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Hi all,

I'm looking to purchase an airbrush (and possibly a compressor too) and I wanted some opinions on what's bad, good and great!

 

I would be using it for a variety of things but mainly for modelling purposes (plastic & wood).

 

Preferably, I want something that is good quality which would last a lifetime (bearing I'm 61 so my lifetime's not gonna be that long 😂😂😂)

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I've had a Badger for about 20 years now, I believe it's a Model 155. The thing is well made, is easy to clean and usually allows me to do whatever it is I want to do with it. It's also easy to take apart and reassemble when I want to give it a really good cleaning. I think it's one of Badger's relatively inexpensive models. Got mine, along with a compressor, from Model Expo. Both have held up very well. I would recommend getting a compressor. Prior to getting the Badger I'd tried using an inexpensive plastic airbrush with cans of air and didn't have much luck and really couldn't figure out how to clean it.  

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Tom

As for compressor - buy one with a tank, having the tank will provide you a constant pressure of air flow, as for brand it's not so necessary to buy a "brand name".

Now for the airbrushes, three of the top notch name are Badger, Iawata and Paschee. Here is the general consensus  - higher price tag better quality and performance.

Look at our sponsor USA Airbrush Supply, this should give you an indication of what to go for even in the UK.

Good luck with your selection.
I am using a generic compressor without tank with Iawata and Paschee airbrushes. 

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Iwata do some great airbrushes and that's what I use for my work, including magazine work. I have an HP-CH and HP-C+.

 

There is a cheaper Iwata called a Neo and they perform superbly too. I would also tend to go for gravity-fed.

I've also heard great things about the Mr. Hobby Procon too.

 

My compressor is an Iwata Smart Jet.

 

Take a look at www.airbrushes.com for some ideas. 

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I just bought the badger 150 through this forum (thanks Kurt!). I was initially a little worried about double action being too hard but I played around a bit with it last night and it seems great!'

 

I have a small 3gal air compressor that I use around the garage and that seems to be working just fine.

 

Best of luck!

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 I have a Badger 150 that has served me well (when I've needed it) for many years.   When I got it I was living in an apartment and the noise of a compressor was unacceptable, so I started with CO2 and have stuck with it.    CO2 is silent and there are no concerns about moisture in the supply, though I don't think this is the cheapest route for a heavy user.    However,  since there are often years in between my uses, that hasn't ever mattered much.   I hate the racket from compressors!

 

I use acrylics (Tamiya) exclusively and completely disassemble and clean the brush after every single use.   Trying to shortcut cleaning has never worked for me.

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2 hours ago, rcweir said:

 I have a Badger 150 that has served me well (when I've needed it) for many years.   When I got it I was living in an apartment and the noise of a compressor was unacceptable, so I started with CO2 and have stuck with it.    CO2 is silent and there are no concerns about moisture in the supply, though I don't think this is the cheapest route for a heavy user.    However,  since there are often years in between my uses, that hasn't ever mattered much.   I hate the racket from compressors!

 

I use acrylics (Tamiya) exclusively and completely disassemble and clean the brush after every single use.   Trying to shortcut cleaning has never worked for me.

I use acrylics, too, and what rcweir said about cleaning is very true. When I have problems with my airbrush, it's usually because I got lazy and didn't clean enough. Whenever I'm done, I'll run straight water through the airbrush to clear out the paint and then disconnect the supply, turn it upside down, and blow out whatever water remains. That's usually good enough when working with multiple colors, but when I start a new project, I usually take mine apart, clean it pretty thoroughly and start anew.

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Harder and Steenbeck Airbrushes are very nice (probably at the upper end of the price range). I have the H&S Infinity CR+ and it is an absolute joy to use, as well as being a work of art in itself. Mine came with two needle/nozzle sets - a 0.4mm and a 0.15mm. I’ve only used the 0.4mm to date. It also came with two different sized colour cups - 2mm and 5mm - and I do use both of these.

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I rinse with water, then a cleaner I mix.  Use it between colors and then at the end of the day I do the same, remove the needle and reapply needle juice when I put it back into the brush.  Final thing I do when done for the day is to spray a short eyedropper of Lacquer thinner through it.  Have never had a problem with a dirty brush but have cleaned many up for friends who were not as thorough.

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I have a photo that's not so good, but you can see it all. The bottle is on the lower left with a bar regulator (so-called, I think, because it's used for dispensing beer).  Directly above it, hanging from the corner of that bench is my airbrush.  Not easy to see.  Various of my cleaning supplies are strewn across the bench top.

 

Incidentally, I always use a respirator when I spray paint, just to be safe.  It's all part of my  ritual of painting so I don't even think of it as a nuisance.

 

I clean with 91% isopropyl alcohol for the most part.   

 

Bob

IMG_5008.jpeg

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I have a Paasch double action airbrush and it  has worked very nicely.

 

I really like the double action - you can control the air volume and paint flow separately.  This allows me to cut off the paint flow and still use the air flow to spread any runs that develop and to dry the paint.

 

With single action brushes the air flow controls the amount of paint.

 

I have a small diaphragm type compressor and it works fine.

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I'm a complete novice at airbrushing unlike the other much more experienced people who've offered advice.

 

However I've recently bought this modest setup and so far I'm very happy with it. It's a gravity fed double action brush (as most people recommend). The compressor is quiet (to my ear) and doesn't have a tank. All the advice I read before purchase suggested that tanks are unnecessary at the pressures we are likely to work at - the compressor just cuts in as required to maintain the pressure you set and the flow to the brush remains steady. It's small and fits neatly under the workbench. I was advised against using throwaway canisters of compressed air, although I didn't realise you could use large tanks of CO2 like Bob - I'd have dug out my old dive gear if I'd known!

 

The advice I do follow is to clean the brush thoroughly after each use - there are some good videos on YouTube. It takes a bit of time but it's essential. That just means I have to get better organised to minimise the number of spraying sessions. So for example I waited until I'd completed all the spars on my current Speedy build before spraying them. 

 

Bottom line, airbrushing is a technique I wish I'd picked up years ago - should be especially useful for you if you're into plastic modelling.

 

Derek 

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16 hours ago, CTYankee said:

I just bought the badger 150 through this forum (thanks Kurt!). I was initially a little worried about double action being too hard but I played around a bit with it last night and it seems great!'

Hello CTYankee,

It is a good brush and there is a good reason there are so many modellers using them.

A word of caution during your 'getting to know' phase: it is very easy to damage the tip (the small part at the front that the needle goes through) by innocently putting a bit of pressure on the needle when re-assembling or adjusting.

Ask me how I know ....

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Hi Tom - I use two both gravity feed - Iwata for fine and a no-name for area work - both in use for the last 15 years or so. I put Enamels and acrylics through them both on and off during a days spraying.

 

As others before have mentioned get a compressor with a tank so the compressor is not running all the time. Another important point for any compressor is for it to have a water trap and drain. I found some of the cheaper models I tried before my current setup are quite noisy so depending on where you will be painting do a bit of research into the noise level.

 

Be extremely careful when handling the needle as this and the seat are essential ingredients along with the correct thinning to effective airbrushing.

 

link to a very good short tute from a guy who knows how to airbrush which I found very useful - hope its helps you as well.

Cheers Pete

 

 

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Hello, 

I've seen many of these "which brand is better" strings, never thought I might have something to add. 

With that said,

 

Over this past winter I was in the same position. Wanted to invest in something good, but yielding as I am a total rookie at this.  

I made the leap and bought a Harder & Steenbeck. Little bit of an investment, but once you get a feel for it, learn it, it really is a fine brush.

I comes with a fine and extra fine needle and two different sized paint cups.

 

As for the compressor, it's from Model Expo. Not high end, but surprisingly works really well and I can adjust the pressure.

No troubles at all. Plus, they are known for customer service, and if things break down I trust them more than the big conglomerates.

 

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My 2 cents!      :cheers:

 

Tom E 

 

 

 

 

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One thing that I am thinking about is using pre-thinned paints to get started learning. They'll be more expensive and the palatte might be more limited but it should help figure out the brushing technique before I work on the thinning.

 

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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I recommend the Badger Modelflex Marine Paints - acrylic paints ready for spraying.  MSW sponsor USA Airbrush Supply carries these paints.  Simple shake to use.  Note that when you go to the sponsors on the right hand side of the main page here there is a line of text that says to use a NRG discount code at check out.  USA Airbrush has the lowest prices for these paints and then an additional discount.

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I use an Iwata Eclipse HP-CS - works really well, though Vallejo paints can gum it up a bit and despite running water and a cleaner through it, sometimes I need to take it apart and give it a deeper clean.  It's a 0.35mm needle I believe, and double action.  More recently, because I have some larger models, I picked up the following airbrush that was recommended by a member here.  It's 0.5mm, bigger cup, and is absolutely fantastic for both small and larger areas:

 

https://spraygunner.com/gsi-creos-mr-airbrush-procon-boy-ps-290-0-5mm-pistol-trigger-type/

 

I was brand new to airbrushes, and spent many hours trying to figure out what to get.  People here were very helpful, but I still found things confusing.  Things like needle size, cup size, spray pattern, ease of cleaning, etc. meant little to me until I had one in my hand.  I went with the Eclipse because it seemed to be a good size for both small and larger work.  I bumped things up with the PS-290 as I said for larger models.  Much quicker to airbrush a model car chassis with the PS-290 than the Eclipse.  For what it's worth, I also prefer the control and comfort I have with the pistol grip on the PS-290 over the small knob/lever on the Eclipse.  

 

Both airbrushes are running off an Iwata compressor.  I have one of the models that has two outlets so you can hook two airbrushes up at the same time.  It's also fairly quiet as far as airbrushes go, with a wide range of PSI that it can accommodate. Cost was certainly up there, but I figured I would go for good quality, something quieter, and with flexibility to use other types and sizes of airbrushes.

 

If you're new to airbrushes, the amount of choices for airbrushes and compressors can seem overwhelming for sure.  I guess there are different ways to go to get experience if you don't have ready access to one - start cheap and upgrade if you need to, or go for higher end.  I ended up opting with the latter approach, but I certainly appreciate that might not be for everyone.  All that being said, I'm so amazed at how much better a spray finish looks over hand painted.  The amount of detail that is retained is incredible.

 

Then there are a ton of choices on paints and primers - acrylics like Vallejo, synthetic lacquers like Tamiya, bottle versus rattle can, etc.  That's another of those elements that you just have to try and see what works best for you.  I originally thought I would stick with acrylics straight from the bottle like Vallejo - so easy to use!  However, I'm less impressed with their primers on areas of a model where you might want to sand to get a perfectly smooth finish like with a car model.  The Mr. Surfacer lines of rattle can primers on the other hand are incredible - I couldn't recommend them enough.  Tamiya's rattle can primers aren't bad either.  I'll use Vallejo primers on smaller detail type pieces that don't need a sanded finish.  For paints, I've been using a combo of Vallejo and Tamiya.  Vallejo is much easier to use (clean ups, smell, straight from bottle, etc.), but can be tricky if you need to mask.  Tamiya on the other hand dries very hard and thin - just a pain as you have to use thinner, sometimes you might want to decant their rattle cans (which have very nice colors not available in the normal bottle line) for finer spraying through an airbrush, they aren't as good for hand brushing, etc.

 

Hope that helps!

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Just a quick one in regard to ready thinned paints. If you find you can only get a specific colour in a spray can you can decant it by carefully putting a small hole in the can to let the propellant out - its not as bad as it sounds takes 30 secs - then cut the top off with a pair of snips, its very thin,  and pour into a screw lid glass jar. For best results let it sit overnight with the lid only sitting loose on top to let paint degass. If you're new to airbrushing this takes some of the guesswork out of thinning until you get some experience as Its then ready to use with no further thinning. Cheers

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11 hours ago, PeteB said:

Just a quick one in regard to ready thinned paints. If you find you can only get a specific colour in a spray can you can decant it by carefully putting a small hole in the can to let the propellant out - its not as bad as it sounds takes 30 secs - then cut the top off with a pair of snips, its very thin,  and pour into a screw lid glass jar. For best results let it sit overnight with the lid only sitting loose on top to let paint degass. If you're new to airbrushing this takes some of the guesswork out of thinning until you get some experience as Its then ready to use with no further thinning. Cheers

How do you safely punch a hole in the can?  I have used the straw into a bottle that has plastic wrap rubber banded to the top with a small hole for the straw.  Works ok but can be a bit messy (decanted a can yesterday in fact).

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I currently use a Paashe Talon 3.......the best airbrush I've ever owned.  It's a double action with an internal mix.  But the best bit is.....its easy to use, comes with 3 different size needles including a fan cap for big jobs but its also so easy to clean.  Great bit of kit for the money.

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Everyone has different work habits and abilities and mine are not the best.  I struggle to maintain a clean work environment.   Keeping an airbrush clean requires periodic disassembly so for me simple and rugged is better.

 

I have a Badger 350 airbrush.  In fact I have a spare but that’s another story.  It works well with my home mixed acrylic paints and is foolproof for me to disassemble and clean.  No long needles to bend.  It is available in three nozzle types, coarse, medium, and fine but the different nozzles all fit on the same body.  I pretty much just spray paint so I don’t feel that I need the additional features of a double acting mode.l.

 

My air source is a no name compressor bought at Menards for about $100.  It has a regulator to control air pressure- Very Important- and a 3 gallon tank.  Fitted with quick disconnects it also powers an air nailer and easily pumped up a flat tire on my wife’s car.

 

For me, having a good controllable air source is more important than a fancier airbrush.

 

Roger

 

 

 

 

 

 

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