Ready for Something New


Mr. Magoo

I don't know whether its just me, or whether the two AB's I have are the source of my problem, which is VERY rapid clogging. Not tip drying, but internally on the needle and/or seat (tip). No matter what I do in the way of cleaning, paint or additives changes the fact that I cannot go for more than a few minutes b4 they clog up and start spitting and splatting -- like shooting out blobs when I release trigger, sprays paint w/o pulling back on trigger.

Virtually every time I touch the trigger I simply cannot know how its going to react. It never does the same thing when using identical trigger actions.

The Badger Sotar I can understand why that extremely fine toleranced AB clogs quickly. But my $25 el cheapo is a different matter, being on the opposite and of the tolerance/fineness spectrum. For a gun so cheap, it performs surprisingly close to the Sotar.

I'm at the point now where the only option I can think of is to try another AB. The two I originally chose were intended as an experiment anyway as I didn't expect either of them to fill the bill, but rather serve as a guide toward making a final purchase. I don't hear of anyone else complaining of my problem, so maybe its time to upgrade. Badger and Iwata are the two most popular brands here, but each of those mfgrs offer a ridiculous number of different models -- Iwata with its alphabet soup of model names and badger with its double-named models (such as Renegade Krome, or some such). Are there really any major differences between 30 different model names?

My requirements at this point are simple and few: I want a gravity cup with a cap that screws on and doesn't fall off (I'm constant forgetting about having an open cup in my hand and pouring paint all over everything) and a brush that is general purpose and which I don't have to clean every five minutes. My work tends more toward fine detail while the AB's I have can handle the larger scale paint work.
Sorry to say this but I have yet seen a cap that screws on , as far as your clogging problem that is more learning the paint systems and area you live in interaction on forming the tip dry , I get more tip dry from HOK white than Createx illustration white. is that the airbrushes fault , the paint fault or my fault. I blame me and the paint or the reduction of the paint due to an airbrush does what it is suppose to.
same thing can be found in sprayguns as well , Wrong reduction or to heavy of pigment in the paint you pick can make headache and heart ache.

I always stress pick one paint brand to start out with and learn the paint. see what colors need what reduction and at what PSI they perform best at.
Take notes on each color as you do your test. Granted the pros have been at it so long they make it look easy but that is all from hard work practice and taking lots of notes .
I have to agree with Micron , it is not the airbrush that causes the problems but the paint and the pressure . I am a strong believer in knowing all about the paint you use not just how much do you need to reduce it and what you need to reduce it but also witch pigments are used or if there are solvents in the paint and how much solvents are in it .
My requirements at this point are simple and few: I want a gravity cup with a cap that screws on and doesn't fall off (I'm constant forgetting about having an open cup in my hand and pouring paint all over everything) and a brush that is general purpose and which I don't have to clean every five minutes. My work tends more toward fine detail while the AB's I have can handle the larger scale paint work.

If you find that brush let me know... I want one :p

As was indicated, I don't know if a detail brush with a screwcap exists. I'm sure that all the "default" detail brushes don't have one so if you insist on it you'll probably have to resort to some obscure airbrush.

For the fine detail work you will probably want an airbrush with a smaller nozzle size (0.2 or less). In my experience the smaller the nozzle the more sensetive your airbrush will be to clogging etc. This meaning that most detail brushes will requier you keeping them clean. I don't mean you have to take them appart all the time but flushing them with water or cleaner at regular intervals (I tend to flush every 15-20 minutes) will avoid a lot of troubles.

As to what brush to get it would be helpfull to have an indication at what price range you are looking (if money is not an issue I'd say get an Iwata CM-SB :) )

As for the clogging, what paint do you use and what do you reduce with? Some waterbased paints (like createx illustration) contain solvents and will become "gummy" after a while when reduced with water (causing a lot of clogging)
i had issues with the paint in my sotar, i really like the brush so changed paints. i went back to solvents.. the sotar for me hated anthing createx wise. i tried the full range and had nothing but hassle. i work with inspire now and use inspire solvent clean with regular thinners and have no hassel what so ever works all day long for me its my workhorse brush now.
I hope you find your happy point soon. That has to be a total bummer. Although, I do have to say, not all of my ab guns behave everyday. And it turns out, its just me...or they are filthy lol. But thats just me. Somedays I have no problems switching from a Badger, to an Iwata...then the other days....I completely suck. But, I only spray Createx products.
That sound you hear is me strangling on all the above answers. If what Micron sez is true, I've got years of trial and error ahead before I get even reasonably proficient. I guess that explains the incredible inconsistency of results that I get as I am not at all consistent with how I handle the paint.

QUESTION #1: At the moment I'm using the dining room table as my studio and to clean A.B.s I go back and forth to the kitchen sink. With that kind of time consumption, I'm getting nowhere fast. How/where do you all do your cleaning?

As for the Sotar, I still haven't figgered out how to clean the ______ (the tiny part the needle seats in) Can't even pick it up with my fingers yet alone effectively clean it. Its the smallest size Badger makes.

QUESTION #2: As for dealing with paints, would you recommend that I purchase and use only the cleaning/thinning/ reducing products sold by the mfgr. and not do "one type fits all."? I'm using Pledge now so maybe that's part of the problem. As I said, its not tip drying that vexes me as I can see that when it occurs. Its when the AB acts up when the tip is clean, but gummed up internally that demands a trip to the kitchen.
Last edited by a moderator:
If it's spraying paint without you pulling the trigger you have a blockage!
What paint are you currently using, I know you were thinking of getting the Etac, did you get it? I can use that literally straight from the bottle with a .18.
Pledge isn't for use with airbrush paint, last I checked it was for polishing!
Use water for reducing the Etac and water for cleaning your brush.
If you've listened to previous advice in your other 'frustration' threads you will have bought some createx restorer which is reusable so therefore economical and fantastic for doing total tear down cleans on brushes. You are having so many issues I would stick the createx paints in a cupboard until you get the hang of the airbrush and simple paints like Etac.
As has been said, you're throwing way to many variables into the mix to be able to resolve your issues.
Give your brush a full thorough clean,( and I don't recommend doing it over a kitchen sink) then pick up some Etac PS OR Etac and start from scratch.

All else fails hand your brushes to someone with experience and see if they have the same issues, that way you can see if it's the brushes or operator error.
Always use the recommended reducer for whatever brand you use. I would definitely ditch the pledge. There are a couple of reasons your gun could be blocking 1 - and I'm sure not likely, it is not AB specific paint and the pigment is too big. 2 - and is the most common for newbies, the nozzle isn't clean. It can seem clean, you can spray paint through for a short time even, but it will clag again or spray pattern will be affacted. If it feels spongy when you put the needle in, you are having to use more pressure, or pull back farther, or have bubbles in the cup, then you have a blockage and your needle wont seat properly. 3 - if your paint is old or not stored properly it may have gone off. 4 Your needle is damaged or your nozzle is damaged or flared, or a seal etc has failed.
Blocking and cleaning is not an issue when you have your paint reduer and air pressure dialed in a simple wipe of the cup, backflush, dump and then spraythrough is sufficient. Soaking your nozzle in restorer should help in the meantime.
Last edited:
I'll third what's been said above. The stuff in your OP about paint coming out before you even pull the trigger back says "gunk stuck to the inside of the nozzle" to me. Also I agree to ditch the pledge for cleaning. Who knows what's in that stuff (it's for cleaning/dusting furniture IIRC, so it's probably designed to leave a film instead of rinsing clean. Besides that, many paints can have bad reactions (like gumming up) if they come in contact with the wrong chemicals, so until you have an understanding of the different paint chemistries and their common quirks, it's best to play it as safe as possible: reduce and clean only with the manufacturer's recommended products/solvents.

As far as cleaning goes, ditch the sink altogether. You shouldn't need that much water. You just need a cup or dish and a bottle of purified/distilled water (tap water has particulates and impurities that may contaminate the brush), as well as an empty bottle (or one of those cleaning station pots) to spray into. If flushing the brush with water a couple times and rotating the needle doesn't clear the blockage, then you'll just want to take the tip apart and clean it right there.

Keep your cleaning stuff in the same area as your work. I use a little plastic snack tray about the size of a plate to hold parts and the like when cleaning. My cleaning tools are nylon interdontal brushes from the dollar store, q-tips, some round wood toothpicks whittled to a needle-taper, a x70 pocket magnifier, some disposable plastic pipettes/droppers, and a roll of blue shop paper towels. If I think I've got some schmutz inside the nozzle that flushing won't shift, I remove the nozzle, dip one of the toothpicks in solvent, gently scrape out the inside of the nozzle, then use the magnifier to visually check the nozzle and needle tip.

Removing the SOTAR's nozzle for cleaning will be necessary from time to time, so it's a good idea to learn how. It is tiny, but once you know how to handle it, it's easy. I was nervous about it too the first time I disassembled mine, but it's easy to develop a safe system. I usually pull the needle back so the tip is fully clear of the back of the nozzle, then, with the airbrush held right above the surface of my tray, pinch the nozzle between thumb and forefinger and gently lever it to the side. It usually pops right right out and drops into the tray with no pressure, but if you've never removed yours before, it might be stuck, in which case sticking it in some hot water first might help. If it doesn't pop free with minimal pressure, don't push harder, just soak it some more, or maybe try soaking in solvent or restorer instead of hot water.

Since this'll be your first time cleaning the nozzle, do what Squishy and JackEB say and soak it for a while in restorer to clean it. If you don't have any restorer, use first aid rubbing alcohol (90% isopropyl), or acetone. DO NOT soak in anything ammonia based (like Windex), or vinegar (acetic acid) based, or citric acid based, as this will degrade the metal. After the nozzle has soaked for a few hours, it should blow/flush clean once reassembled.

To replace the nozzle, push the needle forward so it sticks out beyond where it would normally be, and tighten the needle chuck just enough so that the needle still slides through it with minimal force, but will stay where it is if you don't touch it. Point the brush tip upward, pick up the nozzle by pinching it, and thread the needle into it. Just let it drop on: the needle will guide itself in safely as long as you get it in the hole. You should now have the tiny nozzle resting on the tip of the extended needle. Now take the hold down ring, and thread it over the nozzle and needle, and push it down so the needle slides down and the nozzle seats. Screw the hold down ring, then tighten the needle chuck, and voila: everything is reassembled in perfect alignment.

You're thinking "but that nozzle is so tiny, I don't think I can do that". But you can! You don't have to actually handle the nozzle itself with any kind of dexterity. As long as you can see where the back hole is while you've got it crudely pinched between your fingers, you only need to maneuver the needle, not the nozzle. And once it's on the needle, the needle and the hold down ring will do all the rest for you. Same goes for the toothpick cleaning thing mentioned above: you don't need to hold or control the nozzle precisely, only the toothpick.
Last edited:
Pledge is no longer a furniture polish, now its a clear acrylic wood floor polish and is used to extend drying times and thus reduce tip dry time. Seems to work for me. Its not a reducer or thinner by any means, but actually an extender if I understand the term correctly. The two main paint sets I have are Etac and Wicked and I would have to agree that Sotar works best with Etac. The descriptions off Etac additives I find vague and confusing, Such as Condition-Air that they describe as a miracle cure for whatever ails ya. Just add 3-5 drops per ounce of paint. Per Ounce??? (What? Am I painting a barn?) Whereas Createx is much more exacting with descriptions, for whatever little benefit that is.

I also bought just a couple of several other brands just for testing purposes; Thing is, if I don't test with exacting scientific methodology, its a waste of time not controlling the variables. All this is turning airbrushing into something I hadn't bargained for.

If I have to choose just one, I'd go with Etac. Okay, so I've done that, cleaned by soaking the paint tip in acetone for 2 hours and tested again. Got a finer line BUT I still got tiny splats at the start and ends of each line. Using Etac and Wicked paints thinned 1:1 the results were identical and neither produced any tip dry during this brief test.

Etac paint is clearly different than the others for it is much less opaque and doesn't cover as well, tending to look more like a transparent. Based on this, I'm not going to scrap the Wicked paints after all. I have to conclude that there is something wrong with my Sotar which is the second one I've had, the first being defective also and replaced by Badger. Time to stop wasting time and try something else. Is there some reason nearly everyone here is using Iwata?
Ah, I still think of that stuff as "Future" rather than "Pledge". It's been renamed a silly number of times over the last decade, almost like they're deliberately trying to shake off customers. "Pledge" isn't a specific product, but a brand name for a line of polishing products, which includes the acrylic floor polish stuff that used to be "Future".

I've used it as an extender myself, but I have noticed that how it behaves as an extender varies between different brands of paint. Some paints it works really well with, others it causes coagulation and clogging with. "Acrylic" is sort of a blanket term, with different acrylic paints using different chemical variations with different behaviors and sometimes compatibilities. Usually you can be pretty confident of a lot of things, but there's sometimes odd exceptions and so you can't really be sure without testing.

But also extending and thinning/reducing don't have the same effect. Extending will turn an opaque paint transparent, or change the gloss/matt value, but it won't help the paint spray that much better. Thinning/reducing with a solvent reduces viscosity & surface tension, and increases volatility, which is what you need if your paint isn't spraying properly.

The SOTAR specifically has a very fine nozzle/needle, and so really needs paint to be solvent-thinned more than many other brushes. Even stuff that's explicitly formulated for airbrushing without thinning needs to be thinned to spray well with the SOTAR. Even with paints that play nice with Future/Pledge, extending with that stuff won't help sprayabilty with the SOTAR that much; you need to use solvent instead.

Try doing some tests only thinning with distilled water, no extenders, and see if you get fewer clogs. If you get fewer clogs, then you know the Pledge/Future is causing problems, and switching to the manufacturer's recommended thinner will fix your problem.

Iwata gets a lot of use and recommends because they're very well made, even the less expensive ones (everything from the "Revolution" line up). They have very consistent and clean machining and plating, and their designs are K.I.S.S. and tanky. They're reliable, durable, and simple to maintain. The "Eclipse" line is basically the perfect beginners AB.

I have two SOTARs (a regular top feed, and a side feed), and while they work well for me, I'm not surprised if some people get bad ones. Badger's build quality in my experience is sort of Kalashnikov-ish, in that they don't really bother with precision or finishing outside of the very specific areas where it's needed. Lets them produce brushes that spray well for a lot less money I expect, but I'd also expect it makes it easier for bad brushes to sneak past QC inspection.

My side-feed SOTAR is my most comfortable brush to hold and use, and can do fine lines more crisply than my Eclipse, but the Eclipse is the one I'd recommend to someone who wanted a worry-free all-around brush. TBH, I'd recommend the Eclipse over the regular top-feed SOTAR in general: the Eclipse can do 95% of what the SOTAR can, and is easier to use and maintain. The side-feed SOTAR model is IMO worth it as a freehand detail brush, as it's ergonomics are quite different, but the regular SOTAR has too much utility overlap relative to the added thinning/cleaning fusses.
It occurs to me that tip size probably had a lot to do with rate of clogging though I don't hear of everyone using0.18 - 0.20 nozzles complaining about it. Would I be better off with an Eclipse 0.35 over an HP-AH at 0.20 tip? Near as I can tell Iwata doesn't offer changeable tip sizes.

My Sotar is 0.18 and I am simply unable to make this AB work properly after months of trying and I don't want to buy back into the same problem again. I'm thinking: sacrifice finer lines for greater reliability with a bigger nozzle.
Arguing that Pledge is no longer a furniture polish, now its a clear acrylic wood floor polish is being pedantic. Its not designed for use with airbrush paints. period, I know some use it with solvent paints, but etac and wicked are not solvent paints. I'm not surprised your paint has been clogging.
Pledge is often used model car airbrushers who aren't trying to achieve photorealistic artwork they are trying to replicate paintwork on a car, a huge difference in requirements between that and fine art.

you still sound misinformed. yes, Condition-air is an additive that you can use if you so wish to, you do not HAVE to. and when they refer to a couple of drops per ounce, they mean a couple of drops into an ounce of WATER, not paint. You simply get an empty 20z bottle, throw some drops in there and top it up with water, pop the lid on and give it a shake and voila, there is your additive, ready to put into your paint. one or two drops in a c cup is sufficient.
I've never used anything apart from bottled water with the Etac, never had an issue, and it gets as hot and humid here as it would in Florida.
soaking in acetone will destroy the metal in time, use a recommended cleaner for what ever paint you are using. (water in the case of the Etac) and use some interdental brushes to get inside the nozzle.

The 'splats' that you experience at the beginning and end of each line is lack of trigger control, you're not applying air before triggering the paint- that's what gives you the splat at the beginning, at the end you are shutting off the air before triggering off the paint, which gives you the splat at the end. It all comes down to practice.

There are many here who you Badgers and Sotars and I doubt very much that you have 3 defective brushes (as you've already had one changed out as 'defective' and are claiming the replacement and the 3rd brush are all defective )

you are overcomplicating the entire process.
pick a paint, use the recommended reducer if you need to, (not something that has been suggested on the internet), grab a clean brush and practice techniques, and practise technique and practise some more.

You already have the art background so that is a huge bonus a lot of us do not have
You are trying to learn a new tool. Start with what the manufacturer recommends. you can play around with 'pledge' theories in a few years once you have the correct theories nailed down consistently. you are currently trying to fix something that isn't broken.

It occurs to me that tip size probably had a lot to do with rate of clogging though I don't hear of everyone using0.18 - 0.20 nozzles complaining about it. Would I be better off with an Eclipse 0.35 over an HP-AH at 0.20 tip?

you obvious don't read all the posts.... I use a .18 micron, I use Etac straight from the bottle, no reducers / water / condition air..... NOTHING. no clogs no issues....
I believe you, Nessus on the Eclipse vs Badger as I have a cheap Chinese knock-off that does remarkably well. Our messages crossed in the posting so I din't see yours at first. Yes, indeed, I am thinking the very same thing about Badger as they replaced my first Sotar no questions asked. I am giving up on this one too as I just don't have the time to invest in it any longer. Its cheaper to me to just buy something else and THEN, if I can't make that work, well then, we will know who to blame won't we? The Eclipse comes with only a 0.35 mm nozzle so I suspect it IS trouble-free. I use 0.100 spray guns every day and I clean them perhaps once-a-month (spraying water-based acrylic). Lots of tip dry but never clogged needles.
condition air is used in combination with water as in 2 drops in one ounce water before you add a drop of that mix to your paint to prevent tip dry is real warm and dry conditions I only use it when the temp in my studio goes over 30 degrees C , etac paints work best with plain water to thin it down but it only needs 1 drop water to 4 drops paint max 1:1 is way to much for etac paints . I never thin my etac paint it goes straight from the bottle in my 0.18 micron without a problem
Well splats at the beginning and end of a stroke are classic dirty nozzle signs. Not trying to say you haven't cleaned it, but even now on the rare occasion I need to clean it, when I think its clean, that's when I clean it again. And I'm often glad I did. If you are 100% sure its clean though, then it may be damaged, or flared which can be very hard to see.

I still say ditch the pledge, it may help with extending paint, but it doesn't seem to be helping with flow. I don't use E'tac so cant help you with the additives (someone will though I'm sure) however, I use Wicked for every kind of ABing, and read all sorts of posts regarding home brews, alternative products etc. At the end of the day though nothing beats the W500 reducer. At the right ratio it has amazing flow, minimal to no tip dry, better surface tension for hard surfaces, quick drying, tough cure. Why have the headache of using other things when this is perfect. Also after cleaning the gun, a squirt of W500 through ensures you're good to go next time, no need for other cleaning products. Never reduce Wicked with water, it doesn't make it happy lol. Buying W500 is another expense and a bit of a pain, but actually buying it in large bottles works out way cheaper in the long run, and you use very little at a time so it really doesn't cost much at all.
You can reduce E'tac with water and some people prefer it for that reason. I tried a sample and reduced it with the W500 and it worked even better. But Wicked is more suitable for what I do and a lot cheaper for me.
I am all for Iwata, IMO you cant beat them fir quality and reliability. Many people love their badgers, the Krome is very popular, and they pride themselves on customer service. You might try sending the sotar off for trouble shooting, they will often refurb etc for free. But this does take some time, so you could be without it for a while.

Ok, major post crossing here lol, but if you want to try the Iwata hp-Cs you wont regret it. Its a lot of brush for the money. Had mine 3 1/2 years and will never be without it.
Last edited:
RE: Eclipse vs. HP-AH:

The Eclipse will give you easier maintenance due to the nozzle design, and a little more flexibility due to the larger color cup. My SOTAR produces cleaner lines and has a better trigger response curve for doing fine lines, but in terms of pure line width, the Eclipse can do lines just as fine, it just takes more trigger control and the lines are slightly "fuzzier".

I don't have any experience with the HP-AH, but I'd expect it has slightly better atomization and maybe trigger response than the Eclipse, at the cost of being a little more reduction sensitive and a little more complicated to clean due to the nozzle. The AH has a small screw-in nozzle about twice the size of the SOTAR nozzle, which the Eclipse has a drop-in pressure-fit nozzle which is large enough to easily handle.

The Eclipse will replace the functionality of both your SOTAR and your Chinese brush. The HP-AH is a detail brush will only replace the SOTAR.
Hi JackE. Well, if they meant ounce of water why the hell didn't they say that? It is appalling at how inconcise mfgrs. can be with directions that wreck the reputations of their products.