Friday, September 28, 2012

Airbrush Blues

Have you ever had a period when your airbrush did exactly what you wanted it to – maybe for years – then suddenly became uncooperative? That happened to me recently, and I had to take it in for service for the first time in about three years. Some odd stuff, a deposit reaching up to the back end of the needle, and I have no idea where that came from or what it was…

It can be subtle, of course, and also blindingly obvious if you’re not locked into one way of seeing what you do. Three years ago I bought an excellent set of Paasche cleaning brushes to do the necessary on each periodic strip and clean, and everything was peachy until – and this is what happens so subtly you don’t really see it happening – the brushes wore out.

Nothing lasts forever, and the small-size brushes which you use to clean inside the mechanism gradually accumulate a deposit of paint that locks up what bristles remain, so they very slowly go from fully efficient to completely inefficient, and you need to spot that. It’s remarkable how blind we can be… This time I bought another set of generic brushes for as fraction the cost, and if they wear out quicker, it’s no disaster.

Of course, there are other stumbles to be made. For instance, “backing off the needle for storage” is a professional’s habit, and when I got my AB back from servicing I wondered why the finesse of control had disappeared. D’oh, adjust the needle, dude! And then there was the business with the siphon tube…

When everything is clean and the paint is properly thinned, but the AB won’t draw the paint up the tube, what’s happening? I took me a few moments’ puzzling to realise it was because the nylon siphon tube in the jar was no longer a snug fit around the metal pickup in the cap. Air from the jar was being drawn around the top end of the tube, defeating the vacuum effect needed to lift the paint. Solution? Easy, reverse the tube so the unstretched end makes the seal.

Ah, that’s better! Now, on with the job…!

(Sorry it’s been a while since I posted, things have been busy, to say the least. More stories coming shortly…)