This subject came up after a friend read my last post.
How do I clean up after using Vallejo Air paint in my airbrush?
I put 2 or 3 fluid cups full of Lysol Clean and Fresh through the airbrush, pull the needle and wipe it and the interior of the fluid cup out with a lacquer thinner soaked Q-tip, reinsert the needle, put 2 fluid cups worth of lacquer thinner through it and I am done. This method works for me.
If I am airbrushing lacquer based paint, e.g., Hataka Orange Line or Tamiya Lacquer, I use only “hardware store” lacquer thinner. I will fill the fluid cup with lacquer thinner and put a Q-tip in the cup. Then I use the Q-tip to loosen all the paint on the inside of the cup, which always dissolves in the thinner. I spray that out, followed my two more cups filled with thinner. I pull the needles and wipe it off, then spray a final cup full of thinner through the airbrush and I am done.
For Tamiya Acrylics, I follow the above procedure except I use nothing but 91% rubbing alcohol as a solvent.
These methods work for me, they involve no extremely powerful solvents and no abrasives of any kind. Your mileage may vary.
There are many modelers out there who have spoken ill of Vallejo Model Air (hereinafter “VMA”), to put it politely. More often I hear, less politely, that the stuff sucks.
How is this? I never have had a problem spraying VMA.
Either a Badger 105 Patriot with an “F” tip or a Grex XGi with a a 0.3 mm nozzle. My compressor is a $90 one from the Wuhan Compressor Factory. The gauge on it says the pressure I like is between 15 and 20 psi (but who knows if it really is?). It is my second one. The other one wore out. They both serve and served my needs.
My Location – Arizona
I live in the southeast corner of The East Valley, which is the vast suburban expanse of Phoenix extending east to the Superstition Mountains. It is also known as the Sonoran Desert.
It is dry out here. In high summer, it is not unusual to have humidity as low as 8%, and people start commenting on how humid it is when the humidity skyrockets to 30% around monsoon season. It is just amazing how fast things dry here. For instance, I can wash one of my baseball hats and leave it soaking wet on the patio (in the shade) and it will be dry as a bone is less than an hour.
When I lived in New England, I had issues in the summer with the air hose getting moisture in it now and then, and I had to remember to empty the moisture collection attachment on the compressor. Not out here.
I buy Vallejo Airbrush Thinner (71.161) in the 200 ml. size. I also use Liquitex Flo-Aid. I mix 6 parts of Vallejo thinner with 1 part of Flo-Aid.
Then I put about 4 parts of my thinner and 6 parts of VMA in my airbrush, and off I go. Mostly I am making 1/72 and 1/48 aircraft and 1/35 armor. That is, I am not spraying huge models. But even though I live is an arid climate, I get little or no buildup of paint on the exposed needle. If I do, I have a Q-tip dipped in lacquer thinner handy to clean it right off.
I prime almost everything with either Tamiya Surface Primer (rattle can) or Badger Stynylrez which I airbrush as above described. I mask for the most part with Tamiya tape, and I have no trouble with the VMA lifting.
I run a few bowls of Lysol Clean and Fresh multi-surface cleaner through the airbrush followed by hardware store lacquer thinner. I usually pull the needle and wipe it with a bit of paper towel with lacquer thinner on it.
A Final Point
I really like the eye dropper bottles VMA comes in. But the only reasonable way to store these bottles in a drawer is standing ip. And then finding the color I want is a nuisance. I found a solution. Each bottle get a drop of the paint it contains. So, if I am looking for a green, I only pull the bottle with the green mark on the cap to look at the label to confirm which color I have pulled, and so forth. It is very handy.
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Thank you for reading and visiting my blog. It has been a few weeks since I posted anything, but the Holiday Season tends to get in the way, does it not? Happy 2023 to everyone!
Now, I am onto an aircraft, a model of which I have wanted to build for years. I had two choices. One was the Monogram kit. Frankly I like Monogram kits and have built several in recent years. But I selected the HobbyBoss 1/48 scale Lockheed F-80C Shooting Star. I believe it may still be in production; I picked it up from Rare-Plane Detective at the IPMS Nats in Las Vegas last year. The kit is out of stock at SprueBrothers, and they do not have the provision for you to leave your email address for notification when it is back in stock. Perhaps our Asian friends are injecting plastic into other molds. Who Knows? Read about the kit on Scalemates here.
While I have built a number of Takom armor kits (which I think are generally excellent). The only Chinese aircraft kit I have built is a Trumpeter 1/48 scale MiG-3. It was a good kit, but I have been turned off by some others I have looked at. The HobbyBoss Hellcat looks like a Hellcat that had been mistakenly built by Brewster on the Buffalo assembly line. Tamiya, Eduard, Airfix and Monogram kits have always attracted me more, I guess.
None the less, I chose this one over the Monogram kit, and so far I am glad I did.
Here are the basic cockpit parts. The seat was assembled from six parts. The detail is passable. When I compared the instrument panel with a photo of the restored F-80C at the USAF Museum it was spot on. My painting may not have done it justice.
The seatbelt fret included with the kit is pretty nice. I sprayed it with Tamiya Grey Surface Primer which states on the can that it will prime metal. It does, but it also scrapes easily. I brush painted the belts Khaki with Vallejo Model Color, and later brush painted the buckles and such with Vallejo Model Air Silver. PE is not my friend, but I managed to get them attached to the seat with some CA
Taking a break from working on the cockpit, I decanted some spray paint to be used via airbrush later.
Good old Tamiya TS-17 Gloss Aluminum. I have done this before. All you need is an articulated plastic straw, some mounting putty (such as Loctite Fun-Tak or similar), and some newspaper or drop cloth to protect the work area in the event of some overspray (which I have not experienced). Oh, yes, a latex or vinyl glove for the hand holding the stray to the spray can nozzle. There may be a little leakage.
You can also wrap some masking tape around the assembly to further seal it. My experience is that this paint does not come out of the can with great force. It sprays into the bend in the straw, settles against the straw’s inner surface and drips into the bottle. Do not fill the bottle to the top. Fill the bottle leaving 1/3 to 1/4 of the space unused.
The paint will be loaded with what I understand is the propellant that was mixed with it to propel the paint out of the can. This gas must be allowed to evaporate out of the paint. If you put a wooden stir stick in the bottle right after decanting the paint, you will see a sudden burst of small bubbles, like foam, quickly rise to the surface. If you had filled the bottle, you would have an overflow.
My theory (please remember I am a lawyer, not a chemical engineer) is that there is a reaction with the stick that causes the propellant to gas out of the paint. I stir it a little, and then I put the cap on loosely so it is not air tight. I come back an hour or so later, and stir it again. There will be more – but fewer – bubbles. I have found that repeating this twice more seems to take care of that gas, and then I fully secure the bottle.
This paint airbrushes like a dream. Tamiya Lacquer Thinner lets you adjust the viscosity to the consistency you want, if needed.
By the way, you might skip all this if you simply buy the new Tamiya lacquer in a bottle, as I think it is very similar to the rattle can paint. However, I have some Tamiya rattle cans I intend to use up.
Returning to the workbench, I painted and assembled the cockpit module. Everything fit together as designed. I was assisted by photos of the F-80C restored by the USAF itself for their museum. The problem with cockpit photos is that you are often looking at a cockpit with modern avionics installed and military equipment removed, not to mention one or two less than color accurate repaint jobs. That is why the Air Force Museum restorations (or the Smithsonian) are to be relied on, in my view.
One final observation. The bulkhead in front of the cockpit has a cabinet/rack molded into it for electronic equipment, probably the radar, radio, etc. However, it is sealed into the nose of the model never to be seen again. It is as if the mold designer was getting ready to do a detailed nose bay perhaps with guns, ammo and other items. And, someone told him to go no further.
The same applies to that item on the left, which represents the front end of the jet engine. It is not very detailed, but it does not matter. It will be sealed in when the tail is attached. Unlike the Monogram model, which is designed to have the tail removed and even comes with a wheeled cart to mount it on, this kit is not designed to be finished in two large pieces.
Could it be that this model started out as a bit more ambitious a replica? Maybe, but I am glad it was marketed in the form it was. Thank you for visiting. Time to get back to the workbench.
Both of these items are making very useful additions to my workbench. I recommend them. These are only two of the interesting itrems Shawn carries, so check them out.
By the way, I do not know Shawn and would not recognize him if I ran into him on the street. From time to time as my blog grows, I will recommend this or that because I find it useful and a quality product.
If I come across something that is crap, I won’t mention it. I want to be positive. I hate those YouTube videos titled “Brand X is JUNK!!!!!!!”. If you watch one, you’ll see that half the time the knucklehead who produced the video (with its heavy metal soundtrack) simply did not understand how to use the product or was not using it for its intended purpose. ‘Nuf said.
Ever since I started using an airbrush, I have found the most difficult part to clean has been the nozzle.
The best way I found to do that was to take a no-longer-used needle, rough up the point with some sandpaper, pluck some cotton from a Q-Tip cotton bud and wrap it around the point of the needle. Then, dip it in lacquer thinner and gently insert it in the nozzle and twist it. It worked, but was finicky and time consuming.
A week ago, I was watching YouTube videos and one of them dealt with airbrush cleaning presented by Scale Model Workshop. Why this channel has only just over 28,000 subscribers is beyond me. It should be ten times that or more. The videos are very professionally produced by Paul Budzik and full of practical information.
Paul is a dentist, so dental tools and materials make appearances in his videos. In the one I was watching, he showed how he used Absorbent Paper Points to clean airbrush nozzles. Dentists use them to work on root canals.
I checked eBay and found many sellers. I believe the box pictured below was about $6.
After an airbrush session today, I dipped one in lacquer thinner and used it to clean the nozzle, and it did a great job cleaning the nozzle like it was new. Thank you, Scale Model Workshop!