NWR #200

Irish Expatriate
I Couldn't think of a section for this but I guess I'll put it here. Bob, maybe you could create a section for tools... Anywho, I'm looking into getting started in custom painting my models (Locos, cars, buildings, track, etc.) I have tried spray cans but find that they emit to thick of a spray. I want to buy a good airbrush for a newbie painter such as my self. I want to try and not spend a lot of money for I am only a college student with a minimum wage income. I'd like to try e-bay for one but do not know what type to get so any help is greatly appreciated.
I actually have 3 Badger airbrushes in my eBay store at the moment. I don't know a whole lot about airbrushing (I have a nice Badger set, but I've only used it a few times, though I'm starting to use it more now). Two of the sets are smaller units, and one is a larger more 'professional' version. I honestly don't know enough to recommend one...I've seen cheap plastic $20 Testors airbrushes at Wal-Mart, as well as brushes on eBay that cost more than the 3 I have combined.

Hopefully someone else can explain some more about airbrushes...I want to learn more too :D

If you want to see what I've got, click the link in my signature and browse the 'other items' category of my store (that link will be the last one on the left menu).
My airbrush is older than I am, so that won't help much. But a single action Badger would be a good choice. Manhy people have good reports on AzTek brand.

If you can swing it, a small oilless compressor is a super addition; bottled air is good but cumbersome and those cans can drive you to the poorhouse quickly.

If you use a regular garage compressor, get a moisture trap for it before using an airbrush.
Hi All, one word of caution, especially eBay. A lot of older brushes will not spray the new water based paints. The nozzels are too fine. A few years back I bought 2 or 3 Pasche copies ( similar to the Badger also) and much to my chagrin they just won't do a job of painting without plugging up. At first I thought it was me, then I switched back to my old Miller basic. This brush I used in the past (quite a few years back) with Floquil paints and had no problems. With the fine nozzle it also plugged, however old faithfull came with a coarse nozzle which saved the day. The paint I was using was Badger modelflex which can be sprayed right from the bottle. I've learned a hard lesson on buying copies, not in the price but in the frustration, the mess and loss of a quality paint job.
The moral of the story is, when the ingredients used in the paint were changed, it was necessary to change the airbrushes, so in my own honest opinion a lot of airbrushes that were useless with the new paint, were dumped on the market for a fast buck. My own advice (which I will use should I be on the market for another airbrush) is compare the model number to the manufacturers catalog offerings, if it's not there don't waste your money, because you're buying a pig in a poke, but then again there's always a chance you'll get lucky but don't count on it.
BTW the Testors cheapie works great, but it's a basic brush so don't try drawing fine lines without a lot of masking tape :D
Cheers Willis
Seth --

I've been using airbrushes for nearly 40 years. I would STRONGLY recommend you avoid the inexpensive (cheap) airbrushes that are available. I would also be very leery of any brushes found on eBay unless you can really trust the dealer, like Nate (Sushob). There are so many things that can be wrong with an airbrush; it's just too great a risk.

I would also recommend that you pay the additional cost and get a good dual action, internal mix brush. They are so much easier to use and give you much greater control of the paint. And all the current brushes either come with, or have available, multiple sizes of tips and needles. Normally there are three; fine, medium, and heavy (or coarse). The fine tip is used with dark colored lacquers for very detailed work. The medium is the general purpose tip, and the heavy is used with light colored acrylics.

I can recommend both the Badger 150 and the Paasche VL. I have both. You might see if a friend has one or the other. Both paint extremely well with a variety of paints (though I generally use Scalecoat II). The Badger is very lightweight and maneuverable. The Paasche is heavy (relatively) and great for steady work. A lot depends on personal preference. I'm sure the other name brands are just as good -- I just don't have any experience with them.

Finally, a quality airbrush, properly cared, for will last a lifetime. So, consider the cost to be an investment. You might want to check out Badger's ( and Paasche's ( websites for more info.

Also, checkout Harbor Freight ( I got my VL there for $55 (about a third of the retail cost). It's not currently on their website, but it's been in and out of the catalog for the last three years. Sign up for their catalog -- it's free, and fun to look through.

When it comes to a compressor, be sure to get an oil-less (or oil free) compressor. With an oil-lubricated compressor, some oil will always mist through into the output air with disastrous results in the finish (oil and water still don't mix, nor does compressor oil and lacquer thinner). The cost of a high enough quality filter will approach the cost of an oil-less compressor. Also, be sure you get a compressor with a tank. Two gallons if fine, four is better. It results in a more even stream of air. The compressor shouldn't cost more than $75 to $100. Sears has a small compressor with tank, gauges, pressure on/off switch, etc. on sale for under $90. Auto parts stores frequently have small compressors on sale for $75 - $80. A pressure rating of 125 PSI is more than enough with 1 SCFM being adequate. Most small compressors supply 2 to 2.5 SCFM.

Red Oak & Western said:
PPS --

I just took a look at Nate's offerings. The 175-3 would be my recommendation, and the price is good.

As I read your reply in my email ("I would also recommend that you pay the additional cost and get a good dual action, internal mix brush") I thought that the 'big one' was indeed a dual action. My personal airbrush (Badger 200) is a single action. I know I probably should have researched this before I purchased one, but I was (am) young and dumb :eek: . What's the difference between single/dual action?

As far as the one in my store goes, it's an oldie, but probably still a useable goodie. I'd offer to drop the price a few bucks if you're interested, but it's already about as low as I can go. :( Here's a link if you're interested;
Airbrush 101 --

External mix: air is directed over a small orifice (opening) at the front of the brush. Paint flow (quantity of paint) is manually adjusted by changing the size of the gate in the orifice. This action produces a coarser pattern. You set it and then paint. You can simulate this effect by blowing across the tip of a narrow straw in a glass of water. It will give you an idea of the spatter pattern.

Internal mix: the air and paint are combined in a chamber inside the airbrush, then directed through the head assembly. The paint flow is adjusted by the position of the needle within the tip. This can produce an extremely fine spray pattern.

Single action: the trigger controls only the air flow. As the trigger is depressed (down), the pre-set amount of paint is sprayed. Remember, the paint flow has already been set by adjusting the needle (internal) or gate (external).

Dual action: the trigger controls both the air flow and the paint flow (down for air, back for paint). {All dual action brushes are internal mix.} This allows you to control the full range of paint effects without stopping to adjust the brush. Full air and light paint gives a very soft dusting of paint. Light air and full paint results in a spattering effect similar to an external brush. The main feature here is the versatility.

Don't be ashamed of the Badger 200, its a good brush. I had one for several years before I "upgraded" to the 150. Back then, the price difference was (relatively) greater. The Badger 200 was $12, the 150 was $45. But a loaf of bread cost $.25! (And my allowance was $2.00 a week and I had to mow the grass or shovel the snow to get it.)

As for the 175 being an "oldie", THAT'S NOT A PROBLEM. Airbrush design has changed very little in the past 50 years, and Badger (and Paasche, Thayer-Chandler, and Iwata) makes a quality product. Remember, my 150 is over 20 years old and still works perfectly. (Yes, I did have to replace the needle and tip once, but that was MY fault. I dropped the needle when cleaning the brush and didn't examine it before trying to force it back into the tip. Two mistakes: didn't examine and tried to force. Two things you should never do.)

If you have any more questions, just ask.


PS: I would stay away from products from such companies as Philadelphia Pneumatic or Allied Air Tools, etc. Most are cheap knock-offs made in China without the necessary fit, polish, and quality control. Stick with one of the above name brands.

PPS: The list price on the Badger 175-3 is $122.
Red Oak & Western said:
Don't be ashamed of the Badger 200, its a good brush. I had one for several years before I "upgraded" to the 150. Back then, the price difference was (relatively) greater. The Badger 200 was $12...
Seems to me I paid about 10 times that.... :rolleyes:
I've recently upgraded from a Badger 200 to a Paasche VLS airbrush. I must say that I really like the double-action. For painting tasks such as weathering, a double-action is excellent.

As far as a compressor, I have a large compressor in my garage so I have a good supply of air... but no where near my train room. I bought a Craftsman 5 gallon airtank and added a nice filter, regulator, and water-oil separator. This is working quite nicely. It's just about enough air to paint one engine or piece of rolling stock and still has enough air to clean the airbrush. Its silent too which is nice for me as I tend to work on trains late at night when the rest of the house is sleeping.

If I think of it tonight, I'll take a picture of the setup and post it here tomorrow.
Thought I might mention, when buying brand names like Badger, Thayer Chandler, Iwata, & Paasche, they have customer service where you can get professional help at no extra charge, certainly worth more than the difference in price from the copies, but then again you may not need it with a quality tool. :D
Cheers Willis
PS: Pretty nice prices Nate
Red Oak & Western said:
Nate -

And a loaf of bread these days is $2.50. So that's just about right.


(and you get $20 a week for an allowance ;).)
$20 a week for an allowance? I wish! :p

But this eBay thing makes up for that :D
CBCNSfan said:
PS: Pretty nice prices Nate
Thanks! Now that I know a little more, I think I am going to keep the 175 for myself :D . For the price, I don't think I could get anything better. The other two are still up for grabs though, and they're already priced as low as I can go, so I don't know how long they'll be there... ;)
The 175 designates the brush model number. The -x (-3, -7, etc.) identifies the "set". The -3 set comes with the model 175 airbrush with a heavy nozzle / needle, ¼ oz. color cup with adaptor, additional jar with cover, trigger pad, protective cap, and instruction manual in a plastic case. The -7 set comes with the model 175 airbrush with all three nozzles / needles (fine, medium and heavy), jar with jar adaptor, two additional jars with covers, braided air hose with varying air source fitting, one ¼ oz. color cup, trigger pad, protective cap, and instruction manual. $50.00 would be a great price, and the buy it now price isn't bad. This set will do everything you'd want an airbrush to do.