by: James Bella [ ]
introductionThe Paasche Airbrush Company was established in 1904 by Jens Andreas Paasche, and is located in Chicago, Illinois USA. The Talon is the newest release from Paasche and is a dual action, gravity feed, internal mix airbrush.
My review sample came packed in a generic Paasche cardboard box with flat foam inserts. Good enough to protect it during shipping, though it doesn’t make for a great storage case. The first thing I noticed was the large paint cup, and my immediate thoughts were that this brush would be top heavy and unbalanced. Picking the Talon up those thoughts were immediately dispelled, the brush sat comfortably in my hand with no tipping in any direction.
Dual Action Gravity Feed
.38mm Nickel Silver Tip
.4 Ounce (11.8cc) Cup with Cover
Pre-set Needle Stop
Hooking it up to a Paasche hose and my compressor, I sprayed some colored water through to get a feel for the brush before complete disassembly. Right off the bat I noticed a longer downstroke for air then my other brushes, fine atomization and predictable control. The trigger was comfortable but had a rough feel on the backstroke (more on that below). It was time to disassemble the brush to check all the components.
Starting at the business end of the brush and working towards the rear, we’ll take a look at each of the components of this brush and my interpretation of them:
Most airbrushes have some sort of cap to protect the tip of the needle, with common styles being completely closed, open end and crown. Completely closed caps need to be removed before using the brush, leaving the tip of the needle exposed and unprotected. Open end caps leave the needle protected but create turbulence with extreme close-up work. These are usually removed for close-up work, risking damage to the needle. Paasche has decided to use the crown style on the Talon, which protects the needle and still allows for close up work.
The air cap on the Talon is a simple, open design which leaves less to go wrong. A good air seal is aided by an O-ring and only needs finger tightening.
The tip supplied is .38mm and is a screw in type which facilitates centering and doesn’t rely on the air cap to hold it in place. Using a tip wrench is recommended, and as with all screw in tips, care must be taken not to strip the threads.
The main body incorporates the large paint cup which has a capacity of .4oz.(11.8cc). There is also a snug fitting cover to prevent the paint drying in the cup and accidental spillage. I found that with the Talon I only needed to fill the cup about 1/3 full to base/top coat a 1/35 scale Pz. IV. This large paint cup actually worked out great for painting fine details or Camo, as I could tilt the brush sideways approximately 45° to get an unobstructed view of the tip without spilling the paint.
The Teflon and brass packing nut is adjustable with a small flat blade screwdriver and can be replaced by the user if the need ever arises.
Trigger Assembly/Air Valve:
This is a new style from Paasche incorporating a type of ball and socket design. This leaves the trigger itself in a solid piece as opposed to a hinged set-up. The ball and socket should give a very smooth movement and also makes assembly much easier. As stated previously, the trigger had a rough feel on the backstroke. On close examination of the components, the culprit was found. The opening in the main body part (shell) still had the machining marks, causing the trigger to catch on each serration. Taking a small flat file and some fine wet/dry paper, I smoothed the area a little. After reassembly, the trigger worked smooth as silk. This is definitely an area that Paasche needs to address as it affects the use of the brush tremendously.
What I consider to be the rocker assembly is composed of a few parts with different functions. First up is the rocker itself, which is thoughtfully connected to the shaft. This means that trying to hold the separate rocker in place while tightening the shaft is no longer necessary. Simply insert the rocker into the shell, pull back on the trigger and tighten the shaft. Easy.
Another feature on this assembly is a trigger tensioner, which adjusts the pull back force of the trigger. I would have liked more of a range on the heavy side for the tensioner, although what's offered is adequate. This is accessible through the handle cut-out, so it can be adjusted ‘on the fly’.
The final part in this area is the needle lock nut. On the first few occasions I loosened this, it was extremely tight. After the ‘break-in’ period, this operated just fine. As a side note, when I first used the Talon I had some questions and concerns, one of them being the lock nut. I contacted Paasche directly via e-mail and received a response in less than 30 minutes. All of my questions/concerns regarding the Talon were taken care of by Steven, outstanding customer service such as this is a big plus in my book. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring up the rough trigger dilemma since I already ‘fixed’ it.
Handle and Preset:
The handle has a cut-out which allows access to the tensioner and locknut, although the needle needs to be removed from the rear due to the marking ring. As far as I can tell for the cut-out’s purpose, besides aesthetics, is to access the trigger tension adjuster and to visually check that everything is moving properly.
At the rear of the handle is the pre-set adjustment knobs. There are 2 knurled knobs that move semi-independently, with the larger diameter one incorporating four marks to match up with a mark on the handle. Operation of this is simple but may prove to be tricky to explain! The smaller rearmost knob is the preset adjustment, which is used to limit the trigger pull back motion and is helpful to obtain consistent width lines. Using this leaves only distance and speed to worry about, as paint flow is held to a set amount.
Once you have the travel set, you can move the larger diameter knob to line up the marks. Using just the smaller knob from then on will move both knobs together. Now, if you need to readjust the preset to a different width pattern, it’s easier to make fine adjustments or return to the original location by using the marks. If I was to use this function I would darken one of the lines to help in counting complete turns. Honestly, this is something I most likely would not use and may be completely wrong in my assessment of this feature. Anyway, it’s there if you ever want it.
Last, but not least, is the needle. As far as I can tell, machining looks very good on the tip. Not much else to comment on here, other than the ring on the back end. When the Talon first hit the market there was only 1 head size. Paasche recently came out with smaller and larger head sizes. The TN-1 fine needle will have one ring, the TN-2 medium needle will have two rings (as used in this review) and the TN-3 heavy needle will have 3 rings.
using the airbrushAfter getting everything back together, it was time to put the Talon through its paces. Since airbrushing depends on a few different factors such as paint brand and viscosity, air pressure and the person operating it, I’ll just comment on a few things. Please note that I am nowhere near being proficient with an airbrush.
I ran quite a bit of paint through the Talon over the last few weeks, including Gunze, Tamiya, Lifecolor and Model Master, all acrylics. I went from water thin to straight out of the bottle, 3lbs. to 40lbs. of air pressure, 12 inches away with the preset full open to scraping the crown cap against the surface with the preset fully closed, and a whole bunch in between. All in all, I put the brush through some tough times, and then added a little abuse!
My personal experience with the brush found that between 8-20 lbs. of air was where it thrived, below 8 lbs. it would spit and sputter unless the paint was so thin as to be translucent. Line widths from 1mm to 15mm were perfect, even though it can get down to approximately 1/3mm and as wide as 35mm. Painting 1/35 scale pioneer tool handles on the model would be absolutely possible. Granted, this is all with a .38mm head, which is considered the medium size.
Base and top coats went on smooth with all the above mentioned paint brands, and pretty quick given the wide pattern. The Talon wasn’t too fussy with paint viscosity in its air and line width comfort range, but as with any airbrush, finding the right paint/thinner ratio is a personal undertaking.
I hardly ever disassemble airbrushes to clean, other than removing the crown cap if so equipped, and I treated the Talon with my normal routine. After emptying the excess paint and swabbing the cup out, I add cleaner, spray through and backwash a few times, and finally run some distilled water through. After a couple of weeks of daily use and this cleaning routine, I took the brush apart. Some paint had built up on the inside of the tip and small areas of the needle, but nothing that seemed to affect performance. For the final week of testing, a full break down cleaning regime was performed after each use. This was definitely not pleasant in the beginning, but after I got use to the sequence and the brush got past its break-in period, things went quite smoothly. For a thorough cleaning, a Q-tip, pipe cleaner and compressed air did the trick.
I even managed to bend the tip of the needle slightly, though not an intentional part of my testing! I was able to straighten it by rolling/pressing it on a piece of glass, did the same roll and press on 2000 grit wet-n-dry paper, and we were good as new.
With the .38mm head set-up, this is a very good brush to handle most tasks, from the base coat to snaky line camouflage , on 1/35 and 1/48 scale models. The parts are well machined with an overall feeling of durability. The learning curve of the Talon was relatively quick and painless, and the brush includes some excellent features. Parts are readily available and inexpensive, at least in the USA. The rough area in the main body for the trigger is something that Paasche needs to address. Even though it was a 2 minute fix on my part, this is something that should have been taken care of.