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  1. Mr Airbrush Custom 0.18 (PS-770) Mr Hobby via Air-craft.net I've reviewed a few of these airbrushes from Martin at Air-Craft.net, and I'm a big fan, using the PS-270 as my main airbrush for a while now. We were talking about it the other day and he suggested I might want to try their new detail airbrush as he thought I would like it. He's right. I do. Very much. It is an up-market specialist airbrush that I think really has wider appeal, and I have used it for more than just detail work in my recent tests. The airbrush arrives from Martin in the usual sized box, with a plastic case within that is protected during shipping by a disposable sheet of clear plastic so that your storage box doesn't arrive marred by ugly scratches. The lid is transparent, and inside is the airbrush and nozzle key in a tough grey foam insert, with another white insert behind that contains the hose with threaded ends that is largely useless outside the Far East, as they're non-standard and won't fit much we get here in the UK. If you're buying a detail airbrush however, you're highly unlikely to be using bottled propellant anyway, and more likely to be hooking up to a compressor. A quick disconnect (QD) bayonet is included, but again it's a Mr.Hobby specific one, so put it in the drawer with the hose and use a standard hose, or pick up a relatively inexpensive QD adapter that's suitable for your hose. I love them, particularly as I'm always swapping and changing airbrushes, with a few on the go at any one time. Under the useless QD connector is an industry standard 1/8" BSP air valve, so your hose or QD will just screw right onto it. The airbrush itself is finished in satin chrome, which looks a bit strange compared to all the shiny airbrushes out there at first, but grows on you as time goes by and sets it apart from the rest. It has a quality feel, and the pre-set screw at the rear of the handle gives a definite "precision instrument" impression, as does the finger relief scallop just behind the cup, which is present on both sides to cater for left and right-handed modellers. The min-MAC valve under the cup allows fine adjustment of air pressure without ducking under the desk to adjust your regulator, although I seldom use mine and tend to leave them wide open. The nozzle is narrower than other brushes in their range, which gives an idea of the finer needle, but also allows you to get closer to your model without removing the crown in theory. It has the same type of castellated crown as the others and unscrews, but will not be compatible due to the difference in diameter. The nozzle and needle are of similar construction, although the pull-back of the needle seems very slick and fluid, even compared to others from Mr. Hobby, which helps reinforce the feeling of quality. A small silicone cap is provided to protect your crown/needle, but it is a bit tight, so tries to jump off if you leave it on the crown outside the box. Fret not - You don't have poltergeists! The 10ml cup is more than adequate for most purposes, and as it is a detail brush by name, it has plenty of space in there for mixing in situ, or you can fill it to the brim for minimal disruption to your workflow, with the lid ensuring you don't spill it everywhere. Because the needle is much narrower than your average 0.3mm airbrush, you will need to take care when deciding which paints to use it with, and those with a coarse pigment ground will doubtless give you some trouble, as will paints that haven't been properly mixed, or have clumps of pigment or dried paint in them. If in doubt, test your paint choice with a clean airbrush that is dry so you can rule out any blockages due to incompatible thinners or paints congealing with each other. I have used it with Alclad primer, Mr Color Aqueus and Lifecolor so far, and all have sprayed well. When you are spraying fine lines you need to ensure your mix is perfect, as even the smallest foreign contaminant (did you just read that in the voice of the cleaning 'bot from Wall-E?) will cause a momentary "Morse code" stoppage, so if you're attempting squiggle camouflage (a task that this brush is born to do), it's worthwhile considering straining your paint through muslin or a fine straining mesh used by car bodyshops. It will pay you back with fewer problems. I'm actually looking forward to seeing how they perform with the new Real Colours from AK Interactive too. Cleaning the airbrush should be simple enough, and I have been successfully using the backflush method to clean up between colours with no sign of any blockages so far, which is a testament to the design of the airbrush, as this is definitely the lazy way of cleaning an airbrush. Dismantling for a proper clean is straight forward as the brush breaks down in the de facto standard manner, with the nozzle screwing off with the crown, and the provided spanner allowing you to remove the paint nozzle, which is tiny and easily lost, so take care of it. The rear of the handle screws off too to allow better access to the needle nut than the cut-away sides give, and the trigger tension is adjusted by screwing the body of the needle carrier in or out. Personally, I screw mine all the way in for a nice firm trigger. With the nut undone the needle can be withdrawn either toward the back or front, and here again I prefer to use the front as it doesn’t risk contaminating the rear seals and beyond. The nozzles are best flushed with cleaner, and a standard reamer will cut through any residue in the nozzle, but remember not to push too hard for fear of splitting the delicate part. You can complete the cleaning with a dentist's paper point (available cheaply from eBay in various sizes – get a variety pack to see which one will work best for you) to pick up any last debris and ensure everything is spotless. Reassembly is the reverse, and when you have become used to the task, should take less than a couple of minutes. Note: The weathering and soot staining on this model were painted with this airbrush, as were some of the smaller parts. The rest was done before it arrived for review with the Mr.Hobby PS-270. As mentioned above, the airbrush is capable of very fine lines and having noodled it over my test sheet on the front of my spray booth, I can well believe that. It is also capable of spraying larger areas too, so don't dismiss it as a specialist tool with limited usefulness. I got it too late to spray the main colours of my recent Me.262 build, but I did use it to paint some of the ancillaries such as the bombs, RATO pods and to prime some elements of this and other builds, as well as to add dirt and staining to the airframe after main painting was over. You can see the rest of the pictures for that build here. It gives the modeller very finely tuned control over the paint flow, and is a joy to use, which is saying something when I think back to how good my PS-270 has been since I started using it. The Pre-Set handle at the rear of the airbrush can be useful if you are trying to spray a continuous width line, and it allows you to dial-in a preset trigger stop from the outset that removes any guesswork associated with finding your "bite point" and attaining the same width that can be tricky. The knurled dial screws in and out, and if you wish to return to that setting later, you can undo the set-screw in the numbered ring, push it up to the back of the handle, re-tighten it and then dial it back in whenever you want to. One slight issue with this is that the slot on the screw is very narrow, and all but one of the blades of my precision screwdrivers were too thick (note: Not to be confused with width) to fit in the slot. Ensure you have one that fits, or adapt an old screwdriver by thinning it with a Dremel before you need it to avoid frustration. Everyone eventually either bends a needle or splits/wears out their paint nozzle, so having spares available is crucial for a long-term purchase such as an airbrush. Previously this was a bit hit and miss, but Martin has made it his business to improve the situation, so any consumable parts you need are usually available from stock, and if you've really done a number on your pride-and-joy, other parts can be ordered if you've not totally wrecked it beyond economical repair, and if you have, what were you doing??? Conclusion I can't recommend the complete line of Mr. Hobby airbrushes highly enough, and this one in particular is the jewel in the crown, which I can see myself using regularly from now on, providing I get time to do any modelling that is! Martin from Air-Craft is also one of the most friendly and helpful sellers of airbrushes and equipment I have come across, so knowing he's backing you up with good service and keen prices makes this a complete no-brainer, as long as you're not planning on respraying your 1:1 car. That might take a while! Extremely highly recommended Review sample courtesy of
  2. Mr Hobby Procon Boy FWA Platinum Double Action Airbrush Mr Hobby/GSI Creos Corp. This range of good quality airbrushes has been harder to get hold of in the UK until recently, and spares were even harder to find, but our friends at Air-Craft have taken steps to rectify that and are now selling the full range on their web shop. This is one of the mid-range brushes, and it arrives in a compact box surrounded by a cardboard outer and a sheet of acetate on the top to protect the box lid from scuffs during transit and storage, ensuring your case reaches you unblemished. The box lid hinges along the long axis, revealing the airbrush and accessories in a hard foam insert, with a softer foam underneath. The box is pretty well stocked, but some of the items won't really see use because they are proprietary and not for use with generic airbrush components. The Quick-Release (QR) screwed to the air-valve is designed for their own hoses, but under it is a standard thread, so it is easy to remove and replace with a standard part, which is what I did the moment I got it out of the box. If you don't have one, remember to add it and a suitable hose to your order, as they are extremely useful. The box contains the following items: The airbrush with a rubberised cap to protect the needle and crown and proprietary QR connector fitted Proprietary air-can adapter Proprietary vinyl hose with screw connectors at either end 1.6mm pressed metal nozzle spanner Instruction booklet in Japanese, but with easy to follow cartoon drawings for anyone not fluent in Japanese The airbrush has a 10ml cup built into the top of the body, which comes with a close-fitting cap with bleed hole in the centre, to ensure good paint flow and prevent the build-up of vacuum in the cup. Under the cup is a mini-MAC, a Micro Air Control valve that you can screw in and out to adjust the air pressure at the nozzle. As I seldom use this feature I have wound it out to the maximum. The protective rubbery "nodder" on the nose of the airbrush is well worth keeping for storage and to protect your airbrush during periods between uses, although the crown also fulfils that purpose to an extent. The crown screws off for cleaning or for getting extra close to your work, and can reduce any micro turbulence to give you the thinnest line possible, if you were doing squiggle camo for example. Behind the crown is the air nozzle, which also screws off to reveal the paint nozzle, which is very small, and has a pair of flats for the included spanner to remove it during cleaning. Undoing the nozzle is fiddly, so be careful not to drop the part as you will have a devil of job finding it due both its size and the fact that brass isn't magnetic. The handle of the brush screws off to access the needle retention screw and the trigger tension adjustment, and here I usually wind the tension up to maximum to cope with my pudgy fingers. The needle is a shade under 1.4mm wide at the rear, and tapers down to a blood-drawing 0.2mm at the tip in a fairly flat taper that should give a linear increase in paint flow as you draw it back. The trigger is omni-directional, and has a long bar hinged to its bottom that actuates the air valve, so care needs to be taken when re-inserting it to make sure it seats in the pathway. To get a clear view of the hole, the spring plate can be pushed back with a fingernail or micro-screwdriver if you don't have those. If withdrawing the whole needle assembly for a deep clean or after a seal leak, you will need to beware, as it all comes apart once it is free of the airbrush body. Re-inserting it is best done with the top of the trigger plate pulled back, feeding the part down the brush so that it follows the trigger slot, and then screwing it home firmly. Inside the body is a needle seal screw that is slotted to enable it to be removed with a flat-bladed screwdriver, but as I found with my H&S Infinity, using the correct tool for the job makes that task much easier. My needle-seal tool wasn't long enough to do the job, so I took my life in my hands and used a small screw driver to examine the seal, which is Teflon based, firm and quite deep, which should give a good seal and a long lifespan, fused to the brass retaining screw as a single unit. The airbrush is chrome finished over a brass body, like so many other airbrushes, and shares a great deal of ethos with the Iwata range, although they are definitely not just re-badged clones, because their parts aren't interchangeable. It has a weighty feel, and has a centre of mass at the trigger base without a hose attached, which makes it comfortable in the hand. When stripping or rebuilding the brush the parts feel of good quality and there is no play between the components, which should lead to a long life if correctly and thoroughly cleaned. Spares should be readily available once Martin has them up on his site, and I'll update the review when they are. In Use Now that I've had a chance to use the airbrush, I can say with hand on heart that I'm rather impressed. It has worked well with various paints that I have used with it, from Alclad Primer, AMMO acrylics, Gunze acrylics as well as a little LifeColor, and each time it has performed flawlessly, giving a tight spray pattern when used close in, never suffering from stoppages or a dry tip, despite the tests being done in hot weather (23-28c). Clean-up is simple, and the plating on the brush seems robust under normal use. The large base of the paint cup where the needle passes through is conducive to easy cleaning, allowing you to dabble a brush or cotton bud around the needle to disturb any stubborn paint residue. The crown has stayed clean throughout due to the tight dispersion at 1bar/15psi active pressure, although it does make blowing air back through the paint cup to clean the needle path a job for a cotton bud rather than your fingertip due to the cut-outs letting air escape past your pudgy digit. That's a minor thing however, and you'll soon get used to having one or two nearby for in-session cleaning. What's not to like? There's a quantity of stuff left in the box that you'll never use unless you're going to track down some of Mr Hobby's proprietary air cans, but most of us will gravitate to a compressor anyway, so it's just a shame to waste that little chunk of metal and tubing. An industry standard Quick Release spear would have been more use from a personal point of view, but as they're buttons to pick up you might as well grab one if you have a suitable hose. The MAC valve built into the airbrush body is an unusual feature to me, but as I seldom use them I'm not sure whether it's a selling point or not. The most important plus however is the airbrush's performance, and it is great. Coming from a hardened H&S Infinity user that has to be worth something, and I anticipate keeping it around to use more in future. As usual, I'll not bore you with pictures of squiggles because they don't mean an awful lot in the real world IMHO, but having managed to touch in a back-plate on one of my RC tanks recently without having to mask, I can assure you that if I can do so, almost anyone will enjoy using this brush. Conclusion A superb little airbrush that is relatively pocket friendly in the branded market, and is likely to give you good service for a long time. Order yourself some spares such as seals, nozzles and a needle or two while you're spending money, and you'll be able to keep spraying even if you manage to ding a needle or wear out a seal. Very highly recommended, and with Martin's reputation for customer service and good prices, you'll be a happy modeller! Always mention Britmodeller when you get in touch. Review sample courtesy of Martin at
  3. Beetle Compressor with Smart-Stop (DC-25N) Sparmax via Air-craft.net Sparmax are a well-known brand that have been making compressors, airbrushes and related equipment for many years now, with a wide range of products. This diminutive compressor is aimed at the modeller with either a limited budget, small available area, low noise tolerances, or a combination of all three. Arriving in a small black box with a photo on the front alongside the Orange Sparmax branding, you realise that this isn't a heavy piece of kit. Inside is a heap of cardboard inserts that hold the compressor in place, a box with the power supply inside, and a bag containing the clear coiled hose. On top is a piece of foam and a short instruction booklet to complete the package. On taking the compressor out of the box you see just how small it is, measuring 12cm x 11cm x 10cm, with the latter from the front to the back of the airbrush mount that is attached to the rear and acts as an on/off switch when you place your airbrush in the cradle. There's also a plastic-coated wire bracing support at the rear to help keep it upright without adding much bulk, which also protects the power lead from damage. On top is a simple rotating knob that adjusts pressure, a 1/8" BSP air outlet and on/off switch on the right hand side, and that's it. It weighs in at around 0.6kg, and the power supply is a fairly small one that plugs directly into a 3-pin socket, with around 1.5m of cord between it and the plug. It also has a slide-off shoe with the pins, to enable the manufacturers to personalise the adapter to their market, which means that you can plug it into any supply from 100v up to 240v, either by acquiring a new shoe with suitable pin-outs, or by using a travel adapter. The included hose is made from clear polyurethane and has a metal connector for your airbrush at the business end and another at the compressor end that has thoughtfully been provided with a larger plastic end that will make screwing it in and out again much easier. There is no moisture trap, but you can see any moisture build-up in the hose, so can keep track on it there, or alternatively you can pick up a small in-line moisture trap to simplify the task. To start the compressor you push the large on/off switch on the right side, which lights up red when turned on. The airbrush hook will stop the compressor when you place weight upon it, although it doesn't seem to have a noticeable switching "clunk" (I think it's an optical sensor, as evidenced by an apparent LED in the area), and if your airbrush has a MAC valve under the body, it does slightly slow you down and require a more careful aim when putting it back, but having the facility to stop & start without messing around with switches is really useful. In operation the compressor is quiet enough that it won't spoil your music, and could easily be used in the next room to someone sleeping as long as they're not a very light sleeper. The vibrations from the motor are damped by the four rubbery feet, which are pointed and deform slightly when the weight of the compressor goes on them. They might be sorbothane or similar, but I have no way of testing that. Although you can't check the exact PSI at which you're spraying, the maximum output is 30psi (2.1bar), and it can shift 0.21cfm at around 10psi. It's not going to win any records for throughput, but then in airbrushing it's seldom figures such as this that are overly important. Its quietness and compactness are key points, and in each of those it excels. The airbrush hook sometimes takes a fraction of a second to detect the reduction in light to the sensor, but that's hardly surprising when you consider the ambient light in your average room, and once you know this can happen occasionally, you don't pause for thought. Its small size and weight can turn into an impediment if you are a little clumsy like I am, and without thinking (I wasn't spraying in my usual place), I pulled too hard on the coiled hose, causing the compressor to topple off my desk. Totally my fault, but something worth bearing in mind. The casing survived unscathed however, which was both good news and a surprise, as it fell onto a hard floor with quite a crack. I've used it to spray some fairly detailed parts of my model, getting primer and paint into complex areas, and all this time I didn't notice any pulsing, which is due to the length of hose that is included with the unit absorbing the pressure changes so that by the time it reaches the business end there's a pretty smooth flow coming out of your airbrush. Conclusion This is a compressor for a niche market. It's not for someone with a full set up, and it couldn't blow up your car tyres, but that's not what it's intended for. What it is good for is the beginner airbrush user who doesn't want to waste money on endless air cans, for the modeller with very limited space, and for those of us that need to airbrush in less noise tolerant environments. The inclusion of the hose and that handy start/stop brush hanger makes it quite a tempting proposition for any of those folks, as all you have to provide is the airbrush, paint and of course the creative urge. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. 15D Silent Compressor Werther International Italian company Werther make a large number of compressors both under their own name, and for other companies around the world. Their Sil-Air brand is well known as being amongst the quietest compressors in the market, being somewhere around the noise levels of a very quiet computer at 28-31db. This renders them almost inaudible in a quiet room, and once you add some background noise or music, you'll not hear a thing until the tank is full and the relief-valve blows off. The hobby end of their range are the Sil-Air 15 models, and they start with a small receiver tank of around a litre to remove both the need for the motor to run constantly, and to remove the pulse from the airline that can affect the spray pattern of your airbrush under some circumstances. The Automatic compressors have a cut-off valve that stops the motor running when the receiver is up to pressure, and re-starts it once the pressure has dropped past a certain level. This makes for an efficient set-up that requires minimal input from the user other than to set the pressure they require. They all have on/off switches, an air filter to keep contaminants from entering the receiver, and an adjustable regulator with built-in moisture trap. The compressor within is a refrigerator type oil-filled unit, which requires the best part of a litre of oil for operation, and this should be changed annually to prolong reliability. It also means that you should keep the compressor on a level surface, and always upright. For transport to the user they are supplied drained of oil and with an oil bottle supplied in the package to refill it prior to its first use, and if you move house or transport your unit further than the end of the garden, it's a good idea to follow their lead. Sil-Air 15D The D model is larger than the others, and has a much bigger receiver that holds up to four litres of compressed air at up to 87psi (6bar). It is roughly double the height of the smaller models, and weighs in at an impressive 18.3kg, which makes the user glad there's a carry-handle on the top to lug it about. It has rubberised feet that dampen any vibration against the floor, a large thick-gauge steel cover that is powder coated and bolted to the chassis onto which all the other parts are attached. Removing the cover is simple, requiring the user to undo just 6 bolts, then lift off the part carefully for easy access to the internals. The compressor is hidden away inside the rear of the unit, and has a removable lid that is held in place by a retention strap, which can be unscrewed to open the compressor to add the correct quantity of oil. It's much easier than trying to drip it in via the oil inlet on the side, which is at a curious angle, and a bit narrow, so once you've checked on how that affects your guarantee, unscrew the lid and be done with any faffing. There is a glass bubble on the rear of the compressor under the electronics box that allows you to check the oil level at a glance, which is especially handy if you are refilling it. Just remember to allow the fresh oil to settle into the workings before you judge whether you need more. The regulator is built into the unit, and therefore protected from any accidental impacts, whilst still being easy to adjust and view. The pressure is indicated on the dial on the left, and adjusted by the black turret-shaped knurled wheel on the top, which can be locked by pressing it down. Unlocking is achieved by pulling up the top section, as you'd expect. The moisture trap is present to retain any water that might condense out of the compressed air, and is made from tough clear plastic to enable easy checking. Emptying the trap is simple, and there is a handy circular cut-out in the bottom chassis to enable you to do this without skinning your knuckles. The on/off switch is located on the front with a yellow sticker indicating its location, as it's quite dark within the cowl and the switch is black on grey. If you want to empty the receiver tank, there is a brass valve on the front of the compressor, buried away to the left of the on/off switch, and this is operated by a pull-ring that is yanked forcefully to the left to release the compressed air. I had to do this to set up the review pictures, and a small quantity of oily residue splattered the inside of the cover, so if you'd rather keep it clean, just tape a piece of paper to the inside to catch the goo. The outlet is a standard ¼" male threaded adapter that was already screwed into the female outlet on my sample, and this will fit the majority of modern airbrush hoses without an adaptor. I usually add a little plumber's PTFE tape to stop any leaks, and you can see it wrapped around the outlet in the accompanying pictures. In Use I'll start with an apology for the slightly dusty compressor - it's been in use for over a month, so has seen some action in a dusty workshop I have used a Sil-Air 15A for some years now, and it's been an excellent compressor, so I was very interested to see its big brother. Apart from the size, operation is broadly similar, which was good because if it works, don't fix it. The unit is pretty much silent, and once I turn on my music (which I find necessary to enjoy modelling), you only hear the hiss of the receiver cut-off, which as you can imagine takes longer with 2.5 extra litres to fill. I set my pressure to around 15psi while my airbrush trigger is depressed, so that it is maintained during spraying, and seldom have any need to deviate from that pressure if I'm honest. This unit seems to be sealed better than my 15A, which would bleed away pressure over time so that the following day the receiver would have almost equalised pressure. This one is still pretty full the next day, which is an indication of good seals. Spraying using the Sil-Air is pleasant, as the pressure never wavers, there's no noise, and because of the larger receiver, you know that the motor won't be running in short staccato bursts, thereby extending its life. My 15A gave me sterling service for 5-6 years (I forget exactly) with only oil changes needed, which is a testament to its reliability. It is still working just fine, and on extended loan to a good friend who is a night-owl and wanted to be able to spray while his wife sleeps in the bedroom next door. Apart from the hiss of the blow-off valve, I'm fairly sure you could spray in the same room as someone sleeping, it's that quiet! Long-Term Use Report (05/08/2016) I have just finished the annual (ideally!) service of my 15D, and have replaced the oil by removing the cowling and undoing the large oval strap that secures the lid of the compressor. The old oil was decanted into a container for later disposal at the council tip's disposal point. The oil showed very little evidence of use, and was still crystal clear, but a new 500ml bottle of Sincom/32E compressor oil was opened up and slowly poured in, being careful to note the correct position on the clear vision port as per the nearby sticker. With that half-way up it was left to settle a while, checked (no topping up needed), and the top re-installed with a 3mm allen key. I gave the base and interior a quick wipe round to remove any oily residue and dust, then cleaned the inside of the cowl to remove the pressure relief splatter before bolting it back into place on the chassis. While I had the cowl off, I also installed a T-connector using the following parts from Martin's excellent range of stock, so that I could run two air hoses side-by-side. 3 x 105803 Coupler Male to Male 1/4" 1 x RSC3675922 Airbrush Supply Tee, 1/4" 1 x 125913 Braided Hose 3.0M with Air Control I wrapped a little PFTE tape around the threads to be sure of a good seal, and everything seems to be working perfectly. Thanks for your help with that little upgrade, Martin! Conclusion If you're in the market for a good quality, quiet compressor then look no further. If you're sick of the tiresome clatter of your existing compressor, relax – you've found its replacement. The Sil-Air15D is a capable compressor with a lot to commend it over its competitors, and is priced as such, but as I always say "buy cheap, buy twice". A comparably priced compressor from Iwata retails at the same price, has a tiny receiver, and is quite noisy, so the silence is effectively coming for free. It even has a lot to commend it over its smaller brother, the 15A, in the shape of the larger receiver that makes working that bit easier and less wearing on the motor. There's a relatively small difference in price between the siblings too, so for those extra coins, you can "go large" and know that you're getting something other than a bigger box! Just check it'll fit under your bench. Very highly recommended. Superb compressors, and with the added back-up of our friends at Air-craft.net in the unlikely event of problems, you'll be glad you bought one. Full specifications, weight, sizing etc., as well as some more pictures can be found by clicking the Buy It Now link below. Sil-Air 15D Compressor Extra Sincom oil Review sample courtesy of
  5. Procon Boy WA Trigger Type Double-Action 0.3mm Airbrush (PS-275) Mr Hobby via Air-craft.net We reviewed this airbrush's stablemate two years ago ([url= http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235008778-mr-hobby-procon-boy-fwa-platinum-double-action-airbrush]here[/url]) at time of writing, and it has gone on to become one of my favourite airbrushes, giving me reliable and easy-maintenance service throughout this period, with no problems despite my fairly lax cleaning regime. This has endeared the brand to me no end, so when Martin offered this slightly wider nozzled brush for review, I had no qualms about saying "yes please". I'll let you into a secret here – I tested this airbrush around a year ago, then promptly forgot to do the review! I'm well-known for having a poor memory, but I remember this airbrush well, and will be able to give an informed opinion on it notwithstanding the intervening delay. This model is a trigger operated airbrush from the Mr Hobby range, who you'll possibly recognise from their Gunze Sangyo Mr Color and Aqueous Hobby Color range of paints. The Japanese heritage explains the overlong and somewhat cutesie name, but don't let that put you off one iota, as you can also refer to them by their product code, which in this case is PS-275. The airbrush arrives in a small oblong card outer box, with a sheet of clear acetate protecting the front of the inner box which is plastic and has a clear lid. Inside is the airbrush and accessories, coddled in tight-fitting foam inserts, which consists of the airbrush with screw-in 7ml paint cup stored in its own recess, nozzle spanner, air hose and air can adapter, both of which are of little use to the "serious" modeller, as they are both specific to Mr Hobby air bottles, which are hard to come by outside the Far East. There is also a two-piece quick-release adapter for the brush, but this again is specific to Mr Hobby gear, so not of much use. Again – don't let this put you off, as they're not really important and more useful items can be sourced cheaply at purchase time. Build quality is excellent, and the brush has a nice weighty feel in the handy, and you immediately notice that it has a rather short body, which is due to the manner in which the trigger is mounted. The needle is found inside the screw-off rear of the brush, with a set-screw in the rear for limiting the needle's travel, and as normal there is a needle chuck-nut, and a tension adjuster stacked behind each other around the needle. The needle is also shorter than usual, and the needle assembly can be withdrawn from the body by unscrewing it whilst holding the knurled lip for deep cleaning or seal replacement. At the front there is a screw-off crown, the air cap, and inside the tiny paint nozzle, which is removed using the supplied spanner, and if you have any common-sense, you'll unscrew it over a flat surface so you don't lose it! They are small, just in case I hadn't made that clear enough. The crown is a complete one, having no cut-outs around its edge, so viewing the needle can't be done from the sides. This is a two-edged sword, because it protects your needle better, but makes inspection and blowing back thinners to clean your brush a little trickier. You can get a small plastic cap that fits over the airbrush tip to make this easier, and they cost pennies – or you can risk stabbing yourself and put your finger over the nozzle. The 0.3mm nozzle is perfectly suited to airbrushing larger areas, with a nice clean spray pattern and a reduced likelihood of clogging due to paint particles. It's also good for spraying less finely ground pigments, which are found in some brands of paint. I used it for a month or so for spraying areas as well as varnishes, and enjoyed having it in the workshop. It isn't designed to be a detail brush, so don't expect it to perform as such and you'll be very happy with your purchase. Some folks don't get on with the trigger-style airbrushes, but having only ever used traditional top-mounted brushes, I found the transition quite painless. The first fraction of the pull begins airflow, and then the needle starts to go back, and with your trigger-figure having good muscle memory (which is probably why it got the job), it is easy to recover your "bite" after recommencing spraying. Spares are readily available from Martin, and are reasonably priced, but if you can bend a 0.3mm needle, you perhaps need to be a bit more careful! The nozzles will eventually wear, so it's a good idea to have one of these in stock just in case, and give some thought to keeping other consumables in stock too, so you don't interrupt your hobby. Martin's spares service is fast, and he packages small orders in letterbox friendly boxes, which I thought was quite a good idea in the modern world where no-one's postie arrives before 9am. Conclusion Another winning design from the Mr Hobby stable. As we know (you did read my earlier review, I hope?), they're inspired by the design of a well-known competitor, but they have carved out their own niche in my workshop, and if you give them a go, you'll probably join the club. The 0.3mm nozzle is great for more general airbrush work, which will be just fine if you don't get down and dirty with airbrushing individual hairs on figures (for example), and the reliability of the brand is excellent in my experience. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of Martin at
  6. Sparmax TC-620X Compressor. From Air-craft.net 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! 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. Another pressure gauge is located on the tank to display what pressure it has. Useful if you want to make adjustments with the regulator. 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. 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! 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. Available from;
  7. 2.5 litre Air Tank Sparmax via Air-craft.net Words by Dads203, pictures by Mike. Air pressure is an important factor when it comes to airbrushing, having control and fine tuning the air pressure from your compressor is as important as the airbrush itself, as is a steady even supply. The more expensive compressors come with an air-tank or receiver of varying sizes, as do some of the noisier (and larger) industrial compressors. A great many compressors still come without any form of air storage, relying instead on the pulsing inherent in compressing air to minimise over the length of the hose. Back in 2009 I bought a Sparmax oil-less compressor (TC-501) that did not come with a built in receiver tank, which was a slight oversight on my behalf that I've regretted ever since. The compressor runs all the time when I'm using the airbrush, and whilst not being obtrusively noisy I know that having a tank of some sort will prolong the life of my compressor, as its doesn't have to run constantly during my airbrushing sessions. It will also remove any stuttering effects in my paint finish that can be caused by the pressure pulse of the tankless compressor. So here we are, Sparmax have thankfully thought about us tankless compressor owners/users and brought out a range of airtanks or receivers that plug in-line to a compressor, adding the automatic cut-off feature in the process. This takes away the financial heart-ache of offloading your old compressor, which is then compounded by purchasing a new, more expensive compressor with a receiver, plus all the hassle of familiarising yourself with a new device's nuances. These new tanks come in various sizes but all do the same thing and have the same fittings, so one review can be used to cover the whole range. This particular model is the smaller 2.5 litre version, which is painted a lustrous black colour and comes with a regulator with dial plus a dual airbrush outlet that takes a 1/8th fitting. One of the outlets is capped off in case you don't need it now, but is easily unscrewed when required. Strangely no moisture trap on the output regulator is included, but that's not a big problem as most compressors will already have one fitted, and being a cautious type, I also use the Iwata pistol grip filters at the airbrush for added protection. Size wise it's about 28cm long stands 15cm high on sound-isolating rubber feet, and is about 12cm in diameter, with a fit and finish that belays the relatively low price-point. To the rear of the unit is a pressure sensor that cuts out the compressor once the tank is up to 60psi, and as it drops down due to use, the compressor will kick back in once the pressure drops below 40psi, all courtesy of the in-line socket on the power feed. Above it is the input fitting that your existing air-line on your compressor should screw right into, and don't forget to pick up another air-line if you don't already have a spare. On the underside of the unit is drain valve, which is used to release the pressure once you finished the airbrushing session so that your tank isn't constantly pressurised. It also acts as moisture drain for any water that might find its way into the tank under unusual circumstances. The 3-pin power lead attaches to the sensor with a 3-pin socket in the middle for the compressor to plug into, so that it can control the electricity supply to the compressor. Airtank sensor controls the compressor in operation and doesn't permit the tank to be filled above a safety conscious 60psi. For the test and using the Sparmax TC-501 compressor, it took 50 seconds to fill the tank to 60psi, at which point I set the regulator to 18PSI and depressed the trigger of my airbrush. The tank gave me approximately 40 seconds of constant use before the pressure switch did its work and topped up the pressure in the tank, which took 16 seconds from the 40PSI level. The other Important aspect of adding a receiver to a tankless compressor is that I now don't have to worry about pulsing of the airbrush due to the rise and fall of the pressure in the compressor manifold. Instead, the tank keeps the pressure steady and that results in a nice steady flow of paint and air from my airbrush. Another welcome side effect is that the good lady is happier as the compressor is not constantly running with its attendant noise. Conclusion This tank is very well made, well presented, and will last for many years, although I might fit another moisture trap to the front end as a belt and braces approach in due course, although it probably doesn't really need it. For those who have a larger compressor that is perhaps dual piston, and want a bit more volume, the tanks go up to 5.3 litres with the smallest capacity starting at 650 ml, which while that one won't much affect the running of your existing compressor, it will remove pulsing from the equation. Remember also that your compressor has to be able to get up to around 60psi, or it could cause compressor stall or constant running, which won't do anyone any good! If in doubt, just get in touch with Martin, who has to be one of the most helpful and knowledgeable folks in the airbrush world. Extremely highly recommended for anyone without an air tank on their existing compressor. AirTanks Additional hoses Review sample courtesy of Martin at
  8. Sparmax TC-610H Compressor From Air-craft.net Being a fairly new convert to airbrushing despite my many years of modelling I had a fairly simple tankless "continuous run" compressor, but was feeling of late I wanted a better quality, larger unit with an air tank. I had read with interest my colleagues review of the Sparmax TC-620X, so decided to look into it further. Speaking with John this seemed a good compressor to go with, however I realised the twin outlets and hoses were not needed for my use. A quick talk with Martin at Air-Craft confirmed this and he pointed me at the TC-610C. On first look the unit looks professionally and sturdily built, which was borne out on further use. The unit is 145 x 312 x 366mm and weighs a tad under 7kgs. The innards are contained in a good strong steel cover. The only little niggle is the power switch under the cover at the opposite side to the regulator, but that's hardly a major issue. 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 during spraying. The supplied handbook suggests that you should periodically flush both the moisture trap and the pressure tank by pressing/opening the respective drain valves, which is good practice to reduce the likelihood of corrosion. I've now had a chance to plug in and do some spraying with it, and find the motor is fairly quiet (53 dB is quoted in the handbook) but it takes some acclimatisation to the automatic on/off after my previous constant run model. The unit is no hassle to operate and the airflow is smooth and consistent. Initially I felt that the 3m braided air hose was going to be too heavy as it looked a lot more robust then my previous one. While it is much more robust it surprised me as it seemed no heavier at all, and doesn't affect handling of the airbrush. It is also more resistant to damage, and less likely to cause damage due to the cloth exterior. Conclusion. Even though the cost for a good compressor seems fairly high, when you compare to the cost of some kits these days it works out quite favourably. The unit is very well made and should last a fair number of years even if you are one of those modellers who can manage double figures or more in kits per year! 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. Available from;
  9. Harder & Steenbeck Evolution CRplus "25" From Air-craft.net Received for review is the Harder & Steenbeck Evolution CR plus "25". This is a special varaint only available from Air-craft.net, which replaces the standard 2ml cup with the much more useful 5ml version. Packaged in a sturdy case, it also includes a quick release adapter for the airline, and a handy instruction booklet. Technical data. It is a 0.2mm nozzle gravity feed dual action all-metal airbrush. This CR Plus has a triple inner copper/nickel plating and an exterior chrome finish. It is designed to be fully solvent resistant and internally has a new PTFE needle sealing system. The quick release connector can be unscrewed, leaving a standard 1/8" BSP hose connector. In use. First impressions are of a beautifully made unit, which fits snugly and comfortably in the hand. It feels well balanced and the trigger actions of 'down for air and back for paint flow' are very smooth and well harmonised. I have only ever owned 2 airbrushes in the last 25 years, both of which have had side cup attachments, so this one with cup centrally mounted over the needle is new to me. Martin at Air-craft.net has specifically replaced the standard 2ml cup with this much larger 5ml version, specifically for the modeller. The press on lid is a feature that I am sure will be useful, as it is all too easy to have accidental spillage. I will be the first to admit that I am no great artist or expert at using an airbrush, I find that it takes time to settle in with a new one and feel comfortable with it. It takes a few hours understand how it works in relation to the paint/thinners and air pressure ratios to get the best out of it. With this in mind I had 2 practice sessions of about an hour each, initially using Tamiya acrylics and secondly with Humbrol enamels. 1) Tamiya Acrylic Setting the initial pressure feed from my Iwata compressor at 20 psi, I thinned some acrylic 50/50 with isopropanol and set off. The air flow control was immediate and precise, and the paint came through freely and easily. As with all airbrushes, there is a definite bite point where the paint flow starts, which is influenced by the type of paint, how you have thinned it and the pressure you have set. I was able to spray lines, spots, and squiggles immediately with no problem. However, as with my previous Badger and Iwata airbrushes the acrylic had a slight tendency to dry on the nozzle tip, occasionally interrupting the smooth flow of paint. Flow was improved with a periodic wipe with isopropanol. No fault of the airbrush, just a feature of this type of paint. Wide spray of a large area gave a lovely smooth and even finish. 2) Humbrol Enamel. The second test was with orange enamel (so it shows up for photos!) thinned about 60/40 with odourless white spirit. Again I was able to do lines, spots, and squiggles with ease. I sensed that the enamel gave me a better and finer quality of spray which was easier to control consistently throughout the session. I put this down to the fact that it does not have the quick drying and clogging tendency of the acrylic. I tried it with the needle guard removed, and found that for the really fine work I was able to see what I was doing much better. The guard is easily popped on and off as it is only a push fit on the nozzle. (it is the 2 pronged attachment in the picture below) Conclusion. A beautifully designed and built airbrush that looks fabulous in its shiny chrome and brass finish. Performance is exceedingly good with very smooth and precise action. Clean up afterwards is pretty simple, with no little spanners or other tools required to disassemble/re-assemble it. I believe that it takes time to understand your airbrush as you develop your skills to get the best from it. This Harder & Steenbeck seems to be viceless and is simple to use, giving good results from first acquaintance. It has great potential, and I look forward to gaining more experience with it. (Amongst other ideas I am considering doing a 1:72nd Fw-190a with mottle camouflage). It sits in the medium price range for quality airbrushes, and should be on the shortlist of anyone looking to buy for the first time, or who wants to upgrade from current equipment. It goes without saying that it will easily deal with the 1 or 2 colour tasks like a USN grey/white Phantom or a green US Sherman. Where it really comes into its own is on the finer, tighter work like pre-shading, mottling, panel fading, toning, exhaust staining, etc. Based on my test results, it will tackle all these with ease and precision. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of;
  10. Iwata Eclispe HP-BS Airbrush From Air-craft.net Iwata describe the Eclipse series of airbrushes as Multi-purpose, high-paint flow, high detail professional airbrushes. For use in applying moderate to large amounts of paint to a variety of surfaces,and to various sized areas. The HP-BS is a gravity fed airbrush featuring a 0.35mm needle / nozzle combination with a 1/16oz sized cup. The improved funnel design of this cup makes for a more efficient paint flow, and easier cleaning. This reviewer is fairly new to airbrushing in proportion to the length of time I have been building models, and I have been a brush painter for the majority of my modelling career, considering airbrushing one of the dark arts! I have David Pennington ex of SBX models for getting me into airbrushing as he said it would improve my models, he was not wrong and this is my public thank you to David for this. I normally use the HP-CS with its large 1/3oz sized cup, so wondered why you would want the HP-BS, as it looked like the same airbrush with a smaller cup. In fact as well as a smaller cup the HP-BS is about 10mm shorter than the HP-CS. Now these differences do not seem a lot, however it makes the HP-BS seem a lot more light and nimble in your hands, great for painting smaller and more intricate details. I also like the smaller cup as it means I mix (and waste) less paint when doing smaller jobs. The airbrush arrives in a sturdy card box in a foam bed to protect it during transit. The build quality of looks very good indeed with them being made in Japan, that's pretty much guaranteed. The HP-BS is a standard 0.3mm nozzle and needle, with many of the parts looking like they are common across the range, which will help keep the cost of replacement of consumables down should you happen to need any. Conclusion I really do like this airbrush. I would recommend it for a second brush which is how I am using it, as is very good for painting smaller areas, and doing work which requires a bit more dexterity than its larger cousin. It should be noted there is no lid for the smaller cup, but then I don't use the lid on the larger brush, so its not an issue for me. You might want to get one if you're prone to spilling paint on your models. Review sample courtesy of
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