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Chinese compressor with a tank or a good compressor?

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I have a cheap Chinese compressor that I got for around 50 quid or so. Came with a cheap airbrush as well. No complaints about the compressor so far but the airbrush was pretty basic and would be no good for fine detail work. Can't think of the model off the top of my head but if you look on the likes of Amazon or ebay you'll see the kind of thing.

Edited by MagyarMatt
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Like has been said depends what your budget is. I currently have a compressor with a tank and find it better than the stand alone compressor I had.

I would advise getting the best kit you can afford. Sometimes its worth the extra piece of mind/warranty/advise/back-up you can get from a reliable supplier rather than ebay/amazon etc, I found Martin @ Air-craft.net very helpful in this respect.


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As has been said budget and expectations are part of the choice,

If you have a low budget get a chinese compressor, AS-18 or AS-186 if you can stretch to it & spend the majority of the money on a good airbrush that will cover the range of painting that you require.

The way I look at it is that you need a constant air supply.

The basic air cans cost a fortune and pressure varies as they cool down in use. You can get a basic chinese compressor for the price of 5 air cans.

On the better quality compressors you are looking the region of £135 to just over £200 for similar devices.

If you can afford more then one of the better quality ones should last a lot longer, but not if you are on a low budget.

On the airbrushes, you are looking at quite a range of areas to paint from fine detail to area work on the larger aircraft. Without more infor it's difficult to point you towards a complete solution, so here are three popular brushes we stock.

As a beginner on a low budget I would point people to a Harder & Steenbeck Ultra 2in1 priced around £79. This is a good quality easy to maintain brush and is supplied with a 0.2mm nozzle for detail work, down to 1mm. As well as a 0.4mm higher flow nozzle for area work and priming. as well as 2 & 5ml paint cups.


For a medium budget the Harder & Steenbeck Evolution Silverline 2in1 (about £129) offers you a similar spec, but also has a preset handle to set a maximum paint flow and a tiny 0.5ml internal paint cup as well as upgrade options for the future.


At the top of the range is the Harder & Steenbeck Infinity CRplus 2in1 #2. This has a preset handle with a memory, so you can switch it off and on, a pincer aircap that is useful in fine detail work and to see & clear any acrylic buildup on the tip. It also has a heavier duty finish. This has the same spec nozzles and same sized paint cups as the Evolution and is priced at £200.


Whatever you buy make sure you know how to use it and clean it.

With H&S brushes we supply a copy of their starter DVD and a set of their cleaning brushes to help people along the learning curve.


Edited by little-cars
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Funnily enough I run an AS-186 compressor (<£70 with 2 fairly basic Chinese airbrushes) that came as a birthday present from SWMBO several years ago with an H&S Evolution CR Plus (not the 2 in 1 though, just the 0.2 mm) that I bought from Paul at a show after he let me try several others. The compressor hasn't missed a beat and the Evolution is a revelation: idiot proof to use, exceptionally easy to clean, adjustable enough for everything from fine squiggles to fairly rapid, even coverage and beautifully balanced in the hand.

I reckon if I get 5 years out of my AS-186 I will be more than happy with the service it provided as it has been a great entry to the wonderful world of airbrushing.


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I'm running an AS-186 but its struggles to keep up with my Iwata HP-TH: At our last meet, one of our club members brought this brute along and ran multiple modellers brushes. Now whether you think its overkill or not, at 47DbA it seems quieter than my AS-186. When only he used it, it seemed to run for about 30 seconds every hour to top up the tank.

In terms of cost it seems an awful lot cheaper then the high "airbrush" compressors such as these which have a much smaller 6 L tank as opposed the others 24L (bigger tank=less compressor running). I should also point out at nearly 20 kilos its not exactly portable but if you've got the space it could be just the thing. Looking at his, it seemed built like a main battle tank and he happily trundled it from the car park to the village hall with no problems and popped it in the back of his Ford Focus without any drama

You could also say , "mine is bigger" to virtually every modeller you meet...


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Hi Jimbob. In answer to the first question, it'll help your pocket and decision if you stop thinking of all PRC manufactured goods as junk inferred in your initial sentence. The problem persists in your thinking, not PRC products. Today, a few still are, but most are not. Fine to be sceptical and examine objectively, but bear in mind it's 2016 not 1996. I was around in the 1960's when "Made in Japan" was also a synonym for "junk". Just a decade later, everyone from car manufacturers to camera and other appliance manufacturers weren't laughing any more. So too IME, if not quite to the same all inclusive extent, with "Made in PRC" goods today.

I've had an AS-186 for two going on three years now as memory serves. IME it's all the compressor most hobbyists will need for a single airbrush operation solution. And, it's very quiet running. If you want noisy, try my 1980's Miller with reservoir tank -what a horrible joke that was, or my other current "proper brand" larger capacity1990's Ingersoll-Rand! OMG+!!! However all were/are reliable running.

Don't overlook quiet in operation or portability and storage profile unless you paint in a subterranean basement or soundproofed shed in the back yard, with a surfeit of storage space to spare.

If I were to buy again for purpose, I can't think of a single reason for me not to buy a Fengda AS-186, whatever it's rebranded.

Re your second question. Answered above. Reservoir tank size. IME the AS-186 tank is adequate for purpose. Only reason a larger tanked noisier compressor is needed for the home hobbyist IMO is if you intend running either, A. a multiple airbrush simultaneously in use scenario, which unless you have the body of Kali is unlikely, or B. are using other than a hobbyist sized/dual action type of airbrush requiring greater volumetric airflow. For plastic kit modellers, the latter is generally null.

Does the AS-186's motor kick in to refill the tank during spraying? Invariably yes. But, it's quiet and sufficiently irregular to not present as either annoying or an issue to me even where it's located immediately beside me. And wish that it weren't so, I would rate myself in the higher sensitivity bracket of being aggravated by excessive or unnecessary noise.

My frame of operational reference: Mine is most frequently deployed in conjunction with US manufactured Badger 150 medium and fine or large needle/head suction feed dual action airbrushes spraying 1/48 scale air and 1/35 scale armour. i.e worst case. Although I can only use one airbrush at a time, I have a (Sparmax) twin hose outlet fitment downstream of the first stage filter, water trap and regulator just to save swapping out airbrushes. i.e. fine head/medium/coarse heads or multiple colours. The other two airbrushes owned and used most frequently on the AS-186 are both integral top cup gravity feed. One a (Thayer and Chandler Made in the USA by Badger) Omni 5000 which is fine head/needle, the other a PRC Fengda Iwata clone (medium head). These typically spray at lower pressures. Hoses deployed are standard diameter braided 1/8 BSP fitment, with secondary inline (Sparmax Silver Bullet) water traps.

As always, your money - your choice.

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