Airbrush compressor question

CBQguy Jan 14, 2020 at 3:25 AM

  1. CBQguy

    CBQguy TrainBoard Member

    Looking at a compressor for airbrushing. Any advantages or disadvantages to selecting one with a tank?

    Thanks for any advice!
  2. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

    I have a small hobby compressor without a tank. However I made an accumulator out of a 3" piece of 1-1/2" PVC capped on both ends and mounted on top of the compressor. Each end cap is drilled, tapped, and fitted with a pipe, one from the compressor, the other to the air brush hose. The purpose of the accumulator is to absorb (smooth) the pulses caused by the compressor pump.
    Hardcoaler likes this.
  3. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

    I agree a tank or accumulator would help smooth out the pulses. I never had issues with my compressor and air brush but, they were rather small.
  4. porkypine52

    porkypine52 TrainBoard Member

    I'm in the process of learning how to paint (?) with an airbrush. Have already found out a few things:
    1) When learning, with airbrush, use JUNK/CHEAP cars to work on. Save the scratchbuilt/expensive/somebody else's models for later, after you learn what you are doing.
    2) Get an compressor bigger than you think you need. Make plenty of air available, (I have also discovered PNEUMATIC TOOLS[nailguns, ratchets, & sanders]).
    3) The compressor needs a TANK. This will smooth out air flow and make the flow steady.
    4) A water trap and separate line pressure regulator are a MUST. Harbor Freight Tools has 'em. Your local Auto Body Mechanic can direct you to Professional equipment. Remember: You get what you pay for.
    5) Don't use PVC for air line piping. It can only take so much pressure and if it EXPLODES, it can become shrapnel. HATE to hear of anybody losing an eye or such in the Hobby. Use COPPER for air lines, the heavier the better.
    6) You don't have to have the newest (higher $) equipment to start. Check out CRAIGSLIST, Auctions or Yard Sales for USED compressors. Many times somebody will upgrade to a bigger compressor, and sell their old compressor for cheap.

    Unless you are a PRO, you will goof up several models at first[see #1] Keep at it, you will get the hang of it.

    'Nuff Said.
    CBQguy and Shortround like this.
  5. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

    I use a Bostitch 6 gallon pancake compressor. I love it. Most of the air brush time is quiet out of the tank and when it fires up, it gets back up to 140/150# pretty quickly and cuts off. Pretty reliable.
    CBQguy likes this.
  6. CBQguy

    CBQguy TrainBoard Member

    I actually do have a small 1/2 hp Senco compressor that I bought for finish nailing. It has a tank and a water drain. What pressure do you normally run for airbrushing? Do I need to get any special connectors to hook up an airbrush?
  7. gregamer

    gregamer TrainBoard Supporter

    I recently upgraded to the Harbor Freight 1 Gal Fortress Ultra Quiet Compressor from the Harbor Freight 3 Gal Central Pneumatic Pancake Compressor. The Fortress has a smaller tank and starts more frequently, but is WAY better at maintaining a steady flow. I painted 3 large buildings this weekend without any problems. I even kept airbrushing while the compressor was recharging the tank (couldn’t do that with the 3 gallon pancake) and it really is super quiet, which makes it possible to paint when the kids are sleeping, couldn’t do that with the old one.
  8. Curn

    Curn TrainBoard Member

    You want a tank. I used to have a cheap tankless hobby compressor, and on big projects (20-30 minutes of continuous use like when I’m painting track) it would overheat and turn off.

    I currently have a Master Airbrush TC-40T compressor and I’m happy with it. That Harbor Freight Fortress compressor would be high on my list if I were looking to replace the compressor I have.

    There are some really expensive and nice compressors out there that are super quiet and can be used continuously all day. Those are for professional airbrush artists who make a living off their skills. You likely don’t need anything that fancy. If you are spraying enamel, you will want to get a moisture trap. The tank will collect some water. I have another trap one on the tank outlet that came with it, and a small backup one that connects to the airbrush. On rainy days they all are collecting water.

    There are also some quality small tankless compressors out there if you have space constraints.
  9. Curn

    Curn TrainBoard Member

    That compressor/tank should be all you need to get started. Most people spray around 20 PSI. Sometimes you make adjustments based on the paint thickness/dilution and the type of coverage. 15-30 PSI is typical.

    About every airbrush brand has a different connector size. So you will need the right adapters to go from the hose quick connect on the compressor to the fitting on the airbrush you get. Most of those quick connect adapters are to male or female 1/4 NPT. Then you would need a 1/4 NPT to 1/4 BSP or 1/8 BSP adapter. Most airbrush hoses have a 1/8 BSP female (Sometimes called 1/8 IWATA) connectors, and plenty of places sell adapters to go from that size to the size of the connector on the airbrush you get.

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