Airbrush Compressor

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Analyzer

Sr Member
I currently have a Badger 360 Airbrush.

The compressor I am using was something I picked up in the late 80's.

For the most part it is adequate except I cannot adjust the air pressure on it and I suspect I am shooting at way too high of a pressure

I suspect that is one reason I could blow through an entire jar of Tamiya paint trying to base coat something like a 10" eagle transporter or a couple of 1/72 X-Wings or even do fine detail work

Any suggestions on a compressor that I can adjust the pressure on?

Preferably under the $175 mark?

Maybe this is a really dumb question, but is there any problem with a more general purpose air compressor from Home Depot or Wal-Mart as long as it can be set to lower air pressures?

They seem to be cheaper overall than dedicated "hobby" ones

The benefit there for me is that I can use something like that for my bike or wheelbarrow tires as well

Is there any real benefit between using a dedicated airbrush compressor and a workshop style one?
 
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Attirex

Well-Known Member
Lol, and I thought I went through paint quickly! My older compressor didn't have a pressure regulator/moisture trap, so I bought one for it, and seemed to work fine. Could be a money saving option? Although if yours is that old, maybe a good excuse to get a new one? :)
 

Mr. E Man

Well-Known Member
I have been using a regulated Campbell Hausfield compressor similar to this one for my airbrushing for nearly two decades with no issues.

CH Compressor

You would just need to add a moisture trap and the necessary adapters and hose fittings for your airbrush. These can be picked up at any Harbor Freight store.


E
 

basementdweller

Active Member
You need a simple air compressor pressure regulator valve. They are cheap. Get an inline moisture trap too for good measure too as some condensation can occur in your hose.
yimg.com%2Fimages%2Fi%2F141064203488-0-1%2Fs-l1000.jpg

Maybe this is a really dumb question, but is there any problem with a more general purpose air compressor from Home Depot or Wal-Mart as long as it can be set to lower air pressures?

They seem to be cheaper overall than dedicated "hobby" ones

The benefit there for me is that I can use something like that for my bike or wheelbarrow tires as well

Is there any real benefit between using a dedicated airbrush compressor and a workshop style one?
NOISE LEVEL. The general purpose ones are referred to as quiet at 65 dBA to 78 dBA which is anything but quiet. Let alone the normal ones that can range up to 97 dB working volume which causes hearing loss without protection. Although if you live alone/don't care about neighbours or have some sweet working space and noise cancelling ear protection there is no real reason. Alternatively get a big air tank and a long hose. Keep the air tank in your hobby space and add a pressure regulator and water trap etc and keep your loud ass work horse compressor far away. That is a pretty sweet combo.

There are a few things you need to think about though. Not all "hobby" compressors are particularly quiet nor particularly hobby suited. Piston compressor are generally loud and will heat up. If you read up there will be stated something about a "work cycle". Typically the cheap ones (if safe) will shut off so that you can't eff it up after 25 mins. Some are good for 40 mins before needing to cool down. There are membrane compressors that have clean air and don't mix oil into it and stuff, but they are generally weaker. Stuff like that. You might need an oil trap depending on what type. Always empty the tank after use or it might rust inside on account of water accumulating inside through condensation (other reasons too). Most tanks have a drain valve that can be used for that reason.


Here are some general tips:
  • Get one with a tank. The larger the better. It will guarantee a steady stream of air (no pulsating) and a constant pressure + more working time as the compressor won't need to be working constantly.
  • Get a silent one. A cheap good one in EU that I am aware of is unfortunately twice your budget (Bambi 24). You might find a cheaper one if you look. Generally the refridgerator compressor types are the way to go imho for quality of life reasons that is worth the extra money you spend. You can recognize them by the pump (see picture below). There are a bunch of vids and DIY articles on how to convert a trash fridge pump to an airbrush compressor, but that's up to you to decide if it's worth your time.
  • For reference - 35 to 40dBA is quiet. Paint the night away. The so called quiet ones at 47 dBA with pistons are not quiet and generally louder than the specs say (Amazon + ebay). If you are not that sensitive and have a dedicated space then go for it as you can recognize some from China that are rebranded and sold at more expensive prices in hobby shops.
n.artistsupplysource.com%2Fimages%2FD%2FSAT-M17090.jpg

Also don't trust ****** AFFILIATE LINK AMAZON top 5 lists of quiet airbrush compressors. They lie as it's an oxymoron. They are either quiet or cheap, not both. Some of them are expensive and loud though.
 

Analyzer

Sr Member
Lol, and I thought I went through paint quickly! My older compressor didn't have a pressure regulator/moisture trap, so I bought one for it, and seemed to work fine. Could be a money saving option? Although if yours is that old, maybe a good excuse to get a new one? :)

I did get a moisture trap, did not realize I could get a pressure regulator add on. The pump works great and it is one of those auto-shut off kinds so it does not continuously run unless you are spraying. I just felt I needed more control over the psi and that I might be missing out on something

I have been using a regulated Campbell Hausfield compressor similar to this one for my airbrushing for nearly two decades with no issues.

CH Compressor

You would just need to add a moisture trap and the necessary adapters and hose fittings for your airbrush. These can be picked up at any Harbor Freight store.


E

Hah!, that is the one of the models I was looking at. As mentioned, I was thinking it would be useful for more than just airbrushing as well which is a plus

You need a simple air compressor pressure regulator valve. They are cheap. Get an inline moisture trap too for good measure too as some condensation can occur in your hose.
View attachment 1374410

NOISE LEVEL. The general purpose ones are referred to as quiet at 65 dBA to 78 dBA which is anything but quiet. Let alone the normal ones that can range up to 97 dB working volume which causes hearing loss without protection. Although if you live alone/don't care about neighbours or have some sweet working space and noise cancelling ear protection there is no real reason. Alternatively get a big air tank and a long hose. Keep the air tank in your hobby space and add a pressure regulator and water trap etc and keep your loud ass work horse compressor far away. That is a pretty sweet combo.

There are a few things you need to think about though. Not all "hobby" compressors are particularly quiet nor particularly hobby suited. Piston compressor are generally loud and will heat up. If you read up there will be stated something about a "work cycle". Typically the cheap ones (if safe) will shut off so that you can't eff it up after 25 mins. Some are good for 40 mins before needing to cool down. There are membrane compressors that have clean air and don't mix oil into it and stuff, but they are generally weaker. Stuff like that. You might need an oil trap depending on what type. Always empty the tank after use or it might rust inside on account of water accumulating inside through condensation (other reasons too). Most tanks have a drain valve that can be used for that reason.


Here are some general tips:
  • Get one with a tank. The larger the better. It will guarantee a steady stream of air (no pulsating) and a constant pressure + more working time as the compressor won't need to be working constantly.
  • Get a silent one. A cheap good one in EU that I am aware of is unfortunately twice your budget (Bambi 24). You might find a cheaper one if you look. Generally the refridgerator compressor types are the way to go imho for quality of life reasons that is worth the extra money you spend. You can recognize them by the pump (see picture below). There are a bunch of vids and DIY articles on how to convert a trash fridge pump to an airbrush compressor, but that's up to you to decide if it's worth your time.
  • For reference - 35 to 40dBA is quiet. Paint the night away. The so called quiet ones at 47 dBA with pistons are not quiet and generally louder than the specs say (Amazon + ebay). If you are not that sensitive and have a dedicated space then go for it as you can recognize some from China that are rebranded and sold at more expensive prices in hobby shops.
View attachment 1374411
Also don't trust ****** AFFILIATE LINK AMAZON top 5 lists of quiet airbrush compressors. They lie as it's an oxymoron. They are either quiet or cheap, not both. Some of them are expensive and loud though.

Maybe I will just try the pressure regulator valve first. Already have a moisture trap

great info to know about the tanks!

I am familiar with how things get in top 5 lists so I am always wary. I generally look for the negative or nuetral customer reviews to see if there are any specific trends. I sometimes find them more helpful than the positive ones. For example if every negative review mentions it being loud or falling apart in the first few days then then there probably is an issue. I understand sometimes things are a fluke, and some negative reviews are really because they did not fully understand what they were buying and can be discounted, but it is easy to spot when there is a consistent trend
 

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basementdweller

Active Member
Yeah going with a regulator is an easy fix if you're happy with it. No sense in wasting a good working tool. I like to break my stuff before getting new things. It's somewhat satisfying and also it's become evident that older stuff holds up better than new.

I generally look for the negative or nuetral customer reviews to see if there are any specific trends. I sometimes find them more helpful than the positive ones.
Hah, I do that too. I guess we all do. I only made the comment because I was pissed off by the search results as I couldn't remember the name of a brand and every list was pointing to stuff available on Amazon only. I am sure some are great, but you know what I mean.
 

Chrgr440RT

New Member
You can get a cheapie compressor at Harbor Freight for less than 90 bucks with a coupon and then spring for a good regulator and water trap and you're well under your threshold. I've used my 30 gallon, 2 gallon and the tankless compressors from harbor freight over the years and have had no problem with either. Any surging I had on the little tankless was negligible and the quietness was way worth the ability to spray in the house and not have to go out into the shop.


Another option is to use a gas tank. I bought an industrial oxy/acetylene regulator for about $90 and swapped the fitting over to CO2. You can go to a welding supply shop and lease a CO2 tank for cheap. The gas is clean, dry (no moisture trap needed) and constant pressure. I had a 5lb tank and it would routinely get me through 5-6 models until it ran dry. A 20lb tank would last years depending on your work output.
 

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acesh007

Well-Known Member
I have a airbrush compressor from harbor freight and use it solely for my airbursh and it has held up fine for the last few years. I also have a 8 gallon small compressor that I think is under your price range but Ive kept that and use that for my nail gun or anything in the house and then a bigger 60gal which runs all my air tools for my car stuff.

Honestly the 8 gallon would be fine if you need to use it for more things otherwise Id stick with a smaller airbrush compressor.
 

Hunk a Junk

Sr Member
I'll be getting a Master Airbrush Model TC-40T compressor for Christmas this year along with an Iwata Revolution. The reviews have been good for both, and the compressor is noted for being fairly quiet. I'm hopeful to get many years of use out of both.

 

skahtul

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I have been using the one linked below for over a year on all my builds, I have not had any issues. It does not have a tank and it never has an issue keeping pressure. When I get a new one I would probably get a small tank.

Before I purchased this I did look at just using my general-purpose air tank, but they are so loud... The other issue I had was trying to find the right adapter to fit the airbrush as they are not easily adapted, at least that was my experience. Plus the large air tank makes it hard to move around and I like to paint in the garage when it's nice out.

I also just use the cheap airbrush it came with, I have had zero issues. Like any of them, as long as you mix the paint right, keep it clean and use the right pressure it works great.

Master Airbrush Kit

Master Airbrush with Tank
 

clonesix

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
why can't you buy a $15 regulator/filter from home depot?

In addition to what others have said, I will add that a quiet box and plumbing add greatly to the experience! I use RapidAir 1/2" PEX to run lines to my work stations. You can also have a 2nd Filter/regulator at your work station to adjust system pressure down to paint pressure at the paint booth and not the compressor.
 

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