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AFV Painting & Weathering
Answers to questions about the right paint scheme or tips for the right effect.
Cleaning Your Airbrush
ceekay
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United States
Member Since: August 16, 2011
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Posted: Monday, August 15, 2011 - 11:58 PM UTC
(been lurking here for a while, finally registered....)

I find the best way to clean a needle-based airbrush is to clean out the jar first, fill with your choice of thinner/cleaner, then tap at the front end while holding air/material wide open until the jar is empty... The tapping diverts air backwards, so your thinner washes back and forth through the paint system. No thinner will wash back into the air line, as there is constant pressure going one way (remember to hold the brush wide-open, like you're trying to paint a real car fender with it)... No need to disassemble and scrub every time. Also works well for Mini-Jets (half-sized paint guns).

I usually spray RC bodies. I got a nice Snap-On airbrush for the task, and I've put everything through it from acrylics and enamels, to urethane-based auto paints and clear coats. Runs like a champ, only detailed it once.

Try it! It'll save you so much time that you'll have to start another kit while waiting for the first one to dry!


- CK
keo
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Nordjylland, Denmark
Member Since: January 30, 2006
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Posted: Sunday, November 21, 2010 - 02:49 AM UTC
I have never heard of something called an Ultrasonic Cleaner but it sounds as a pretty good thing to supplement your day-to-day cleaning with. I like to get one; however it’ll become pretty expensive if I bought it in the US (post and taxes). Any European dealers?
MUNROS
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Pennsylvania, United States
Member Since: September 24, 2010
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Posted: Sunday, November 21, 2010 - 02:18 AM UTC
Anthony, Hello. I have a paasche talon. I dump anything still left in the cup. Quick wipe with a shop towel. Run a mix of ammonia and distilled water till it comes out clear. I then remove the needle, crown cap, air cap, and tip. I soak the tip in the ammonia and water, And immediately wipe down the needle. Reassemble, and run some distilled water through. Every once in a while I'll remove the trigger, and rocker assembly to insure nothing is bleeding past the packing assembly. I've tried just running ammonia and water through. But always have a bit of paint left on the needle. I've not tried an ultrasonic cleaner, but that would seem to be the way to go. Always use acrylics.
lighthorseman
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South Australia, Australia
Member Since: April 26, 2008
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Posted: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - 08:50 AM UTC
im using the analogy that my airbrush is like a weapon and all who have served in the military will also be able to relate. every time i would live fire. the weapon would then get fully stripped and cleaned. why is this done? so you know its going to work for you when you are on a 2 way firing range. your airbrush is the same. you strip and clean it after each time you shoot paint so you know its going to work the next time you go to use it
robtmelvin
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Kentucky, United States
Member Since: October 05, 2010
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Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - 11:12 PM UTC
I suppose I'm either obsessive compulsive or anal retentive, take your pick, but I totally strip and clean my AB after every use. I primarily shoot enamels, but even with acrylics I still do a full strip and clean after every use. Before an injury sidelined me, I used to shoot competitively and was in the habit of totally stripping, cleaning and lubing my weapons each time I shot, competition or practice. I guess that carried over to my modeling. I just don't think you can take care of a piece of equipment too much, particularly a relatively precision type of equipment like an AB. As for WD-40, in my experience that stuff will, over time, build up a coat of gunk on your equipment that will ultimately cause you grief. I relegate it to the barn and such links as squeaky hinges.

Bob
McIvan
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New Zealand
Member Since: November 18, 2009
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Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - 03:02 PM UTC
PS: The window cleaner would be a rather low ammonia concentration. Pretty mild stuff. I wouldn't use the toilet cleaner industrial strength ammonia products if I were you. If you want to pull the AB apart and soak it for a, say, six monthly maintenance, then lacquer thinner is good...but remove the o-ring and other plastic first!
McIvan
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New Zealand
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Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - 02:59 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Wondering if anyone uses ammonia (for acrylic) or white spirit (aka mineral spirit) for enamels?

Particularly interested in knowing if white spirit will damage various seals and o-rings.



I shoot a cup of ammonia based window cleaner at the end of a spray. After that (mine's a bottom feeder) I use a q-tip soaked in Tamiya thinner to clean out the orifice into whic the cup is inserted and wipe the paint out of the nozzle.

With the ammonia, the AB trigger doesn't stick anymore like it used to after I shot acrylic thinner through it for cleaning, so it is celarly doing a better job of removing paint.

Don't know anything about mineral spirits...I don't use that through the airbrush, just for washes with artists oils. If it is of any use, mineral spirits doesn't attack the acrylic paint already on the model, no matter how much I use.
Whitey
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Massachusetts, United States
Member Since: September 20, 2010
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Posted: Monday, October 25, 2010 - 01:52 PM UTC

Quoted Text


No. Don't use pure ammonia. The ammonia will etch the brass parts of your ab. I ruined my fine head by running ammonia through it, even though I generously flushed it water.



I'm glad I asked first!

Is White Spirit harmful too?
retiredyank
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Arkansas, United States
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Posted: Friday, October 22, 2010 - 09:48 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Wondering if anyone uses ammonia (for acrylic) or white spirit (aka mineral spirit) for enamels?

Particularly interested in knowing if white spirit will damage various seals and o-rings.


No. Don't use pure ammonia. The ammonia will etch the brass parts of your ab. I ruined my fine head by running ammonia through it, even though I generously flushed it water. Try glass cleaner or dilute the ammonia about 1:10 with distilled water.
retiredyank
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Arkansas, United States
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Posted: Friday, October 22, 2010 - 09:44 PM UTC
I use both acrylics and enamels. I have even run latex through my brush. I've found that MEK is about the best way to clean enamels from your brush. MEK is dangerous stuff. Make sure you wear a mask. To get the acrylics out, I run a 5:1 distilled water and ab cleaning fluid through the brush. I usually disassemble it about once every six uses. Something most people forget, is to regularly check your siphon(about once every ten uses) for clogs. Pull the hose off, as the most common place to clog is where the hose connects to the lid. Or, just buy one siphon for acrylics and latex and another for enamels. This should stay the sludge that otherwise results from mixing enamels with water.
Whitey
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Massachusetts, United States
Member Since: September 20, 2010
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Posted: Saturday, October 16, 2010 - 02:53 PM UTC
Wondering if anyone uses ammonia (for acrylic) or white spirit (aka mineral spirit) for enamels?

Particularly interested in knowing if white spirit will damage various seals and o-rings.
retiredyank
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Arkansas, United States
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Posted: Thursday, October 14, 2010 - 11:24 PM UTC
I wear a respirator(mask) and run MEK through my ab for about 15 seconds. This stuff is powerful and will disolve any foreign matter in your brush.
-Matt
ebergerud
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California, United States
Member Since: July 15, 2010
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Posted: Saturday, September 18, 2010 - 03:49 PM UTC
A cheap ultrasonic gizmo should work fine. Mine was $30 and works very well on anyting metal. I've never put my whole brush in - little worried about the rubber O-rings. Sure use it for needles and nozzle assemblies: it does work there.

As much as I dislike the stuff, I strongly believe that using lacquer thinner is terrific for blowing a brush clean. There are acrylics and acrylics. Some want water and nothing else. Gunze is only technically an acrylic and almost requires lacquer thinner for use. Tamiya acrylics sprays better in my humble with their lacquer than with their acrylic thinner (and it says so on their site if you look closely).

I've just bought some "green" lacquer thinner. Don't plan on using it for painting, but if it works well for cleaning, that would be sweet. It definitely does not have quite the punch smell-wise. Will report.

I don't dismantle the brush after each cleaning, but I do blow the tip out and swipe the needle after every color change and then give the thing a 45 psi full-bore blow out with about every solvent in the house at sessions end. (I think it important to get that first cleaning blast through ASAP - in just a few seconds - because some acrylics will clog up in the blink of an eye - so don't let them dry.) Then I check the brush before using next day with water: if it's not running smooth, you should see it right there.
Eric

Eric
Hohenstaufen
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England - South East, United Kingdom
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Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 09:09 AM UTC
I too have an old Badger 200 and I spray Humbrol through it, which is supposed to be really difficult. I've never plucked up the courage to try acrylics as I understand that they dry really quickly, and I've always been frightened of them clogging the brush - I suppose it's just what your used to. I don't clean when changing colour, just spray until the new colour comes through clean, but after every session I completely strip the brush and clean in White Spirit (much cheaper than special thinners and works just as well). This has worked for me for the last 30 years or more.
By the way if you want distilled water, just wait until your wife/mother defrosts the fridge. Collect it in a basin, let it melt and you have enough distilled water for months. Works fine in automotive batteries too and costs nothing.
collin26
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Connecticut, United States
Member Since: March 24, 2007
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Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 01:40 AM UTC
Alclad II Lacquer air brush cleaner. This stuff will take the white off of rice but will not damage you airbrush. I will ocasionaly have issues with paint drying in the tip of my brush and this stuff will fix this real quick. Simply place a small amount into your paint cup and back flush your airbrush. If you still have an issue, I would suggest soaking the tip in a small amount of this thinner. DO NOT use this stuff to thin paint, DO NOT put it on your model unless you want to remove the paint, and do not breath it or spill it on your skin......or your wifes favorite shirt!
I do not know how some of the plastic parts in a TestersAztec brush would handle a thinner this "HOT" . Please, if anyone reading this has used this product to clean an Aztec, share the results with the group.
collin26
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Connecticut, United States
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Posted: Monday, September 13, 2010 - 03:29 PM UTC
ACLAD II Airbrush Cleaner will clean your airbrush completely...no doubts. This stuff is outstanding. Howeber, do not inhale it, or spill it on your skin while back flushing your brush. If you ahve any build up unside, disassemble the brush and soak for a few minutes in this product...no more problem.
Sqrootof5
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Singapore / 新加坡
Member Since: January 30, 2010
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Posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - 10:08 PM UTC
Thanks guys for the clarification. In that case guess I'll just leave the airbrush alone after cleaning it out with thinner. The thinner I am going to use should be a lacquer thinner as it cleans the tamiya acrylic paint off my paintbrushes very well.
Phil_H
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New South Wales, Australia
Member Since: November 10, 2005
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Posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - 01:07 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Good thread here but I would like to ask something I'm not sure about.

I recently just bought an airbrush and the shop advised me after using, to clean the airbrush, I should just fill the cup with thinner from the DIY store and shoot till it runs clean. This is where I'm concerned about, I was told after shooting the thinner, I can just leave the brush alone. There's no need to clean it with water or anything after shooting the thinner to clean the paint out. At present, I'm using only Tamiya acrylic paints.

So would it be necessary to clean out the thinner?



What type of thinner are you using? If you are using Tamiya acrylics exclusively, then oil-based thinners such as mineral spirits or mineral turpentine are incompatible and won't touch Tamiya acrylics.

Lacquer thinner will rip it out pretty well, but you don't generally need to use anything that strong in normal use. I just use denatured alcohol (or Methylated Spirits) and it does the job quite well.

And again, no, you shouldn't need to clean the thinner out after cleaning, as it will simply evaporate. Actually if you flush your airbrush out with water, putting a little alcohol through it will help dry it out.
retiredyank
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Arkansas, United States
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Posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - 01:07 PM UTC
I have a parts washer. Usually just wash with paint thinner or rubbing alcohol. After that, I run a bottle of water through the brush and use a needle reemer just in case. My Badger 150 works like the day I bought it.
gaborka
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Borsod-Abauj-Zemblen, Hungary
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Posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - 03:54 AM UTC
Basically no, lacquer thinner is not supposed to leave any residue - let it dry and you can use it again. If you want to be sure, spray a few drops of acrylic thinner before you spray paint next time - my 2 cents.

Sqrootof5
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Singapore / 新加坡
Member Since: January 30, 2010
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Posted: Tuesday, June 29, 2010 - 02:32 PM UTC
Good thread here but I would like to ask something I'm not sure about.

I recently just bought an airbrush and the shop advised me after using, to clean the airbrush, I should just fill the cup with thinner from the DIY store and shoot till it runs clean. This is where I'm concerned about, I was told after shooting the thinner, I can just leave the brush alone. There's no need to clean it with water or anything after shooting the thinner to clean the paint out. At present, I'm using only Tamiya acrylic paints.

So would it be necessary to clean out the thinner?
voyager
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Victoria, Australia
Member Since: June 30, 2004
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Posted: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 - 02:42 PM UTC
No problem, I'll throw it up now.
Smartin
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Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
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Posted: Monday, June 14, 2010 - 08:15 PM UTC
Hey Steve,

Yes please ... always handy!

gr.

(S)Martin
voyager
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Victoria, Australia
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Posted: Monday, June 14, 2010 - 07:01 PM UTC
I wrote up a visual guide for cleaning airbrushes for another forum - happy to repost it here if you like. Its only good for acrylic paint though.