Jump to content

Airbrush Cleaning Question


Gregsed56
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi All - I am new to this forum and also newly back into modelling, after many years. I am sure this question has been asked a dozen or more times. Please excuse me for asking again.

So far...I am sliding right back into it...I guess maybe it's like riding a bike. But the one thing I am having difficulty with and issues is the matter of cleaning my airbrush after each paint use. I most frequently use acrylics, so I guess I am asking about it. Can any member(s) give me advice on the easiest and fastest way to clean my airbrush after each different color of paint. The way I have been doing it, seems to be very time consuming and sometimes almost stops my building completely. I agree I might be wishing for something that doesn't exist...but I thought I would throw it out there. I look forward to this forum and many thanks in advance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You didn't same which model airbrush, or what type.

I use a Badger 105 Patriot and a Grex Tritium TG.3.  Both are gravity feed dual action airbrushes, the Badger a traditional trigger type; the Grex a pistol-grip type.  Cleaning is similar for both...

I use acrylics, and between each color I "field strip" the airbrush--remove the needle, tip, and nozzle and clean them thoroughly.  I use Iwata's airbrush cleaner for this, followed by a flush with clean water.  For stubborn spots, I use alcohol or lacquer thinner.  Tamiya's Airbrush Cleaner works well, too.

I use twisted paper towels to get into those small spaces, or you can buy dental paper points online--they do the same thing.  Some folks use a torch tip cleaner consisting of small brushes.  If you can find a pipe cleaner that doesn't have a wire center, you can also use it.  IF you use one with a wire, be careful not to scratch anything.  Old paintbrushes and toothbrushes come in handy, too.

After each cleaning, I use a dab of Iwata's "Superlube" airbrush lubricant.  Badger markets theirs as Regdab.  Just a dab will do ya.

Every year or so, I disassemble the airbrush and inspect for worn seals, etc., and give it a complete cleaning with lacquer thinner.

As with building models, the key is to be patient and careful.  Be careful not to bend the tip of the needle or deform the nozzle opening.  For the most part, threaded parts should be finger snug--no need to He-Man the parts together, even if they do require a wrench or similar tool.

And, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Now, on to the disclaimers:

Disclaimer #1:  Some airbrush manufacturers say you shouldn't use anything containing ammonia to clean their airbrushes--it erodes the plating and will eventually corrode the brass under the plating.

However, you can use ammonia to clean--just be sure to give the airbrush a thorough flushing with clean water afterwards .

Disclaimer #2: Badger says not to use alcohol--it is a drier, not a cleaner, they say.

However, alcohol can do a good job of cleaning--it might take some more effort to remove small spots of dried paint.  Badger says you can use ammonia to clean the airbrush--the same comment about a thorough flush with water still stands.

Disclaimer #3:  Most of them say not to use industrial chemicals to clean their airbrushes.

They're speaking about Toluene, Acetone, and MEK, mostly, and they have a point--if you airbrush has any sort of soft seal (synthetic rubber), these chemical can cause them to either soften into goo or become embrittled.

Some folks swear by carburetor or brake cleaner, but the same caveats apply.

In all honesty, there hasn't been a case of a dirty airbrush that I have encountered that cannot be solved by good, old, hardware store brand lacquer thinner.

Cheers!
Ralph

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks a million Ralph. I have several airbrushes that I use. I was thinking about trying an ultrasound jewelry cleaner with airbrush cleaning fluid. Wondering if anyone had tried that or thought about it. Was hoping it might thoroughly clean the unit without having to break it down after each different paint use. It might just be wishful thinking!!! 

Once again...many thanks Ralph for your in-depth answer.

 

Happy modelling

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find that acrylics tend to be tenacious when they start to dry on a metal surface, and the field strip is the best way to keep it clean.  I've tried everything else, including different products that are supposed to break down paint, but nothing beats a quick disassembly.  After a while, it doesn't take longer than 5 minutes to do.

Lacquer and enamel users can get away with spraying thinner until it comes out clean between colors, but should still field strip the airbrush at the end of a session.

This might be interesting to you, as well:

https://modelpaintsol.com/guides/airbrushing-tips-v4-airbrush-cleaners
 

Cheers!
R

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks a million once again Ralph. I figured it was too good to be true. But I guess it never hurts to ask. What is 5 minutes in modelling anyways!!!!

Have a great one!

 

Happy Modelling

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ralph has it.

I don't do things exactly as he does, but I get all the same steps in.  For example, with acrylics, after I've finished a color, I flush the brush with water, then thinner/cleaner, then water again.  And I lube my brush at the end of a session -- or, if I've laid on four or five colors, after about every fourth color.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is a pain in the rear, but it has to be done. No shortcuts unfortunately. You just have to resign yourself to the fact that airbrushes have to be properly cleaned and maintained. After all, many airbrushes are a modeller's biggest investment so they pay to be looked after.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...