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Air Supply

How to airbush without the noise and trouble of using a compressor.

Click here to download a Schematic (124K) in PDF format.
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No matter what kind of airbrush you use for modeling, they all have one important thing in common - they all need an air source. There are two main forms of compressed air available for you to use, stored and pumped. Stored air has the benefit of being silent and less obtrusive to work with, but generally comes in small quantities and lacks the more sophisticated controls found on compressors. Compressors on the other hand, are usually equipped with regulators and water traps but can be expensive, messy, and most of all, loud.

In this article we'll show you how to take the best of both worlds and build your own refillable silent air supply with a regulator and moisture trap. Best of all, the entire set up costs under $150.00, which is much less than most decent air compressors.

Step One: The Parts
All of the parts you will need are available at your local home improvement store. We got all of our materials at Home Depot, but Lowes or any well stocked hardware store should have everything you need.

Parts List
Portable Tire Inflator (Cordless or Corded is fine)
5 Gallon (or bigger) Air Tank with Pressure Gauge
Air Regulator with Pressure Gauge
Moisture Filter
(3) Sections of 3/8" Threaded Pipe
(2) 1/4" Male to 3/8" Female NPT Adaptors *
Pipe Joint Compound

*Note: We used a Badger Airbrush which has a 1/4" hose fitting. We also used an airtank with a 1/4" fitting. Depending on what kind of tank you buy and what kind of airbrush you are using you may not need to purchase the adaptors. Even if you use different parts than the ones outlined in this article the basic principal of how to build the tank is the same. Just make sure all your fittings are compatible with each other and you'll be fine.

Step Two: Assembly
Once you have all your parts, putting the whole thing together takes about 25 minutes. First, run a threaded pipe (with adaptor if necessary) from the air tank to the regulator. Make sure you use a little bit of pipe joint compound whenever you screw things together to make sure you get a good fit and don't have any leaks. Some regulators don't come with a gauge. If this is the case, install the gauge on the regulator before preceding to the next step.

Second, run a second piece of threaded pipe from the regulator to the moisture trap, again being sure to use some pipe joint compound. Make sure the moisture trap is pointing down.

Last, run your last piece of threaded pipe from the moisture trap to your airbrush hose. Voila. You're done!

When you want to fill up your tank, simply connect the tire inflator to the tank and let it run until the tank is full. If you regulate the pressure correctly you should have enough air in the tank to paint at least 2 or 3 models before you need to fill it again.