Got Dry Tip? General Ramblings #2

So I cracked out the airbrush, fully intending to get stuck into painting the Space Wolves StormWolf. It was a hot humid day here, in California, a day they refer to as a 'quake weather' day, what ever that means.

Anyways, I fire up the compressor, load up the Patriot 105 and things are peachy, for the first 5 minutes. Then my efforts come to a crippling halt. I check the pressure on the compressor, all good. Primer is of milky consistency in the cup. But nothing is going on.

I empty my cup into my slightly better Iwata Eclipse airbrush, and try to empty the pot. And boom, the same issue occurs after 5 minutes.

What the hell ?

So this was my rude introduction to the world of dry-tip. I clean out both air brushes and switch to plan B, dismantle and thoroughly clean all my components. An hour later, everything re-assembled on both brushes. I fire up the compressor, at a lower psi, thinking the pressure of the air is causing my paint to dry. But alas, 5 minutes and everything goes south again.

I hang up the airbrush and search the web for WTF is going on. And this is what I learned.


So dry tip, what is it?
  • Well, it's a pain in the butt, really.

How does it occur and what does it do?
  • Dry tip happens when small amounts of paint dry on the airbrush needle, lodging between the tip and the needle, which in turn creates flow problems with the spray pattern and delivery of air. It occurs with all paints, however the effects are worse when using water based paints. Solvent based paints sometimes are less affected, but ultimately different brands are affected differently.
How do you stop it from happening?
  • Dry tip can also occur during periods of high ambient heat and humidity in the room your airbrushing in. If you can control the environment, it can go a long way towards mitigating against the worst effects of crippling dry-tip.

  • Failing this, the most effective and easiest way to combat tip dry, is to continually clean the tip of your airbrush every 5 minutes or so, roughly the time it takes to base coat a Space Marine miniature. Base coat, stop and clean, then move to the next. You can easily achieve this by physically pinching the nib, pulling the paint off gently with your fingers tips, but in all honesty the timing really depends on the temperature, humidity, air pressure and type of paint you're using.

  • If you are wearing rubber gloves, like I do, you'll find fat fingers preclude you from pinching the nib, you can also try cleaning by scrubbing your needle tip using a small 'soft' rated toothbrush, dipped in a little isopropyl alcohol. Every few minutes, dip the toothbrush in the alcohol then scrub the nib briefly, trying to wipe away the build up on the tip, spray your air brush away from your model, to clear any debris, then commence painting again.
Anyways, I will have a second crack at airbrushing tomorrow, and if needs be arm myself with a toothbrush and rubbing alcohol. Hopefully that'll fix things, or at the least, reduce the halt I have with painting, at present.


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