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Need some airbrush advice please!


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It seems that my airbrush wows continue.  This time it's blocked up with flat aluminium and white, I tried a tiny amount of thinner, then at least 50%, even with the pain like water the AB gets blocked.  AB cleaner does bugger all, I have to strip down and try and clean.  That's it out of ideas.  Could it be that the cheap compressor is not capable to producing enough air and so the clogging get worse?  I do have a better one on the way soon.  Just to add this is the 3rd one now that I've tried - Expo AB800.

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I'm assuming it's Vallejo Aluminium you're using? Which one, the model air or model colour? The pigments in the metallics are very thick. I've used them myself and they clogged my airbrush too. Strip it down and clean it, needle, tip, everything. It will be blocked somewhere..

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I've never had a problem spraying Tamiya acrylics. I use the Tamiya thinner, usually at 50:50, that's equal quantities of paint/thinner. But sometimes I will thin a little more 60:40, that's 6 parts thinner to 4 parts paint. Always works well. I never find the need to use any retarder in any of my paint mixes. I'm using an airbrush with minimum 0.4mm tip, sometimes if I use my Tamiya brush it's a 0.5mm tip. Compressor has a tank, so plenty of air and I usually spray at around 20-25 psi...

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9 minutes ago, Steve Noble said:

I've never had a problem spraying Tamiya acrylics. I use the Tamiya thinner, usually at 50:50, that's equal quantities of paint/thinner. But sometimes I will thin a little more 60:40, that's 6 parts thinner to 4 parts paint. Always works well. I never find the need to use any retarder in any of my paint mixes. I'm using an airbrush with minimum 0.4mm tip, sometimes if I use my Tamiya brush it's a 0.5mm tip. Compressor has a tank, so plenty of air and I usually spray at around 20-25 psi...

The nozzle is .3 on mine.  Are you limited on nozzle size to the design of the AB?  Thinking I could use a larger nozzle maybe?

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Just now, Andy350 said:

The nozzle is .3 on mine.  Are you limited on nozzle size to the design of the AB?  Thinking I could use a larger nozzle maybe?

Depends on the airbrush? Some you can get a larger nozzle size. Usually you need the tip, needle and possibly the air cap too. Could be more cost effective to get a new brush with a larger tip? However you should still be able to run the Tamiya acrylics with a 0.3mm tip..

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1 minute ago, Steve Noble said:

Depends on the airbrush? Some you can get a larger nozzle size. Usually you need the tip, needle and possibly the air cap too. Could be more cost effective to get a new brush with a larger tip? However you should still be able to run the Tamiya acrylics with a 0.3mm tip..

I don't really want to buy another AB, just picked up this AB800, maybe with a better compressor this will happen less.  usually when I've been painting with other flat colours it had been fine.

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If you're painting other colours with no problem then it should be fine. However, I would say that the metallic paints from Tamiya are very heavily pigmented and I've found that they can be more trouble to spray and clog the tip up quite a bit. Have you tried any other brands of metallic paint?

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Just now, Steve Noble said:

If you're painting other colours with no problem then it should be fine. However, I would say that the metallic paints from Tamiya are very heavily pigmented and I've found that they can be more trouble to spray and clog the tip up quite a bit. Have you tried any other brands of metallic paint?

Not through the AB no, I have some metallic MIG paints that I could test with.  To be honest I rarely have to AB metallic paints.  Sounds like you are right though.  I can water down the Vallejo primers with water without any problems.

 

Cheers

Andy

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6 hours ago, Steve Noble said:

I'm not familiar with MiG paints? What are they? Acrylic, enamel or lacquer?

Sorry, not MIG, they are Vallejo, I do have some Acrylic MIG paints on order.

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1 hour ago, Andy350 said:

Sorry, not MIG, they are Vallejo, I do have some Acrylic MIG paints on order.

Ah, ok, I'm familiar with Vallejo. I've used Model Air in the airbrush and Model Color for brush painting. Never used any of the Mig paints myself..

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I've been away for a while.  Apologies.  Andy, are you cleaning your airbrush after each use and do you know what pressure you are spraying at?  If spraying Vallejo, they make an airbrush cleaner that really helps get all paint residue out.  It's a pain to clean, but in the end it's worth it because it prolongs the life of the tool, improves performance, and saves on the time between major strip-downs and overhaul.  I kind of view it like I do when I was cleaning my M4 when I was in the Army.  Takes time to do right but in the end makes a world of difference, obviously not a proper comparison, but you get the idea.  If you do strip down and clean your airbrush, and find it really gunked up, you could maybe use lacquer thinner as it is "hot" - just have really good ventilation!  Flory Models has a really good airbrush cleaning tutorial on their YouTube channel.  

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13 hours ago, Matthew1974 said:

I've been away for a while.  Apologies.  Andy, are you cleaning your airbrush after each use and do you know what pressure you are spraying at?  If spraying Vallejo, they make an airbrush cleaner that really helps get all paint residue out.  It's a pain to clean, but in the end it's worth it because it prolongs the life of the tool, improves performance, and saves on the time between major strip-downs and overhaul.  I kind of view it like I do when I was cleaning my M4 when I was in the Army.  Takes time to do right but in the end makes a world of difference, obviously not a proper comparison, but you get the idea.  If you do strip down and clean your airbrush, and find it really gunked up, you could maybe use lacquer thinner as it is "hot" - just have really good ventilation!  Flory Models has a really good airbrush cleaning tutorial on their YouTube channel.  

Hi, yes I clean after each use, i use either alcohol or Vallejo air brush cleaner, I also have a spray can in a solvent.  I am not sure if the problem is with the compressor, it is a very cheap model without a cylinder.  I picked up some small tube brushes, but only one will fit.

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7 hours ago, Andy350 said:

Hi, yes I clean after each use, i use either alcohol or Vallejo air brush cleaner, I also have a spray can in a solvent.  I am not sure if the problem is with the compressor, it is a very cheap model without a cylinder.  I picked up some small tube brushes, but only one will fit.

HI Andy

 

I am getting used to airbrushing too and had some of the same clogging issues you have had. What i found was that after thoroughly cleaning one type of paint (e.g. Tamiya or enamel) i needed to flush again with the Vallejo thinners before trying to paint with them

 

I am guessing that the remains of the previous thinners or cleaners was causing it to gunk up

 

It is only a guess though so could be wrong.......and could well be 🙂

 

Mark

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10 hours ago, Andy350 said:

Hi, yes I clean after each use, i use either alcohol or Vallejo air brush cleaner, I also have a spray can in a solvent.  I am not sure if the problem is with the compressor, it is a very cheap model without a cylinder.  I picked up some small tube brushes, but only one will fit.

Andy, hello.  one thing I do while spraying is keep a brush wet with Airbrush cleaner to very gently clean the nozzle and needle while spraying (I use a 0.25 needle and tip most of the time so I experience clogs a bit more).  No need to disassemble or cease your session, just gently wipe the airbrush needle and tip, spray away from the model to clear the tip, and go back to spraying.  A bit of a pain, I know but really the best way to handle periodic stoppages.  I would also check you thinning ratio and, if you can dial back the pressure on your compressor a bit.  Multiple thin coats are better than one heavy one - especially with Vallejo, as if the coat is too heavy, the paint may peel off later (I know this from experience).  I will spray a thin coat (almost a dusting), go make a cup of coffee or grab a beer, wait for about twenty minutes back after that coat is dried (not cured), wipe the needle and tip, give a second thin coat, and so-on until I am satisfied with the opacity and coverage.  It sounds burdensome, but really comes in handy with pre-shading.

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Its really hard to diagnose the real problem...
You might be pouring good money after bad if I advise to get a more expensive compressor, or the compressor might be ok its the airbrush thats at fault.

Its always the problem when you buy cheap though...
 

A compressor without a tank isnt a good idea, the modern ones from Sparmax or Iwata dont have one but are designed to provide on demand, even then I dont like them because of that.

 

These cheap chinese ebay, wish, amazon etc airbrushes are ok for the money but the money is stupid low in most cases.
If you like airbrushing then I would recommend a step up...
Iwata make a nice cheap bit of kit called a Neo, its not by Iwata but Iwata put their name to it. Its cheap, serviceable and it will give years of reliable service.
I would however tell you to save up more an get an Iwata HP-CS. Its a diamond workhorse and will not fail you if used correctly.
A "cheap" £60-80 compressor with a tank would be more than enough for most, you can pick them up on ebay or amazon 

 

Im not telling you to buy this one but this style would be my suggestion

 

Ive seen one used by a friend for a good couple of years of sterling service.

 

Buying cheap is good to get a taste of it, but after a while its time to either take a step up in investment or call it a day, and you dont sound like you want to do the latter.

 

Cheap airbrushes can be real joy stealers, combined with a cheap compressor that might or might not be putting out a limited 25psi then that would kill even me and Ive been using one for 30odd years and more.

Dont forget that regulator might not be calibrated properly, it might not be 25psi at all.

 

 

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16 hours ago, Andy350 said:

Hi, yes I clean after each use, i use either alcohol or Vallejo air brush cleaner, I also have a spray can in a solvent.  I am not sure if the problem is with the compressor, it is a very cheap model without a cylinder.  I picked up some small tube brushes, but only one will fit.

By cleaning, are you actually taking it apart to clean it?

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58 minutes ago, ElectroSoldier said:

A compressor without a tank isnt a good idea, the modern ones from Sparmax or Iwata dont have one 

Mine has

413738009.jpg
Sparmax TC-610H compressor
The compressor sits on its tank and has a regulator and water trap
There are ports for two airbrushes (if required), a blanking nut and air hose are supplied
The compressor runs very quietly and cuts out when the tank is filled - on/off 40/60psi
It is small by comparison with my previous compressor at 27x17x37cm
I bought this one from
http://www.modellingtools.co.uk/
no connection, just a satisfied customer

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2 hours ago, ElectroSoldier said:

A compressor without a tank isnt a good idea, the modern ones from Sparmax or Iwata dont have one but are designed to provide on demand, even then I dont like them because of that.

This is a preference.

 

I'm completely delighted with my tankless Iwata compressor.

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On 12/20/2019 at 12:29 AM, Ratch said:

Mine has

413738009.jpg
Sparmax TC-610H compressor
The compressor sits on its tank and has a regulator and water trap
There are ports for two airbrushes (if required), a blanking nut and air hose are supplied
The compressor runs very quietly and cuts out when the tank is filled - on/off 40/60psi
It is small by comparison with my previous compressor at 27x17x37cm
I bought this one from
http://www.modellingtools.co.uk/
no connection, just a satisfied customer

 

I knew it was a mistake to make such a statement.

Yes, some but not all the Sparmax and Iwata compressors have a tank too. Some of them dont.
They are the ones you need to stay away from as modellers generally want a constant flow of air qhich means those on demand compressors will be always on, so offer no advantage for the cost.

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It seems like there are multiple issues going on here.

First compressor. does it have an auto stop and pressure gauge. In other words does the compressor auto stop at a set pressure that you set.  Regardless of if you want a compressor with a tank or not, the auto stop and gauge is the key part of the compressor. I have a thayer chandless compressor thats nearly 30 years old with no tank, but does have the auto stop and pressure guage. It woks perfectly, best 100 dollars i ever invested in tools.  
 

As to paints and thinners. All paints regardless of type will tip dry, you need a small paintbrush of cotton swab soaked in the correct thinner for the paint at hand while you airbrush. A quick but gentle swipe usually stops the tip drying. The other thing is experiment with the paints you plan to use at different pressures, not all paint like low pressure or high pressures. I usually spray at 20 psi, but this depends on what i’m doing . for very close up work i might use less pressure but thinner paint. I’m talking quarter inch away from what i’m painting with no crown on the airbrush, so very close up.  

Spend the time practicing with the paints you intend to use, it pays huge dividends when you use the airbrush in anger on a model. Say with Italian desert swirls on aircraft....

 

There is no such thing as generic airbrush cleaner. Take iwata media (sp) cleaner, it works mostly with water based acrylic cleaning tasks. It doesn't work so well with ak interactive paints as  an example because these are not water based, however  what you can use is lacquer thinner to clean an airbrush. Just be careful, lots of ventilation, face mask thats good for chemicals.  My regimen between colours is 2 cc of the correct paint thinner for the paint i am using, followed by two cc’s of laquer thinnner if needed. Then air with no paint

 You spray this through the airbrush, into a sealed container, either bought or just a margarine container with paper towel inside and a hole for the airbrush to poke into the lid. I spray usually 2 cc’s through and force the paint back through the cup and i’m good for the next colour.  I strip the airbrush after each session, no exceptions, an airbrush is like a gun, you keep it clean and lubricated and it works every time.
 

Thinning the paint before spraying, experiment experiment and experiment some more. Thinner is always better but with say water based acrylics this can be a problem since they may not cover so well or spatter... for various reasons i tend to not use water based acrylics for airbrushing, my preference, but others love them.  
 

metallics are a subject to themselves, they are finicky to spray and you must strip the airbrush before using again. Use the correct thinner, and don't assume the thinnner is the same as non metalic paint even from the same manufacturer. 
 

 I wont get into acrylics other then to say, acrylic is the way the paint is suspended in the carrier fluid, its not the type of fluid. Which can be water, alcohol, petroleum based etc. The only ones that can be thinned with water are the ones that say they can.  You end up with a mess on the paintbrush or in the airbrush if you don't understand this point.

 

last but not least wear a chemical rated mask or respirator, no matter what you spray... All paint is toxic if you ingest atomized particles from an airbrush.... its cheap insurance for your health, no need to spend a lot, you can buy them in the hardware store, they just must be chemical rather than particle proof.

 

hth’s Ray

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Really helpful thanks everyone. Does anyone know the ideal psi for both Vallejo Primer, tamiya acrylic and mig ammo acrylic? Sorry for the short response, typing on phone! 

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1 hour ago, Andy350 said:

Really helpful thanks everyone. Does anyone know the ideal psi for both Vallejo Primer, tamiya acrylic and mig ammo acrylic? Sorry for the short response, typing on phone! 

Probably no one answer to your question. Airbrush type, compressor, and set-up of each individual user will make predicting exact pressure etc with each paint difficult. Me, well I just tend to spray everything at the same psi, 25-30 psi. I only lower it for Alclad paints as they are so thin they don't need much pressure to atomise them. I sometimes up the pressure to 35+ psi when using my 0.7mm Sparmax GP-70 to clear coat a larger scale project such as a 1/12 car..

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