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There have been several posts discussing airbrushes but not much discussion on air compressors.  The few specific models have been given and those seem expensive.  The things mentioned as desirable for a compressor are adjustable pressure and a moisture trap.

 

I'm looking for a compressor just for airbrush work (paining all my track for now), and I'd prefer an inexpensive one.  The Harbor Freight web site has a 1/5 Horsepower, 58 PSI Airbrush Compressor and Airbrush Kit with an adjustable pressure regulator (w/gauge) with moisture trap for $90.00.  It does not have a tank.  I may or may not used the airbrush in the kit (looking at a Paasche).  For that price, it looks like a good deal for the compressor.

 

Is this compressor a good value, or would I be better off getting a different model with better specs?  Does a tank help that much?  Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

 

Ron

 

 

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The good thing about the small compressors are their mobility and they are less noisey. Great for doing things around the layout. Otherwise if you have a good regulator, water trap, and tank, you can use a pancake compressor from Home depot for all your airbrushing needs. This way you can use it for other larger needs. 

That setup from Harbor Freight will work just fine, airbrush and all. You don't need a tank, none of the airbrush compressors have a tank, they run non-stop. If you get one with auto shut off, the compressor shuts off when you let off the air brush trigger.

 

If you have a home compressor with a tank, of course that will work too. You need the regulator and moisture trap. I've used everything from a can of Propel, to a tire, an expensive compressor, home compressor etc etc. Doesn't really make a difference, you just need the regulator and moisture trap.

 

I've used about a dozen different airbrushes as well. Currently using the dual action from Harbor Freight for most projects, and a Master for detail work. There's a ton of stuff on this site and good prices....check it out:

 

http://www.tcpglobal.com/airbrushdepot/

 

Amazon carries stuff from them also if you're a Prime Member free 2 day shipping

First of all, do not buy compressor without air tank. Reservoir tank provides constant airflow, so you dont need to run compressor all the time. Moisture trap and pressure regulator are also an important parts of compressor. Before you buy anything read the  airbrush compressor buyer's guide. You have bunch of a similar articles and guides all around web... Google it. Good luck.

Last edited by Iwata fan
Originally Posted by Iwata fan:

First of all, do not buy compressor without air tank. Reservoir tank provides constant airflow, so you dont need to run compressor all the time. Moisture trap and pressure regulator are also an important parts of compressor. Before you buy anything read the  airbrush compressor buyer's guide. You have bunch of a similar articles and guides all around web... Google it. Good luck.

More importantly in my mind, an air tank smoothes out the pressure pulses from the compressor more than just a regulator will, resulting in a less puff-puff-puffy airflow: otherwise you can get noticeable pulsations that make smooth even painting, particularly delicate painting, a bit tricky.  I always prefer a large tank because it does an even better job of both holding air and maintaining a constant pressure.

You can buy an air compressor with tanks relatively cheap.  This was purchased from PepBoys via a Sunday newspaper ad.  Click on the underlined phrase to link to a similar offering.  My Compressor pictured is not oil-less.  It requires addition of compressor oil from time to time.  The purchase of an air hose and the Quick-attachment parts added 1/2 again the cost of the compressor.  Most small motored tools, like this, 1/3 to 1/2 horsepower, should be powered via a 12 gauge 20 amp circuit. IMO.  Proper operation requires the tank(s) be drained of condensation water and excess oil periodically . 

 


Previous Air brush post. 
I posted this set of picture some time ago.  Needed items for an air brush.
Cleaners, containers and several different bottles.


I have a quick-tach system so that I can connect different air tools .  Also note the water separator top of picture.


Water separator


A slop bucket, where I start the air brush, and eventually clean it.


Adequate work area and a fabricated air brush holder that is in a portable vice.


Note that the air compressor will have two air pressure gauges. Tank pressure and air brush pressure.  Adjustable with the screw knob.


I have a second water separator at the air compressor.


A good hose that works for all air needs, filling tires etc.  Note the quick-tach system again.


Q-tips and paper towel for cleaning.  I also find pipe cleaners useful for brush and tube cleaning.


Most important, either a very good air ventilation system or an organic cartridge type respirator.  Or BOTH.


I also have a very good slop sink in the work area with hot and cold water for clean up. Upper left corner of this picture.

Last edited by Mike CT
Originally Posted by C W Burfle:

Has anyone make their own pressure tank for the little Badger compressors such as the Badger 180 series models?

I have a regulator / moisture trap on mine which does help a bit, but the pulsing is still noticeable.

You can purchase approved pressure tanks that could be adapted to your compressor but as you can note the cost of the tank plus connection to your compressor is close to the cost of a new compressor/tank combination.  Be sure the tank you use is approved for at least 125 to 150 psi.   Click on the underlined phrase to link.

 

Last edited by Mike CT

Thanks for the reply!

Those little compressors only make about 30 pounds, why would I need a tank rated at 125 to 150? That's 4 or 5 times the pressure.

I do have a portable air tank rated up there that I could use, but it's rather big.

 

I also have a small compressor with built-in tanks for my air powered staple/nail gun. I guess the wise thing to do would be to retire the Badger compressor, and use it.

Last edited by C W Burfle
Originally Posted by C W Burfle:

Thanks for the reply!

Those little compressors only make about 30 pounds, why would I need a tank rated at 125 to 150? That's 4 or 5 times the pressure. Adequate safety factor. Even at 30 psi, pounds per square inch, X the surface area of a small tank is a lot of force.  When they come apart it is interesting at the least.  Probably hard to find a welded pressure tank that hasn't been tested for 125 to 150 PSI. IMO.

I do have a portable air tank rated up there that I could use, but it's rather big.

 

I also have a small compressor with built-in tanks for my air powered staple/nail gun. I guess the wise thing to do would be to retire the Badger compressor, and use it.  

 

Last edited by Mike CT

You want the tank to have more air then you are  using.    If your compressor/reservoir has a capacity of 30 psi, then it will be running constantly and you will probably be a little low at the airbrush end.    However, if the reservoir has 60-100 psi (most are a 100), you can set the regulator to 30 PSI and get a constant steady flow at 30.   

 

Harbor Freight has a pancake compressor and tank currently listed for 59.99 lot # 92275/61615/60637/69486 ( I guess 4 different lots).   I have  had one like this for about 2 years and I really like it.   It does have an automatic shutoff and pressure adjustment.   The regulator is built in.   They go on sale for even less, I think I paid 39.99.

Mike CT: Thanks again!

I thought about trying to make my own tank, but realized that there were safety considerations, and didn't want to take a chance.

 

PRRJIM: Thanks

 

I have several compressors, including the little badgers, the nail gun compressor, and a 175 PSI compressor in the garage.

 

I think the last Badger 180 series compressor I purchased was $5.00 at a garage sale in like new condition.

 

 

Last edited by C W Burfle

I now use this one: 

 

Compressor & Air Brishes

Airbrush-Depot.com

 

Super quiet, and comes with the moisture trap, regulator, and a kit with an airbrush for a really good price. Got tired of lugging my Dewalt around and listening to that thing echo through the neighborhood.

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Last edited by Former Member

With quite a few folks touting the virtue and/or necessity of a compressor/air tank combo set-up to achieve optimum airbrush results, if that's indeed true, then why do many university and art schools in the metropolitan Philly area that have curriculum specific to airbrushing endorse and encourage their students to buy tank-less airbrush compressors for their airbrushing work?

Just wondering. Hopefully an airbrush artist can enlighten us by chiming in on this discourse.  

I use a tank-less compressor with no issues what so ever. I do run a water trap as in Charlotte NC it was a requirement and nice here in WV. But I also use a bottom of the line Badger that does all I need. It has a jar and color cup, does what I want and is super easy to clean. I went the fancy route at one time.....but tiered of all the cleaning and buying of expensive air brush parts.  

All done with spray cans...... 

CSXDASH3

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  • CSXDASH3

I must admit I have never tried a Badger without an air tank, so I don't now.  I learned to use a tank while painting full scale autos in the 1970s: without a big tank you could see the results int he paint finish: thin/thick/thin/thick/thin.   I have a half gallon tank I think it is, which is more than ample for my little Badger, I think.  Mostly though I use rattle cans, though.  Have not touched that airbrush in some time.

I had a Badger for over 20 years and could never really master the thing, plus i got real tired of taking it apart to clean it. Now i use Testor's (Tamyia when i can't get Testor's) light grey primer in rattle cans. Then apply the final color using a Preval sprayer that i picked up at my local ACE Hardware store for about $5 or $6. It works like a rattle can but i can use Scalecoat paints in it. Refills of air with the spray head are under $5 each. Works for me.

jackson

I have a model compressor and airbrush that I have not used for years, disliking

cleaning and changing over for colors.  Since I don't have to follow (usually) a

specific model, freelancing,  I went to rattle cans.   I am usually happy with the results. (although spray can nozzle clogging can also be a pain)  I am going to check out that Preval recommendation above, which I had not heard of.  Whatever is faster and easier works for me.

Originally Posted by colorado hirailer:

I have a model compressor and airbrush that I have not used for years, disliking

cleaning and changing over for colors.  Since I don't have to follow (usually) a

specific model, freelancing,  I went to rattle cans.   I am usually happy with the results. (although spray can nozzle clogging can also be a pain)  I am going to check out that Preval recommendation above, which I had not heard of.  Whatever is faster and easier works for me.

The Preval I have used and it works nicely!

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