Help with Airbrushing


Well-Known Member
Before you even go there, I know how bad the title subtext sounds, but that's ok. It gets right to the point!

I was going to go into the backstory of the problem, but suffice it to say that I'm having trouble with paint drying over the needle of my airbrush. I'm using Freestyle and Golden brand paints now, and after only a few seconds of spraying, there's a layer all over the needle emerging from the tip. I'm at my end with this, and I'm having all I can do to stay motivated. Oh, I'm using a Badger Sotar 20/20, BTW.

I've tried thinning the paint even further by adding a few drops of thinner to the paint in the reservoir. Still caking. I've tried adjusting the PSi, from 5 - 10, 10 - 15, 15 - 20 and all the way back down. Still caking. I can't do a 2 inch line then stop because I've got to clean off the needle. I haven't done anything abusive to the tool since I got it a few years ago, but I also haven't done anything outside routine cleaning every time I use it. Does it just need to be lubricated? Am I doing something wrong? What is it I'm missing here?


New Member
Hmmmm... I'll take a stab at this.

First off, let me ask you what kind of paints are you spraying - latex/acrylics or oil/enamels? If you're using the latter, I wouldn't use paint thinner to thin them down. Mineral Spirits and latex do not go together. When you try to thin it with a solvent, the latex will cake up and act like your description. Plus, the thinner could be acting as a drying agent; in which it evaporates quickly. You should thin waterbased paints with water, and oil-based with a solvent thinner.

You might be spraying with too much PSI. Too much air will cause any paint on the tip or the needle to dry. If you're holding the trigger back for any extended period of time, this will also cause paint at the tip to prematurely dry. When spraying, do it in intervals. Pull back on the trigger for a few seconds and stop... so on and so on. Same principle for a rattle-can aerosal. Pushing down for too long will cause the material to dry, and clog up the tip.

Well, I hope that helps somewhat.



Well-Known Member
Hi, Rob, I appreciate the reply.

As I said I'm spraying Freestyle and Golden brand paints, both airbrush "ready" acrylic paints. To thin, I use a mixture of 1:1 Water and rubber alcohol. I invested a lot of money into the airbrush ready paints because I figured the paint was drying over the needle because I wasn't properly mixing the artist acrylics I was thinning down to spray.

I understand holding the trigger back for extended periods of time will clog the brush, but the paint starts drying after only a few seconds. I know I'll be contending with the paint drying, but after a few seconds? I can barely get any of the lines down I need to be able to paint to do any of the subtle mottling work I want to be doing. There's GOT to be something I'm doing wrong.

I adjusted the PSi, whch I usually have between 5 - 10, all the way up to 25 PSi, and all the way back down. The problem was consistent throughout. I redid the "PSi test" after furthing thinning the paint in the gravity cup. Same scoop.

I've read that lubricating the needle will help with paint drying on the tip, so as a last resort I'm hoping to do a little research and find some Medea Super Lube, and hopefully remedy the situation to a certain extent.

In the meantime! Anyone else have any other ideas/input? Looking for multiple opinions from more experienced ABers.


New Member
Sounds good, man. You can never go wrong with getting yourself some lube. One little 10ML will last you a good while. I've had mine for over a year, and it's only a quarter down. The lube will help in keeping everything working smoothly, and prevent paint from drying on the needle. Hopefully that will cure what ails ya.

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