Airbrush fun

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Established Member
30 Apr 2021
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New Zealand
For some time I have been dissatisfied with the brush coats on my wooden aeroplane models so a little while ago I purchased an airbrush setup.
Since all I wanted to do was spray the canopies black and finish the models with a clear gloss varnish I opted for a simple generic brand single action syphon type as this appeared to be simplest to operate and the easiest to clean. Trial results were pretty patchy - some OK, some without much gloss, some with orange peel.
So as a complete novice at airbrushing I went online and read everything I could on the subject - probably a mistake.
The first issue was with air pressure. As a visitor to an airbrush forum I read a post where one fellow said he ran his brush at 11psi and someone else chimed in 'too high, I run mine at 10psi.' Well I don't know what sort of flash regulators they have but I can't get anything like that precision on the gauge. And the next issue is viscosity. The accepted standard is that the spray medium should have the viscosity of milk, but not just any old milk, it must be skim milk. One begins to wonder if the age of the skim milk is important, and the temperature, out of the fridge or ambient, and must it be cows milk or can you use goats milk? I was getting a bit annoyed with the whole business.
In the end I ignored all the experts and just did my own thing. The viscosity of the medium was reduced to just a bit thicker than that of water - no idea if it resembled skim milk or not - loaded the bottle under the airbrush and did a test spray starting at somewhere around 15psi. Then whilst spraying slowly reducing the pressure until the spray pattern just started to collapse and then increasing it just a tad. Again, no idea what the PSI would be. With the spray medium volume I keep this at the point where the spray pattern is fairly clearly visible, not too much so or so much less that its difficult to see.
This is very simple so possibly totally the wrong way to set up an airbrush but it works for me and I am very happy with the consistent results achieved.
What you read on various forums can only ever be taken as general advice, as every airbrush setup is different, so you just have to experiment a bit in order to find what works for you and your circumstances. Sounds like you're geting there though and experience counts for a lot.

TBH. the only useful thing I learned from online forums about spraying, was if you are thinning acrylic paint, use a bit of IPA in the water to prevent it splitting.
The proper way to determine viscosity is to use a proper cup. Basically a small cup with a hole in the bottom. You fill it with paint and time now long it takes for the paint to drain out of the hole. They come in a variety of sizes, and with different sized holes. For what you are doing you could easily make your own by just drilling a suitably sized hole in a kitchen measuring spoon. The benefit is consistency, no pun intended. Once you find the viscosity that works for you, bung some through your cup and time it. Next time you will be able to repeat the viscosity exactly.
similar prob when painting vans n pick-ups....
used to buy em in, fix em n paint em, then sell.......
Not enough profit to pay someone to paint....
in the end it worked out OK......
just kept thining the paint until it looked ok on the wall...... coach enamals......
On cold days we used to warm it up in a for chocolate.....

PS, only used DeVilbis guns until they became so expensive and got nicked.......
Now use a Seely copy thats just fine.....

It's all about prcatice......
It's all about prcatice......
You're right.
I'm looking forward to the day when I can dump a bit of thinner in the pot, give it a whisk, twiddle with the pressure regulator knob a bit and nonchalantly blow on a nice finish.
That's the day when practice becomes experience.