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Paasche AB x 2

Discussion in 'Airbrushes' started by DaveG, Apr 18, 2019.


  1. DaveG

    DaveG Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    I received an as new Paasche AB Turbo to add to my collection. Was really nice to get my hands on one that has not been previously messed with, so that I can actually see and experience what it is supposed to be like. I got it working well enough that it allowed me to then easily set up an older one that I have (mid 40's vintage). I have read every piece of literature I could find, watched video's, and still could not get my first one sorted out to my satisfaction - till I had a chance to try one that worked the way it was supposed to - then it was like a light bulb turning on :p. Looking forward to spending some more time with it. Oh, I titled the post Paasche AB x 2 because this experience allowed me to get my older one working quite nicely.

    If there is anyone in this group that uses one, I do have a question that may be better answered by someone that has some experience with one.

    paasche ab82.jpg
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  2. AndreZA

    AndreZA Elite Member! Elite Member! Very Likeable!

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    I would love one of those.
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  3. MarcosD

    MarcosD Mac-Valve Maestro!

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    Yea, me too, I looked for one but never found any, don’t know how he does it!! He is a magician!!


    Enviado desde mi iPhone utilizando Tapatalk
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  4. KorbenD

    KorbenD Young Tutorling

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    I've got several, what question do you have? I'll see if I can help out.
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  5. DaveG

    DaveG Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    Thanks, Korben. On this AB the walking arm plunger will make contact with the power wheel assembly when the trigger draw gets to be about half, and causes everything to slow down or stop. The top shaft bearing will bottom out before I can adjust it far enough to completely solve the occurrence. Any idea's?
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  6. KorbenD

    KorbenD Young Tutorling

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    Is the power wheel below the level of the opening on the front? It might be misaligned with the bottom bearing.

    If you were comfortable with it, I'd say remove the top grease cup and bearing, then remove the wheel housing. Then ensure the power wheel is centered and sitting in the bottom bearing. Might even give it an ultrasonic bath while you have it apart. Can you take some pictures of how it looks now?
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  7. DaveG

    DaveG Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    Oh, I have had the brush completely apart - every screw, bolt, and spring out and inspected. The brush is clean, maybe the cleanest I have seen. It was never used before - maybe only seen the light of day two or three times before I got it. I will get some photo's in the next few days.
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  8. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Double Actioner

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    Yes I own a Paasche AB and used to use it for illustrator art. That's great that you acquired one but you're now learning the hard way why that brush is no longer in production, and, to be honest, you would be much better off acquiring an Iwata or Olympos Micron for fine detail work as these guns can do 98% of everything a Paasche AB is capable of.

    OK, with that diatribe over, maybe I can help you troubleshoot your AB. I don't know if Airbrush Action is still in publication (they were when I did a lot of airbrush art in high school) but they used to publish a video on using an maintaining the Paasche AB which was really good. You may try surfing around Ebay for this (as well as a used VCR to play it with).

    The big things with the Paasche AB.

    1) Mediums MUST BE THINNED! This brush will not tolerate heavier paints like thicker Acrylics, lacquers, enamels, etc. The AB was a special use illustrator and photo retouch brush, not a T-shirt or van detailing brush. I remember a few artists used Oils with their ABs (God only knows how that went!) but typically you should restrict yourself to thinned water based paints ie watercolors, gouache, inks, dyes and airbrush acrylics.

    2) Verify that you have medium flowing from the color cup into the needle bearing well. The hole in the needle bearing that feeds paint from the color cup into the needle bearing is very small so often paint will not enter the bearing due to surface tension around the hole. Sometimes the AB needs to be primed by placing a single drop of pigment onto the needle bearing. This can induce feeding from the color cup via capillary action during use.

    3) Great care must be taken when handling or sharpening the needle as any deformities from a uniform taper dramatically affect the spray quality. If your eyesight is not that great, it's advised that all maintenance on the needle be done under a magnifying glass.

    4) The needle travel path must be directly centered in the middle of the air nozzle aperture for best results. Any deviations from this alter spray patterns and cause problems. Again do this adjustment under a magnifying glass for the best precision during maintenance.

    5) The trigger adjustment screw should be set such that no pigment sprays when the trigger is pressed and the turbine speeds up, but should begin to spray pigment the instant that the any kind of backwards movement of the trigger is made. This position can be located by moving the needle drive arm, and the turbine in the housing, until the needle is at its maximum extended position in its cyclic motion. Once you have moved the needle drive arm to this position (again do this under a magnifying glass) pull the trigger back until the tip of the needle is just about to extend into the bore line of the air nozzle. Set the trigger screw for this position on the trigger. Additional fine tuning will probably be needed thereafter by operating the brush and making iterative adjustments to the trigger set screw until no pigment sprays when the trigger is only pressed down.

    6) The needle bearing will require the use of wax to seal it into the color cup and prevent leakage onto your artwork (you STILL want to use an AB on any commercial art you're doing after all this?). Get yourself some 100% pure beeswax and smear a little along the joint between the needle bearing and the color cup. Its also recommended to insert some kind of a mask into the needle trough on the bearing as well as a toothpick or similar mask in the hole in the needle bearing to prevent intrusion of wax into these parts and block pigment flow. Using a cigarette lighter, heat the ball of the color cup up until the wax melts into the crevices and seals the needle bearing with the color cup. Again, its best to do all this under a magnifying glass for the most precision.

    7) Be sure to take quite a bit of time and familiarize yourself with the spray patterns associated with different air and turbine speed settings to prepare you for using this on a real piece of artwork.

    Again the AB is not a brush for neophytes and even gave the pros a lot of headaches. But if you're interested in learning about one for collector or historical reasons, I hope this post helps you do that.

    Take care
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  9. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Double Actioner

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    Also, I don't know what kind of support Paasche offers on ABs these days but you may consider sending the airbrush in for repairs.

    I would follow the advice of the other poster and remove the grease cups in order to inspect the turbine bearings to make sure the turbine is seated properly within the turbine housing. If it is and the brush appears to be working fine, the last resort would be to carefully prise off the turbine housing and, with a Dremel tool, carefully remove some of the material from the turbine housing that is making contact with the walking arm during use. If you do decide to try this, I'd make sure you have a spare turbine housing and walking arm and thence remove material in an iterative fashion.

    One of the major gripes about the AB line is that the brush is virtually hand built; no two ABs are exactly identical and the quality and tolerance variations would make a Six Sigma quality expert shake their head in disgust. Some ABs are really well behaved, others seem to be lemons and it seems there's little one can do about it. This, of course, was exacerbated by the fact that for decades Paasche published virtually no operating and maintenance instructions. My AB worked well for the most part, though like a prom queen, it was temperamental and high maintenance.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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  10. DaveG

    DaveG Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    Wow, thanks for taking the time to share so much information. The first thing i will say is welcome to the forum! The second thing I will mention is that there is no need to worry about what brush may better suit my needs, as I have rather extensive collection - you will get to know after a short period of time here.

    I had the 1940's version of the AB first, and could not resist adding an unused, new in box modern version to go with it. When I picked up the first AB, I set out to find all of the information on it that I could. So, I was fortunate enough to acquire copies of all the print articles, as well as the AB video. I will certainly agree - it is amazing at how much information about these brushes DOESN'T exist. I do have both brushes working, and am happy with the results that they produce, but will not rue out taking another look at the binding of the newer action. I do currently have it working in a sweet spot just prior to where it would start to bind - I am sure I could remove the offending material, then re-plate the entire thing...

    The tip on the wax - thanks for that one! Fantastic idea.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write to all the information. I know that at some point in the future, someone will be searching for info, and your posts are destined to pop up, and help someone out a ton!
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  11. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Double Actioner

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    Yeah, glad I could help. I know that the available literature on the AB really is limited. I think most people who learned how to use them worked as professional illustrators or retouchers in a shop where they were taught by senior airbrush artists on how to run the AB. When I bought my Paasche AB in the early 1990s, it did come with a pamphlet published by Paasche on how to operate and maintain it but I had to learn a lot about those brushes through simple trial and error.
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  12. DaveG

    DaveG Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    Yeah, that pamphlet they included was the exact same from the every early days, pre-30's as far as I can tell, and actually has been an aid in dating some of the brushes, as the illustrations on the pamphlet changed over the years - although the actual content remained just about the same. Both of my brushes came with it. Mid 40's to mid 90's not a single word is different, just the illustrations. For sure a tool that could have been taught from master to apprentice, so to speak. I saw them first in the mid 1980's... having now gotten more into learning the history, it is amazing how little they changed all the way back to the 1900's.
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  13. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Double Actioner

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    It would be interesting to see a modern manufacturer dust off the turbine airbrush concept and revamp it into an improved, modernized and more reliable product. It's unlikely; I don't think the market could support the R&D costs.
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  14. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    :D I can see that you and @DaveG are going to have many conversations. You both have extensive knowledge but I feel it fair to warn you that Dave probably has more airbrushes than the entire forum family combined.
    He's kind of our go to Technical Guy, sorry to spoil your fun Dave but it may save Electric Cat Dude some typing when he's trying to explain technicalities to you.

    @Electric Cat Dude , I am in no way trying to stop you from having an opinion / sharing an experience and the more of that we have here the better, I just thought you might like to know you are venturing into the territory of trying to teach your grandmother to suck eggs lol
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  15. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Double Actioner

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    Oh that’s fine. My intent in posting on this thread is to provide a collaborative knowledge well on the subject of these airbrushes, not some kind of condescending and limited instruction manual on their use. If DaveG or anybody else has good information to contribute to this discussion, that’s great. All I can do is pass on what I know on a subject. No less, no more.
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  16. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    you didn't com across as condescending at all, I was merely giving you a heads up :)
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  17. DaveG

    DaveG Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    Hahahaha, this post kind of made me really miss Squishy - she always had a way of putting things :eek: , but she would have used way more words. I hear ya about saving someone some time typing - the first thing I did when I saw the length of the post was to look at the amount of posts ECD had made - then I read the info - it is all good, solid stuff. I really think as others search for info after today, it will be a good resource.

    Electric Cat Dude, I am glad you made it here. I can tell you have experience, and I look forward to reading your future contributions!
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  18. Nessus

    Nessus Gravity Guru

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    It's something I've been curious about myself. From what little I can find, apparently oils spray really, really nicely. Flow characteristics make them handle really nice for fine detail spraying, the binder can survive a lot more reduction than acrylics, and the long drying time means they're basically like urethanes in terms of tip-dry and clean up. Downside is they're on the toxic side, so your respirator and ventilation game has to be good, and it takes anywhere from days to weeks for them to be try enough to touch. Long drying time means they are also more prone to spider webbing and similar issues, although that may just be a choice of reducer solvent thing. Also because of the long drying time, you have to be extra careful about the reducer reactivating the paint in previous colors/layers.
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  19. Cuchullain1900

    Cuchullain1900 Young Tutorling

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    Hi, thought I would join in on the conversation about using oils in the turbo as I've been using it this way after many years off and on airbrushing. BTW this is my first post in this forum after lurking for a long time. I jumped in because I am interested in the conversation.

    I too look around for info on the AB Turbo a lot of the time. It took me a while to find but there is some good tuning information online. In the end I would suggest to follow the manual Passche provides - an online search will bring it up quickly. It gives a clear guideline for how the airbrush works and how to get it in shape. It's a machine more like a car than anything else. Each part is dependant on the adjustment of the other part. I agree it is finicky but once it is set up I don't bother with it too much. There is one other website that discusses some specific tuning. Search "Rossman Art Paasche AB" for more detail. One of my brushes is set up along his advice. If the author is here and reading, thanks!

    The Jerry Lofaro video for using an AB is online (or was) at a different airbrush site. It's worth looking at but the manual and experimenting is truly enough. There is also a company that stocked parts for the AB and I have the info for it somewhere if anyone is interested. I bought all the extra parts I needed from them.

    To put it in context, I had been an IWATA boy for a long time. I have my original brush, the HP BC from 1984 when I was doing t-shirts, a crappy Eclipse and then added a Micron fiffteen years ago. But I love my Turbos. They are great with ink and watercolours and I find it good for me with oils. I think the standard thing with paint flow and the turbo is to have the paint flow like skim milk. More than that and you may as well spray water, less than that and you have problems.

    I've never enjoyed how acrylics and airbrushes work together and I've always liked the AB since I saw it in the mid 80s. You know when you just find your voice? That is the AB for me. Painting in oils just seemed like a fun challenge with a really good benefit added on. I can manipulate the paint and I can make it emulate the look of traditional oil painting. There is an element of control I enjoy. Now I have four ABs, three working in different ways and one of them a donor.

    I spent a long time finding the right oil mediums for what I wanted to do as I wasn't familiar with oils at all. I was a watercolour guy. I found Detail Liquin a good start to thin then go further with Gamsol as needed. The downside to these fluids is that they are petroleum distillates and I was spraying that into my air. I also wanted to do more traditional glazing approaches with resin varnishing between layers ala Maxfield Parrish and older painters and this was not going to work for me. I would absolutely recommend Liquin for anyone though. I settled on a combination of resin, stand oil and turpentine for medium (it's probably overkill but all my experimenting put me there). I've also diluted straight with turpentine or Gamsol and that can be good because it dries quicker but you can quickly go too far and wind up with powder laid down on the support - the oil binder disappears. Goes without saying that you need your mask on and have a fan to suck away spray.


    Having said all of the above, I will defer to the more experienced illustrators. It is true, the Micron and similar brushes will do almost all of what the AB does but there is just something about it that I love. It also does some really cool spackling that I haven't done with other brushes.

    I'm interested in what others have to say.
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  20. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Double Actioner

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    Excellent! You are one of the few enterprising souls left driving the turbo airbrush. I only own one and went through a lot of the frustrations you describe. You’re right - once they are tuned up they work really well. And I really like the extreme control for fine work; you can almost use it like a pencil to draw lines or add fine details, then switch back to being an airbrush, etc. I just don’t think the average artist had the technical knowledge and patience to put up with the Paasche AB in order to really use it well. I remember that being Andrea Mistretta’s disposition on that airbrush.

    I always felt more like a tattoo gun. Still....
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