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Air Brush Recommendations

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Air Brush Recommendations
Posted by TJohnson on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 10:25 PM

I'm new to model railroading - 3 years under my belt.  I'm looking to purchase an air brush to better detail structures.  Does anyone have recommendations for a brand?

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Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 10:32 PM

I bought a Badger (with paint jar feed) back in the 80's   Evidently I didn't clean it well enough when I put it away for 20 years.  They fixed it for the price of parts, so I am partial.  Paasche gets good reviews. 

Double action is more than I feel I need.

I had a Badger compressor, which was a little thing, that ran constantly.  I have a Porter Cable 6 gal compressor now, which is a huge improvement, and it doesn't run much at all during a long painting session.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 10:51 PM

I own at least six aribrushes, the Paasche Model H is the workhorse of the group. If I only had one, that would be it. You can get a kit with a #3 and #5 tip pretty reasonable. It is single action, external mix, so it is easy to use. Most of the parts are metal so it is easy to clean.

I would suggest a "real" air compressor rather than one for airbrushes. This is the one I use, and it can be had for less than $200.00 at Home Depot. It has worked perfectly for more than three years, and it can fill automobile tires.

  

You will also need a regulator. This one also has a moisture trap built in and is very good quality, less than $50.00 to purchase. The gauges and brass fittings add another $50.00 to the project.

 

I am sure others will have some different ideas.

-Kevin

 

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by UNCLEBUTCH on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 12:01 PM

I have a Paasche  H. Does everthing I need. Easy to learn on, take apart,clean, and reasonable price.

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Posted by hornblower on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 1:13 PM

As a beginner to air brushing, you are going to make mistakes.  For that reason, I would recommend you first buy a single action airbrush from Harbor Freight Tools (www.harborfreight.com/34-and-3-oz-airbrush-kit-62294.html).  This is a virtual clone of the Badger 350 and is a pretty servicable airbrush.  Best of all, it's only $10! You can screw up several and still not have paid as much as for a name brand airbrush.  If you eventually decide you do want a name brand airbrush, you can then purchase one with the confidence that you know how to use and care for it for a long, long time!

Harbor Freight also offers a nice dual action airbrush for $20 (www.harborfreight.com/deluxe-airbrush-kit-95810.html).

I own both HFT airbrush models and have produced rather nice paint jobs on my various trains, structures and layout scenes.  I admit that I'm on my third single action airbrush because I failed to adequately clean the first one, and the trigger assembly on the second one rusted out after several years of use because I didn't dry it well enough before I'd put it away (exactly what I mean about making mistakes).  My dual action unit is still in like new condition even after several paint projects.

I would not recommend buying any compressor without a reservoir tank, even the inexpensive HFT airbrush units.  Especially when HFT offers a very nice little 1/3 hp pancake compressor with a 3 gallon tank (www.harborfreight.com/3-gallon-13-hp-100-psi-oil-free-pancake-air-compressor-61615.html).  I own a similar size hot dog compressor (www.harborfreight.com/3-gallon-13-hp-100-psi-oil-free-hotdog-air-compressor-69269.html).  Both go on sale fairly often.  I bought mine for $35!  It's not the quietest unit but I do all of my painting outside on my rear patio so I'm not bothering anyone in my house.  A long air hose will allow you to get away from the compressor for less noise exposure.  Best of all, these little compressors can handle lots of smaller jobs around the house so I don't have to drag out my 4 hp compressor all the time.

The final purchase I would recommend is the HFT braided air hose (www.harborfreight.com/14-in-x-10-ft-braided-nylon-airbrush-hose-69578.html).  

Yes, you will see several negative reviews for some of these products but, with the exceptions of the first two single action airbrush failures (entirely MY fault), all of the above units have served me quite well.  I suspect that most of the negative reviews came from people that just didn't know how to use these tools.  

I have also found that I don't need to spend more money for a name brand airbrush.  I am entirely satisfied with the performance of the HFT equipment I have.

Hornblower

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Posted by RR_Mel on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 2:38 PM

I think the most important thing for air brushing is the compressor.  Over the years (40+) I’ve been the route with both compressors and air brushes.
 
I prefer a somewhat quite running compressor (I paint in our hobby room) so as not to disturb the entire house.  A compressor without a tank doesn’t work very good.  The compressor I have is a Master with a 2 gallon tank. 
 
I have several airbrushes, all single action.  All of the airbrushes Badger, Paasche, Master and Harbor Freight brands work very good.  The easiest to clean are the Badger 150 and Harbor Freight.  My norm is the Harbor Freight cheapie, I have five and keep them close so that I can swap colors quickly.  My theory was if they crapped out no big deal for a $9 replacement, but in 6 years they’re still doing a great job. 
 
I’ve never had a bad airbrush in over 40 years.  I have gone through a half dozen compressors, the Master has been the best so far.  I bought it when I retired in 2007 and it’s still going strong.
 
 
 
Mel
 
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by jjdamnit on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 3:07 PM

Hello All,

I agree with hornblower...

hornblower
As a beginner to air brushing, you are going to make mistakes. For that reason, I would recommend you first buy a single action airbrush from Harbor Freight Tools (www.harborfreight.com/34-and-3-oz-airbrush-kit-62294.html). This is a virtual clone of the Badger 350 and is a pretty servicable (SIC) airbrush. Best of all, it's only $10! You can screw up several and still not have paid as much as for a name brand airbrush. If you eventually decide you do want a name brand airbrush, you can then purchase one with the confidence that you know how to use and care for it for a long, long time! Harbor Freight also offers a nice dual action airbrush for $20 (www.harborfreight.com/deluxe-airbrush-kit-95810.html).

Check out this thread...

Harbor Freight Air Compressor

Hope this helps

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by peahrens on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 7:59 PM

I bought a Paasche VL dual action airbrush and like it.  I am not a frequent user but got used to the process. 

On compressor, I started by using my Porter Cable pancake compressor, annoyingly loud even in the garage.  I looked at the super quiet airbrush compressors but was not thrilled by the design.  My friend had a California Air Tools compressor like the one above that he used for general garage work.  It seemed very well engineered, and its sound lever is very tolerable, though not as whisper quiet as the airbrush models that did not impress me, at least the more affordable ones.  The California one I bought is around $112 at Lowes / Home Depot.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/California-Air-Tools-Light-and-Quiet-1-Gallon-Single-Stage-Portable-Electric-Horizontal-Air-Compressor/1000753230?cm_mmc=shp-_-c-_-prd-_-tol-_-bing-_-pla-_--_-sospneu/air/rotaryshopequip-_-1000753230-_-0&kpid&placeholder=null&msclkid=39fb5c8f623e15d88bb102d8433e327d&gclid=CLPeq9zP8OcCFSuSxQId8DIE2A&gclsrc=ds

 

 Airbrush Setup 1 (2) by Paul Ahrens, on Flickr

 Airbrush Setup 2 (2) by Paul Ahrens, on Flickr

Initially, I used a cardboard box as my paint booth, inadequate for ventilation.  I eventually bought a modest cost booth and added venting to the outside.  I paint with acrylics so no need to worry about explosion proof vent fan.

 IMG_9122 (2) by Paul Ahrens, on Flickr 

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by Drumguy on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 9:35 PM

A double action airbrush is nothing to be afraid of. At Hobby Lobby you can get a very good Neo by Iwata pretty darn cheap if you use the ever present 40% off coupon. I have  Iwata HP-A, -B and -C's from back when I did professional airbrushing--very high end stuff. One of my HP-B's was toast after years of neglect, so I bought one of the Neo's and it works great.

Best way to practice air brushing is take a piece of plain paper, draw a bunch of targets on it (just little plus signs), and try to hit em with some paint (Use a lot of sheets until your accuracy gets to a marginally comfortable level). Next, make a bunch more target sheets, but  draw different size circles around the little targets. Try and fill them with paint without runs or drips. Third, draw straight lines of different thickness on some more sheets, and try to follow them with the airbrush as straight as you can while matching the thickness of the line. Bada-boom, you've learned to control an airbrush.

As far as compressors/air supply, that's all budget driven.  A million years ago I lucked out and got a compressor with 4gal tank that is quieter than my refrigerator. Still works like charm.

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Posted by Uncle_Bob on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 9:49 PM

Single action, external mix airbrushes like the Badger 350 are fine, but I prefer single action, internal mix brushes like the Badger 200 and Paasche SI provide better coverage, imo.  My workhorse is a Badger 200, but I also have two 350's and a Paasche VL.  I've used one of the Paasche hobby compressors for 25 years.  It's a good unit, but I've bought a new compressor, regulator, water trap, and fittings.  Now, if I could just get a couple days without a boatload of honey-do's so I can play with it!  Stick out tongueCrying

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Posted by MikeFF on Thursday, February 27, 2020 6:10 PM

 My Badger 150 has soldiered on since 1981. I did replace the tephlon seals. The HF is a pretty good clone.

 

 

Mike

 

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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Monday, March 2, 2020 6:44 PM

TJohnson,

Good suggestions from our fellow modelers above. I've worked with single and double action Badgers, Iwatas, and knockoffs. 

Although I own several airbrushes, my "Go to workhorse" for years has been the Paasche' VL.  Two reasons:

1. The VL kit comes with 3:  needle/fluid tip /air cap sets.  The #1 for very fine painting. Easy to draw incredibly thin lines.   The #3 works well with the majority of our scale model paint products for overall paint jobs and weathering.  The #5 for applying more coarse or heavier paint products.

2. The VL is equipped with a scroll lock wheel which enables it to be used as a single-action airbrush, if one wishes. I must confess, that wheel has spoiled me a bit. Once my paint is thinned, I test it on a scrap sample and gauge my distance and stroke speed. Next, I set the wheel so that all I'll have to do is just push down on the trigger without having to slide it back, like most airbrushes.

There are more expensive models that are excellent performers but, imho, the VL is the reliable "GP38-2" among airbrushes.

"I like my Pullman Standards & Budds in Stainless Steel flavors, thank you!"

 


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Posted by Two Trains on Thursday, March 5, 2020 12:48 PM

This is some solid advice, I am not a pro by any means but the few years I have been airbrushing I found that upgrading my compressor has had the most impact keeping in mind I have only ever purchased airbrushes under $100. Beyond that, if you wanted to learn more about them this airbrush for models guide has some recommendations but I found the guide most useful for learning what to look for.

What type of paint do you plan on using, oil or acrylic? 

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Posted by TJohnson on Friday, March 27, 2020 8:58 PM

I had planned on using acrylic.  I always struggle with this decision.

 

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Posted by TJohnson on Friday, March 27, 2020 8:59 PM

My apologies for the delay in responding.  Its been a bit crazy.  Thanks for everyone's input.  It really is helpful as I move forward.

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