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Aztek Airbrush


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Hello everyone 

 

I'm new in here but have taken the hobby back up during lockdown.

 

I used to mainly brush paint aircraft models and then spray gloss and matt finishes during the finishing stages using my Aztek airbrush (plastic body type).

 

I was going to try and use it more for feather edging etc but am having major issues just getting it to work at all. 

 

Air from the compressor is coming through but no paint. Tried it with one nozzle (grey) and nothing came through at all. Tried it with a tan nozzle and was getting air bubbles in the paint cup but still no paint - I was actually using water to test it so it wasn't that the liquid was too thick.

 

I was going to throw it but thought I'd take it apart and see if there was anything obvious but nothing seemed wrong. I've taken the nozzles apart and cleaned them - they seem to work without sticking so I'm at the end of the line.

 

Anyone had anything similar happen or know of any solutions?

 

If not I think I might just buy a cheap airbrush of Ebay as they are only £15 and might be worth a punt.

 

Thanks in advance,

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I had exactly the same issue as you with an Aztec a few years back now.  

 

I lost patience with it and went down the Iwata route and have never looked back since. 

 

Good luck and let us know what you decide to do. 

 

James

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Which model are you using? If it's either the 430 or 470, if you're getting bubbling in the cup, it can only really be the nozzles. I think that most people who use Azteks, myself amongst them, will fully disassemble the nozzles from time to time to ensure that all the crud has been removed. Whatever paint or thinners you use, there will always be some residue left behind, even after a thorough blast through. This accumulates over time and ends up impairing paint flow and eventually blocking the nozzle. I can always tell when I need to strip down the nozzle and it's usually a five minute job to clean and reassemble it. Use cellulose thinners to clean the nozzle components, as it'll shift anything

 

There's some useful information here on how to take the nozzle apart.

 

I've been using Azteks for over twenty years now and I love 'em.

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On 25/09/2020 at 17:36, lasermonkey said:

Which model are you using? If it's either the 430 or 470, if you're getting bubbling in the cup, it can only really be the nozzles. I think that most people who use Azteks, myself amongst them, will fully disassemble the nozzles from time to time to ensure that all the crud has been removed. Whatever paint or thinners you use, there will always be some residue left behind, even after a thorough blast through. This accumulates over time and ends up impairing paint flow and eventually blocking the nozzle. I can always tell when I need to strip down the nozzle and it's usually a five minute job to clean and reassemble it. Use cellulose thinners to clean the nozzle components, as it'll shift anything

 

There's some useful information here on how to take the nozzle apart.

 

I've been using Azteks for over twenty years now and I love 'em.

Ta for the info.

 

I think it's a 430. I've taken it apart again  and found some blockages in the paint feed area inside where the cup attaches. Cleaned it all out. Cleaned the head (again). Increased the spring pressure slightly on the head in case that was preventing the needle springing back.

 

Absolutely no difference!

 

I think there's a problem with the pin mechanism but I just can't see what it is. 

 

I'm going to try a cheap gravity feed job off Ebay for my own sanity.

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Have you removed the needle and spring from the inner nozzle? I find that's where the blockages tend to be. I flush through with cellulose thinners, either with a microbrush or a thin, rolled up piece of kitchen roll. Very occasionally I'll have to use some very thin wire through the needle aperture to remove any stubborn particles.

 

If you like, I can take a few photos of how I do it.

 

Of course, you may well have done everything I have mentioned, in which case it's likely you'll have to strip down the body. I've had to do that a couple of times and it's not too difficult.

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Thanks once again Lasermonkey.

 

I have completely disassembled it , cleaned everything (twice!) but to the same effect. I have a feeling there's a blockage somewhere inside the housing where the pin and paint mix. I thought I had completely cleaned it out but it's not very accessible so maybe there's a stubborn blockage out of sight. 

 

Your persistence has inspired me to give it one more go!

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If it's a plastic body one drop it in acetone for half an hour and wash with water. It will dissolve all paint.

 I had the same problems  and went down the H&S route .... never looked back

 

HTH

 

Dick

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Gave it another clean.

 

This time I managed to extract a solid chunk of gunk that did not come out last time (not sure how I missed it). The pin ran smoothly and I could see there was no more gunk in the paint channel or pin channel.

 

Tied it again with water having hand assembled it. I managed to get some spray out of it but was stuttering a bit but there were still some bubbles in the paint cup - but a lot less. Tightened the spray head with the spanner as I had read that this could be a cause and the whole thing just stopped working - no air or water getting through. 

 

I think the whole seating/chrome nozzle/pin assembly is knackered somehow - maybe I poked something down there in the past and scratched/gouged/misaligned it somehow. The chrome shroud does feel very loose but does not feel like it will not come off the plastic part it is attached to without it breaking so I can't really investigate further.

 

I think I've reached the end of the road - thanks for all the help guys.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have an Aztec (metal body) I got for like 50% off, new from Amazon, to augment my Paasche.  Worked well enough a couple of times, then started leaking paint along the seam of the body.  I contacted Testors and they said to send it to them for a service, which I did and when it was returned, again sprayed well for a couple of sessions and then had the same problem so I bought a new Paasche Raptor and like others haven't, looked back since.  As Testors no longer makes Aztek, one of these days I will take it apart and see if I can get it working just to see if it can be done.

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I found that the seal in the body had failed. Not something that's easy to fix. I gave in and bought a Harder-Steenbeck...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had a look on Ebay and found a double action gravity feed airbrush for £8.95!

 

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Just used it for the first time and it works perfectly. Build quality is not bad at all but at that price even if it fails  they are cheaper than a replacement nozzle for the Aztek.

 

Only issue was the connection as the adaptor just had a push-fit plug designed for a large-ish hose. I had an old Badger plastic hose so I soldered the adaptor into one of the ends and it works perfectly.

 

While I was at it I thought I'd buy some modern varnish so also ordered some Mig matt. I can't believe how much easier working with this is - no thinning, no decanting, wondering whether it will clog,  just stick it in and spray (I used to use Humbrol gloss and matt cote).

 

I'm going to start a collection of colours next and maybe switch from brush painting completely - seems so easy compared to trying to spray thinned down enamels (which is what put me off airbrushes in the past and why I limited its use to just varnishing). 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just to add that I had an Aztec airbrush (plastic body) for around 4 years and it worked fine but then one day I could hear air coming out of the body but could find no obvious reason why even after giving it a thorough check. Options were to send it off to the maker in the US for repair (not cheap) or bite the bullet and invest in a new one.

 

I'm glad to say I took the latter route and acquired an Iwata Eclipse HP-CS along with larger nozzle/needle kit as well and I have never looked back. Not only is it easy to use but it also gives great results (even in my unskilled hands) and is so simple to clean, take apart and service.

 

Regards

Colin.

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Just to add again that as a recent returnee to the hobby I still don't trust acrylic paints so sticking to using enamels (Humbrol or Xracolor) as I did before. I know Vallejo do pre-mixed colours in their 'Air' range but was not impressed with them when I tried them out a few weeks back.

 

So providing you thoroughly stir enamels, including varnishes, and dilute to roughly 70:30 paint/varnish to thinner with a psi of around 15 then things seem to work as they did 30 odd years ago. I know that it's a bit of a faff mixing/diluting, and I never have enough empty camera roll containers to mix paint and thinners anymore since the advent of digital photography, but the Eclipse handles this really well and cleaning it afterwards takes just a few minutes. Plus I always use PQ9 quick air drying thinners which is top notch  IMHO and allows the paint to dry much quicker than basic white spirit.

 

Regards

Colin.

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Azteks are the marmite of airbrushes. Love em or hate em. I bought one (a 430) 20 years ago as a starter brush and after 4 or 5 years it lost pressure. As there was a lifetime guarantee I sent it back and they replaced it with a 470. I've still got that one and since bought another (as a backup, as I do some commission work and so can't be without a brush) and rescued a 470 metal body from someone else who was getting rid of it. I still love the simplicity of use and cleaning and that's mainly why I've never moved on. 

 

When I got the metal body I noticed that it was screwed together so I opened it. I didn't think I could open the plastic body without breaking it (but I was incorrect there..). Its a relatively simple mechanism but in order to make it live as long as mine it does need to be stripped and serviced every so often. The head does get gunked which stops it opening and closing properly and needs a deep clean every so often. The early models had metal fittings for the trigger/valve mechanism but the later ones are plastic which can break. I've been successful in repairing broken ones with some modified staple wire. The real weak point is the air valve itself. It is simply a tapered rubber tube that is closed with a pinch mechanism in the air valve housing. This way of controlling the air has a great feature that I have not seen in any other double action brush. The air pressure is "linear", in that you can control the pressure from zero to whatever the pressure regulator is set to,  by increasing your "press" on the trigger. Every other brush is only ever fully  "on" or "off". 

The down side of this is that eventually the rubber will pierce where it is pinched and I've never been able to find or bodge a replacement. Once this goes the brush is useless. I've tried a couple of inexpensive brushes from China, but as I use everything from acrylic to cellulose (and everything in between) the rubber washers don't last more than a few painting sessions. The fact that I have 4 formerly working brushes here that are now useless because i sprayed cellulose paint has stopped me from buying anything else besides another Aztek. The aztek is impervious to any chemical I've put through it. Its a general purpose tool for sure, not for superfine work, but I love it.

 

What am I going to do if I can't use cellulose or lacquer in a conventional brush without having to replace washers every couple of weeks? 

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28 minutes ago, roym said:

 

What am I going to do if I can't use cellulose or lacquer in a conventional brush without having to replace washers every couple of weeks? 

Buy a good quality brush, like Iwata, mr hobby, or h&s? They all have teflon seals, which are impervious to cellulose thinners

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19 hours ago, daneel said:

Buy a good quality brush, like Iwata, mr hobby, or h&s? They all have teflon seals, which are impervious to cellulose thinners

Thanks for that. That's news to me. All my old info on Badgers etc showed rubber washers and seals. I'll keep the 3 Azteks until they are all dead but what would the collective recommend for a brush that can do 1/12 car bodies with Zero paints/lacquer, 1/72 aircraft with enamel and some weathering on 1/700 ships with acrylic? And doesn't take 30 mins to clean after a 2 minute spray? 

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1 hour ago, roym said:

What would the collective recommend for a brush that can do 1/12 car bodies with Zero paints/lacquer, 1/72 aircraft with enamel and some weathering on 1/700 ships with acrylic? And doesn't take 30 mins to clean after a 2 minute spray? 

Not sure you'll find just one airbrush that can do all that. But for the cars I use Tamiya HG Wide 0.5mm, Iwata Revolution CR 0.5mm and recently Gunze Mr Procon Boy 0.4mm single action which sprays fantastically with lacquer paints. Cleaning all is a doddle. Just use a little spray airbrush cleaner in the cup and place some tissue over the nozzle and backflush through the brush followed by spraying through. A quick wipe out of the cup and that's it, takes 20 seconds max. If you're stripping down and doing a full clean everytime you spray that takes 30 mins you're going too far. No need to strip the brush down unless it fails to spray. Over zealous cleaning of the airbrush will do far more harm than good.

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I struggled with a 470 for two years until I gave up. Lazermonkey and others were spot on about the various problems that could arise requiring much more invasive cleaning than was ever anticipated given the Aztek concept and while I could occasionally get improvements they were often short lived and rarely consistent. I think a lot of the problems related to the paint as much as the brush itself. The acrylics could be quite tricky given their tendency to dry fast and gunk so my use of the brush, coinciding as it did with my learning curve with acrylics probably didn't help. I've since found a 'traditional' airbrush design - H&S, Iwata and Sparmax - to be far more effective and far less hassle. And even though I've started to get better results from acrylic I now tend to use Mil-Spec enamels which work like a dream, from spraying to cleaning. 

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3 hours ago, roym said:

Thanks for that. That's news to me. All my old info on Badgers etc showed rubber washers and seals. I'll keep the 3 Azteks until they are all dead but what would the collective recommend for a brush that can do 1/12 car bodies with Zero paints/lacquer, 1/72 aircraft with enamel and some weathering on 1/700 ships with acrylic? And doesn't take 30 mins to clean after a 2 minute spray? 

No problem, mate :) Like you, I started with an Aztek, and once I learned all it's quirks, I got on with it pretty well, for more than a couple of years. But then I decided it was time to move on, and I splurged for a Paasche VL set, and man, my life changed... :) It was so much better, and more capable... It was like going from a Ford Escort to a Ford Mustang... In my opinion, the VL is THE best beginner brush, it's very robust (it's needle is almost 3 mm thick!) while still being highly capable, so it's suitable for learning new techniques. Most importantly, after the Aztek, the VL was so easy to use that airbrushing finally became a pleasure, while with the Aztek it was more of a chore. Then, when I decided to upgrade again, I went for an Iwata HP-CS. I thought I'll get better results instantly :) Was I wrong :) As I was so used to the VL, I just couldn't get the Iwata to work properly... So I left it in the drawer for a while... Then, after a couple of months, I decided to try again with the Iwata, but this time I started slow, practically learning to airbrush again. Now the Iwata is my favorite :) I only use the VL for wide area work, as it has a large nozzle. Recently, I decided to get something for fine work (even though the Iwata is capable of some pretty fine work itself), so I got an Mr Hobby PS-770. This is also a great brush. But, as the Iwata, there is a learning curve, and right now I'm at the bottom of it. Sorry if I went on a bit, I just wanted to let you know there are some very fine choices out there, and as someone who shared your experience with an Aztek, to tell you that it's worth it :)

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2 hours ago, Steve Noble said:

Not sure you'll find just one airbrush that can do all that. 

I did, it was an Aztek! 

I liked the fact I could use a small (tiny) gravity feed cup for weathering and a large syphon feed glass jar for big areas, on the same brush. And it was light. And able to spray Zero paints. And 10 mins later acrylic. 

 

 I did get a cheapo chinese side feed cup/jar jobbie off ebay but haven't used it other than testing. (It was bought to see what a "conventional" brush would feel like). It looks suspiciously identical to a Sparmax DH-115 or DH-125. 

What I've discovered, is it's heavy! And even more so with the braided hose and quick release connections...  Also, it seems to have a limited spray pattern, what I would call medium to heavy, but that's probably the origin of the brush and it's price point more than anything. I haven't tried anything harsher than IPA and some revell Acrylic in it yet though, through what is labelled as a 0.2 needle/nozzle. Also has a 0.5 set and something inbetween that's not labelled.

 

I suppose what I need is one that's a gravity feed with changeable cups, or at least a 10-12cc one. Large and small needles/nozzles. Easy to clean and get parts for. 

Or alternatively two reasonably priced brushes.

I could stretch the budget to about €300 for two good ones. I'd like to keep it under €230-250 for one.

When I started the options available here (interweb still in it's infancy) were Aztek (lots of value for the reasonable money), or Badger (reasonably priced) or Passche (expensive). Now the number of brands is mind blowing as are the various styles of brush. Anyine use the trigger-type?

 

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On 11/1/2020 at 5:43 PM, Marxtuf said:

I had a look on Ebay and found a double action gravity feed airbrush for £8.95!

 

spacer.png

 

Just used it for the first time and it works perfectly. Build quality is not bad at all but at that price even if it fails  they are cheaper than a replacement nozzle for the Aztek.

 

I also got one of those. Worked grand for about 5 minutes and then blocked up. Took it apart to clean it and found that what I think was the needle seal (inner of two just behind the forward chrome part, that the head is screwed onto) was made from some clear jelly like substance that was disintegrating. Can you let me know whats in yours? 

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