Here is another classic airbrush that I have been wanting to look at. Coast Airbrush sells the brush alone for $46.50, but the set with three sizes of needles and tips and other goodies is just $8.50 more. So, that's what I decided to get. Dave Monnig, the owner of Coast, gave me a break on the price, and I really appreciate it. Dave is a great guy, and his knowledge and enthusiasm for airbrushes is obvious when you talk to him. Be sure to check out his free videos on the Coast web site. They are well worth watching.
Here is what I got.
Under the hose, are the #1 and #5 tips and heads.
I hate to say this, but they were not good. The finish is nice enough, but when I tried to pull back on the trigger, it was stuck. So, I removed the handle and loosened the needle chuck. Now, the trigger moved freely, but the needle was still stuck. So, I figured I would pull the head off. But, it was impossible to do with the little wrench provided. It was frozen.
The three openings at the top are air passages. Three seem a bit of an overkill to me. But, what do I know?
I tried the #5 needle, tip and head and got the same results. So, the problem must be in the body.
So, what to do? I could probably return it to Coast. But, instead, I will try contacting Paasche.
I e-mailed Paasche and got a response the next day from Chuck saying to send the brush in and they would replace it. So, that's what I did.
Exactly 14 days later a package arrived from Paasche. I thought, great now I can try it out. When I opened the box and examined the brush I found IT WAS THE EXACT SAME AIRBRUSH. I recognized it from the mark I made on the air valve body when I tried to remove it. And, it had the exact same problems. They didn't even replace the scarred tip. Do you think I was unhappy? I fired off an e-mail to Chuck explaining my displeasure. The next day I got a response from Chuck. He said he didn't know how that happened, but he would send me a new airbrush free. I wrote back and thanked him. I guess screw-ups can happen anywhere. True to his word, a new airbrush arrived a few days later, and it looks good. So, although it cost me a few dollars to ship the bad airbrush, I ended up with a good one and a bunch of spare parts. By the way, I never told Chuck that I was doing a review.
Here it is
The VL looks very similar to the Badger 175 Crescendo. Here they are next to one another.
Both have fat bodies, with diameters within a few thousandths of each other. The needle protecting cap on the VL can be removed, exposing the needle for close work. The pop-off handle of the 175 might make cleaning of it a tiny bit quicker. The Paasche cup looks much like a Badger straight cup, and cups and bottles are interchangeable. The VL is lighter at 88g vs. 96g for the 175.
Here it is disassembled. The air valve casing is on tight, so I didn't remove it. It probably never needs to be removed anyway. The internal parts of the air valve are easy to remove with a small screwdriver, and you can adjust tension by a small amount.
The needle seal is Teflon, and like others I've seen of this type very sensitive to adjust. The handle has finer threads than the Badger 175, and takes a few more turns to remove. The tips measure about 0.5mm, 0.76mm, and 1.0mm, just like the 175. The head is similar to the 175, with no gaskets. But, it does require a wrench to tighten. The trigger assembly is like the Thayer & Chandlers, with the rocker permanently attached to the needle tube.
The needle limiter is clever. As you can see on the left, there is a little thumb wheel that moves a lever that holds the trigger back. It seems to be a pretty fine adjustment, and could be useful. On the right, you can see it disassembled. These are tiny parts that would be easy to lose and tricky to put back together You really should never have to take it apart.
Notice, the VL tip is already developing a mark where it meets the body. And, I have not over tightened it. This might be due to the difference between using a wrench and hand tightening. Or, it might be that the VL has a sharper edge on the body.
Another change to the trigger is that now the top is concave whereas the older version was domed shape with ridges.
The hose has rubber O-rings at both ends which should result in a good seal. It also smelled like the inside of a tire store, so it must be rubber. The Badger braided hose has no smell, and I expect it is some sort of plastic. The threads at the airbrush end are unique to Paasche. So, an adapter is needed if you want to use a different hose, or if you want to use the Paasche hose with a different airbrush.
Trying it out
The doodle on the right was done with food coloring on a paper towel. I used the thumb wheel trigger limiter. It works really well. Without it, my lines would not have been as fine or consistent. I left the head cap off for all 3 doodles so I could get closer.
The VL #3 uses a bit more air than the 175 medium. The opening around the tip is larger.
Here are doodles done with the #1 and #5 components.
The #5 is the first 1.0mm tip I have ever used. It is very sensitive. When you pull back a little, it will spray a LOT.
I sprayed ModelMaster enamel on some plastic with the #3 medium needle, and it went on nice and smooth with good control. The spray pattern was narrow enough that I think you would seldom need to switch to the #1 needle. And yet, it would cover a pretty large area too. It was very much like the 175. The thumb wheel limiter is a nice feature. Clean up was quick and easy.
Paasche is a fine old company with many fans, and it doesn't feel good to point out defects. If it had just been a stuck needle, I wouldn't have mentioned it. And, if the head was tight with no damage to the tip, I probably would have just said the head was tight and needed a wrench, and let it go. But, the brush was un-useable, and it would have been dishonest of me to ignore it. The box was factory sealed from a reputable dealer. I saw Dave take it from a stack of about 10 other boxes. It may have been the only bad one in the stack. Indeed, it may be the only bad one Paasche ever shipped for all I know. But, that's what I got. Sure, there was a mix-up on the return, but Paasche's response was excellent.
The VL is a good airbrush. It is comparable to the 175 which is also a good airbrush. The 175 medium configuration has better fine line control, but the thumb wheel somewhat compensates for this. I'm not a big fan of fat bodied airbrushes. But, if you prefer a larger airbrush, the VL can certainly do a nice job.
Home Next -- Paasche V