Airbrush vs. Rattlecans

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DES

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Most of my "ordinary" rockets are two color jobs done with spray cans. If I want to do something special or get creative with effects, it is time to get out the HVLP gun. I have a Badger airbrush, but you have to thin the paint way down, and you just cannot get the film thickness or opacity out of the airbrush that you can with a real spray gun.

The equipment does not have to be expensive. The setup may look complicated, but a decent gun, air regulator and filter can be had for around $100. Add a disposal cup system for convenience, and largely because I'm too lazy to clean the spray cup.

My compressor is a small 2.5 hp "pancake" compressor like you use for roofing nailers running at 150 psi. When I'm spraying with the HVLP, I plug a second airtank in series with its own regulator, for about 15 gallons of air storage, and run a line pressure to the gun about 40 psi. In that manner, the compressor can keep up with the gun fine. You do not need a big compressor unless you are painting cars.

HVLP will spray anything you want, but the water-borne acrylics and polyurethanes like the Createx work well, have a huge color range, and are low-toxicity. You need to wear a mask so you don't breath the mist.

If you search the forum for Createx, there are several threads showing HVLP effects.

DSCF1039.JPG


DSCF1066.JPG
 

Alan R

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my college roommate was an artist. Turned me on to a couple of things. One of the things you can do with an airbrush is use inks instead of paint. Less clogging, easier to clean, etc.
Windsor Newton
this only really matters for those situations where a gram of weight would make a difference, like in small contest rockets.
Like @Koffee said, you also have the ability to mix your own colors too.
 

Ez2cDave

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There is more of a "learning curve" with airbrushes, particularly double-action ones.

Dave F.
 

icyclops

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I have read about the some of the advantages of airbrushing over spray paint. However there really hasn’t been enough information to satisfy my curiosity. I am not put off by the expense of the equipment, but I am not looking forward to more tools to clean, maintain, and store (I have somewhat limited space.) Can someone that uses an airbrush for his/her rockets tell me what their set up is, what type of paint they use, what to do, or not do, etc. What would you tell someone almost completely ignorant of airbrushes? Thanks.
My setup is a PASCHE double action airbrush VL-series. I have nosetips 1 through 4...#1 being able to spray a fine line to #4 being able to wide spray color base coats and primer. Any compressor would work that is able to output 40 - 80 psi. You will mostly use between 20 - 30 psi for most coating, but there are times when you need higher pressure for some clear coats and primers. Most of the time you will probably be spraying in a garage or into a spray box....but if you don’t like noise than try to get the quietest compressor you can afford. I have a Pasche compressor with a small tank so it isn’t constantly running....shuts off when 1 gal tank is full.

I use mainly testors enamel paints, some lacquers and rarely acrylics as they are prone to easy damage. Make sure you get a double action airbrush and practice....you will be much happier than a single action which I think are a pain once you get the hang of it.

the real deal on wether or not to invest in airbrush equipment has to do with how you want to paint your rockets. If you mainly just paint large color areas then using an airbrush may be unnecessary And paint cans will work just fine applying multiple light coats. If you like to paint fine detail and do smooth gradients and transitions, plus heavily control the amount of paint you can apply at once. Or mix custom colors is another plus of airbrushing.
 

icyclops

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Would using an airbrush or HVLP sprayer eliminate orange peel and rough finishes? Sometimes it seems the spray can shoots pigment without solvent and I end up with paint the texture of sandpaper.
One of the key benefits of airbrush over HVLP or cans....you can dial in the presser and amount of paint to lie down. I have very rarely ever got orange peel finish as you put thin layers down at a time. I have gotten orange peel from Cans or HVLP. Airbrush, not so much...but you need to practice and find the proper thinning of the paint you are using. I know some will not agree with this, but I have been doing this for over 40+ years as a graphic artist by trade and as a rocketeer....I love doing the paint jobs on my roc’s.
 

David Schwantz

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Hi Icy, love to see pics of your work. I love nice paint. I also love walking around the fine gun room at Cabela's. Not that I could afford a $30,000 gun, but love the wood on em :)
 

Greg Furtman

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I bought one of these HF spray guns for doing rockets. I was surprised by how well it works considering the price. I was once a cabinet maker and used HF HVLP guns with water-based urethane varnishes which worked well and is durable so I have several of HF's HVLP guns laying around for larger projects.

HF Small Spray Gun.jpg
 

Woody's Workshop

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Here's a few questions to ask yourself before getting into spray guns and air supply.
How much rocket painting do you plan on doing?
Once purchased, will you be using for anything other than rockets?
What is the quality of the paint jobs your after?
Do you have continued problems with lifting and other disorders painting with rattle cans?
What will be the largest rocket you will ever paint?
How much time do want to spend cleaning and taking care of your equipment over rattle cans?
To run a mini HVLP you need a constant 25-25 PSI. Can you afford to buy and upkeep such a compressor?

Rattle cans are getting pricier. Going down the air supply and spray gun route is a one time investment.
But there is maintenance expenses along the way.
But paint and thinners will be a continued expense. Just like sandpaper and tape.
Going with Rust-O-Leum Enamels in pints or quarts and using a high grade mineral spirits for thinner isn't too bad.
You can mix the colors to get the hue you want. There are plenty of blending color charts online.

If the biggest thing you plan to paint is a Mean Machine, my personal opinion is stay with rattle cans.
If you plan to paint 12 or less rockets a year from now until the end of the world, MPO is stay with rattle cans.

Selling your equipment when your done is at least a 50% loss from day 1.
Like wise, buying used equipment is about a 50% savings.
But you are taking on the risk of buying something that needs time and money to work properly.
Unless you know that person and how well they have taken care of the equipment.
 

messedupryan

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Thank you Woody, this is the exact sort of feedback I have been looking for.
 

David Schwantz

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Spray equipment can be used for endless projects. I have used mine for spraying my deck, shed, many furniture projects. I have sprayed the frames on cars, semis, I have used it to touch up paint on the semi. I have used it on walls in the house. It can be used for many fluids other than paint. Clean up might seem daunting if you have never done it before. But spray carb clean cuts just about everything. Water based stuff, sink or garden hose works.
 

DES

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Disposable spray cup liners, and waterborne finishes really simplify cleanup. So long as you don't let it dry in the gun, you just click a cup of thinner / cleaner on the gun, spray some through, maybe scrub the nozzle with a toothbrush, and you are done. I usually do a three pass - thinner; gun cleaner; thinner. No disassembly.

It is typically 15 to 20 minutes between coats for the Createx, so between coats I will click on a spray cup of thinner to keep the gun wet.

Rattle cans will be less expensive for most rockets; a spray gun give you more options and flexibility / art effects.
 

icyclops

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my college roommate was an artist. Turned me on to a couple of things. One of the things you can do with an airbrush is use inks instead of paint. Less clogging, easier to clean, etc.
Windsor Newton
this only really matters for those situations where a gram of weight would make a difference, like in small contest rockets.
Like @Koffee said, you also have the ability to mix your own colors too.
I ditto that....Dr Martin and Windsor Newton inks has some intense colors, and applying them to a white primer surface can give you color intensity that most paint can’t achieve. Plus the translucency they provide can be a really Cool technique. Good point to consider.

I have also mixed inks in with water base clear acrylic top coats with neat effects. Intensifies your color bottom base coat and provides some depth to the whole color.....

thanks Alan for mentioning the inks.
 

vdotmatrix

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Good morning. I stopped using rattle cans because of the ever present risk of krinkle. I think the problems i use to see was in the organic solvent On subsequent layers. Then, if you happened to use a different formulation or brand for the gloss coat it krinkles and you are screwed.

i already had an air compressor in my shop. I bought a nice air brush. I shoot acrylic paints. I finish off by shooting a diluted forumlation of FUTURE acrylic finish. There is a post you can search on this forum for Future gloss coat.
I have a box of left over rattle cans that I use for something else.

i think I painted a few rockets with at least two coats in a few hours or at least one day and not one week.
AIRBRUSH is the only way to paint for me. YMMV
 

Blast it Tom!

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Thanks for that - I'm considering a switch to airbrush/spray gun and acrylics myself. My airbrush is small so I'm considering an HVLP gun such as would be used to paint small things like furniture, cabinets, perhaps cars. No experience in that area, though...
 

kevin.mcgee

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Here's a few questions to ask yourself before getting into spray guns and air supply.
How much rocket painting do you plan on doing?
Once purchased, will you be using for anything other than rockets?
What is the quality of the paint jobs your after?
Do you have continued problems with lifting and other disorders painting with rattle cans?
What will be the largest rocket you will ever paint?
How much time do want to spend cleaning and taking care of your equipment over rattle cans?
To run a mini HVLP you need a constant 25-25 PSI. Can you afford to buy and upkeep such a compressor?

Rattle cans are getting pricier. Going down the air supply and spray gun route is a one time investment.
But there is maintenance expenses along the way.
But paint and thinners will be a continued expense. Just like sandpaper and tape.
Going with Rust-O-Leum Enamels in pints or quarts and using a high grade mineral spirits for thinner isn't too bad.
You can mix the colors to get the hue you want. There are plenty of blending color charts online.

If the biggest thing you plan to paint is a Mean Machine, my personal opinion is stay with rattle cans.
If you plan to paint 12 or less rockets a year from now until the end of the world, MPO is stay with rattle cans.

Selling your equipment when your done is at least a 50% loss from day 1.
Like wise, buying used equipment is about a 50% savings.
But you are taking on the risk of buying something that needs time and money to work properly.
Unless you know that person and how well they have taken care of the equipment.
Thanks for the advice.
 

vdotmatrix

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All it will take to rattle you to start drinking again is to take the time to carefully build a rocket, then paint it. Decided to add another coat and the @#&&@*$”%*$&@ Krinkles the underlying coat ORnthe gloss coat krinkles all the coats you just put on and allowed to dry for a week.

I suppose anyone still using rattle paint has never had that happen i i do not wish that on anyone.

This is a hobby. Everything cost money. What else are you gonna spend money on? Rockets? Motors?
 

SkyFire

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Paints may or may not be compatible with each other. For example, you can spray enamel on top of lacquer but not lacquer on top of enamel (it will krinkle, as you say). The easiest solution is to stick with the same brand and type of paint for all layers and follow their directions.
 

vdotmatrix

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Paints may or may not be compatible with each other. For example, you can spray enamel on top of lacquer but not lacquer on top of enamel (it will krinkle, as you say). The easiest solution is to stick with the same brand and type of paint for all layers and follow their directions.
you would think that would be THE solution to this right, common sense-simple enough.

I would have a layer krinkle using the same stuff. Actually, I am not here to bring anyone over to the dark side of airbrushing. What works for me may not work for anyone else, so people just have to use what works for them!!!

Have Fun!!
 

JLP1

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I primarily use rattle cans and what I try to do is stay with the same brand from primer to finish coat. I have found that with some brands there will be several formulations of the same paint and you have to make sure that whatever you use it all comes from the same product line. I would like to get an airbrush and give it a try I just have to figure out what will meet my needs and get going. I have found that one of the hardest things to do is to resist the temptation to pick the rocket up and start handling it before the paint cures. You know how it is it's been painted for a few days and surely it's ready for that second coat or masking for the next color and bam you smear it or the tape pulls some of the paint loose. What I do to resist that is put the rocket in and unused room and shut the door. Out of sight out of mind. 🙂
 

GrouchoDuke

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Woody has some great thoughts above.

I have a mini-HVLP gun, but I haven’t used it yet on a rocket. I’d like to, but I keep choosing for the “good enough, quick & easy” route of rattle cans. No setup, mixing or cleanup. Now that I moved away from the desert & have to deal with humidity, I may move toward using the gun.

That’ll give me a good excuse to buy a new compressor. :)
 

SkyFire

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Airbrushes are great but take some practice; selecting the right size needle, getting the paint viscosity right, airbrush settings right, air pressure right. Plus, it's critical to disassemble and clean afterward.
I have two Iwata airbrushes and an old Badger. HVLP guns work well for laying down more paint.
 

Art Upton

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I just saw this on Rust X2. I painted my CrossFire payloader mod when we had 70 degree day, and waited till next week for the second coat; and the crinkles formed in less than 12 mins on the fin to body tube area. This new Big Box paint is crap. The original Krylon 12min lacquer is now called industrial [Kali EPA workaround] and costs alot more and you have to mail order it.

So , looks like I am going with my Friend Fred's advice and use Duplicolor only.
 

SkyFire

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I just saw this on Rust X2. I painted my CrossFire payloader mod when we had 70 degree day, and waited till next week for the second coat; and the crinkles formed in less than 12 mins on the fin to body tube area. This new Big Box paint is crap. The original Krylon 12min lacquer is now called industrial [Kali EPA workaround] and costs alot more and you have to mail order it.

So , looks like I am going with my Friend Fred's advice and use Duplicolor only.
I just saw this on Rust X2. I painted my CrossFire payloader mod when we had 70 degree day, and waited till next week for the second coat; and the crinkles formed in less than 12 mins on the fin to body tube area. This new Big Box paint is crap. The original Krylon 12min lacquer is now called industrial [Kali EPA workaround] and costs alot more and you have to mail order it.

So , looks like I am going with my Friend Fred's advice and use Duplicolor only.
Maybe the paint issues are due to humidity. I've painted three rockets with Rusto 2X with great results however I live in Arizona (very low humidity).
 

DES

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I just saw this on Rust X2. I painted my CrossFire payloader mod when we had 70 degree day, and waited till next week for the second coat; and the crinkles formed in less than 12 mins on the fin to body tube area. This new Big Box paint is crap. The original Krylon 12min lacquer is now called industrial [Kali EPA workaround] and costs alot more and you have to mail order it.

So , looks like I am going with my Friend Fred's advice and use Duplicolor only.
If I understand, the wrinkles were at the fin to body tube area, ie the fillets? Can you post a photo? Some of the acrylics do not stick particularly well to glue, glassine, etc. The first coat goes on fine, but the solvent in the second coat will soften and swell the first coat a bit, and it wrinkles off anything it is not completely adhered to. Woodworkers will actually do this on purpose for a "crackle finish". Recommend a lacquer based primer, even for the so called self-priming products.
 

Art Upton

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Here is the Picture of the Fin roots. This is the worst one. One side is perfect, one not so bad, this is the worst of the 3 sides. I am agreeing with issue of paint over the glue swipe. Non-Fumes Sanding Sealer was used while fins were still in the sheet. Then glued on, then fillets with finger. You can see the swipe of glue distance on the fin on the left easy. And the paint malfunctions right over that glue swipe.


Cross-Fire-Paint.jpg
 

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