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Date added: 24/02/2018 Air Brush Mayhem

Today we were working on the railway, painting some of the track with an airbrush before placing the ballast. On seeing the airbrush, one of our customers explained that he had that morning ruined his airbrush. What had happened was that the solvent he used to clean the airbrush had damaged the internal seals . 


To keep your airbrush operating reliably it is essential that you strip it down and carefully remove all the residual paint from inside the brush. The products that you use must be strong enough to remove the residual paint, but not dissolve the internal seals. I only use acrylic paint so what I suggest to use doesn't work with enamels. The solvent I use is common glass cleaner, these are alcohol based and generally diluted enough to remove residual paint without damaging the internal seals.


Before you put any paint in your airbrush, follow the manufacturer's instructions, and make sure you can easily strip the airbrush down and reassemble it. Do this a couple of times so you are confident - you do not want to be stuck with an airbrush full of paint, and trying to work out how to pull it apart.


When working with the air brush and changing colours, I have a spare paint cup with glass cleaner in it and simply spray cleaner through the airbrush until it runs clear with no colour. After the last colour is sprayed, I run cleaner through the brush until clear, followed by spraying water through the airbrush. I have a shallow dish on hand with glass cleaner in it, and disassemble the air brush, submerging the needle and other components into the glass cleaner.


I leave the components to soak for a few minutes whilst I clean the paint cups, using water and glass cleaner with a cotton bud to clean any residual paint off. I then clean the air brush components. Keep handling of the needle to a minimum. Wipe along the shaft with a damp cloth and put the needle safely to one side. If you drop the needle you will damage the tip....and then it will need to be replaced. I use pipe cleaners, cotton buds and Piksters (check the dental hygiene section of your supermarket to find them) to get into all of the various holes and fiddly bits of the air brush.


Finally I rinse all the parts with water. When you do this in the sink......put the plug in! Nothing worse than loosing a spring or nozzle down the plug hole.


Dry your air brush and reassemble. If you have any silicone grease or oil, lightly lubricate the seals. If you follow this process you will get years of succesful use from your air brush.



Thanks Simon. I have just used 2 different colours 1 of acrylic and 1 of enamel today and a quick clean ending with the correct thinner has worked well for me. Tamiya market a rather nice cleaning kit for air brushes that contains pipe cleaners, grease and other odds and soda that I use all the time.