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Something fun... old T&C Airbrush showed up today

Discussion in 'Airbrushes' started by Kim McCann, Jul 29, 2020.


  1. Kim McCann

    Kim McCann Needle-chuck Ninja

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    As well as doing airbrush art, I collect vintage airbrushes. I have nowhere near the astounding collection of @DaveG, but I still have a passion for restoring them, playing with them and displaying them proudly among their great-great grandchildren.

    I've had a couple of recent finds that were pretty great, but this one put a big old smile on my face. It came from an estate sale. The person selling having no idea what it was, so I got it for $22. Original packaging, serial sheet, manual, and case. All in excellent (if somewhat yellowed with age) condition.

    Based on the serial and the make number stamped on the metal behind the trigger, it looks like this is from sometime between 1933 and 1943. The seller thought it was 1930s, but I suspect that the make number stamped on it and the style of the handle place it a bit later than that. The bakelite handle is a bit delicate having shrunk a bit with age, but still retains most of it's shine, and mechanically it checks out brilliantly.

    Some mild corrosion on the needle where it was exposed to air in the bottom of the cup, but nothing that I can't clean off with the ultrasonic and polish out.

    Going to test it out later once I figure out how to adapt it to a modern compressor. Very odd thread count on the air valve, and nothing I have quite fits. That won't be too hard to sort out.

    For $22, this was an amazing find.

    :)

    20200728_164623.jpg 20200728_164724.jpg
  2. Franc Kaiser

    Franc Kaiser Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    Wow what a great find! Looking forward to hearing your experience with a nearly 100year old brush.
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  3. DaveG

    DaveG Airbush Analyst Very Likeable!

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    I love these brushes! I have picked up a few that came with all documentation, case, and outer box, too - sweet when they are that complete. Most of mine work very well. Some needed cleaning, and a little restoration work, but the vast majority have worked almost from the get go. I picked up one that came with a piece of paper that describes the aluminum replacement handle for that resin handle - it was available for something like $1.00. I think they are something closer akin to cellulose acetate rather than bakelite - and yes, they do tend to shrink with age. I have a couple from the 1920's, but only one of the handles is still in good enough condition to use on a brush.

    Congrats, and Enjoy it!
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  4. Kim McCann

    Kim McCann Needle-chuck Ninja

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    Actually, on closer examination, the handle is what appears to be a light brass, but then dipped in resin / bakelite. I had to clean off some old oxidization with deox to see it, the metal having gone black over the years to match the handle. It fits snug enough for use if I screw it all the way in, but I might still put in some teflon tape to make it just a bit tighter.

    I'm also amazed that the velvet and satin in the case has stood up all these years. Double checked my source, and it looks like this is from 1933, so that's 87 years of holding up well. Holy crap these things were made well! It helps of course that it seems to have been stored in a cold dry locker for decades in it's original retail box. So a lot of air or moisture never got to it.

    The needle needed a tiny bit of TLC, having some oxidization near the midpoint where it traveled through the trigger, and a bit of a polish, but after tracking down some adapters for my air hose, and trying a drop of india ink, it sprays like a dream. Gonna have to play with it a bit to tune it up the way I like it for fine lines, but considering the age.... amazing bit of kit. Such a stroke of luck to find it.

    If you've got ones from the 20s, do they have that sort of odd thin then thick handle on them and the cylindrical instead of conical cup? I'd love to see any photos from your collection to compare and see what changed over that 10 year stretch.

    I am deeply jealous of your amazing collection. Hahahaha. ;)
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  5. DaveG

    DaveG Airbush Analyst Very Likeable!

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    I will have to sort through some pictures to get the TC's separated out - this photo is representative of production from a job house in Chicago that produced parts for at least 3 of the 5 makers in the area (left to right - Badger, Thayer Chandler, Binks). The center group is Thayer Chandler model A's with the bottom being from the early 1920's. It originally had a flat backed straight handle that was replaced/upgraded by the original owner. There is roughly a 10 year span of production between each of the TC's as you come up the row. The body blanks for each brush pictured were a common part, along with many of the jigs and fixtures used to machine them. The way I have them arranged is approximately when they came into production in terms of a timeline compared to production of the others. As you work your way up the timeline, the brushes that started to branch off the line seem to have picked up where/when there was a change in production in the Model A.

    badger family portrait.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
  6. Kim McCann

    Kim McCann Needle-chuck Ninja

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    Beautiful collection!

    One question... I had to do a makeshift air hose with a clamp, as the T&C thread count doesn't seem to quite match anything I have on hand. The closest is a Badger hose terminator, but it seems not quite right. You wouldn't happen to know the specs of the hose terminator these used, would you?
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  7. DaveG

    DaveG Airbush Analyst Very Likeable!

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    The TC's are m5X.5mm, same as Badger. Back in the day they cut to fit, rather than "go no-go" gauge, so sometimes they can be a little on the large size.
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  8. Kim McCann

    Kim McCann Needle-chuck Ninja

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    Thanks. I'll try another badger coupler. Mine might just be old or damaged. I've had it in a drawer for 15 years. LOL

    Sent from my SM-N920W8 using Tapatalk
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  9. SiRoxx

    SiRoxx Party Boy UK Style Staff Member Mod Very Likeable!

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    Congrats on the find Kim! That looks fantastic. And thanks for sharing too, it’s always good to see these photos and the discussion they promote.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  10. DaveG

    DaveG Airbush Analyst Very Likeable!

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    I looked through some of my TC's this morning. I would question the age associated with that serial number. Brushes from the 30's, especially the early 30's would have had a straight handle with round back (resin), and tended to come in a case that closed with a snap in front. The first clam shell case I have been able to find was a 50th anniversary edition (mid to late 1930's). It is a black case, slimmer from front to back than the later red ones. Early 40's had the tear drop back handle, like yours - in resin. Red cases introduced in the 40's some time... The upgraded handles are aluminum with a gloss black finish. Pretty sure that happened post WW2. By the 60's the handle was slim, and tapered.

    I have one in original box, in case, that came with the original sales receipt that is close to yours in serial number, The receipt is dated 1957. This only indicates the year it was purchased, not made. I estimate the brush to be from the late 1940's.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
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  11. Kim McCann

    Kim McCann Needle-chuck Ninja

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    Thanks Dave! That's amazing info. That's actually what I originally thought, based on T&C catalogs from the era. The seller seemed to think otherwise, but I trust your assessment far more. Also, there is something very 1940s about the typeface, kerning and spacing in the lettering on the box and in the manual, and bleed on the images. It looks like it rolled off a Miehle and they weren't around really until 1939 (I also sort of dabble in old drafting and printing equipment - got stuff handed down by my grandfather and still pick up pieces to this day - probably why I became an artist).
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  12. DaveG

    DaveG Airbush Analyst Very Likeable!

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    Pretty sure the cases and boxes were provided by the Ideal Case Company. They made the cases for (I think) 4 out of the 5 US makers of the period. There are a few things not there that could perhaps help better date the brush.... the head cover is from a more modern brush (60's or newer?), as the older ones where metal, with a slot that would lock around the color cup feed tube. They tended to scuff the body pretty good... Also, the brush holder, and screws that would have come with it, along with a hose barb (quick connect of the day) and a sleeve that would have finished the hose off. Those parts tended to get left on the hose, and are easily left out of a case.

    Whatever the date, the brushes from this approximate period tended to work really, really well. Super fine atomization, for really smooth blending and shading. Play with that adjustable regulator head when you do try the brush, to tune your spray pattern. Most seem to go something like - turn it all the way in, and then back it out 3 to 3 and half turns for starting point.

    You asked about color cups earlier - I have an older instruction sheet - with an illustration of the first generation of the Model A. It did not have a removable head base (brush body is pictured with green bakelite handle in this thread) - the color cup illustrated with this one is the cone shaped cup. I have several of the straight sided cups that came with purchases, the earliest one from a mid-30's brush. I have two sizes, small and larger - but, both hold more paint than the cone shaped cup.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
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  13. Kim McCann

    Kim McCann Needle-chuck Ninja

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    Yeah, the case cover was replaced. Apparently they lost the original cover. No fittings in the case. Probably still on the hose.

    My experiments yesterday had it atomizing ink like a champ, and without tuning I was able to pull reasonably fine lines. No spitting, no surging and no bubbles in the cup. Amazing performance considering the age. The machining on these old brushes is astounding.

    One annoyance... disassembled it for deep cleaning with soapy water in the ultrasonic.

    Getting the trigger lever that meets the chuck back in place was a gong show. Took me half an hour. The tolerances are so tight that unless you angle it perfectly with some needle pliers it just won't go in.

    Got it done tho, and know the trick for the next time.

    It was pretty funny tho. Was like a Mr Bean skit.

    Sent from my SM-N920W8 using Tapatalk
  14. DaveG

    DaveG Airbush Analyst Very Likeable!

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    oh, I have a small video on how i replace that auxiliary lever - I will see if I can find it (I am sure it is on my exploration page) - Put the trigger in, and then stick the lever on a toothpick. Should fit pretty snug on a toothpick, and then place it in the brush from the back. Get it in position with the toothpick, and then use a finger on your other hand to pinch the upper stem against the trigger, and pull the toothpick out. Lean the brush forward, and put the spring retainer and chuck in the brush. Takes like ten seconds ;)


    Don't know if you have a Wold yet, but their build quality puts the TC to shame. They are truly amazing works of art. Harder to find one that works as well as most TC's I have picked up. I think the Wolds were used harder,and more frequently than the TC's, with less upkeep. OC Wold developed the bulk of the Model A for TC, so they are very similar. When you get one that has a good nozzle, they are phenomenal.

    wold a2 orange handle1.jpg
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  15. Kim McCann

    Kim McCann Needle-chuck Ninja

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    Wow... great minds... that's kinda what I finally did. I used a bamboo skewer from the kitchen tho. It fit tight and I put it in from the back. I gave up on the needle pliers after 20 attempts and even tried blue tack on a stick. The bamboo skewer worked first time. :)

    I haven't come across a Wold in anything resembling workable condition yet. I'd love to find one.

    Currently restoring a very old AB Turbo with the green handle. Date uncertain.

    If you ever see a wold that you don't want, let me know. :)

    Sent from my SM-N920W8 using Tapatalk
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  16. jord001

    jord001 Air-Valve Autobot!

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    They are such nice airbrushes, the action on them is lovely.

    Lee
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