Repaint, repaint, and thin no more...

Last time, I was annoyed.  That wasn't my fault.

This time, I am frustrated.  This is my fault.

I have had a little bit of time to play around with the beautiful Badger 150 airbrush, getting four boxcars painted with Italeri acrylics and ready for decals.  They turned out fairly well for being the first model trains I have painted.  I also painted a small container.  Also turned out looking nice.

But that just gave me a false sense of accomplishment.

You see, an airbrush is a tool.  With any tool, you should practice with it in order to get better at using it.  I didn't practice with it and went to paint some other models, and that was a mistake.  The paint sputtered out of the airbrush and didn't go on in a smooth coat.  The hose for the paint jar clogged, which tells me that I didn't thin the paint enough.  The airbrush started making a "put-put" noise and refused to even let air out.

So, I cleaned out the paint jar and ran some Windex through the airbrush.  I have since been informed that Windex is not a suitable airbrush cleaner...so I will need to find something better.  Anyway, I thought my troubles were over.


The airbrush still made a "put-put" noise and wouldn't let air out.  I dismantled the airbrush right down to the valve that lets the air into the brush.  Cleaned it inside and out with lacquer thinner (stinky stuff, so don't breathe it in...by the way, that stuff will kill brain cells).  I couldn't believe the amount of dried paint that came out on the cotton swabs I used to clean it.

Simple Green helped remove my paint errors...smells better than 99% isopropyl alcohol, and safer than Pine Sol on my models.  Still has a nasty "flat pop" smell to it.

Lessons learned:

1.  Practice.  Instead of using models that take a lot of work to build, use old water bottles or scrap pieces of plastic or even a piece of paper to practice on.  Techniques don't come naturally for a lot of people...it takes work.  Perfection is possible, but not without practice.

2.  Either learn how to thin paint or buy pre-thinned paints.  Paint that clogs the hose in the bottle isn't thinned enough and requires more thinner.  Too much thinner and the paint will do some interesting things, none of which include making your model look good.

3.  Take apart the airbrush and put it back together several times.  The more you do it, the better you'll become at doing it.  You will learn how to fix what went wrong, and possibly know what went wrong immediately.  An airbrush clogged with paint will be clogged somewhere between where the paint comes in and where it goes out.  That means looking at the air valve will be a waste of time.

4.  Patience is key.  When you're in a foul mood, don't paint.  When you're tired, don't paint.  When you want something painted and it has to be done yesterday, don't paint.  Paint when you feel up to painting.

5.  Clean the airbrush.  Properly...that means no Windex, no ammonia, no windshield washer fluid.  Between colour changes, run some airbrush cleaner until the spray shows no colour.  Then use the new colour.  But after you are finished, strip down the entire gun and clean it inside and out.

6.  Safety first.  I'm bad for this one.  I should be using a respirator and a spray booth.  I am using acrylic paint, which is safer than solvent based model paint, but the fumes can still go into my lungs.  If I am going to be a good example to others, I have to start emphasizing safe practices for my own work.

I am going to have to practice using my airbrush.  Since most of my models are kitbashed or scratchbuilt, I have to paint them.  Paying someone else to paint my models is a little more expensive than I care to pay.  There are videos on Youtube and a ton of websites to help me (and you) learn how to use an airbrush.