I hate air brushes rant

If there is one single reason to give up a hobby it’s the airbrush.
I have a love hate relationship with mine.
It seems just when I think I have it all worked out s$#t happens again.
Yesterday I started to prime my current project. (ICM Leyland Retriever). I’ve been using Mig Ammo primer with mixed success. When it works it’s brilliant. When it doesn’t there’s a danger of the air brush ending up in our pool.
So I set air pressure as per my last job. Thinned as per my last job. Sprayed for 4-5 minutes then the $##%@ started. It simply wouldn’t spray. Bubbled back in the paint cup. Air back out the trigger. Spitting and pulsing. So I stopped work and stripped the gun and gave it a full clean in the ultra-sonic cleaner.
Started again. Same thing. 5 minutes and %$#@ happened again.
I’m normally a mild-mannered guy but this was pushing things.
Third time same thing. Time for bed.

This morning I started again. %$^%$#$%^&&. Same thing. “What the %$#@”.
I drained the paint cup. I mix my paints in a small plastic pot. THERE in the bottom of my pot was sludge. Bits and pieces. And strips of ‘skin’. (See images. Red arrows. Ignore the colour of the pot. It has been that way for a few years).
It seems the paint is going off after I thin it. I use a ratio of about 70% primer to 30% water. Done so for a longtime.
After a clean I sprayed water and thinner/cleaner through for a long time and gun is working fine.

So? Either our hot humid weather is having an effect. My paint has gone off. Or … ? But that crud is getting into my gun and clogging it.


go buy a small screen like you might use for flour. pour your paint thru it and you might be surprised what you have in your paint.


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It hasnt come out of the bottle. The biggest bits are too large to come out through the openning. So it must be a reaction in the container once thinned!
If it reacts in the container then it mostly likely is continuing to react in the airbrush.

Rembrandt, Picaso, Bierstadt never used airbrushes…


Just a thought. my airbrushes was acting just as yours. it wasnt until I strained all my vallejo paints has a high amount of dried paint in it. Dropper bottles seem the worst as the waste is drying in the tip. The primer big bottles are very contaminated.

Thanks. I think Ill go and buy a baseball bat. Prop it up against my desk. The minute the airbrush looks like clogging Ill wave the bat around. If it still plays up! Wham, bang, kit air brush.

I don’t know were you live but i have some ammo one shot primer and were i live for most of the year its between hot and humid and very hot and very humid, my stuff live in the garage without AC and except for CA glue and Poly additive the rest survive the heat without any problem,i only keep the CA glue in the freezer and the poly in my beer-fridge down there…usually it’s worse the freezing temperatures than the heat for our stuff

Don’t blame the AB - it’s the liquid garbage you’re pushing through it that’s at fault! (Put down the bat, nice and slow with your hands where we can see 'em…)

I never got on with any of the Ammo paints, and I’ve heard all sorts of nightmares about the primers. You can experiment with the paint and thinners to see if you can get a consistent non-gloopy mix, but I would go for a good rattle-can primer instead. I do mine in the shed with Halfords grey primer and get perfect results every time!

The only acrylics I have good results with are Tamiya. Vallejo is iffy, and Revell is hopeless - it gloops up a treat.

Good luck!

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I do understand your frustration with airbrushes- they can be fiddly buggers from time to time and it is maddening when you start to spray and some sort of issue crops up to ruin it.

I was wondering what you are using to thin the AMMO primer? Is this their ‘One Shot’ primer?

Bruce don’t “86” your AB, you’ll regret it later, instead it’s just a process of elimination . .
First definitely strain your un-thinned paint, if you find scum or crud then the paint is out of it’s original factory ratio of ingrdients and the paint is begining to coagulate in the bottle.
Are you using tap water or distilled water? Water treament plants sometimes overdose the water with chlorine or flourine, this may be adversely reacting with the paint or thinner solvents.
Assumeing you have a water trap it may need emptying or your air tank might have water in it, should have a drain cock on the bottom of the tank.
Try thinning the paint with thinner only to see how that works.
If you’re painting in a airconditioned room the humidity should be reasonably adjusted.
Good luck, I hope this helped.

Cajun :crocodile:

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That is certainly true of Vallejo paints. You do have to clean off the tips after using them and sometimes the inside of the tip as well. Had dried paint flakes come out while I was trying to paint the beret on a British para bust. I ended up taking off the paint from the whole beret and starting over with a new bottle of paint and chucked the old one. Mind you I was not airbrushing but brush painting at the time .

Exactly what I use. The Red, Grey and White are my must haves for priming … its just normal airbrushing I am rubbish at lol … more practice required … Hopefully I will get better.

Before that, my biggest air brush issue was I was always getting the mixture wrong 60% of the time and I would then get the spluttering, pulsing etc… That was probably all down to me only ever using the Mk1 eyeball for judging the mixture ratio. Now I make double sure that I have at least a 60/40 mix of thinner to paint, now the issues are pretty much few and far between.

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Well if you are shooting water and thinner through the airbrush successfully then your airbrush is perfectly fine. Looking at the crap in that cup, it’s obvious that it’s the paint / thinner that’s got to be binned.

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STOP! There’s nothing wrong with your airbrush. In the vernacular of the old job, we’d attribute this malfunction as “operator headspace and timing.”

Find a paint brand that will do the work you need AND STICK WITH IT long enough to MASTER IT. Then, ignore the Sireen songs that ALL the other paint makers and vendors are singing about how their brands just about paint themselves onto your models.

FWIW, I airbrush Tamiya and Floquil paints (after decades of spraying hobby enamels and Floquils). I had a bit of a learning curve with Tamiya, but it was a short one. I’ve been mostly spraying Tamiya paints now for nearly 2 decades, and I see absolutely zero reason to switch.

Sure, I have Vallejo paints that I hand brush, and even some others (AK, etc.) that are allegedly airbrush paints (provided as dealer samples - “Hey, give these a try.”). However, I can get everything I need or want out of the airbrush paints that I’ve been using for years and years. So…

Find a paint brand that works and stick with it. Learn it and all of its quirks and temperaments. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to a “T” as you first start out with it, using their proprietary thinners and other proprietary lotions and potions. (And if you can’t source ALL of the manufacturer’s associated products to go with that paint, DON’T BUY IT!) Master it, and then make it do what you want it to. Once you’ve mastered it, then, and only then, can you “play around” and conduct grammar school science fair experiments with shortcuts and expedient thinners, etc. By then, you’ll know what proper performance is and have some idea about how to assess or diagnose results and problems with those expedients. If the expedients don’t work, don’t keep trying to use them.

If leaning a new paint system and totally changing over all of your other paints from one brand to the “latest and greatest” seems like too much work and expense, then go with something that has stood the test of time and has been in use for years by many thousands of model makers.

Stop chasing rainbows and unicorns and jumping on the bandwagon with all the fanboys of this or that brand of model paints and finishing products.


Painting Gospel! A++
Persistence & consistent will pay off.

Mastered spraying Floquil like ~30+ years ago, have a Cold War sized stock pile and am still using Floquil. Avoid the many fad’s of the week in new cool hobby paint etc.

Since my pet favorite receeds into ancient history, I’d pick a new quality paint if starting over and stick with it as mentioned above.

Most spray issues are ultimately:

  1. Wrong thinner
  2. Dirty airbrush
  3. Poorly mixed paint
  4. Contamination in paint that needs filtered
  5. Airbrush is damaged (needle/cone)

Have to agree with Wade and Michael. Been using Tamiya since they came on the scene back in the 70’s. Always use their proprietary thinners. Rarely have problems AB. Same with MM acrylics but thy have gone the way of the Dodo. Tried some of the newer stuff but except for the color range found them lacking. Not a big deal to custom mix to get the color I want.

As the others have advised mastery will lead to consistency.


A ladies stocking makes a good strainer also.

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Funny this subject comes up when I’m trying to paint my track-bike. Almost the same issue, the paint. So, what is the best ratio for airbrushing Tamiya paints, if you Plz, Gents?

I don’t have Tamiya thinner, but I do remember hearing rub’g alcohol works, is this correct? 50/50 mix?

Yes, but let her take it off first or you’ll get such a slap! :rofl: