Saturday, 20 October 2012

First airbrush session - not a huge success

No worries - I was told it takes getting used to, I'd make mistakes and I'd get frustrated. No matter how much info you gather, how many tutorial video's you watch, you have to experience everything for yourself and make all the mistakes that the ones before you have made themselves.

After attaching the airhose to the compressor and the airbrush ("AB" from now on), intial spraying with water (distilled, just to be safe) is a breeze. It should be.

The first test with real paint (Vallejo Model Air - Black) was not quite what I expected. The paint is supposed to be sprayable straight from the bottle, but after half a minute, the spray pattern became irregular and I had to open the trigger all the way up to get any paint. The brush had clogged, I guessed, so might as well start disassembly and cleaning of the brush for the first time.

The needle cap and nozzle cap (parts 1 and 2 in the schematic below) would not move easily, but gave way in the end. The slot-in nozzle (part 3) would not budge at all. After a quick phone call to the hobby-shop to confirm that it CAN be detached, I used pliers to put some more force into it and it came loose. (He also told me to thin Vallejo air 10% even though they say it's not needed)

I cleaned everything and reassembled. After that, not a single test went well and I kept getting bubbles in the paint cup. Usually this is indicative of a clog, blocking the airflow. After a lot of trial and error and multiple dis- and re-assemblies, I found that parts 1 and 2 had originally been glued together (causing the high friction to remove them) and parts of the glue-remnants were preventing the two parts to close 100%. After cleaning the thread with a sharp knife (carefully!), they screwed together perfectly and there were no more bubbles in the paint cup.

More testing with Vallejo primer were acceptable, but again after 30-40 seconds, the paint began to come out irregularly. At this point, an hour and a half had passed, so I took the brush apart, cleaned it throughly and put it aside. I'll do more testing tomorrow evening.

What did we learn today :

  • It's possible I used AB cleaner without proper cleansing afterwards, so my test-paint had cleaner mixed in, which is not good for the paint quality. Always verify your AB is clean (spray water to be sure) and you're using thinner (not cleaner).
    (While we're on the topic of thinner : it's safest to use the same brand thinner as your paint)
  • Make sure the AB is properly re-assembled.
  • Some googling brought me to a forum where Vallejo primers were discussed. Apparently, with really small nozzles, these primers should definitely be thinned to avoid clogging. This is slightly re-assuring, so we'll know more when I test this further.

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