SOTAR 2020 A serious airbrush

tatocorvette

Mac-Valve Maestro!
Hello,

As a car guy, it is common in car conversation to say "that is more car than driver". Well, in the airbrush world, that is the case with me and the SOTAR 2020. It even felt intimidating at first.
The SOTAR (State Of The Art Results) was introduced in the mid 90's and Badger initially sold it as a separate "brand". Something like a Lexus to a Toyota. The idea was to make a really good airbrush that could stand shoulder to shoulder or beat the best out there (squarely aimed at Micron). It has a great reputation of been really good. Very precise and consistent, with almost telepathic reflexes. It has evolved over it's 30-ish years. The original (2020-1) had a beautiful A size cup, which eventually became just a cup-less design. Then they released a 2020-2 with a B size cup, which has also changed shape along the way. Recently, they released the SOTAR V which is a large size cup.
The SOTAR has 3 available setups: Fine (0.21mm) Medium (0.45) and Heavy (0.7)

My specimen:

I few months ago, I snatched a SOTAR 2020 2F (2=B cup/F=Fine setup) for a ridiculous low price. Fuzzy picture and the usual disclaimers AS-IS, no returns, barely used, yada, yada, yada.
So I took a gamble.

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Barely used my *****!
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Not only used but abused!
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The needle needed a good clean and had a small bent at the tip, typical of the "exposed needle syndrome"
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Fast forward a day or so, every part was carefully cleaned. The needle was polished and straightened manually. (I should really consider a sharpenair by now :) ).
The front cap is missing. The .21 nozzle was clogged with black goo.
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Everything went back together. Tested with the usual thinner and... OH MY! What a smooth, precise and soft trigger!
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Yup! This is more car than driver! I mean, more airbrush than this dummy user...

Thanks,
Ismael
 
Nice score, and wonderful refreshing. They can be fabulous brushes.

The asterisk on the body, in conjunction with the black head base (soldered onto the body) indicate this to be the latest version of the Sotar. Most notable will be the adjustable needle packing accessible from the back of the body with the guts removed. As I mentioned elsewhere, the original Sotar (purchased my first one in the mid 1990's) is probably my favorite of the modern era Badger brushes. Those first ones also had some of the best machining and build tolerances I have found from the brand. Just love them! I have done some crazy work with a Sotar - everything from 1/24th - 1/25th NASCAR model builds, to complete detailed real tree type camo jobs on high powered air rifles, and everything in between.

Sotar at work -
sotar work1.jpg
 
Great right up, i never knew any of that, the seperate brand idea, what the model numbers mean, that it was a micron competitor. Great info.

Great painting Dave and the added info on the sotar.
 
Thanks for the post, and deciphering the model numbers. I find Badger‘s nomenclature confusing, from their model numbers to their (actual) nozzle sizes from line to line.
 
I have read this a couple of times more now. I thoroughly enjoyed it each time.

I never nee the SOTAR was this old! Its a modern styled brush, I like it's curviness but the head and micro settings being angular are a little clumsy looking but forgivable. DaveG's with the smoothed heads look fantastic.

I also like the small nozzles in these which is what pushed me towards the velocity, the SOTAR holds it's value second hand which I assume is testament to it's capability and peoples liking for them. I started looking at them when I joined the forum not that long ago after reading one of kingpins threads I think it was.

I read quite a few reviews or posts on the web with complaints of clogging but I would have assumed that to be caused more by user naivety expecting a bit much of the small nozzle/needle they come with. With proper needle and nozzle combo and paint dilution I should imagine they are as versatile as any other brush designed to compete with a micron. I think its safe to say its not aimed at being a general purpose brush ideally anyway (I maybe wrong!) Nor a beginners airbrush. Have you noticed that the bodies flow any less air or anything that maybe a design towards detailing?

And Ismael, I understand you feeling the brush is more capable than you are, I have that feeling with my airbrush but there is alot to be said about those silky smooth glossy coats you lay down on your models, I think its superb.
 
Great score, its lucky dip often buying brushes advertised as used. Sometimes you pay little and anticipate abused brush to be delivered and it turns out it’s practically new. At other times used turns out to mean abused, as you say!

But abused though it was, you’ve done a great job saving it and it now looks really great, and obviously is spraying great too. Nice one.

Love the information too. Previously I have overlooked these brushes when up for sale but now I will keep my eyes out for them.

Great photos as always too. You and @DaveG do such great photos. I need some tips so my photos stop looking so terrible in comparison to what you two produce.
 
I have read this a couple of times more now. I thoroughly enjoyed it each time.

I never nee the SOTAR was this old! Its a modern styled brush, I like it's curviness but the head and micro settings being angular are a little clumsy looking but forgivable. DaveG's with the smoothed heads look fantastic.

I also like the small nozzles in these which is what pushed me towards the velocity, the SOTAR holds it's value second hand which I assume is testament to it's capability and peoples liking for them. I started looking at them when I joined the forum not that long ago after reading one of kingpins threads I think it was.

I read quite a few reviews or posts on the web with complaints of clogging but I would have assumed that to be caused more by user naivety expecting a bit much of the small nozzle/needle they come with. With proper needle and nozzle combo and paint dilution I should imagine they are as versatile as any other brush designed to compete with a micron. I think its safe to say its not aimed at being a general purpose brush ideally anyway (I maybe wrong!) Nor a beginners airbrush. Have you noticed that the bodies flow any less air or anything that maybe a design towards detailing?

And Ismael, I understand you feeling the brush is more capable than you are, I have that feeling with my airbrush but there is alot to be said about those silky smooth glossy coats you lay down on your models, I think its superb.
The first generation of Sotar had a body that was all it's own among the Badger line. They pretty quickly went to using the same body as used on the 100 series brushes in the next generation. Even still, there was no difference in the air valve or air passage through the brush bodies. I look at them as two different brushes - the first ones, then everything else... I do have multiple examples of both before and after - as well as using several of the head assemblies on other bodies - including the Thayer Chandler Model A, Badger 100G, 100SG, and 100SF. I also find the Sotar to be a bit more finicky in paint choices VS other brushes I may choose to use - but, it does come down to user preference and ability to deal with frustration ;) . For instance, I have never had any luck working with Createx Illustration colors through one, but they work fine in a Micron (fine as Illustration colors work, that is ;)).

I see them as being more versatile as many give them credit for, though. Maybe more so before they soldered the head base on, as it was easy to keep the three different nozzle sizes at the ready with a quick change of the complete head and needle. But, the nozzle and regulator change along with a needle only takes a few moments. I would say a common issue here is that people tend to be a bit too aggressive with the tiny parts, which causes more issues than it solves... The hold down ring really only needs to be snugged down on the nozzle to do its job. If the cup bubbles, chapstcick on the nozzle taper is a better bet than pliers to tighten the hold down.

As a matter of coincidence, Richard, I had a Sotar picked to send with the 100, but switched to the Patriot based on the interest your son had shown.
 
Great photos as always too. You and @DaveG do such great photos. I need some tips so my photos stop looking so terrible in comparison to what you two produce.
Thank you!
I am a photographer in a parallel universe (I have several parallel lives). I'll make a separate post on the topic including a video I did on the subject a while back.

Thanks,
Ismael

*EDIT* Here is the link to the post: https://airbrushforum.org/threads/p...brush-or-anything-else-for-that-matter.25281/
 
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i use the sotar as my detail brush, i changed the body for the slim without a cut, it is my all time favourate brush to use for fine detail. i only really use badger airbrushes though i have a bit of a collection..
 
The first generation of Sotar had a body that was all it's own among the Badger line. They pretty quickly went to using the same body as used on the 100 series brushes in the next generation. Even still, there was no difference in the air valve or air passage through the brush bodies. I look at them as two different brushes - the first ones, then everything else... I do have multiple examples of both before and after - as well as using several of the head assemblies on other bodies - including the Thayer Chandler Model A, Badger 100G, 100SG, and 100SF. I also find the Sotar to be a bit more finicky in paint choices VS other brushes I may choose to use - but, it does come down to user preference and ability to deal with frustration ;) . For instance, I have never had any luck working with Createx Illustration colors through one, but they work fine in a Micron (fine as Illustration colors work, that is ;)).

I see them as being more versatile as many give them credit for, though. Maybe more so before they soldered the head base on, as it was easy to keep the three different nozzle sizes at the ready with a quick change of the complete head and needle. But, the nozzle and regulator change along with a needle only takes a few moments. I would say a common issue here is that people tend to be a bit too aggressive with the tiny parts, which causes more issues than it solves... The hold down ring really only needs to be snugged down on the nozzle to do its job. If the cup bubbles, chapstcick on the nozzle taper is a better bet than pliers to tighten the hold down.

As a matter of coincidence, Richard, I had a Sotar picked to send with the 100, but switched to the Patriot based on the interest your son had shown.
That is a coincidence! My son is grateful for the brushes you provided him with and I think its a versatile pairing. I can see your train of thought in light of what you say about the SOTAR and 100 sharing bodies. As the trigger is closer to the tip and would naturally feel similar to a 100 to him when moving between brushes. That could have created a change in the house dynamic though if I was sat beside him pleading for him to let me have a go of his SOTAR 😂

Its interesting that they moved away from the unique body for the original SOTAR Dave. Did it create compromise in performance aswell as tolerances do you think? Or does most of the behaviour of the SOTAR come from the nozzle design and body innards rather than the body itself?
 
To me, those first generation Sotars were the finest examples of manufacturing that the brand has put out to date. I counted some of the obvious differences between the first version, and subsequent versions - and found at a minimum 27 changes in machining, or steps. I found nothing to indicate that the newer variation(s) was an "improvement". The first ones really were lovely. I have indeed found that newer generations were not held to the same spec(s) as the first. I personally experienced a pretty broad range of results form them as well... The two brushes below are comprised of all the same part numbers. Yet, by looking at simply the amount of needle protrusion between them, you can be safe in assuming they perform quite differently. The good thing is that they do tend to work pretty good in any configuration, as long as you are not comparing the to one another for consistency. It will usually not take changing one or two of the pieces to bring one around if it is not working up to snuff.

sotar needle protrusion.jpg
 
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