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  1. www.air-craft.net is the website of Air Tech Equipment Ltd - We are an UK based online retailer specialising in airbrushing equipment, spares & accessories along with a selection of modelling related paint, tools, masking, abrasives, accessories & what not. Our website shows live stock levels & we do not support back ordering, so with the exception of the very occasional stock level errors, if it's indicated as in stock, it is physically in stock. We ship around the globe, using Royal Mail & Parcelforce in the UK, Royal Mail Airmail & Parcelforce / GLS in Europe & Royal Mail Airmail, TNT & UPS for orders beyond Europe, orders generally ship the same or next working day. We can accept PayPal, credit card or bank transfer as payment methods & for added security our website is HTTPS throughout. We are direct importers or official resellers for all the products we sell, are familiar with the technical aspects of all equipment listed & have a significant range of spares to support said equipment. We are happy to advise on any airbrush equipment related enquiries, but I'm afraid we don't have a team of receptionist & sometimes struggle to get to the phone during busier periods - If you don't get a reply & prefer not to leave a message you can email us on sales@air-craft.net & we will respond as soon as we can. Harder & Steenbeck - airbrushes, spares & accessories Iwata - airbrushes, compressors, spares & accessories Sparmax - compressors, airbrushes, spares & accessories Mr Hobby - airbrushes, spares, paints & accessories Neo for Iwata - airbrushes, spares & accessories Werther Sil-Air - silenced compressors & spares Benchvent - spray booths Tamiya - paints, tools, masking & accessories Swann Morton - knives & blades Olfa - knives, cutters & blades Micro-Mesh - abrasives Flex-I-File - abrasives & adhesives Model Craft - tools Ultimate Modelling Products - cleaner, thinner & primers Others - Xuron, 3M, Light Craft, Artool, Aircom, Adhesives, Brushes.......... Thanks for looking, Martin Ferguson, Air Tech Equipment Ltd.
  2. Hello all, Apologies if this has been posted before (I'm new ), but recently paint has started bubbling in the cup of my brand new (used about 5 times) Sparmax SP-20X airbrush. I'm still relatively new to airbrushing so this might be something really simple to resolve... Well, I hope so at least because I never had this issue with my cheap Chinese airbrush this one replaced! It's happened with Tamiya and Vallejo acrylics and most recently with Alclad Airframe Aluminium. All have been thinned (apart from Alclad) to semi-skimmed milk consistency. Pressures have ranged from 15-30 PSI, just for testing. To resolve the issue, I've been taking off and cleaning the air cap, tip and needle. Now this seems to work randomly, so I'm confused. I'm always meticulous with my cleaning so now I'm starting to get worried that this brand new airbrush which I thought would be an upgrade over the Chinese clone is actually more hassle than it's worth? Thanks in advance!
  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. Sparmax Zeta Compressor with Smart-Stop Hanger Airbrushes.com Sparmax is a well-known manufacturer of airbrushes, compressors and accessories based in Taiwan. Their products enjoy a reputation for quality and durability and are popular amongst modellers and other users alike. The Zeta is an all-new compressor which features a world first - Sparmax's unique smart stop technology. Unlike conventional auto stop compressors, which activate through defined pressure values, Sparmax's design uses an electronic sensor that detects when the airbrush has been placed into the holder and switches the compressor on and off automatically. The system is compatible with pressure regulators and bleed valves and maintains your preferred working pressure even after the compressor has been paused and re-started. The Zeta system comprises a conventional low maintenance, oil-less single piston air compressor. It has a single outlet which connects to the new Smart Stop Hanger set. The Smart Stop Hanger clamps onto a desk or table (or even the outer case of the compressor itself), but unlike conventional hangers it also features a pressure regulator, moisture trap and an electronic sensor which detects when the airbrush has been replaced. The hanger connects to the compressor via a 4 meter PU hose and an electronic cable which plugs into a socket on the compressor itself. A 2 meter braided hose is also included, which is a nice touch. The compressor arrives packed into a sturdy cardboard box which features a picture of the product on the front. The compressor is secured inside the box with sturdy foam pieces which prevent it from moving around inside and also provide adequate cushioning against any bumps or shocks. The hoses are sealed inside plastic bags, while the Smart Stop Hanger slots inside a pre-cut foam sheet. The on-off switch is located at the back of the compressor, which all the other controls are on the Smart Stop Hanger. The pressure regulator is easy to use and precise in operation. The compressor can output a maximum 60 PSI - enough to blow your model off the desk - but a more suitable working pressure can be obtained by pulling up the collar of the regulator and twisting it until the desired pressure is achieved. The pressure gauge is clear and responsive and has a reassuring, quality feel to it. The moisture trap is on the underside of the regulator and operates with a simple spring-loaded valve. The compressor itself is quiet in operation and vibration is extremely well controlled (particularly when compared to my off-brand Chinese compressor, which vibrates so much it scurries across the table like a jack russell chasing the postman). The Smart Stop Hanger works extremely well, switching the compressor on and off without any fuss or drama. You can also stop the compressor yourself just by pressing down on the hanger. If for any reason you want to disable to Smart Stop feature, you can just unplug the electrical connection on the front of the compressor. The airflow is smooth and consistent, lacking the pulse associated with cheaper, less well made compressors. As implausible as it sounds, I swear it has breathed new life into my Iwata brush, producing fine atomisation of paint and buttery smooth application. Conclusion Scale modelling is often described an an inexpensive hobby (usually by modellers seeking to justify their latest purchase to their better half), but a compressor is one of the few 'big ticket' purchases that a modeller will need to make. While a cheap compressor can be had for below £50, it will quickly show its limitations and is unlikely to prove to be durable in operation. This compressor, with its 2 year guarantee, will prove to me a much more sensible investment. The Smart Stop feature, far from being a gimmick, is a genuinely useful feature that will save energy and also save you from having to reach around to the back of the compressor to switch it on and off. Overall this is a high quality item that can be highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Hey guys, As the title suggests, the nozzle in my Sparmax SP-20 just sheared when I was cleaning it, (was only finger tightening it?) Anyone know how best to get the nozzle threading out from the brush? Or should I just return to sender and have them replace it? I'd understand if the brush was old, I've not even had it a month. Thoughts? Cheers! Ugghhhhhhhh
  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. Arism Viz Portable Cordless Compressor Sparmax Via The Airbrush Company Eventually, most modellers consider a compressor to drive their airbrush of choice, as air cans are too expensive, and they just don't have the finesse of a good air source. Generally speaking, compressors are big heavy things that you leave in one place connected to mains electricity for the majority of its working life, and quite a few of them are rather noisy into the bargain. That's been an accepted part of modelling for quite some time now, but what if you wanted to use your airbrush away from electricity, or in a hotel room, on holiday or just outdoors? Without a battery source, an inverter or an extension cord, you're out of luck under normal circumstances, but with the Viz (not the bawdy magazine), you have options. The Viz is a light-weight compressor that is reasonably quiet, not silent, and can be used either with a mains adapter, or most interestingly, with a battery pack that is available for a reasonable price and gives you the ability to go cordless. Yes. Cordless. A battery powered compressor, which is something you don't come across very often in the mainstream and at a reasonable price. Firstly though, let's discuss the compressor. Arism Viz Compressor If you read my review of the ARISM Min Compressor, you'll have an idea of the style, although this is a larger size, but it is also feels substantially lighter, as it weighs the same 2.5kg as the Mini. The fascia is metal on the Viz, and it has lightening holes drilled in the front that also act as cooling vents for the motor. There is a nifty Smart Stop airbrush rest on top of the compressor that has an on/off switch built in, so the act of putting your airbrush in the cradle switches off the compressor. I think that's a brilliant idea that saves fiddling with the on/off switch, reduces build-up of pressure in the hose as well as the build-up of operational heat, and also saves premature wear of the compressor parts when the brush is not being used. A strong black plastic carry-handle is also on the top of the device, far enough away from the airbrush rest to provide no interference. On the front panel is a single 1/8"BSP outlet thread, which fits the supplied hose, and virtually all the industry standard hoses out there if you need a longer one. A pressure dial is above the outlet, and this is adjustable by using the supplied Silver Bullet moisture trap. On the back is an on/off switch and a DC power socket that connects to either the AC adapter, or the battery pack, depending on how you are using it. Noise is pretty reasonable at a stated 45db, which I can believe from my own experience with various compressors and their noise. It isn't quiet, but neither is it obtrusive, and sat on its vibration damping rubber feet, you won't be irritating the people in the next room whilst using it. I'm used to a silent compressor, and this was akin to someone blowing a quiet raspberry from across the room, which was easily tolerable when compared to some compressors that claim low noise. The power pack that converts your auto-sensing 100v or 230v mains electricity to 12v DC plugs into the lead using a standard PC "kettle plug", so if you're travelling to other countries you can pick up a spare lead with their plug on the end for buttons. A 5.4mm coaxial plug fits into the socket on the back of the compressor, and as it is 12v, you could even make up your own lead to take power from a 12v cigar lighter, Hella socket, or even a leisure battery if you wanted to get the maximum use out of it. The stated maximum pressure is 50psi (3.4 Bar), moving 16-18 litres of air per minute, which should be plenty for the average airbrush user, and the pressure is regulated by adjusting the dial on the small Silver Bullet moisture trap as mentioned above. The only downside of this is that the regulator is actually only a bleed valve, so there will be air coming from your trap during use, which may kick up dust or debris if incorrectly oriented. The supplied hose is fine for most users, and screws directly into many airbrush air valves, with a few exceptions for which there are adaptors available. Its braided finish will ensure that it lasts, and the smooth finish of the material means that it slides over itself and nearby obstacles easily to reduce tangling. As there is no receiver in the compressor, the hose acts as the buffer between the piston's output and the airbrush, which might lead to stuttering concerns until you try it. In use the air flow is smooth, with no visible stuttering, even when swiping the airbrush over paper at high speed. The line sprayed is continuous with only the faintest evidence of a very slight variation of spray pattern. Under normal usage this will not be seen, and I have used it to paint the UE 2 that I have been building on the site recently, so can attest to this. The clatter of the piston does transmit to the airbrush handle however, but that doesn't seem to translate to the spray pattern, so as long as you are aware of it, it is a non-issue. When the hook on/off switch kicks in, it maintains pressure in the airline until you pick up the airbrush again, so there is no rising and falling air pressure, which means that your spray pattern should remain consistent throughout your session. If your airbrush has a MAC valve under the nose, you may have to put the brush into the rest at an angle, but as long as your paint cup has a lid, that's not a problem. Portability is good due to the light weight, although if you are using the AC adapter, you have more than just the chassis to carry around, but the box has a handle on the top, so could be reused for your accessories. If you are using the battery pack, the cord between them is short so moving the compressor with the battery attached is a two-hand operation, unless you either strap them together or use Velcro to attach them as I intend to once the review is completed. The casing of the battery has vents on the underside, so as long as those aren't blocked, overheating shouldn't be an issue. The Battery Option (Sold Separately) Battery use is simple and easy to switch to, although the battery packs and their charger are available separately, but at least you can choose how many batteries you want to have on hand. The charger is a small black socket that leads to a small rectangular box with an indicator LED and short fly-lead with a socket at the end to plug your battery pack into. The LED shows red when charging, and green when it has switched to trickle charge/maintenance mode when the battery is fully charged. The battery packs are 12v as you'd expect with a total capacity of 2ah/2,000Mah, and in use I have found you get around 30 minutes actual spraying from a charge if you remember to put the airbrush on the hook when not using it. Charging is fairly rapid with the charger putting 500Mah into the circuit, so if you have two or more on hand, you can rotate them to keep spraying, although in reality an airbrushing session is unlikely to last that long. Who should buy one? If you're a road-warrior modeller that spends a lot of time away, this could be for you, as it is quite portable and takes up little space in your luggage (20cm x 12cm x18cm). If you like to do a bit of modelling on holidays, or just sometimes model away from electricity, this could be a useful tool in your arsenal as long as the missus doesn't object to you bringing it along, but if you already model while you're on holiday, your argument should be that you want to at least do it well! Finally, if you just have a spray job a reasonable away from a source of power, then you can have a minimum or 30 minutes of happy spraying with this little unit. I'm sure there are other reasons why you might want one, but that's all I can think of now. Conclusion It's an endearing little box of tricks, and I can't help liking it for a number of reasons. Clever design of the hook switch, the compact size and the availability of battery power are pretty cool features, even if the latter is only for occasional use. The lack of receiver doesn't seem to impact performance unless you move your airbrush around like a madman, but I would have liked to see a more professional approach to pressure regulation given the price, as bleeding air from your moisture trap seems a little old-fashioned. Overall though, highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. 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
  9. 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;
  10. MAX-4 Airbrush Sparmax via the Airbrush Company Sparmax are a huge producer of airbrushes and compressors under other brands, but as you'd expect they also produce products under their own brand, and the Airbrush Company sell their range from their website. The MAX-4 is designed to be a budget airbrush, although there is very little about it that feels budget. It arrives in a small poly clamshell case inside a card sleeve with the Sparmax logo and colour scheme, and a choice of either MAX-3 or MAX-4 noted on the side. As you may have guessed, the number relates to the needle/head size, and in this case we have the MAX-4 with a 0.4mm needle. Sliding the box out of the sleeve you are greeted again by the logo, and a view of the airbrush through the translucent box, which is held firmly closed by a flexible clasp. The airbrush is cradled in a precision cut foam insert, with another thin layer beneath along with the instruction manual and exploded parts diagram. There is also a nylon cleaning brush with a chisel-point hidden away in the rear, which I missed initially until I read the side of the box properly. Also included is a choice of a solid or crown-shaped needle caps, a small spanner to undo the air-cap, and a strange straight-through replacement piece for the air-valve that bypasses the trigger and leaves the line always on. While you have the compressor on, your 'brush will emit air. I've seen this before on other 'brushes, and don't really see the need for them, but what do I know? If you agree, just ignore it like I do, and leave it in the box! Without that odd accessory, you have a top-fed dual-action airbrush of standard construction , with a 7ml colour cup and an adjustable pre-set knob on the handle that is usually only present on my expensive 'brushes. Breakdown is pretty standard, and cleaning is easy too, as the integral paint cup has a nice flat area at the bottom, which makes it easy to keep clean. Tension on the trigger's pull-back can be adjusted by screwing the internal adjustment screw that you'll find inside the handle in or out. I prefer mine with plenty of resistance, so I screwed that straight in as soon as I re-assembled it. The needle is held in place with another knurled screw inside the handle, and other than choosing whether you want a crown-shaped or solid needle cap to protect your needle, that's all the set-up you need initially. I prefer the crown needle cap purely because you can see the state of the needle a little easier through the gaps in the sides. In-use, the trigger has a nice positive actuation to begin air-flow, and slides easily back and forth within its machined slot even at maximum tension, backed by a needle-stop that is captive to the piston on which the needle is secured. That's a handy feature, as non-captive stops sometimes either get lost during cleaning/fumbling, or can be tricky to get back in place until you are familiar with how it fits. The preset handle has a knurled knob on the end that you wind in or out to control how far back the needle can travel. This is especially handy when you are attempting squiggle, mottle, or any other task where you will need a continuous paint pattern, but it doesn't have the click-on/off that more expensive 'brushes have, which permit you to switch the effect on and off at a whim. Under normal airbrushing conditions, it's worthwhile checking travel of the needle before you start a session, to ensure that you aren't going to run into the stop at an inconvenient point. The needle is 0.4mm, which is about as wide as you would want to go for an all-purpose airbrush, but it gives a good spray pattern with excellent atomisation at around 1 bar/15psi with correctly thinned paints – the consistency of semi-skimmed milk is a good guide. The colour cup has a slightly domed cap which is a friction fit, and has a small air-bleed hole in the top to avoid build-up of vacuum as paint is drawn through. The cap is easily removed with light finger pressure under the rim, but this gets more difficult if you leave paint to dry around the rim like I did. As previously mentioned, clean-up is a breeze due to the easy break-down, although I find the tiny paint nozzle used in this brush a tad annoying purely due to the ease of loss, and the fact that my fingers aren't as nimble and my eyesight as good as it used to be. Practically, they are no more or less efficient than other designs, and the spanner fits perfectly with no slop that could result in burred flats over the long-term. If parts loss bothers you, the Airbrush Company sell a nice cleaning mat with a raised edge that should allow you keep all your parts safe from loss or damage due to dropping. The needle is sturdy and easy to insert/remove, with spares available from the Airbrush Company, as are the other consumables, such as the o-ring that paint-proofs the trigger area and sits in front of the brass needle-guide. The needle-guide is removed by inserting a small flat-bladed screwdriver into the groove in its top and unscrewing it. Tease out the old o-ring and push the new one in, being careful not to cross-thread the guide as you re-insert it. A new paint nozzle will cost you less than £10, and a new needle will be under £8 at the time of writing, while the o-ring is a reasonable £5.29, and made of a chemical resistant PTFE mix. Conclusion My usual airbrush is an H&S Infinity 2-in-1 so you might expect a bit of snobbery, but this is a great little 'brush that should give you good service without breaking the bank, without seeming cheap in any way. They are also available in bundles with compressors, starting at very pocket-friendly prices, with a choice of colour of compressor body! Highly recommended. MAX-3 MAX-4 Review sample courtesy of
  11. ARISM Mini Compressor Sparmax via the Airbrush Company Sparmax are a huge producer of airbrushes and compressors under other brands, but as you'd expect they also produce products under their own brand, and the Airbrush Company sell their range from their website. These compact compressors fall between the tiny "fish tank" style compressors and the tanked compressors that weigh a ton! Ariving in a reasonably small and attractive looking box in the Sparmax Black and shades of orange scheme, which has a convenient carry-handle projecting from the top to ease your burden, the unit is further protected by a cardboard inner sleeve and polybag. Included is a two metre braided hose with a female 3/8" fitting at either end, and a three-pin plug that is already attached to the integral power cord. The compressor is enclosed in a painted metal housing with black plastic end-caps that have intake/cooling vents moulded in, with a simple on/off switch at the back, pressure adjustment knob and air outlet on the front. A carry-handle is bolted to the top of the device with a airbrush holder slot moulded in, which stands overall at just over 17cm from the desk, is 16cm deep (front to back), and 9cm wide, hence the "Mini" part of the title. It weighs in at 2.5kg (5.5lbs in old money), and won't take up much room if you're thinking about using it when you're away on business for example. The pressure control knob is surrounded by lines, but no pressure levels are given, so it'll be trial-and-error setting up the correct pressure for your needs, but once set you'll seldom need to vary it. Two things that the compressor doesn't have are probably not of that much importance to the intended buyer, and that is a moisture trap/regulator and receiver, or air tank as they're more colloquially known. The former isn't massively important in temperate climates with lower moisture levels, and adding one shouldn't be a problem if you need to, but does increase the weight, footprint and thereby reduce portability. The receiver is usually used to give two advantages. Firstly, it prevents the need to run the compressor constantly by building up pressure to be meted out by a regulator as needed. Secondly, it removes any pulse in the airflow caused by the back-and-forth of the piston, which can be a problem with some tankless compressors. Having used this in testing the MAX-4 airbrush, I haven't detected any pulse, which may well be attenuated by the 2m hose acting as a mini-receiver. A longer hose would further assist in this if you find it occurring at certain settings however. The compressor is easy to switch on and off after use, and the instructions state that you shouldn't use it continuously for more than 30 minutes without giving it a chance to cool down. That should see you through even the most complex of tasks in the real world. Noise It's an important aspect of using a compressor if there are going to be people about, and let's face it. We're people too. Some compressors are virtually silent at around 28db, emitting as much noise as a fairly quiet PC fan. Others are like a jackhammer going off inside your head at 58db+, and would get irritating very quickly, even if you were the only one in the house. The ARISM is very considerate in this respect, emitting a quiet burble that wouldn't disturb reasonable people, as it lacks any real bass vibe, so doesn't resonate through the desk into the fabric of the building. Compared to my spray booth's (cooker hood) exhaust fan, it is pretty quiet, and should be fine to use in the next room to others. [ In Use Set-up is easy, and the supplied hose mated well with the compressor without the use of the recommended PTFE tape. Stopping and starting was a breeze, although once or twice the piston stalled because I had left the air-hose pressured, which resisted the piston's attempts to start its stroke. Emptying the line allowed it to start normally, so that's just something to watch out for. I found the pressure dial borderline superfluous, as the majority of the dial wasn't producing enough pressure to atomise the paint properly, so it was almost an on/off switch. Peak flow of 12-14l/min (0.42-0.49cfm) probably plays a part, but whacking the dial as far as it would go gave me plenty of working pressure, so have a twist until you are happy with the results. I didn't notice any evidence of pulsing in my paint finish, although if you direct the air jet minus paint at your cheek (one of your most sensitive parts for detecting airflow), you can feel it ever-so-slightly pulsing. Its light weight and compact nature makes it handy for use on the go, and I took advantage of this and used it for a little paint touch up outside on the drive to good effect. Conclusion You are likely looking at this compressor as either your first foray into airbrushing, to use as a backup or to use in a portable or limited space situation, and for that it is really quite good. It is small, keenly priced, quiet enough to keep you out of trouble with the neighbours, and eminently portable. What it is not, is a fully-fledged compressor that you could use all day every day, with fine pressure control and everything built in, so if that's what you want, this isn't for you. If you buy it for its intended purpose though, you should be well-pleased, and as you can have it in a number of different colours* to match your… well, mood or whatever, it's quite a fashion conscious little unit. You might want to grab a Max-4 airbrush while you're there. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of * Available in Snow White, Electric Orange, Sakura Pink, Burgundy Red, Sky Blue, Star Silver (the colour of the review sample), Royal Blue.
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