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Pancake compressor for spraying lacquer?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by moosie, Sep 21, 2017.

  1. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Check Rockler.com. The unit has been mentioned in several HVLP thread over the last few years. Several companies sell similar units.

    Be aware these are "bleeder" units where the air is on all the time. Much better than the pancake/conventional jerry-rig but NOT the same as larger true-HVLP's. Having air on at low pressure is better than opening up high-pressure air and blowing all over, but in better units air and material start at the same time with precision control. With a good GHVLP you can do work with amazing precision. So if you are planning on dong much finishing a real HVLP would be a far better investment - search for used "Capspray" and Titan HVLP's - if you find one you still need the "lacquer needle and air cap" (A smaller orifice tip assembly. The "bleeders" are one-size-fits-all.
     

  2. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity

    Aug 3, 2010
    Loganville, Ga.
    Nobody ever regretted having "too much" CFM capacity. It will run a tiny pin nailer, or an air-spewing bleeder gun and anything in between.

    It is as simple as matching CFM requirements of your gun with the compressor. Smaller compressors may need to keep running to keep up, which heats the air, which affects moisture control.

    The high volume of HVLP guns refers to a high volume of air. Compressors are designed to produce pressurized air. A turbine (or fan, if you will) produces lower pressures at high volumes. This is why, IMO, a compressor-based HVLP system is a less-good idea than a turbine based HVLP system. It can be done and is done pretty well, but you're better off going conventional HPLV, if you will, if you're using a compressor.

    I bought this compressor on sale, for right at your $150 price-point, and have done sand blasting, nailing, tire inflation, and spray finishing with it. Larger tank helps cool the air, which is important in moisture control for finishing, and I never worry about running out of good pressure.

    https://t.harborfreight.com/26-gal-18-hp-150-psi-oilless-air-compressor-62629.html


    It is heavy and noisy, but the more qualifications you require, the quicker you blow through your budget. As far as being Harbor Freight, take a look at the "Made In_____" tags on just about every single consumer brand compressor on the market.
     
    koolaide and moosie like this.

  3. moosie

    moosie Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Age:
    60
    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    Funny, I was looking at that HF compressor last night. And another of theirs, a 20 gal upright, oil-lubed for ... $179?

    I'm so new to spraying, like completely totally new, not even ready to do it yet, so my head is spinning with the various factors, especially the difference between HVLP, LVLP, and "conventional" LVHP? HPLV LOL o_O:), and their suitability for spraying lacquer, all vs the perspective that I'm only ever going to be spraying a few bodies per year.

    I get that HV is about air flow, and the turbine makes sense, but seems to be priced beyond the DIY hobbyist. But then I saw this Earlex spray station on Amazon for $250 (after $50 coupon). From my limited perspective, it seems like a great tool, for both guitars and other woodworking projects. Not as cheap as I'd hoped, but by far better. Then I could get whatever little dinky brad nailing rig that I want.

    Is that Earlex unit too low of a price for a turbine system to be any good? Are there others that cheap that I should consider?
     

  4. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Touchdown!

    They actually never reach a CFM level for HVLP spray. It's technically impossible.

    Their larger compressors will work as long as they're not used in a commercial shop environment, and one that size will work - usually - with a real HVLP gun.

    The gun is the tricky part and wheat I mean negatively about Harbor Freight's spray equipment. None of their "HVLP" guns can comply with air quality regulations because they can't do "true" HVLP spray. In many states "true" HVLP requires pressure <10psi - and that's where "real" HVLP guns work properly (there's no restriction over labeling guns with "HVLP" as poor performance may be in compliance!).

    HVLP performance at <10psi (usually <4psi) always includes all of these:

    1) Extremely high air volume for atomization, 2) very low "bounceback" of coating from the surface (i.e. a VERY high "transfer ratio"), 3) pinpoint control over fan pattern and placement, and 4) almost zero overspray.

    It lays down nearly glassy-smooth lacquer systems with overspray so light it's easily cleaned up with a whisk broom - or blows away. The control means you only need to mask immediately-adjacent surfaces; sanding is eliminated except for sealers/fillers; polishing time is down to 5 minutes or so. The "flow" of sunbursts colors consists of smooth "fades" and not the larger, easily seen "dot/spatter" of higher-pressure spray. It's also exponentially easier to spray stains and toners with better color control.

    The material and time savings are often stunning to those that have sprayed with conventionals or cheap HVLP guns with ANY compressor.

    The cheap guns suffer from bounceback and overspray - plus "tails" at the ends of the fan are common with small compressors - and make it very hard to get smooth, consistent finishes that need no sanding. Part of the problem is internal due to the design of the material and air flow mechanisms.

    And almost all are "bleeder" gun systems like the <$200 HLP setups with air always-on. This is a much bigger problem when the pressure is high, resulting in 50% material loss and up.

    But the biggest problem is they have a "universal" needles and air caps that are totally wrong for lacquer. The orifice is HUGE compared to the fine-finish setup that is installed in a good gun - and each tip/air cap setup runs around $100-200. This is true with ANY HVLP gun capable of spraying lacquer properly - which run roughly $300 (plus the lacquer setup).

    Surprisingly Reranch, Mohawk, RustOleum and a few other aerosol lacquers are packaged with finer-finish tips than cheap "HVLP" guns!

    So a cheap compressor ends up being expensive compared to a compact HVLP rig like a used Capspray. Most come with a fairly small needle/cap and can be easily found for $250-700 on Craigslist and eBay. They work pretty well for lacquer as-is, but an actual lacquer needle/cap for the gun costs only $50-150 for an HVLP unit - the guns are not the same as conventional guns and parts are cheaper. I've found that used, working HVLP's are usually in excellent working order as they are rarely "every day" tools.

    IMO if you're going to do much finishing it makes far more sense to buy a used "real" HVLP. It might be a bit more expensive but it will get you better results, save time, get better results, cut cleanup time by half, Provide smoother, more consistent finishes, cut material usage, get you better finishes..... :D
     
    dkmw likes this.

  5. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity

    Aug 3, 2010
    Loganville, Ga.
    OK, let's make Silverface go ballistic. :eek::D This is NOT your professional rig, by any means, BUT . . .

    I have seen other reviews, and have had good results myself (not on guitars) with the Harbor Freight HVLP spray kit. It includes a gun, the hose, and a turbine.

    The gun is cheap plastic, and the turbine sounds like it was stolen from your Mom's vacuum cleaner. But the damn thing seems to work.

    If you want to try out "real" HVLP (turbine-based with low pressure air), here it is. Review:



    This is the only "real" HVLP rig I have had experience with, so I can't comment on the Earlex one you posted above, but there seem to be a number of reviews.
     

  6. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Honestly I hand't seen that yet. I only get the mailers - I'm kind of limited as far as visiting store due to chronic pain crap - but that operates similarly to the Earlex. It's a "real" HVLP wth a bleeder gun and exactly what I recommended if you want to buy a new unit.

    It *will* probably get you by FAR better than a compressor and cheap gun. It takes a lot of practice and skill to overcome the "bleeder aspect, though. The used Capsprays I mentioned (and similar units) don't have that issue.

    I may buy one myself just to see how good it is. If I do I'll post a review either way - and if it "gets you by" I'll certainly recommend it!

    But if you're not going to finish very often a bleeder HVLP is exponentially better than anything but a heavier-duty non-bleeder rig. It isn't made to be used as an every day rig but like their cheap airbrush kits (which I use!) will get you by.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2017

  7. sleazy pot pie

    sleazy pot pie Tele-Holic

    643
    May 31, 2014
    austin
    I recently purchased the harbor freight all in one hvlp turbine. I had been using preval units before that. I found that the container was really big , 32 oz. So I took one of my bottles from the preval and filled it with lacquer, then I cut a hole in the center of the cap and then a much smaller hole on the outer portion of the lid. Then I could put the syphon tube into the preval bottle and use that as my lacquer resovior. Screwed the emply 32 oz on to presurize the unit and it worked like a champ. I even bought some new plastic tubing from lowes 3/8" with 1/4" center. I cut this to the perfect length and I am painting up a storm.
    If you are only doing 4 or 5 guitars a year like me, you cant beat this set up.
     

  8. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Quick note - I read some reviews regarding lacquer spraying and the stock cap/needle (1.5-1.8mm) is definitely too large.

    Their manual suggests installing a 1.0-1.3mm tip for "automotive lacquers. THAT would be the one to install in it for spraying guitar bodies & necks. But I don't see where they sell it!

    Weird.
     

  9. sleazy pot pie

    sleazy pot pie Tele-Holic

    643
    May 31, 2014
    austin
    I have been using the smallest one. ghe package says 1.8mm 1.5mm and 1.0mm
    I have been using the 1.0mm with great results. I start with the release valve closed all the way and then open it slowly until is just barely has spray coming out, then give it a little bit more. This alows me to spray light coats. I end up doing more coats, but they are very very thin coats.
     

  10. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    That's the best way to do it - thin coats. It's actually best to do very thin passes - same as with aerosols, 3 thin passes per coat. Unlike aerosol cans a bleeder HVLP can be partially triggered as the trigger controls only material flow.

    It looks like this may be the same unit as the Earlex. If so it should do the job if you have the small tip. Nothing on Harbor Freight's site or in theChicago Electric manual shows multiple tips (only directions - which only indicate 2 sizes). If anybody buys one and it only comes with one tip I'd take it back. I've bought a few sporadically-used tools there that had missing parts.
     

  11. Mat UK

    Mat UK Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 17, 2009
    London, UK
    The only thing that's bugging me is that the box clearly says that the gun comes with the nozzles 1.5, 1.8 and 2.0... but he keeps referring to the 2.0 as a 1.0; it's making me question my ability to read!
     

  12. sleazy pot pie

    sleazy pot pie Tele-Holic

    643
    May 31, 2014
    austin
    Also, one thing i learned the hard way is to not over tighten the brass parts. I did this and messed up the unit. Luckily harbor freight exchanged it for me
     

  13. sleazy pot pie

    sleazy pot pie Tele-Holic

    643
    May 31, 2014
    austin
    I can confirm that there is a 1.0 and 1.5 and then whatever needle comes already loaded in the gun,
     

  14. dkmw

    dkmw Tele-Afflicted Ad Free + Supporter

    Age:
    62
    Mar 30, 2016
    Florida USA
    Great post! It's fantastic to have someone with your direct knowledge fill in all the blanks about HVLP. I've been around those systems forever (seems like it was almost 30 years ago when I first saw them) but never had the need to understand what was going on. I knew HVLP was very efficient at getting material on the object surface, rather than blowing it all over the place like the old days - but I didn't understand the how.
     

  15. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    I haven't seen the box, only references to certain tips on wood finishing forums. I wasn't referring to the "2.0" as a "1.0" - to clarify, the smaller tip - whether a 1.0mm, 1.3mm. 0.8mm - should be used for lacquer regardless of what the directions read. And the lacquer, especially sealers, primers and opaque finishes, may need thinning to spray properly.

    This takes quite a bit of experimenting and practice. IT's not simply a matter of adding "x" amount of "lacquer thinner" - the amount changes significantly dues to temperatures, both ambient and surface (a surface thermometer and air thermometer are good to have) as does the type of thinner: "regular" lacquer thinner, retarder or "fast" thinners (more rarely used).

    And make it easy on yourselves - keep notes of exactly what you do, both temperatures etc. Makes future jobs FAR easier because you can repeat yourself as needed.

    And the side benefit is the precision and fine-pattern of the fan. You get much richer, deep looking finishes with smooth transitions when you do sunbursts and such. Once you discover how to sign your name with a dialed-in HVLP you're reaching a good level of control - and usually start getting pretty creative ideas.
     

  16. Mat UK

    Mat UK Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 17, 2009
    London, UK
    Apologies - I was referring to the demo video Rick posted a couple of posts back. The guy in the vid points at two numbers and says something different to what is written... it's not a big deal :) it just bugged me!
     

  17. Mat UK

    Mat UK Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 17, 2009
    London, UK
    Ive just rewatched... he says the box is wrong... at ease everybody! I'll pay closer attention next time!
     

  18. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity

    Aug 3, 2010
    Loganville, Ga.
    Well, Mat, there's also the "Chinglish" factor.

    Something I don't think has been mentioned yet, and it's critical to spraying success, especially for rookies, and that's your cup.

    NO! Not that cup, you atheletes, it's the viscosity cup that comes packaged with the unit. You mix your finish, fill the viscosity cup with it, and using your watch's second hand, time how long it takes the finish to run out of the cup. ( Through a calibrated hole in the bottom of the cup). Comparing the time to a chart provided with the gun, you can select your needle and orifice, and/ or thin your finish as needed. Or, if you've thinned your finish so it's all run out of the cup before you get a look at your watch, better look for a smaller nozzle and needle, or go easier on that thinner.:lol:

    I just checked my HF HVLP, it's one of the really early ones, and it only has the 1.8, but then again, it doesn't say it was supposed to have extra tips and needles on the box nor in the parts list. Maybe I'll give them a call and see if the smaller tips/needles will fit my old gun, and order them if they will.
     
    Mat UK likes this.

  19. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity

    Aug 3, 2010
    Loganville, Ga.
    That's a great mod, Sleazy, and really encouraging to hear you're having good results with it. It occurs to me you could possibly cut a seal out of gasket material that fits inside the Preval lid, then use the Preval jar for storage of your mixed finish, as well as spraying, over a multiple day shoot, minimizing waste and clean-up, too.
     

  20. sleazy pot pie

    sleazy pot pie Tele-Holic

    643
    May 31, 2014
    austin
    For sure. I have also discovered that 16oz gatorade caps are the same size as the preval bottle if you run out of caps.
     
    R. Stratenstein likes this.

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