Air compressor substitutes

Discussion in 'Tools of the Trade' started by artistone, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. artistone

    artistone Member

    Hi all
    I have bought my first airbrush, an AB 138. The operating presssure is 15-30 psi. Unfortunately, i found out AFTER i got the airbrush that the air compressor is HORRIBLY expensive here.

    I did some research and found that to inflate a tyre, the minimum pressure required is 45 psi. I was wondering if a foot pump could be used. My plan is to connect the foot pump to an air bottle and kinda fill it up. I tried using an agri sprayer bottle, which works fine, but a constant pressure is not achieved. If the bottle could be filled up with constant pressure from the foot pump, then it might give around 20 mins of spray time depending on the air bottle, and some leg exercise as well :-0. If this isOK, i might find a way to automate the foot pump action, too.

    Is my idea of a foot pump OK? Am i getting the pressure equation right? Looking forward to some ideas...

  2. clif52

    clif52 Banned

    I found a good quiet aircompresser at Walmart.

    I picked up an airbrush compresser about shoebox size at Walmart. I think I paid about $60.00 for it. I got a larger one from Sears that I paid around $100.00 for but it is way louder. It will come on and it sounds like a jackhammer. The small one is pretty quiet.
  3. knife

    knife Member

    Back when I was much younger, I used a spare tire to power my air brush. All it needed was an adapter to connect the tire valve to the airbrush tubing. I could fill it at a gas station or using a foot pump. I found that anything smaller than a tire will give uneven pressure, a lot a air pressure at first but then a rapid decrease resulting in uneven spray from the airbrush.
  4. artistone

    artistone Member

    Thanks for all the kind replies..I am from India and here it costs nearly 3/4 th my salary..
  5. cdavenport

    cdavenport Member

    Go to WalMart or a home supply store and purchase an emergency air tank used to fill tires. It has a simple valve on it. In the same store purchase a pressure regulator with a water trap.

    The pressurized tank will give you hours of spraying pleasure.

    You might check Ebay. It all depends what you are willing to pay for the convenience.
  6. Jim Nunn

    Jim Nunn Member

    On the cheap side you can use a Bar-B-Q propane tank but you will need a regulator to even out the pressure. You can pump the cylinder up to over 70PSI the only issue is that you will always run out of air just at the most inopportune time. On the down side by the time you purchase a cheap regulator and water trap (compressed air always has some water in it) and the fittings and a cut off valve you will have spent the price of a good compressor.

    Harbor Freight has lots of fittings, hose, regulators and such and they ship world wide. If you are willing to wait, every couple of months they will have this compressor on sale for $39.
    Also check out the $20 air brush it is not the best in the world and you can not get any parts for it. But for $20 it is cheaper then a set of good brushes.

    If you really get into using an air brush it is worth while to still use some sort of air storage cylinder. It acts like a filter in that it evens out the pulses coming from the compressor. When you get down to the really fine work the even air flow makes a big difference.

    Jim Nunn
  7. jstormes

    jstormes New Member

    Before I could afford a compressor, I used to use the pump from an old refrigerator. The pump gave about 40psi and would usually last me about a year of occasional use before seizing up. I used to use it to pump up a lorry tyre (later I replaced the tyre with an old propane gas bottle), then connected the tyre to my cheap Humbrol airbrush.
    In a home made system wiith no pressure relief valve, I would recommend using a tight fitting rubber pipe as part of the connection so the pipe will come off before the pressure gets too high.
    In the UK, you aren't allowed to take fridges apart any more, because of the coolant (greenhouse gas), but this may not be the case in India.
  8. cdavenport

    cdavenport Member

    Ha! From India. It's useful to state those facts up front; I imagine WalMart stores are few and far between in the Hindu Kush!

    Now, to your problem...

    If you live near a big city, you should try machine shops, welding, mechanical repair and automotive repair shops. You might find someone with a used compressor that will meet your need. Do not purchase one that is damaged because it may be difficult to acquire parts. If you live in the lowlands or near the Ganges, humidity is a problem. You must have a water trap or moisture will ruin your paint job even with acrylic paints.

    Not being familiar with Indian society, I cannot know if you have salvage yards (a place to collect damaged equipment, automobiles and the like for subsequent recycling). In America they are all over the place. If you have one nearby, they are a great source for mechanical equipment.

    Finally, do not forget EBay. You can find some very good bargains. For instance, an emergency tire inflator works off the car battery and can easily supply the pressure and air flow requirements of an airbrush.

    I have quite a store of practical knowledge on this topic. If you would like to PM me, I believe I can help you over the Internet.
  9. think-floyd

    think-floyd Member

    One option I have not seen mentioned, is purpose made airbrush propellant cans. These are a can of compressed air, with a threaded fitting on the top for connecting a valve. The airbrush hose then connects straight onto the valve. The pressure isn't great - 10-15 psi if I remember right, but it's ok for proper airbrush paints with finely ground pigment. If you want to use enamels or automotive paints, it might not be much use.
    I'm only a newcomer to airbrushing myself, but time and time again I have been told, read and seen in practice, that the quality of the air source is directly proportional to the quality of the finish you get. I have been looking on this site: and I am probably going to buy one of the smaller Iwata compressors and brushes next. They are supposedly the best brand out there overall, and while it will cost me more at the start, I think I would rather pay extra to have the right gear from the outset.
    I think many people get put off and stop because bargain gear doesn't give great results, no matter how good the person might become. "A good start is half the race" as they say. I think they say that anyway!

  10. leon

    leon Member

    I have an air brush from a Copy Cake projector used to decorate on birthday cakes ect. how would you rate this type of air brush for model railroading?
  11. cdavenport

    cdavenport Member

    I reviewed the Copy Cake compressor years ago for a modeling magazine. At one time, the company wanted to market to modelers. I liked it; simple and dependable.

    I cannot remember if it had an water trap. I seem to recall that it had a small manifold so that the painter had a nice steady stream of air. I also recall that it was pretty quiet.

    Smart move!

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