I've been using a tank that I had made way back when and it is a piece of 5"
tubing with caps on both ends that is about 7" long or so. Probably about a
quart of cap.
This tank has been quite good for me. A 5 gallon tank will provide air for
quite a while after the pump goes off and will be more than satisfactory for
Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
I assume you mean a steel tank? Made properly that is certainly adequate.
As per MANY previous threads, let me remind everyone ...
DO **NOT** use PVC plastic for the tank or plumbing ... it is not rated
for, nor is it safe to use, with compressed air! Such use is illegal in
I am well aware that many get away with using PVC air plumbing ... for a
time. The literature is full of reports of the consequences, however,
and they are NOT 'pretty'. Common PVC is rated for COLD water only ...
VERY different than compressed air! When used with compressed air, PVC
can and will explode unpredictably and catastrophically, sometimes at
quite low pressures (only 15 psi). Sharp shards of the broken PVC can be
scattered at high velocity. Severe injury is possible.
There ARE industrial plastics that are rated for compressed air use, but
you won't find them at the average home supply house.
At 30psi, aluminum or even PVC works fine. At 100psi, I'd either use a
thick aluminum or steel tank. I'd even put a modified cap on a plastic soda
bottle as they are designed to handle that kind of pressure.
I'll note that even that little 1 quart or so tank takes a few moments to
empty with the airbrush so there is plenty of filtering.
Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
I disagree that PVC is safe, even at 15 psi. I've personally seen the
nasty mess that results from a PVC vacuum chamber imploding, and that's
only 15 psi. Such failure hospitalized a friend of mine, who now has
permanent injury as a result. The total energy stored in the vacuum tank
was much less than that stored in even a small compressed air tank (at
the usual pressures).
The biggest problem is that the PVC fails catastrophically, without
warning, and throws sharp shards all over the place. Metal can also
fail, but tends to leak, bend, split, or collapse instead of fragmenting
PVC is *NOT* rated for, nor safe for, compressed air use, period.
Yes, a soda bottle would indeed be safer ... and they're *NOT* made of
PVC. I still would not recommend one for the use being discussed,
however. They too can do nasty things, but fail at much higher pressures
(as in bottle rockets).
How about an old car or truck tire? A donut spare should be able
to hold enough air for a little airbrush.
I used to have a cheapo spray gun that ran off a tire. It seemed
Any size tank will act to smooth out the airflow - the larger it is the
closer you get to a smooth flow. Five gal should be more than enough.
I use an old car wheel/tyre with no valve and a cobbled up "T" junction
If you're using a pump intended for basic airbrushing then the pressure
should be about right.
A water trap is an excellent idea to stop the occassional "spit" that can
spoil a pait job.
My cheap and dirty answer is to use an extra long piece of 1/4" plastic
tubing and loop it half a dozen times over a nail on the wall between tank
Any moisture tends to collect at the bottoms of the loops and if any is
visible I take it down and blow it out.
Adding the extra volume between pump and brush is definitely an improvement
in spray quality.
I have both a little Badger type pump and a full size commercial
Being able to alter the pressure is more versatile but occassionally I use
the little pump for quick and simple jobs.
For an even air flow only a very small tank is needed ... perhaps one
quart in capacity. Even a pint sized tank will help. Certainly a 5 gal.
tank would be more than adequate for this purpose. I suppose the bigger
the better, depending on available space.
The larger tank can assist with other properties, however. *IF* your
compressor has a pressure switch to turn itself on/off, then the larger
tank will mean it will run less often. The bigger tank may also serve to
better catch moisture, as moisture tends to collect in the tank (which
is much better than having it pass along the air hose to your airbrush!)
Periodically, the tank will need to have any water deposited in it
drained off to minimize internal rusting (inevitable with a steel tank).
Use a proper compressed air tank that is rated adequately for the
pressure you intend to apply. Any 'garage' style tank will be more than
adequate (usually rated to 100 psi or so.) Most airbrushing is done at
10 - 30 psi, and many small compressors can't reach much above 30 psi.
There's no harm in going to higher pressure in the storage tank, as long
as the compressor and all fittings are adequately rated. The regulator
will step-down the pressure to the desired level.
A regulator and filter/moisture trap is also a necessity IMHO. Some get
by without them, but you just won't get your best results that way.
A lot depends on your local conditions ... humidity, temperature, and
dust in the air. The higher the humidity the more you need the moisture
trap(s). Many use more than one ... one between the compressor and tank,
and another between the tank and the airbrush.
The full assembly, in order, would be:
Compressor - hose - possible moisture trap - storage tank - mandatory
moisture trap/filter - regulator - hose - airbrush.
You'll probably want a hose between the compressor and the
tank/trap/regulator assembly. This just minimizes vibration (from the
compressor) and noise issues. The tank/trap/regulator assembly are
normally hard-plumbed together, though hoses could be used.
Small moisture traps are available that fit in the air hose near the
airbrush. That's fine for a secondary trap, but if you use only one, get
a larger one to put on the tank output. Drain it as needed (usually you
can see the water/moisture inside the bowl)
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