Newbie questions - airbrushing

I'm getting confused and hoping people could help me out with problems I am having learning to airbrush on scale aircraft models. So you have a
regional reference, I am in Australia.
I'm using the Aztek A270 airbrush with a AS186 compressor. I have a Badger 155 Anthem airbrush on it's way.
I am having numerous problems with trying to get the paint thinned to a consistency that does not clog the airbrush yet allows a reasonable layer. It's turning out too thin, I get spotting, a get spurts, and I get too thick layers. I am having to take off the nozzle between layers and soak it in Windex to stop clogging.
I'm using the Mr Hobby range of acrylic paint because it is easily accessible to me. They also stock the Tamiya range.
According to what I read, I can use distilled water to thin the paint, and I have been told to have the consistency "like milk". Further reading would suggest using distilled water may be the cause of my problems. So:
1. Can I used distilled water to thin? If not, should I use the Mr Hobby thinners?
2. Do different colours require different thinning ratios?
3. Any websites with good advice for learning to use both the Aztek (it comes with a DVD) and Badger? I'd like a "Dummies Guide To.." level because I am obviously not doing it right and am not understanding.
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Oh - the label on the paint does say "aqueous based acrylic paint" and "water to thin".
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Obviousman wrote:

Thin the paint to the consistency of skim milk. That almost always seems to work for me. Done this way, I try to spray at around 16 psi. Up to 30 psi max. Any more and over spray will result bigtime.
There really is no such thing as paint that is too thin. The thinner it is, the more coats you will need to get coverage. (unless you thin it down to a wash consistency)
I don't know why soo many people try to get something to cover in only one coat of paint. The thinner the better IMHO. Multiple thin coats are always better.
Keep playing with it, it will work for you.
I also use an Aztec airbrush, and tho it works OK, the needle assembly does give some *splatter* and or inconsistency when spraying...
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I would suggest practicing first using ink, ordinary fountain pen ink, and paper. This was suggested to me in the little pamphlet that came with my Badger 150 many moons ago. This lets you practice air and colour control, masking, getting the spraying distance right and the effects of layering, all practically for free.
Make sure the vent hole in the lid of the jar is open. The airbrush uses the venturi effect to draw paint from the jar and will have trouble if the jar is sealed tight.
The A270 is a single-action external mix airbrush, so you don't have to worry about controlling the colour as you spray. This is a good way to start out, but is best for applying large areas of paint, controlled by masking.
I've never got on with acrylics, finding that they dry too quickly, leaving deposits in the nozzle and (in severe cases) drying between the airbrush and the surface, giving an attractive flock effect :-) I use enamels, which I find easier to control. However many people have success with acrylics. There is a product (acrylic drying time extender, or just extender) that will reduce the tendency to clog.
Paint thinning is something that you can only learn by practice. The consistency of milk is quite variable, when you think about it. This is only meant as a starting point. You should be OK thinning with water.
Don't try to get a solid colour layer in one pass. Several light coats often give more depth to the colour and better adhesion. This is the airbrushes greatest strength, the ability to overcoat straight away as there is no brush touching the surface. The airbrush was invented to allow water-colour artists to overlay colours.
I found this site while googling to check what an A270 was. It seems to have some reasonable advice, but it is aimed more at artists than modellers.
http://www.howtoairbrush.com/index.php
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I use enamels, but maybe the same idea would work with acyrlics. I have found a mixture that works well on new bottles (1:1) and stick with it. If the paint is old and has thickened up, then I add thinner to airbrush bottle and try spray. If still too thick I add some more.
As far as learning, I'd say the same advise that works for getting to Carnaigee (or however you spell it) hall- Practice-practice-practice. I would recommend that a novice airbrush user practice for at least an hour on scrap or old discarded plastic before trying to paint a good kit.
Obviousman wrote:

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I prefer thinner based paints - but have read articles where some claim to use rubbing alcohlol as a least part of the thinner - the though is it evaoprates quicker than water so the paint gets through the airbrush and looses some thinner on the way to the model. If the paint goes on the model too wet it runs, too dry is makes a rough surface. I remember my first adventures with an airbrush were somewhat frustrating. word of caution - over 30 psi you can inject the paint under your skin - be careful on pressure.
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: : I am having numerous problems with trying to get the paint thinned to a : consistency that does not clog the airbrush yet allows a reasonable : layer. It's turning out too thin, I get spotting, a get spurts, and I : get too thick layers. I am having to take off the nozzle between layers : and soak it in Windex to stop clogging. :     Sounds like the paint is drying too quickly. It is summer down under. What is the temperature? : : 1. Can I used distilled water to thin? If not, should I use the Mr Hobby : thinners? :     I have been recommended to use the Tamiya Lacquer Thinner. Yes, I know. It seems just plain wrong. But, it seems to work. I used it to put down some Aqueous Hobby color on my LVTP-7.
    And it worked for the Tamiya Dark Yellow as well as the Panzer Grey.
    Problem with water is it does not have any retarders in it nor any flow enhancers. Plus, your compressor can be running hot, adding to your heat problems. And minerals and chemicals in tap water can do "interesting things"(TM) to paint, so make sure to use distilled (not just filtered) water, if you go that route. : : 2. Do different colours require different thinning ratios? :     Generally, no. But, I would have to note that "clears" are probably an exception, since they should have less pigment. : : 3. Any websites with good advice for learning to use both the Aztek (it : comes with a DVD) and Badger? I'd like a "Dummies Guide To.." level : because I am obviously not doing it right and am not understanding. :     No sites, but some suggestions:
1) Get a "test mule" - a model that you can try the paint on, and satisfy yourself that it is at the correct pressure for the paint consistency. No running, etc.
2) Start "off the model" - if you have some paint build up on the tip, it won't splatter the model. Likewise,
3) Stop "off the model"
4) Get a paint stirrer. I have a Badger, but it is a cheap piece if **it. The dongle on the end is loose, the paint stirrer falls off the motor shaft. But, it works. Much better than the toothpicks I used before.
5) Practice.
6) Keep the airbrush spotless when not being used.
7) When the paint is in the airbrush cup/bottle, it should thinly coat the sides (so you can't see throught it if glass nor see the chrome if a cup). Skim milk is a good target range for consistency. I use around 1 part thinner to 2 parts paint, but I use pretty low pressure.
                            Bruce
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"I like bad!" Bruce Burden Austin, TX.
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For what it's worth, I started out with an Aztek A470 and never did have any luck with it. Frustrated the crap out of me, which I originally attributed to inexperience but now I'm not so sure. After a few months I replaced the Aztek with a Paasche VL and immediately began getting better results. That was five years ago, and I now use that Paasche along with an Iwata.
Properly thinned paint is definitely important, along with air pressure. I use ModelMaster and Tamiya acrylics exclusively, and always use the manufacturer's thinner. Air pressure/paint consistency seems to be an elusive art; what works for one doesn't necessarily work for someone else. You'll have to experiment, but hang in there and you'll definitely figure it out. If I can do it, anyone can.
I say good riddance to the Aztek, but I must qualify that by noting I've read that many folks own and love their Aztek airbrushes, so it's very possible that the Aztek and I just never did get along.
-- david
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David Young wrote:

I use both the Aztec and Iwata. Yes the Iwata sprays finer lines, but for most work the Aztec is just fine. Interestingly, the Aztec is harder to clean too. Tho once I got a system down, is second nature. Having various needle assemblies means that I keep one only for spraying clear finishes. Nice to be able to do, keeps contamination down.
I go for very thin paint at low pressure if at all possible.
I also use the MM brush cleaner for acrylics, and lacquer thinner for oils to clean my airbrushes.
Also the only other problem I had with the Iwata was cleaning at 60 psi. I blew out the gasket, whereas the Aztec could care less. I also take the Aztec needle assembly apart to clean, tho one must be very careful not to enlarge the hole at the tip while doing this.
--
AM

http://sctuser.home.comcast.net

http://www.novac.com
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David Young wrote the following:

I have 5 airbrushes. Badger 100 Badger 350 Badger 360 (combo gravity cup feed and suction jar feed) And 2 airbrushes I got from Harbor Freight Central Pneumatic 95810 (doesn't have the usual air hose connector so I had to jury rig it). Central Pneumatic 93506 (has 5 quick change paint bottles, but a standard air hose connector) I haven't used the last one at all.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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Thanks for all the replies.
I've got a Badger 155 Anthem now, and it looks beautiful! I'm not going to use it until I master the Aztec. I'm not going to tackle dual action until I'm happy I can handle single action.
I have now bought a 'scrap' model (a Tamiya 1:72 Kfir C2) and am going to practice painting that. Using Gunze aqueous acrylics (Mr Hobby), is there a good method for removing the paint so I can reuse the model several times?
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On 22/01/2010 05:31, Obviousman wrote:

I don't know where in the world you are, but in the UK the standard recommendation for removing paint from models is a product called "Mr Muscle" Oven Cleaner. I'm sure there will be an equivalent product in your locality. Put your model in a large food/freezer bag, spray the oven cleaner over the model in the bag, then seal the bag and leave overnight. The paint will then wash/lift off. HTH
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Gaz wrote the following:

In the US it is 'Easy Off' oven cleaner. There are two strengths. Get the heavy duty one in the Yellow can.
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While I bought both a badger 200 (single action), and a crescendo (dual action) to start with, I cut my teeth learning on the crescendo. In general it was not hard to get the basics down. Moving from there to the 200 was simple.

I don't have much experience with gunze acrylics. If they're anything like Tamiya acrylics, simple rubbing alcohol will do the trick. 91% works much better than 70%.
That 91% will even remove Mr Surfacer 1000.
John
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I thought he same thing. The DA is easier to use than you think.
I have a Badgers, don't know all the numbers offhand, but SA external mix, couple of SAs, couple of DAs including the expensive ones they closed out a while ago. Top feed, side feed, bottom feed.
I progressed up the ladder of complexity slowly. But when I got to the DA I smacked myself on the head and said "I shoulda got this first and forget the rest!"
Just get some cardboard and practice signing your name in different sizes. The paint control will be almost second nature, a lot easier than adjusting the set screw on the SA. I'll keep the SAs prolly for wide areas, primer, etc. But once you go DA it's hard to go back.
Try it, you'll like it.

Bleach, oven cleaner, Easy Lift Off (ELO) from Polly Scale. There is a similar hobby product in the model railroad section, works good to.
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Gray Ghost wrote:

I agree, the ability to control paint flow is so useful that you will find it a revelation. The single-action brush should be reserved for large area coverage. Practice with it will give you experience with the physical aspects, holding the brush steady and keeping it at a constant distance from the surface, but the ability to switch the air on then feed in the colour so it doesn't splatter is a major advantage.
I'll endorse the need to practice too. Use paper or card and inks to start with, cheap but just as demanding of control.
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What should I use to clean the brush after using ink?
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Obviousman wrote:

Just water. Use washable ink rather than permanent, but as long as it hasn't dried out, the ink should flush away easily.
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Boy! The Aztek, although about 2 months old, is leaking air through the trigger like nothing else. I have had nothing but trouble from it and would not recommend it to anyone.
The Badger, on the other hand, worked beautifully first time. It was easy to clean, didn't clog, and I am learning to regulate both the air flow and paint flow.
I don't know if I can get my money back on the Aztek, but it is a POS and going in the bin if I can't get a refund.
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Yup, something similar happened to mine after a few months; I had paint coming out of the body near the aft end. Testors, to their credit, replaced it immediately, but I moved to the Paasche shortly afterwards with no regrets.
-- david
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