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Viking

Sparmax TC-620X Compressor.

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Sparmax TC-620X Compressor.

From Air-craft.net


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Recently my faithful old compressor decided that it had had enough and, with an electrical 'pop' it expired. This left me with a problem as it had given many years of service, I had no real idea of what of potential replacements were on the market.
I had been looking on the air-craft.net website as it showed a good range from different manufacturer's, and seemed to have very competitive pricing. Fortunately I decided to contact them for advice before committing myself, and got a very helpful and informative reply from Martin, suggesting three possible alternatives to my initial choice. If you find yourself looking for a new compressor I thoroughly recommend you to get in touch with Martin at air-craft.net, he is a really friendly guy and what he doesn't know about compressors probably isn't worth knowing.

Buying a compressor is an expensive business, so I wanted to make sure I got this one right, as I hope to be using it for up to the next 10 years. Add to this that its pays to buy the best you can afford, I went for the Sparmax TC-620X. The main reason for this choice was that it has an air tank. So rather than just an electric motor directly pumping air to your airbrush, this one pumps it into a pressure tank, and it is this tank that supplies your airbrush.

What difference does this make? Well the main one is that is supplies a smooth, pulse and moisture free stream of air. Another benefit is that it enables fine control of the actual pressure setting, and gives an extremely consistent flow of air.
I have never owned a compressor with a tank, I've had those that constantly run, and others that have direct air feed but cut in and out according to your pressure setting. My final decision was that for once I would stretch to the best I could get, and buy something that promised to be a step up from anything I have had before. So the order was placed late on a Thursday evening, an email received confirming dispatch on Friday Morning, and the actual thing arrived at my house on Saturday lunchtime. Very good service!

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Unpacking the box within a box revealed a nicely finished black steel casing, containing the pressure tank at the bottom and the compressor motor at the top. The on/off switch is at the back, with the other controls located at the front. The main control is the pressure regulator on top. Pull it out and turn clockwise to increase pressure or anticlockwise to decrease. The dial alongside will tell you the settings, and you just push the regulator back in to lock it.

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Another pressure gauge is located on the tank to display what pressure it has. Useful if you want to make adjustments with the regulator.

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Finally, there are actually 2 air outlets, enabling you to run a pair of airbrushes simultaneously. I've never done this but it could be useful if you are doing a 2 colour camouflage, and of course if you have 2 airbrushes, (maybe your current one and old one). Anyway, 2 air hoses are supplied.

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When first switched on the motor will run for 20 - 30 seconds to pressurise the tank. From then on it will periodically switch on to maintain the pressure as you draw off air.
The supplied handbook suggests that too should periodically flush both the moisture trap and the pressure tank by pressing the respective drain valves.

I've now had a chance to plug in and do some spraying with it this morning. The motor is a little noisier than my previous compressor, but once the initial tank charge is done it hardly cuts in, and then only for very brief bursts. The pressure regulator works very well, it is easy to tweak the airflow up or down to suit the spraying job you are doing.

But the thing that I immediately noticed was the smoothness and consistency of the airflow. Quite simply it is the best I have ever had. I was spraying Tamiya acrylic onto a Wingnut Wings Albatros fuselage, and the laydown of the paint was beautiful. Very controllable and I put down several light coats to get a beautifully smooth finish. I now realise that my previous compressor was supplying air with a fine 'pulse' to it. There was nothing wrong with that, it powered the airbrush satisfactorily. But now having used tank supplied air I immediately felt the difference, it's like everything on the airbrush has become more accurate and refined. I'm looking forward to tackling other paint jobs soon.

Conclusion.
There are few things that we modellers buy at a comparatively high cost, probably the only two things are airbrushes and compressors. It is often said that for both you should buy the best that you can afford, and I can only echo this advice. I immediately noticed the difference in the quality of the air supply from this unit, and how it showed in the performance of the airbrush. I am thankful that I contacted air-craft and received informative advice on several units that I should consider, because if I had just gone ahead on my own I would have bought something else more expensive with fewer features!

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If you are looking to buy for the first time, or to replace your current compressor I can recommend that you contact Martin at sales@air-craft.net for friendly guidance on what you should consider to suit both your needs and your pocket. I am glad that I did, and am now the proud owner of a very nice piece of kit.

Highly Recommended.

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Available from;

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That looks like quite a piece of kit, what is the scale on the regulator gauge? I find that the one fitted to my Iwata compressor has too large a range so isn't the best for setting at lower pressures.

The hoses look quite thick, do they effect the movement of the airbrush at all?

Thanks for the review.

Duncan B

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Duncan,

The gauge is standard Sparmax style - 33mmØ, with increment's at 4psi & numerical markings every 20psi (picture below).

The hoses are 6.5mmØ but relatively flexible - less "draggy" than a recoil hose, slightly heavier than a plastic hose.

Martin.

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The hoses look quite thick, do they effect the movement of the airbrush at all?

Duncan,

I haven't noticed any effect on the movement of the airbrush, it remains quite light in the hand. The hose is quite long though, so it tends to coil on the floor under my workbench where I have placed the compressor. Not a problem, but just watch your feet when you get up after a spraying session.

John

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Duncan,

The gauge is standard Sparmax style - 33mmØ, with increment's at 4psi & numerical markings every 20psi (picture below).

The hoses are 6.5mmØ but relatively flexible - less "draggy" than a recoil hose, slightly heavier than a plastic hose.

Martin.

132678.jpg

Thanks for your reply Martin, as I tend to spray at the lower end of the scale my main gripe with my Smartjet is the lack of fine adjustment due to the range of the gauge. With this compressor having a higher max pressure I guess I'd be in a similar situation. A very impressive specification for the money though.

Duncan B

Duncan B

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Duncan,

I haven't noticed any effect on the movement of the airbrush, it remains quite light in the hand. The hose is quite long though, so it tends to coil on the floor under my workbench where I have placed the compressor. Not a problem, but just watch your feet when you get up after a spraying session.

John

Thanks for your reply John, it looks like a very good compressor for the money and having bought from Martin before I know you'll get great support if required.

Duncan B

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Looked at the price on their website this model is £199 but the Sparmax TC-610h is £164.99, which looks very similar to the Iwata compressors

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Many thanks for this review, this is just what I am looking for :goodjob:

Would a Neo for Iwata be a suitable airbrush to go with this compressor, bearing in mind I have never used an airbrush before?

Many thanks

Nige.

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Many thanks for this review, this is just what I am looking for :goodjob:

Would a Neo for Iwata be a suitable airbrush to go with this compressor, bearing in mind I have never used an airbrush before?

Many thanks

Nige.

The TC-620X is pretty capable & more than a match for the Neo - the neo is pretty conservative with it's air requirements & wouldn't "push" the TC-620X in the slightest.

Both the TC-610H & AC-501X are also suited to the Neo although the AC-501X doesn't have the luxury of an air tank.

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Thanks for your reply. I was previously looking at the TC-610H but I was thinking the 620x being able to have 2 connected brushes would be very handy especially for camo work.

Decisions, descisions.

Edited by nbaker

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The regulator fitted on the 610 & 620 is the same part, so both compressor have 2 x 1/8" BSP outlets.

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Very useful review John, thank you.

I too am looking to replace my basic Sealey compressor, and getting a second airbrush, to complement my Sparmax GP-35.

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Anyone know where you can get a (not too expensive) digital read out air regulator to fit these compressors.Thanks

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Anyone know where you can get a (not too expensive) digital read out air regulator to fit these compressors.Thanks

The cheapest option would be to replace the gauge on your existing regulator with a digital one, unfortunately the affordable models generally seem to be sealed & the batteries aren't replaceable, so after a year or so they are fit for the bin....

The combined digital regulators on the market are generally for use with a spray guns, being fitted in line at the spray gun itself. These are a bit on the clumsy side for airbrushing, so can be fitted at the opposite end of the line at your compressor, but these are almost exclusively supplied without any form of moisture trap as this is usually dealt with at the compressor or in the plumbing on full scale automotive / industrial systems.

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I bought this compressor after reading this review, cracking piece of kit, well recommended if you're thinking of buying a compressor.

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I bought this compressor after reading this review, cracking piece of kit, well recommended if you're thinking of buying a compressor.

It is a cracking piece of kit isn't it Norman. I've had mine for just on 1 year now, and I have to say that it is the best compressor I have ever owned over 30 + years.

It delivers beautifully consistent pulse-free air, which is very finely controllable from the pressure regulator on top.

If you have never had a compressor with an air tank on it, you don't know what you are missing.

One year on, and I absolutely love this compressor!

Cheers

john

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