The Spray Booth

sprayMy Christmas present this year is a spray booth.

I build model cars and structures. Once confined to brush painting, I have blossomed into a spray paint enthusiast over the last two years and the appearance of the models I make has improved immensely. It is as great a leap forward for me as it was in 1962 when I was introduced to matte paints instead of gloss ones. It has changed my choice of paints, too – I now go to the acrylic rack rather than the oil enamels for most of the colours.

It was a bit of a shock to change over to these whilst still in the brush days. I found the consistency and flow different enough that my brush control went out of kilter. Of course, I am getting older, and hand/eye coordination is not what it might have been, but I know so many ergonomic tricks from my first profession that small brushes and parts are not a worry. Still…the acrylics were different.

Roll forward to the first airbrush experiments and the arcane science of dilutions and vehicles. I did cotton on to the need for a compatible thinner and have always stuck to the proprietary product matched to the paints. I adopted the practical solution of measuring out paint and thinner with a small souvenir teaspoon into a shot glass and it has finally settled to about 2 parts paint to 3 parts thinner for my guns. Any thicker and the nozzle starts to close up prematurely – any thinner and I risk runs on the finish.

I have had my lesson about getting too greedy with the thickness of a coat, thank you.

Up until now I have been using a home-made paint booth constructed with foam-core board and a big electric fan…plus an open window. It has worked, but at the price of a lot of overspray and mess. Christmas solved that, as I have a dedicated mini-spray booth now with an extractor fan and vent to the outside. I tried it on Christmas Night ( Of course I tried it. It was a new toy. What did you expect? ) and it worked a treat. Absolutely no backwash of paint odour and what I suspect may be a finer distribution of paint on the small parts.

Note: I cannot use it for my next experiments. I am going to try to thin the acrylics with a proportion of methylated spirit as well as the proprietary thinner. I want to see if the nozzles stay patent longer. But the fans instructions say not to risk flammable or explosive vapours. So I’ll try it outside in the breeze.

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