So you have that fancy expensive airbrush that you would like to last for a long long time! But how do I help achieve that?
This is a tutorial to cleaning an airbrush that is used for water based paints. cleaning your airbrush is essential to making sure nothing stays inside that trusted tool and clogs it leaving you with either a piece of junk or replacement pieces for another airbrush. I will show you a step by step that will eliminate any chance for clogging and assure that your airbrush lasts as long as possible.
These are just some of the airbrushes I own below. I highly recomend them to anyone who is looking to airbrush as each one has a special purpose for the style of airbrushing I do. These can be purchased on ebay or through www.buyairbrushes.com for a very resonable price. I want to stress that if you take care of your airbrush responsibly, they will last a life time and allow you many years of happiness.
The first airbrush is an Air Pro Tools PS900 which is a great airbrush for detail work or high volumn painting, the nozzle is a .2mm head, a large 9cc gravity feed cup, an adjustable paint flow control, double action trigger and airflow control to lower your P.S.I. to whatever provides your with the type of painting you desire.
The Second airbrush is an Air Pro Tools PS850 which is the most used airbrush for my typical cover work. The nozzle is a .2mm head, it has a medium 2cc gravity feed cup, with a double action nozzle for detailed to medium spray work.
The third airbrush is a 139B from an offbrand company I picked up on ebay generally made in China. It can be found here 139B or on ebay as well and I love this for small cover work, touch ups, or general small things that need some paint. it has a .3mm nozzle so the paint is more broad then detailed and a 0.5cc cup to just hold enough to fix the fix you need. again this has a double action trigger.
All these airbrushes opperate between 15 to 50 P.S.I. which is perfect for RC airbrushing and will provide you with years of airbrush enjoyment to last with proper maintenance.
Now another thing that I find is an excellent purchase for multiple or single use airbrushers is a Quick disconnect as seen below. which can be found at any airbrush supply store or again ebay for a moderate price. It is without a doubt the best investment you can make as it has an excellent seal when connected and allows you to remove your airbrush anytime and clean it externally without dragging the entire system with you. Use a little plumbers tape around the threads and tighten it on, and your in business!
Below is a very useful tool that many airbrush artists do not use quite enough. It allows you to remove the small tip called a (Fluid Nozzle) of your airbrush and clean it out of anything that may gum up the tip of your airbrush. Now generally this can be a pain in the rear to contantly remove, clean, and replace because it is so small. So when you are in need of doing this, please do it over an area that you will not loose it if you drop it. To clean it out when you need to do so which should be every now and then, not everytime you clean your airbrush. take a sewing needle and scrap out the inside of the fluid nozzle and poke the needle through the tip and make sure nothing is clogging that little guy up. You never want to push the needle past the size of the hole, just push lightly until it stops and when your sure nothing is obstructing it then your done! DO NOT EVER use your airbrush needle to do this, that is another of many important parts of your airbrush and you want to keep that fine needle always sharp and straight. ALWAYS!
And another great tool to keeping your airbrush clean is this handy little tool here. Its called a Dental Utility Irrigation Syringe and is used for many people who get tooth extractions and are in need of keeping that hole in your jaw clear of food particles. Again these can be purchased on the web through here or on ebay and are excellent to keep your airbrush clean because they can get into the venturi of the airbrush with the curved end and shoot a sharp stream of water through the airbrush and remove just about anything in the way. Sometimes it is nessesary to remove the fluid nozzle of the airbrush to clean out that tip of larger particles that can and sometimes happens. So again if that ever occures, be sure to work over an area that you wont risk loosing that tip, replace and carry on with your normal cleaning process which will be explained below.
OK, now getting to know your airbrush is a must. Dont be afraid of taking it apart because you will need to understand this to clean it. First remove the Handle exposing the needle end and needle chucking nut, 99% of the time these are screwed on and easy to undo.
Next, loosen the needle chuck and pull straight out backwards the needle without bending it, You dont have to be super carefull. Just be cautious not to bend it, pull it back and set aside. If the chance that the trigger is removed a further breakdown and re installation can be found by clicking here
Next, remove the tip which is in a two piece part and is screwed on. This is called an Air Cap which is the part closest to the airbrush and a Needle Cover which is the farthest part and is shaped like that to allow the paint to spread in a certain patern.
Now, carefully seperate the two pieces and set aside. Remember to do this all in an area that you wont fear loosing any of these pieces.
Next pull out your wrench and remove the fluid nozzle and again set aside.
So there you go, that is your airbrush fully broken down and explained for you to see. The next following steps is how I find is the best way to keep your airbrush clean and always ready to opperate.
OK, now time to clean! During the painting process I generally use what is called a cleaning pot and a bauble that most of the time comes with an airbrush. Squirt a little water into the cup and spray out the gun in the cleaning pot and move on to your next color which you should always spray out to make sure there is no chance of the lastr color blending in with your new color and screwing up your paintjob.
But lets say we are at the end of our job and want to clean up for the day. Turn on your water faucet to a little warmer than warm or as hot as you can handle. (Hot water breaks down paint much better than cool water!)
Now remove the handle from the airbrush and set aside on a piece of paper towel, this shouldn't need any cleaning.
Now loosen the chuck nut and remove the needle nice and easy! Dont take the chuck all the way off, just loosen enough to remove the needle.
Now run your needle under the water and drag your thumb and forfinger on the top and bottom of the needle from the blunt end out past the tip. Do not run it back in, do not bend the tip! Do this once or twice until you get that paint off the needle.
Now remove the air cap and needle cover together. Be carefull since you are working over the sink to either have a drain catch or don't drop those pieces in the sink.
Now seperate the two pieces and run under the water. You dont need a huge hard stream of water, just a good trickle. and set aside on a piece of paper towel.
Now from there run the cup directly under the water right into the cup getting that paint out. Just be sure not to knock the trigger out, the spring should hold it in, but you just dont want water in the trigger.
Next get your syringe out and fill it up with water. Insert the plunger and get the water started. Place the curved end inside your airbrush cup and aim it for the tip. You know you have it facing the right way when you notice that the water is running right through straight and narrow. if it is curving, then you might have something obstructing the venturi. if thats the case, step away from the water and remove the fluid nozzle and clean with a sewing needle or pin. You can run the syringe with water through with the nozzle removed.
Now run through the water again and repete until there is no colored water coming from the airbrush, Paint will seap into the back part of the airbrush, but have no worries of that and just rince your airbrush under the water tap.
Now your done, Just place the airbrush pieces on a piece of paper towel.
Now from here I shake the airbrush out over the sink to shake out the remaining water, a little bit will not hurt your gun. 9 out of 10 times your airbrush has water proof with rubber seals and is rust resistant metal. then i take a piece of paper towel and clean all the nozzles out and cup. along with wiping the needle down again away in one swoop will do it.
And that should do ya. Now first when you put it back together place both the air cap and needle cover back together and on the airbrush, then when you place the needle back through, be sure your trigger is well seated, and your chuck nut isnt tight. carefully glide the needle back in until it is snug inside of the fluid nozzle and tighten the chuck nut. you now have a nice clean airbrush ready for your next job.