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Vallejo varnish blocking my airbrush.


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I got my first ever airbrush just a couple of weeks ago. It's a relatively cheap (£70 ish) rechargeable battery powered one.

 

Spraying the Vallejo paints straight from the bottle, I'm really pleased with the results. That said I have nothing to compare it with, never having owned an airbrush before!

 

I also got Vallejo varnishes in matt, satin and gloss. You're supposed to be able to spray straight from the bottle, but they all block the airbrush. So I spent yet more money on getting a bottle of Vallejo thinners, and no matter how much I add to the varnish, they all still block!

 

What's going on? Obviously I'm not going to go to the expense of getting a different airbrush, so do I need to try new varnishes?

 

(As it happens, the Pledge I got for canopies and never imagined you could use as gloss until I read it here, sprays perfectly.)

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I've just used Vallejo Acrylic Matt Varnish for the first time.  I thinned it approximately 50/50 with their airbrush thinner.  Sprayed at 20 psi with a 0.38mm needle.  It worked fine for me. 

 

Is the varnish drying on the airbrush tip or actually clogging it?  You might want to add 1 drop of Flow Improver for every 5 drops of varnish, if it's drying.
What size needle are you using?

What air pressure? 

 

 

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Echoing what @Railfan87 has said but flow improver really helps. Yes an extra expense but a little bottle will last you a long time. I use their satin varnish a lot and it is very good but I recently had problems because I had used an old mixed batch and bits of residue had come off the bottle into the mix.

 

Tip dry is also a problem so a small sponge/brush, lightly moistened with cleaner, will help clean it off.

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Thanks for the replies. It's a "no brand" airbrush. There's no control over air pressure and I don't know what the needle size is tbh... apologies, this is all very new to me! 

 

I actually ordered a different varnish, Winsor & Newton, before these replies came in. I've found a few people report the same issues with the Vallejo varnish in their airbrushes. (No slight on the varnish, it may well be the combination of that particular varnish and airbrush model.)

 

I'll see how I get on with the Winsor & Newton and if I still have no success, will spend yet more money and get the flow improver!

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If it's the Acrylic Winsor and Newton varnish then thin with water until it has a milky consistency. Airbrushes very well for me like this.

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So the acrylic Winsor & Newton turned up. It's as thick as wallpaper paste, so naturally, my airbrush cannot handle it at all. When tipped in neat, literally nothing comes out of the tip.

 

I continued to mix water with it, although I have no means of measuring (how do you measure ratios without a Vallejo style bottle where you can count the drops?). But I had to mix it so thin that it's effectively water coming out of the airbrush, and just tickling down the model (a sacrificial Spitfire in this case).

 

So that's another £7 blown.

 

At a loss as to what to try next to be honest. Any ideas, please?

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What you need is some calibrated mixing cups, disposable plastic syringes and/or calibrated droppers. Cheap and handy for precise measurements.

 

(You may have an old mixing cup from a medicine bottle lurking about.)

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On 2/20/2021 at 1:56 PM, Pete F said:

If it's the Acrylic Winsor and Newton varnish then thin with water until it has a milky consistency. Airbrushes very well for me like this.

Do you have a more precise ratio to thin it down to? (It still looked milky even when I almost completely diluted it!)

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I used some Vallejo Matt varnish for the first time today. It is quite thick compared to their Model Air colours, and sure enough it didn't flow when tried neat. The bottle says you can mix it with water so I did that rather than with thinner, approx 50/50, and it then flowed nicely.

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3 hours ago, keiron99 said:

Do you have a more precise ratio to thin it down to?

About 50/50. You could start a little less diluted and see if it shoots okay. I tend to do by eye and then test on a paint mule. You are looking at very thin coats that dry quickly. Do two or three and you will see the gloss become matt very quickly.

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Thanks, cos I'm hopeless at judging, I've ordered a couple of pipettes and some tiny "ink cups" to mix in. I don't suppose it has to be that scientific but at least I can see what's goin on. At the moment, I'm just sloshing it all in the cup on the airbrush and mixing it in there, which may be part of the problem.

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Windsor and Newton matt, gloss or satin all spray nicely when I thin to “around” 50/50 with water.  To be honest I just eyeball it:  but you are right the neat matt is like treacle!

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I just used Vallejo's gloss vanish and thinner for the first time yesterday. Turned the pressure down and it worked just fine 

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Gonna throw an obvious one into the mix, how often and thorough do you clean the airbrush ? If you don't clean it real thoroughly right after the clear it can create an invisible layer in the A/B and jam next time you use it. I had a similar problem a couple of years ago and just stopped spraying future/pledge my go to gloss. As no matter what I did I couldn't get it clean. I spray Tamiya XF-86 flat and mix it 1:1 with lacquer or X-20A to thin it down. I then break my A/B down after and completely clean it. I have three Iwata’s by the way. But even when I had the battery operated Tamiya A/Brush 30 years ago I did exactly the same. 

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I always put through a small bit of red paint after using clear vanishes, much easier to see when it's cleaned properly. 

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6 hours ago, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

Gonna throw an obvious one into the mix, how often and thorough do you clean the airbrush ? If you don't clean it real thoroughly right after the clear it can create an invisible layer in the A/B and jam next time you use it. I had a similar problem a couple of years ago and just stopped spraying future/pledge my go to gloss. As no matter what I did I couldn't get it clean. I spray Tamiya XF-86 flat and mix it 1:1 with lacquer or X-20A to thin it down. I then break my A/B down after and completely clean it. I have three Iwata’s by the way. But even when I had the battery operated Tamiya A/Brush 30 years ago I did exactly the same. 

I've only owned the airbrush a few weeks. But after every spray (only use Vallejo Model Air paints which work great in it), I was at least with water and spray it through until it runs clear. I have taken it apart a couple of times after doing this and everything looks spotless. It's just the varnish that messes it up.

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@keiron99 it sounds like you're doing ok so far, still might be an invisible layer of clear stuck in there. Do you know the needle size on the A/brush, that could cause an issue ? Vallejo and Ammo by MiG only like .3 or larger needle’s, the pigment isn't ground fine enough in them for smaller sizes. Ive got about 50-60 paints from both companies/brands. The Neo I use is.35 and my HP.BCS IS .5. My .2 Hp.B+ is only good for lacquers or Enamels. 

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1 hour ago, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

@keiron99 it sounds like you're doing ok so far, still might be an invisible layer of clear stuck in there. Do you know the needle size on the A/brush, that could cause an issue ? Vallejo and Ammo by MiG only like .3 or larger needle’s, the pigment isn't ground fine enough in them for smaller sizes. Ive got about 50-60 paints from both companies/brands. The Neo I use is.35 and my HP.BCS IS .5. My .2 Hp.B+ is only good for lacquers or Enamels. 

Thanks. As far as I'm aware it's a 0.3mm needle, so maybe at the limit of what it can handle.

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I ordered a couple of glass pipettes from Amazon yesterday. They arrived today, Really nice, just £2.49 for 2, delivered.

 

So tonight I measured out into a clean little egg cup 10 drops of Winsor & Newton matt varnish and 10 drops of water. Not just any old water, but distilled stuff (from Halfords - I use it for making solution to clean records). Poured it into my airbrush cup.

 

As far as I could tell, it sprayed really well from my airbrush. No obvious spitting, no clogging even when I set it down for a minute.

 

I sprayed a red wing of my sacrificial Spitfire and to be honest, I'm a bit disappointed. Firstly, it's not really very matt. I'd say it looks satin. Second, it's a bit "textured", not smooth. Almost as though tiny particles have got into the mix.

 

I'm rather reaching the end of my tether with my varnishing efforts!

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I usually do 2 coats of whichever varnish to ensure even coverage.  I’ve found it impossible to get done in one coat as I can’t see the extent of the clear varnish very well whilst spraying ; eg matt/gloss/satin type all look wet at first  over a glossy paint finish!  It’s exactly the same problem as painting white paint over white primer.  
Try another coat, alternatively if your current finish is pebbly you may be spraying too far away so it dries somewhat before reaching the model.

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Thanks. Yes, it is hard to see what's been done and what's been missed! Never really thought too much about distance. I guess I've been spraying about 6 inches away. Does that sound about right?

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On 2/22/2021 at 6:07 PM, keiron99 said:

So the acrylic Winsor & Newton turned up. It's as thick as wallpaper paste, so naturally, my airbrush cannot handle it at all. When tipped in neat, literally nothing comes out of the tip.

 

I continued to mix water with it, although I have no means of measuring (how do you measure ratios without a Vallejo style bottle where you can count the drops?). But I had to mix it so thin that it's effectively water coming out of the airbrush, and just tickling down the model (a sacrificial Spitfire in this case).

 

So that's another £7 blown.

 

At a loss as to what to try next to be honest. Any ideas, please?

 

Just to be sure, the Winsor & Newton varnish you have is the Winsor & Newton Galeria product?  ( yellow black and silver label )

 

If not you may have gotten ahold of the incorrect type. 

 

I use the matt and satin types and they are no way near as thick wallpaper paste.

 

For thinning or reducing I use Liquitex airbrush medium, Golden is another brand name. These products are not strictly a thinner. They contain acrylic binder, a flow improver, and retarder all in one. Over thinning is problem as you have discovered. Over thinning may cause the acrylic binders and pigments to start to separate. 

 

cheers, Graham 

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6 hours ago, keiron99 said:

I sprayed a red wing of my sacrificial Spitfire and to be honest, I'm a bit disappointed. Firstly, it's not really very matt. I'd say it looks satin. Second, it's a bit "textured", not smooth. Almost as though tiny particles have got into the mix.

 

I'm rather reaching the end of my tether with my varnishing efforts!

It may be the Varnish or the distance from nozzle to model at fault. The greater the distance allows for particles of paint or varnish to dry before hitting the wing. This gives it a pebbly effect. Sometimes buffing with a soft lint free cloth (old T-shirt) can rub the grit off but will polish it to a glossier finish. 

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10 hours ago, GrahamCC said:

 

Just to be sure, the Winsor & Newton varnish you have is the Winsor & Newton Galeria product?  ( yellow black and silver label )

 

If not you may have gotten ahold of the incorrect type. 

 

I use the matt and satin types and they are no way near as thick wallpaper paste.

 

For thinning or reducing I use Liquitex airbrush medium, Golden is another brand name. These products are not strictly a thinner. They contain acrylic binder, a flow improver, and retarder all in one. Over thinning is problem as you have discovered. Over thinning may cause the acrylic binders and pigments to start to separate. 

 

cheers, Graham 

Yes, it's defo the Galeria.

 

I was slightly exaggerating when I likened it to wall paper paste tbh!

 

I might "invest" in some Liquitex - it's more expensive than I'd hoped - but the spending has got to stop at some point!

 

 

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Wallpaper paste is an excellent desciptioon of Galleria matt in the bottle.  But it sprays great at 50/50.  I often thin with windscreen washer rather than water, and if that ideas no good for you, then the rest can go in the car!

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