Another long-term project has been the 1/1000th scale Polar Lights Enterprise refit model, which has also been gathering dust for years. My relatively new Neo for Iwata airbrush has been the impetus for finally building this tiny marvel.
I bought the Neo because I thought a double-action (the trigger controls airflow and paint) airbrush would be a little more professional than my trusty old Badger 200. I also thought I wouldn’t waste as much paint if I had the top-feed cup of the Neo rather than the bottom-feed bottle of the Badger.
If you’re not familiar with the Neo, it’s the Chinese-made low-end airbrush Iwata sells and I bought it with my 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby, which made it an under $50 airbrush. It looked like a good bargain and had some good reviews, the main criticism being that the trigger mechanism wasn’t as smooth as a real Iwata airbrush.
Unfortunately that criticism proved accurate. The trigger was sticky and would either refuse to depress or once depressed, wouldn’t release, with predictable results. This was so frustrating because otherwise the airbrush seemed to be well made and that frustration caused me to shelve it and modeling for a whole year.
But I decided to solve the problem and determined that the problem was the result of a poor casting on the trigger, and with lots of filing and a Dremel polishing drum, finally made the trigger smooth enough. I also backed off the pressure of the hex fitting for the air inlet valve. The diagram at left indicates the troublesome parts.
There are still a few problems, but I think they mostly have to do with my learning curve. I’m pulling the trigger too far back allowing way too much paint. I’ve also learned that the 50/50 paint/thinner mixture that worked well with my badger, doesn’t work well with this airbrush. Looking into Testor’s Acryl paints, I found that the company says the paint doesn’t need to be thinned. But if I omit the thinner, the paint dries too quickly. I’m hoping acrylic retarder will do the trick.
I also found it’s much more crucial to strain paint for this airbrush; it has a finer needle and tip than the Badger. I’ve now learned to fill a syringe with a paint, thinner and airbrush medium mixture, and then inject it into the paint cup through a piece of pantyhose capped onto the end of the syringe and held in place by a needle cover (I removed the needle with pliers). This seems to work—far less splattering—and it helps me get rid of the pantyhose I never wear.
I’m still getting some splattering, but I think that’s mostly a function of not stirring the paint in the cup adequately. I’m also still trying to get the mixture correct, which right now seems to be 3 parts paint to 1 thinner (my thinner is 50/50 alcohol and water). What I haven’t determined is how much airbrush medium to use.
Next up, electronics.