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good basic airbrush?


scott

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I'd like to get an airbrush for experimenting with model-painting projects, as well as for a few other unrelated projects. But I don't want to spend a lot of money, and I don't want to waste money trying cheap models that turn out to be crap. So basically I want the Holy Grail of airbrushes for under a dollar, and I want it to have been made by well-treated craftspersons in the Socialist Workers' Paradise.

 

Any suggestions?  :grin

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I really like my Paasche VL. Kits including accessories can be had for <$100:

http://www.google.com/products?q=paasche+VL

These are really well built, and will last you a long, long time.

 

I also really like my cheapo Harbor Freight compressor:

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=93657

 

 

 

I'd like to get an airbrush for experimenting with model-painting projects, as well as for a few other unrelated projects. But I don't want to spend a lot of money, and I don't want to waste money trying cheap models that turn out to be crap. So basically I want the Holy Grail of airbrushes for under a dollar, and I want it to have been made by well-treated craftspersons in the Socialist Workers' Paradise.

 

Any suggestions?  :grin

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It may be just a familiarity thing, but I've used Devilbiss Aerograph Sprite Majors for 25 years, and rarely had any problems. I'ts been a year or two since I bought one, so I'm not sure how much they cost, but they are really easy to use, and can produce quite fine work.

 

Hope this helps

 

Phil

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It may be just a familiarity thing, but I've used Devilbiss Aerograph Sprite Majors for 25 years, and rarely had any problems. I'ts been a year or two since I bought one, so I'm not sure how much they cost, but they are really easy to use, and can produce quite fine work.

 

Hope this helps

 

Phil

 

Phil - I've never seen that airbrush in the USA. We usually have Badger, Aztec, Iwata, & Paasche (I've probably missed some others) Is there a difference with the Devilbiss?

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I also really like my cheapo Harbor Freight compressor:

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=93657

 

 

and if you dont want to listen to the purr of the compressor all the time inside you can get a cheap 5 gallon air can from sears for under $20. just get some cheap quick connect fittings to make a fill hose and a use hose and you can have air inside w/o noise. i keep my can filled so i can blow things off and use for the air brush, etc inside w/o the compressor as usually my uses like that are short and the can lasts quite a while. then just pop it on the compressor when needed and top it off.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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This may be a dumb question, but can you fill an air can from a gas-station air hose?

 

yep, but the trouble will be you would need to fit a tire stem onto your air can to fill it with the tire valve on the end of the gas station air hose.

 

when you have your own air system (ie a compressor) you can get these little male and female snap connectors that allow you to pop hoses onto the compressor/tank and all your tools. allows for a rapid connect/disconnect even under pressure. usually have a male connector on the end of your tools and a female on the compress or or tank. then your hose has a male to female on it to connect between the compressor and tool.

 

problem is the gas station does not use these outside as folks could walk off with the tire valve adapters then! you could probably find a tire stem that would thread onto a snap connector so you could pop it onto your air tank for filling at the station, but could be hard to find.

 

other option is to see if anyone you know has a small compressor and you can mooch a fill now and then. they most likely have a female snap fit on the end of their hose and you would have a female on your tank. just make a little male to male connector and you can hook in and fill up.

 

for low usage a small compressor like the one referenced at harbor freight or other small ones there or watch sears sales. if you find yourself desiring a small nail gun for doing small woodworking on the layout and house you can sometimes find a great deal on a msall brad nailer and small compressor.

 

other accessories that are helpful are a small air regulator that gives you finer control of our out put pressure and a moisture trap. the moisture trap helps keep your air dry as small dropplets of water in the system end up rusting stuff from the inside and also can make things like air brushes sputter.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Phil - I've never seen that airbrush in the USA. We usually have Badger, Aztec, Iwata, & Paasche (I've probably missed some others) Is there a difference with the Devilbiss?

 

I'm fairly sure Devilbiss is an American company, in fact I seem to remember that the original Mr Devilbiss is largely credited with inventing the idea of airbrushing as we know it (or something like that, I can barely remember breakfast these days!)

 

The Aerograph Sprite (the "Major" bit of the name refers to the suction cup, standard Sprite is gravity fed) is a pretty conventional double action airbrush, quite versatile and reliable. Here's a photo of my brush holder.

 

DSCF0003.jpg

 

There are four working Sprite Majors, two dead ones for spares, an old Olympus which I use exclusively for white, a Paashe air eraser, and a Badger someone gave me which I haven't got around to trying to fix yet!

 

As with most things, it's ultimately down to personal preference. The only advice I would give is avoid the cheap unbranded ones from a certain popular website, as everything I've heard about them points to them being unreliable and difficult to get spares for...

 

Phil

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It's all going to be based on the quality of work you want to render. All of the suggestions posted are viable solutions but they also come with consequences.

 

Starting with the brush. There are different types of brushes all having different abilities and specialties. General painting verses detailed finishes, it all depending on what you are going to paint and the grade of the outcome.

 

The key is in the spray pattern and finish that the brush will deliver. Paint a small piece with a brush that delivers high volumes paint will place a thick coat of paint covering the detail of the piece. This is just one factor that one need to consider. You have to get the right brush for the right job. Another factor is the number of brushes. Notice the number of brushes in the image posted. Why because it is so much trouble switching from solid colors to opaque or translucent colors. Add the brushes and then we go to the compressor   

 

The compressor you will need has to deliver and maintain enough pressure to run your brush or brushes. When the air pressure changes or drops so does the spray consistency. The brush may start spitting and then you have specks of paint all over your beautiful sky back drop. Now it's time to start all over. An air tank is fine but it won't maintain consistent air pressure. You will have to keep filling it up after half of the air is gone if not sooner. The cheaper diaphragm compressor has a problem in that the air pulses from the diaphragm causing the paint spray to pulse also. This created an undesirable finish.

 

I am talking from experience. I took the short/cheap route and ended throwing the cheap stuff away and ended up paying $700 for a compressor (5 gallon Badger silent oil type runs like a refrigerator so I have it near me) about the same for 6 brushes (Paasche and Vega) and hoses to connect them.

 

You don't need to go that far but a decent compressor for sure and 2 good brushed to start with.

 

Buying airbrushes is no different than buying a regular paint brushes. The .99 cent brush will surely leave its bristles behind as well as a cheap airbrush spitting all over your work of art.

 

Inobu               

 

 

 

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Scott - There are a lot of good suggestions here and there is a learning/practice curve in how to use it. (No way I'll ever accomplish Stickboy's skill with one) My analogy for selecting one is that it's like writing with your favorite pen, at lot has to do with how it feels in your hand and the ease of using it. I have an Iwata Eclipse bottom feed airbrush and love it. I also have a Thayer & Chandler top feed and hardly use it because (basically I'm lazy) it runs out of paint quicker. (Impulse buy, the store was going out of business and it was 60% off)

Since we both like in the USA I use Dixie Art Supplies, they have great customer service, prices and shipping. Here is their link: http://www.dixieart.com/

 

If there is a Art Supply store near you take a drive over and handle the airbrushes and see which one feels best to you. Dixie Art also has some starter kits to give you an idea what you will need. When I had to weather all the track on my layout with rust paint, I'm glad I used an airbrush, it looks better and was a huge time saver.

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It depends of a few questions in which you have to answer. The first being how much you want to spend and what are you willing to sacrifice.

 

The ideal compressor is one that is built for the trade. These are known as oil type which uses a air compression system similar to a refrigerator motor. These are really quiet and costly. Cheaper compressor are found at Sears for work shops and are much larger but tend to be really noisy.

 

The bottom line is how much you want to spend for convenience.

 

Take space and usage into consideration. If you have a garage and are willing to run a hose from the compressor to your work area than the shop type is fine. If you have space constraints and noise concerns then pay the price for oil system.

 

I paid for convenience in that I can pack my system in it's box and pull it out when ever I need it. That for both air brushing and small shop usage.

 

Look on Craigslist, you will find the oil systems from time to time and half the price.

 

I have this one

ABAC%20silent.jpg

 

They generally look like this.

 

17610.gif orSilentaircompressor.jpg

 

The tank size matters in that the tank determines the area in which you can paint or cover.

 

Here is the example:

 

The Super silent 50 has a .9 gallon tank. If you are going to paint a N scale building or something this is fine. The surface area is less than .9 gallons. This means that you will use a small amount of air and the compressor will run in short spurts.

 

Let say you are going to spay a 15"x20" layout one color. The surface area is much more than .9 gallons. This means that the SS50 will be constantly running trying to replace the air that you used to paint the surface area of the layout. The problem is the motor will overheat and shut off because you are out spraying the tanks air capacity. The concern here is just ware and tear and that there are considerations needed in selecting the right size tank.

 

So make sure that your tank capacity is in line with your desired spay area or know that you have to segment your surface area to match your tanks capacity.

 

Inobu

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Scott,

 

i would keep my eye out for a good sale on one of those little contractors compressors, with like a 2-5 gallon tank. they dont take up a lot of space and the good thing is that many times you can get a brad nailer an hose with them which are really handy things to have around the house.

 

if the compressor is too loud for you (they rarely are quiet tools!) where you are airbrushing then grab a $20 (or less i think i got mine on sale for like $12) 5 gallon portable tank. fill that up then take it to your spray booth area. yes you will have to refill it now and then, but 5gal pumped up to 90psi will give you a lot of airbrush time. you will need a regulator on your tank or compressor/tank to keep an even pressure to your airbrush.

 

im a big fan of the portable tanks as it has all sorts of great uses. filling tires where you are not near the compressor or dont want to lug all the hoses out and stretch it all the way is great. also when doing some odd jobs in the house the air nailer is great and the tank gets me 30 or 40 nails at a crack. much quieter than the compressor there in the house and i dont have to lug the compressor into the house. you can also take the whole thing on the road easily! i tested one time taking a full can to the train show and we blew the jrm layout tracks off well with it! a hair dryer on no heat is probably a better solution for this, but the tank was a great thing to just grab and go.

 

air compressors are addictive! i have picked up a few air tools cheap over the years and they are great for quick polishing and grinding and cuttoff saws. air gets you spinning fast in a short time so you can do short burst easily.

 

my dirt simple and cheap 2.5gal pancake compressor from harbor freight i got like 12 years back for about $65 is still cranking (he does not like it when its below 45 degrees first starting up, but once running its fine -- but im kinda the same way now days...). i got the cheapo as i expected to move up in a couple of years to a better, heftier one, but have never gotten around to it and use this sucker for all sorts of stuff. gotten a lot of use and i have not maintained it as well as i should have!

 

all this is to say its one of those tools i think you may find many uses for and use it lots in the long haul so worth thinking about spending a little money on. even if you end up finding airbrushing is not for you the compressor can do other things!

 

cheers

 

jeff

 

ps the jrm guys will tell you (if you cant from this message) that im a bit of a tool junky as well as a japanese train junkie...

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i agree with inobu that dont go below 2gal for tank size unless you live in a tiny box and need every cubic inch of space for living. even a 2 gallon pancake compressor will have enough under even really heavy use to keep up. as long as it sits a few minutes between filling it should not overheat. even when i have used a tool like a grinder a lot (that sucks way way more air than air brushing) the compressor has kept up well for a long time.

 

tank volume and the max pressure it will pump to (when it auto shuts off), and the airflow and pressure your tool needs will determine how much you can do at a crack. most small units shut off at 90psi. larger ones can go up to like 120 or even 150 which gets you like 50% more use time for the same volume tank (but usually the tank size also gets bigger as well!) for heavy duty applications.

 

air brushes work at lower psi like 30psi or so, but they also are very very small air flows (ie volume per time), so 2gal at 90psi gets you quite a bit of airbrushing.  

 

nailing and grinding eats up air a lot faster as you are gobbling high volumes at high pressure.

 

there are two major kinds, oil and oil-free (sealed). the oil ones require you to keep a reservoir of thick oil topped up to lube the compressor piston. to be good you should flush this every so often like you do your car oil to get out any grit that has gotten into it, but unlike your car oil the oil is not recirculated, but ends up going thru the whole thing. bad news is that you can get small amounts of oil into your air, but you can put a trap on your system to get rid of this along with any moisture that condenses out. oil free compressors are sealed up and dont require adding oil. downside is they usually dont pump that much air and dont last as long with abuse. oil compressors can hang in there an amazingly long time with lots of abuse!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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this is a small diaphragm type compressor, this one looks to be a double one so that it evens out the air flow w/o a reservoir tank. this compressor lists for about $300 or so, expect the price will rise.

 

diaphragm compressors are small and a bit more quiet than cylinder compressors, but put out pretty low pressure (usually fine for airbrushing) but can give you some sputtering because of the way the air is forced out in little puffs from the movement of a diaphragm through a one way valve. im not a heavy duty airbrush guy and have never had one of the little diaphragm compressors so i can talk tot his totally, but the little i have heard is dont buy a cheap diaphragm compressor.

 

i think we have an airbrush artist here on the forum (stickboy) with a lot of experience, perhaps we should poke him to see if he has good thoughts! also there are a couple of other airbrush threads going:

 

http://www.jnsforum.com/index.php/topic,433.0.html

http://www.jnsforum.com/index.php/topic,2471.0.html

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Just grabbed two used-but-good Paasche VLs for $40! They come with new needles and tips, hoses, and a two-hose manifold-thingie so they can both be connected at the same time.

 

The compressor will have to wait for a good deal, but this seemed too good to pass up.

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Scott,

 

good shopper! love deals like that! keep an eye on the homedespot, sears and harbor freight, they sometimes have some great compressor deals that include a brad nailer and hose which is a great item to have around for the layout and house! a few of the package deals ive seen for a 2gal compressor and the nailer are better than the usual cheap price for the compressor!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Just grabbed two used-but-good Paasche VLs for $40! They come with new needles and tips, hoses, and a two-hose manifold-thingie so they can both be connected at the same time.

 

The compressor will have to wait for a good deal, but this seemed too good to pass up.

 

Scott - you got 2 for $40.00!? It seems like you got a good deal. Here is what one costs new at Dixie Art where I get my supplies:

http://www.dixieart.com/Paasche_VL_VLSTPRO_Airbrush.html

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Yeah, it seemed like a good chance to grab some cheap. I hope they're as well-maintained as advertised. Of course, I'm going to need a few miscellaneous parts that would have come with a new kit.

 

EDIT: And yeah, I'll definitely check the stores for compressor deals. But if I can find a good deal on a quiet one that I can use in the house without bothering anybody, that'd be ideal.

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