Air Brush Recommendations

Dad of Sapling

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I'm thinking about asking for an air brush for Christmas. I mostly build low power and would like to spend less time masking and more time creating nice looking finishes. Up until now I've been using rattle cans and have created some nice finishes. But I'm thinking an air brush would allow finer control and detail to do even more.

Does anyone else use an air brush and has any recommendations? Not looking to break the bank just a good beginner set up that provides good results.

Thanks
 

mh9162013

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For a solid beginner setup, a Paasche or Badger airbrush are good places to start. You can buy much cheaper off-brand products and from what I hear, they're of decent qualifty. But I personally view air brushes as investments and prefer to stay domestic or with companies that I can assume will be around in a few years.

You'll want a double action airbrush and need to decide between top, side or bottom feed. For MPR or LPR rockets, any type will do. However, if you want the most control and detail, you'll want a top (aka: gravity) feed.

If I was in the market right now for an airbrush, I'd go for a Badger 105 Patriot. If I had extra cash, I'd get the Iwata Eclipse.
 

Banzai88

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How big of a rocket are you looking to use it on? For smaller Estes size, hard to beat the flexibility, utility, simplicity, and ease of maintenance of an external mix Paasche H single action. #3 and #5 tip and external glass jars and you can do just about anything. Mine has been going now since 1985 without the need for any maintenance other than basic cleaning!

Airbrushes are something that you get exactly what you paid for, and nothing more. There are a LOT of copies out there, and they're cheap....but there's a good reason why they're cheaper (and not always better). If you find that the Paasche doesn't do it for you, they sell like hot cakes for about 95% of what you paid for it on ebay all day long, so it'll be an easy flip.

No matter what, but this: Cleaning brushes
 

waltr

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I'll second a double action Badger. I have a Anthem 155, bottom feed. It is over 6 years old and still works great. Only once back to Badger (another reason to buy Badger) when I damaged the Teflon seal. Badger fixed it up and did a full overhaul.

Been painting all my rockets with this using Createx paints and clear coats.

If you rather have a Gravity feed the Patriot is good.
Down side is volume of cup is fixed verse a cup or bottle with a bottom feed.
 

rharshberger

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IMO, rockets larger than Estes kits are firmly in the realm of detail sprayguns like the Paasche HG08 (I have the .5, .8 and 1.0mm tips for mine), there are similar (and better quality guns by Iwata). I have quit using my airbrushes on most rockets unless its a small one or I am needing precision, for base coats the gun is much faster. Primers for me are almost universally Rustoleum Auto sandable filler type or Rusto Auto sandable.
 

James Duffy

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I can heartily recommend the Paasche SI single-action brush, after having used Paasche H brushes for years. A compressor with regulator and a moisture trap is a must.

Rattle can primers are fine. My preference is to use Tamiya products exclusively, starting with their rattle can primers. After that dries I tend to put down a base color of spray lacquer, then airbrush acrylic detail colors over that with the airbrush. These videos provide a bit of a window into my process:





Hope this helps,
James
 
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kenstarr

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I have a paasche double action... Not sure of the model but it's middle of the road I'd say. Works quite nicely. I don't use it often but when I do I tell myself I should be using it more. I'd like to get a nice Iwata but it's hard to justify seeing as how little I use what I have. I also like the really cheap spray gun from harbor freight. Not the hvlp model, just the basic small cheap one. I've painted small and large rockets with it.
Ken
 

Cape Byron

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For smaller Estes size, hard to beat the flexibility, utility, simplicity, and ease of maintenance of an external mix Paasche H single action. #3 and #5 tip and external glass jars and you can do just about anything. Mine has been going now since 1985 without the need for any maintenance other than basic cleaning!

+1 on the Paasche H Single action. Durable, quality basic airbrush that will last you for decades.

My preference is to use Tamiya products exclusively, starting with their rattle can primers.

+1 on the Tamiya acrylics. @James Duffy is the GOAT of airbrushing.

My only advice is on thinning Tamiya acrylics. Use Tamiya brand thinner and thin to the consistency of milk. Have fun. It's a new world.
 

waltr

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I use Badger brand primer in the air brush.

Not a heavy fill like some rattle cans but does a great job covering and adhering.

I also have a small (30 inch wide) spray booth exhausted to the outside.
This and airbrush are great for small rockets although I have done the 4" LOC Goblin.
For larger rocket a detail spray gun is the better choice as rharshberger stated.
 

therling

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Best thing you can do is get a small tank compressor with a pressure regulator/water vapor trap. You can find one at Harbor Freight on sale for for about $50. By adjusting the air pressure you can better control the spray pattern even on a single action air brush.

I use a double action Paasche VL for most work, it comes with three sizes of nozzles and needles that will cover pretty much any size rocket. I also use it for 1/35 AFV models, it'll give you fine enough lines for camouflage patterns at that scale if you keep the pressure down to no more than about 12 psi. You can find those for about $80.
 

icyclops

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Paasche double action VL series airbrush….tips 3 or larger for larger coverage, tips 1-2 for finer details. Example: VL1, VL3….a kit that comes with a hose, wrench, extra tips, nozzles, needles and a few spray/mix bottles is the way to go. ($78-$140) All you will need is a compressor capable of going to 25 psi….you will set your pressure from 15-23 psi depending on the type of paint you will be using. Enamels/lacquers should be thinned properly, acrylic needs even more thinning. Make sure your compressor has a small tank (1-2 gal) and a pressure regulator with a water trap. You are set…you just need to practice. I have used an airbrush for over 45 yrs (still use my original Paasche VL3) and retired from the graphic arts field — so for about $300 or a little +/- you should be able to get a good starting setup. Enjoy.
 
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prfesser

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Paasche double action VL series airbrush….tips 3 or larger for larger coverage, tips 1-2 for finer details. Example: VL1, VL3….a kit that comes with a hose, wrench, extra tips, nozzles, needles and a few spray/mix bottles is the way to go. ($78-$140) All you will need is a compressor capable of going to 25 psi….you will set your pressure from 15-23 psi depending on the type of paint you will be using. Enamels/lacquers should be thinned properly, acrylic needs even more thinning. Make sure your compressor has a small tank (1-2 gal) and a pressure regulator with a water trap. You are set…you just need to practice. I have used an airbrush for over 45 yrs (still use my original Paasche VL3) and retired from the graphic arts field — so for about $300 or a little +/- you should be able to get a good starting setup. Enjoy.
I understand the need for a water trap, but why a small tank? Is there a problem with a 20 gallon tank?
 

Zeus-cat

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A small (or large tank) tank makes it easier to maintain constant pressure flowing through the airbrush.
 
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James Duffy

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after reading some comments on Youtube, this one was mentioned by several people as it has 3 different needles, and is very easy to clean, for $40
This may be a perfectly capable airbrush, but one ugly reality about these little beasties is that you will need spare parts at some point in the future, usually replacement needles. The traditional brands such as Paasche, Iwata, Badger, and a handful of others all have great aftermarket support. Low cost brands such as Master or the stuff sold at Harbor Freight seem to have spotty or non-existent parts support. (A quick check of Amazon indicates that Master does seem to have some limited parts availability, which is good.)

On the other hand the initial price is low enough that one can consider the brush to be disposable. Should the need for new needles, tips, triggers, etc. arise, one can simply replace the entire unit.

I'll make another pitch for the single-action Paasche SI as a great entry level brush that has the potential to last a lifetime.

 

waltr

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^^ that.. Parts availability of non-brand airbrushes can be a problem later. Also, I did a lot of reading and reveiws before I bought an airbrush. A big thing was ones from Harbor Freight may work but many did not work new out of the box.

If you are only doing full coverage painting or masked areas, then a single action like the Paasche SI will be a great airbrush.
 

Marc_G

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after reading some comments on Youtube, this one was mentioned by several people as it has 3 different needles, and is very easy to clean, for $40
I have two of these or ones very similar. I actually prefer slightly larger Master brand airbrushes, plus a much larger spray gun from Harbor freight, the latter used for white primer or large areas.
 

NeilD

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This is my setup. I also do model railroading and models kits so I use it quite a bit. This setup has been running great for 4+ years. I mix my own thinners and cleaning solutions. I use alot of craft paints from Hobby Lobby.

Iwata Eclipse Dual Action Gravity Feed
Master Airbrush 1/5 HP Cool Runner II
Master Airbrush Spray Booth

I also second watching the videos from Barbatos Rex. He's got some great stuff.
 

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icyclops

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after reading some comments on Youtube, this one was mentioned by several people as it has 3 different needles, and is very easy to clean, for $40
Ask yourself…how long do you want it to last and will parts like needles and nozzles be available in 5 years. If you don’t care about that get the cheap one. But if you want it to last a long long time…then get the Paasche or Iwata. I still have my original #3 needle and tip from 1978. Probably use it 10 times a year…more now that I am retired. If you take care of your tools then it should last a very long time. But everyone is different. If this is something you think you want to get into then make the investment…if not sure then try out the $39 one first.
 

icyclops

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I understand the need for a water trap, but why a small tank? Is there a problem with a 20 gallon tank?
No not at all…..but remember that air sitting in a large tank contain some moisture and a small tank is easier/quicker to bleed after each use. The water trap is inserted after the tank so is useless for this scenario to protect the tank from a leak due to rust or corrosion from traped moisture. I had one due this to me….always bleed your tank.

I guess you could open the pressure valve and just let it continue to bleed but I like to keep my settings set and not hear that air leak sound for some time….but a big tank would work just fine if thats what you have.
 
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Ask yourself…how long do you want it to last and will parts like needles and nozzles be available in 5 years. If you don’t care about that get the cheap one. But if you want it to last a long long time…then get the Paasche or Iwata. I still have my original #3 needle and tip from 1978. Probably use it 10 times a year…more now that I am retired. If you take care of your tools then it should last a very long time. But everyone is different. If this is something you think you want to get into then make the investment…if not sure then try out the $39 one first.
Ask yourself....how many times each month are you going to be spraying? If only once per month like most people and yourself do, and you do a thorough job of cleaning it, it will last many years. The OP was looking for an affordable model. The Iwata Eclipse model is $200. BTW I own a Paasche 👍
 

Banzai88

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This is the one that I started with in 1985. Oddly enough, what it's going for today ($60) is about what I paid for mine when I bought it new in 1985 at the graphics arts supply shop, and the 'used' ones on ebay sell for about 90% of new, so if it's not for you, it's a quick flip and get your money back out of it! Click here for Paashce H @ Amazon Try flipping a budget airbrush....you'll be lucky to get 50% of what you paid for it.

As to the issue of air supply, a moisture trap of some nature is 100% necessary. Same with pressure regulation. Tankless airbrush compressors, as well as home air tool pancake compressors, are prone to transmitting the compression pulses from the piston to the tank, causing micro fluctuations in the air supply, even when pressure regulated. Since it only happens when the piston is actually running, most don't see it much on the home pancake compressors, or maybe don't realize what they're seeing in the spray pattern. The larger the tank, generally, the more stable the air supply. For basic blocking in airbrush work on models and rockets, it won't matter very much.

To the issue of internal vs. external mix, internal will give a slightly better spray pattern, but external is easier to clean and maintain. Single action vs. double action most folks have virtually zero need for the complexity (and added expense) of double action (both in airbrush and skill set) unless you're into graphic arts and are using it on your rockets.
 

icyclops

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Ask yourself....how many times each month are you going to be spraying? If only once per month like most people and yourself do, and you do a thorough job of cleaning it, it will last many years. The OP was looking for an affordable model. The Iwata Eclipse model is $200. BTW I own a Paasche 👍
I understand that, but. My original answer back to him was a recommendation for a VL Paasche which you can acquire new from $75-$140kit….I have used cheap brushes in the past and they do not last thus my last comment to him. To be honest, I do not know how the Master airbrush is built? So I really don’t know but for that price I’m sure it is not chrome over brass with brass nozzles…if he just uses premix acrylics he should have no problem….paint with solvents in them…well? Keeping it very clean is the key for sure. :)
 
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