Badger Krome Review

As I write this, the Krome is Badger's newest airbrush, and they have generously sent me one to review.

The Renegade series of airbrushes has been well received, especially the gravity fed Velocity.  But, there were suggestions from users on how it could be made even better.  Badger took these to heart and developed the Krome, which is sort of a super Velocity.  Here is what I received.  The cap also fits the Patriot.  As you can see, I wasted no time putting a leather pad on the trigger.



I didn't get the fancy box, a manual, a 1/8" hose adapter or the extra needle, tip and spray regulator, but I'm sure not complaining. The Krome comes with fine and ultra fine needles, tips, and spray regulators.  I got the .22mm ultra fine setup.

First Impressions

The first thing I noticed was the color.  My other Badger brushes have a slight yellowish cast.  I asked Ken Schlotfeldt about this once, and he said it was because they were nickel chrome plated.  He said brushes like the Iwata were white chrome plated.  Well, this one must be white chrome.

Another thing that I believe is a first for Badger is the word Krome.  It looks like it was Laser etched.

The Krome looks like a cross between a Patriot and a Sotar.  The general shape and the cup are Patriot, and the front end, the plastic hand rest, and the needle limiter look like the Sotar.  One item that neither the Patriot nor the Sotar has is the adjustable needle seal. This looks like it might have come from the Omni.  The plastic hand rest is comfortable.  It can be removed with a set screw on the rear, and also fits other Badger airbrushes.  Like all my airbrushes, the spring in the air valve feels too stiff for me, and I will modify it. At first, I thought they gave me the wrong trigger.  It's not shiny chrome, but almost the same color as the Rage.  But, it turns out it has been treated with a special anti-friction finish, and so has the rocker.  Badger calls it Glydecoat.  Trigger action is very smooth.

The cap tends to fall off the cup if the brush is turned upside down.  But, I found that if a slight twisting pressure is used when installing it, it stays on.

Here is the Krome next to a Patriot.  Maybe you can see the slight difference in the chrome color.



Notice the difference in the distance between the cup and the trigger.  Like the Velocity, the Krome definitely has a longer nose. There is more room for your trigger finger.  Maybe that's to balance out the extra weight at the back.  It's fairly heavy, 109g with the cap on and 101g with it off. But, it's lighter than the 103g of the Rage with a cup.  The Patriot weighs just 87g.  

Rather than show all the pieces at once, I'll highlight the individual
parts.  First, here is the adjustable needle seal.  The seal itself is white Teflon.  I understand this was not the case in the early Velocitys and Spirits, and an upgrade is being offered.

I strongly advise you not to mess with this if you don't have to.  It is VERY sensitive to adjustment.  Just a slight touch changes needle drag from too loose to too tight.  A finer pitch on the threads might have helped.  On my brush, being just barely tightened worked.  A round toothpick helps to re-install it.





Here is the needle limiter.  It limits needle travel and gives a single action type of mode.  There is a mark engraved in the rear of the handle. The limiter has a numbered collar with a set screw as you can see on the right.  This allows you to calibrate it by tightening the limiter all the way down so the needle can't move, and then adjusting the numbered collar to zero. Be very careful if you do this.  It would be easy to damage the tiny tip from excess pressure.  The limiter has very fine threads, so moving one minor division of the collar results in a very small change in needle position. The numbers allow you to return to the same setting. The other Renegades also have limiters, but they lack the numbered collar.   Also, the limiter on the Velocity, Spirit, and Rage turns very easy.  This one has an internal O-ring that gives it a tighter feel like the focusing control of a pair of binoculars.


The trigger mechanism of the Krome is different from the other Renegades too.  Here is a comparison.



At the top is the Krome trigger assembly.  It is just like the one in the Patriot, Sotar, and Anthem.  Below it is the assembly used in the other Renegade models, which is the same as used in Thayer and Chandler brushes.  The top version is a little harder to install because of the loose rocker, but works just as well.  The threaded part next to the rocker is called the tube shank, and must be tightened all the way.  Notice that the rocker is not shiny due to the anti-friction coating.  The part just in front of the needle chuck is the tension adjust for the trigger.

Here is the head assembly.  It is identical to the other Renegades.
When fully assembled, the prongs on the spray regulator extend about 1/16 inch beyond the end of the needle.  I believe there is a spray regulator without the prongs, if you want to live dangerously.  Or, you could always file the prongs off.  I had to use pliers to get the regulator off the head.  

A lady on one of the airbrush forums who calls herself Bikergranny, compared the Renegade tip to a grain of rice.  Below is a picture of the tip next to a cooked rice grain.







The square is one inch on a side.

You have to be really careful not to lose this thing, and you'll get terrible bubbles in the cup if you do.

Notice there are no threads to strip or break off.






The needle has a very shallow taper and comes to a very sharp point.
On the right is the Krome needle at the top and the Rage needle below it.  The Krome needle is 3/4 inch longer than the Rage needle for some reason.  It doesn't need to be.  The Rage needle is long enough to work. Both needles are pre-polished.


The cup is the same as the Patriot cup and has the same good access for cleaning.


















Trying it out


So, the big question: How does it spray?  Well, the first thing I discovered was that the plastic hand rest wouldn't allow me to use my custom airbrush holder.  So, for right now, I removed it.  I'll figure out something for a holder later.

On the right is my usual doodle with green food coloring on paper towel.  
I used the needle limiter.  It worked really well.  I wish I had the skill to show what this airbrush can really do.  But, anything you have seen or heard about the Velocity is certainly true of this brush.

Probably like most airbrushes with an adjustable needle seal, there is a channel between the cup and the seal.  After flushing the airbrush well with water, I pulled the needle and it had green coloring on it.  I used an interdental brush to clean out the channel.  It came out really green.  It took a couple trys to get it clean.




I sprayed some yellow gloss ModelMaster enamel thinned with lacquer thinner on a plastic bottle.  As you might expect, it went on nice and smooth and control was very good.  I can't tell you what percentage of thinner.  The paint had thickened a bit and I just thinned until it looked right.  After flushing the brush with lacquer thinner, I pulled the needle, and it had yellow paint on it which I cleaned off.  So, I used the interdental brush to swab out the channel behind the cup with some thinner.  I didn't remove the head for cleaning.  I just flushed it out well with an eyedropper.  Afterwards, I examined the tip with a magnifier, and it was nice and clean.  So, it might be better to just leave the tip in place.

Conclusion

This is an excellent airbrush for an artist or someone who needs to do really small detail.  But, I personally feel it is overkill for most modelers.  The Krome is going to take more care because it's more delicate than something like the Patriot.  And, the fine tip means that thinning will be more critical and coverage will be thinner.  I would not recommend it for a first airbrush.  Because of its narrow spray pattern, it's not the best brush for putting a gloss coat on your 1:25 model car.   But, it's a great brush if you need what it does, and you could spend a lot more for something similar.  My guess is that its capabilities match the best of them.

I didn't get the fine needle, but I suspect it's the same as the Rage.  The Rage parts will fit and will give a little broader coverage, but still pretty fine.

Being used to the Patriot, the added weight and longer nose are noticeable, but not a serious drawback.

My sincere thanks to Ken Schlotfeldt and to Herman Robisch, Badger's chief Engineer, for the sample.


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