started seeing the Air America systems show up.

By early 1995, we also had the PMS and Proline systems. Fred Shultz system? Back then we all said "Nitrogen" or Nitro. The reason was that you could rent nitrogen tanks from the same place you rented co2 tanks. 3K compressors were thought to be far too expensive for the few players that needed them.

Originally in 1995, all the tanks I saw were the large 114 and larger. All on remotes. Remotes were trendy at the time, but by late 95, cradles had started coming out to mount the tank to the gun. THen 1996 or so? we started seeing drops to replace cradles.

I don't remember seeing a compressed air system until 1997? maybe at the world record game? But by 98, few people were still saying nitro
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Old 03-14-2014, 08:38 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Surely people were experimenting with compressed air systems before Tom Kaye figured out how to make them commercially viable.

I need to go through my old magazines and see if I can spot a picture of someone running a pump off a small scuba tank on their back. It would have needed some sort of modified reg, though- most scuba primary regs output an intermediate hose pressure of only ~150 psi. Anyone know of any welding or air-powered tool sets that would have supplied the necessary 700-1000 psi needed to run a late-'80s paintball gun?

Last edited by The Inflicted; 05-24-2014 at 09:54 PM.
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Old 03-14-2014, 10:44 PM   #8 (permalink)
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air tools generally are around 100psi, with it no more than 200psi at most.

the problem wasn't having the tanks, as they have been around, it was the regulators going up that high. remember, they were taking 3000psi and going down to 800psi or less for adjustable tanks.
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Old 03-14-2014, 10:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The first time I saw HPA was during the IAO in Pittsburg in 1992. Mike Lauterborn had a setup on his double Mag



I also seem to remember a team Phantom Force [??] back then who were using it also on Automags with the shortest Armson barrels I ever saw. Those thing were some of the worst sounding paintguns I've ever heard.

Tom Kaye really was one of the first to push for HPA or actually 3000psi N2, I definitely remember the arguments about safety and such. Tom had a vested interest in pushing HP Gases because of the problems Automags had on CO2.
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Old 03-15-2014, 01:22 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I couldn't afford it in '94 but could in '95 for whatever that's worth..?
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