I really didn't need another airbrush. But there was this old style Badger 200 at a price I couldn't resist. It is in excellent condition, and even came with a head wrench and the original manual. It's a pretty thing with its blue anodized aluminum handle.
One reason I wanted it is that it has the same medium tip and regulator as used on the 100 and 150 Badger airbrushes. The newer version of the 200, the 200NH, has the same tip and regulator as the 155, 175, and Patriot models. So this gave me a way to try out the different style nozzle.
Here is what it looks like disassembled. Notice the white Teflon gasket on the head.
There were a couple of things I liked right off. For one, the 200 is lighter than the 155 or Patriot. The 200 weighs 61 gr. versus 78 gr. for the 155. That may not seem like much, but it is about 20% less and it is noticeable. Some may prefer a heavier airbrush, but I like the lighter feel. The other thing is that when your finger is on the trigger, it is only about 1 1/4 inches from the end of the nozzle. With the 155 or Patriot, it is about 2 inches. And, since there is no cup on top, it is very easy to see where your paint will go.
Note: for detailed instructions for setting up the needle adjustment, see my review of the 200NH.
The needle looked OK except for some discoloration or tarnish. So I cleaned it up with a little plastic polish and a paper towel and I was ready to go. I compared it with the Patriot needle, and it is almost the same but with a slightly longer taper. I put some black ink in a paint cup and did some doodles on a paper towel. Air pressure was set to 20 psi.
I was very impressed. The knob on the back gave very fine control over paint volume and was very easy to set. It was a pleasure to use. As I wrote earlier, this is with the medium tip, part number 50-0392.. I measured its diameter and it is 0.020 inches or about .5mm, the same as the Patriot tip. There is a finer tip available, but I don't know why you would need it.
The only thing I didn't care for was the tip design. It looks like it would be a little more trouble to clean. A twisted corner of a paper towel wouldn't do it. I'll have to check out those inter-dental brushes.
The tiny brass tip is removable, but there is no flat or special wrench like on some airbrushes, so you would have to use pliers, and this is something I wouldn't want to try. But, you should never have to, since the head that it mounts in is removable for cleaning. On some airbrushes, this little part must be removed, and it is very easy to over tighten and strip or break off. The entire head and tip can be replaced as one spare part. Also, with this head, there is a small Teflon gasket to keep track of. But I don't consider that a big thing.
As I wrote above, the same tip is used on the model 100 and 150 Badger brushes. So I expect the spray characteristics would be the same. Which is good, and probably why many users seem very happy with these models.
So, to sum it up, I really like this brush. A lot of times on modeling forums, people are advised that they should really get a dual action airbrush. Well, the main thing a dual action gives you is the ability to change spray pattern on the fly. This is nice, but how many times do you really need to do that when painting a model? There's no doubt in my mind that a single action is easier to use. And, one like the 200 is certainly capable of producing nice work.
I was in my local drugstore, so I checked out the inter-dental brushes. they had two types, one with a wire core and bristles, and one all plastic. I didn't think the ones with the wire core were small enough to fit in the nozzle tip, so I bought a package of the plastic ones. They came to a smaller point. I knew that the plastic might not stand up to lacquer thinner, but I took a gamble. Well, I lost. They melt in lacquer thinner and even in mineral spirits. So I guess I will use them for their intended purpose. If you use acrylic paints and milder thinners, they might be OK. But they don't really reach all the way to to tip of the nozzle.
Then I did something dumb. I ran dental floss through the nozzle. The only problem was that it is waxed dental floss. So now I had a bunch of wax flakes inside the nozzle. I used a couple of the dental picks dry and got most of the flakes out, but I could still see a couple by holding the nozzle up to the window and looking through it with a hand magnifier. I tried squirting lacquer thinner through it from an eye dropper and I think I got them all. The best solution I have come up with for cleaning is this:
The aquarium tubing allows me to really give the tip a good flushing. If there are any Badger 100, 150, or old style 200 owners out there with something better, please let me know.
Greg Bale sent me this tip. For his 200, he made tissue paper thread to clean the tip. He cut or tore strips of Kleenex about 1/8 inch wide. Then he separated them into single layers of tissue. Then he would roll one end between his thumb and forefinger until it resembled thread. I found this is easier to do if you moisten your finger a little. You can run this from the back end of the tip until it sticks out the front. Add a drop or two of lacquer thinner and gently work the tissue to wipe the inside of the tip clean.
Terry Yamada informed me that Badger makes a tool to clean these tips. It's called a 3 corner reamer and it's part number 50-061. He also says that Micro Mark sells a set of brushes that work well for tips and other narrow passages. You can see it here. He also says the little brass tip is not hard to unscrew. He has used a drill chuck to do it by grasping the bottom part.
My thanks to Greg and Terry for their inputs.
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