Wold A1: Airbrush Ancestry


Detail Decepticon!

There are countless posts about the early history of the airbrush, but I think it is worth repeating some of those highlights here for the sake of simplicity.

Brief history:
In 1891 Charles Burdick patented what was to become the internal mix airbrush. An art supply company, Thayer and Chandler, licensed it and puts it into production becoming very popular and challenging the then current Liberty Walkup as the preferred tool for paint atomization. Burdick moved to London to open his own company (Aerograph).
Olaus Wold was an employee at Thayer and Chandler. He really understood the concept and quickly started to work on improvements. He was a genius in this field and numerous patents were awarded. While Burdick patented the concept, it was Wold who pretty much single handedly optimized it. By the turn of the 20th Century, the airbrush was already recognizable as we know it today in models like the Thayer and Chandler Model A.
Around that time, Mr. Wold, probably over a disagreement with T&C management, created his own company: The Wold Airbrush Company. However, it is believed he continued supporting Thayer and Chandler while managing his own company. By the way, Jens Paasche worked with Olaus Wold before starting his own company as well.
Wold offered many different models, some more successful than others.
One of the early models, the Wold A1 was very successful and the model was pretty much in production with little changes/updates until the company closed in the early 1980s.
Not surprisingly, the Wold A1, while having a different nozzle design, was similar in concept to the Thayer and Chandler Model A. After all, both came from Mr. Wold's design work.
It is amazing that over 125 years later, the basic design is still in production. My 2023 Badger 150 (because six 150s are not enough) still uses the exact same hose thread, the air path is exactly the same and you can see the undeniable DNA all over it. Mr. Wold really got it right.

My Specimen:
I recently acquired this Wold A1 from a fellow forum member. It is hard to pinpoint a date where it was made as it had a very long production run with minimal changes.
Based on a quick conversation with Dave, my very rough estimate is that this may be from the 1940's but take that with a grain of salt.

It is in great shape and it included a recent spray test.

Could benefit from a bling polishing, but been a historical piece, I'm not going to take it apart or.......
Never mind... :)
Each part was carefully polished under the caution that there are no spares available and this is probably 80 years old or so. Air valve was left undisturbed as it is perfectly fine.

The all important nozzle is in great shape

Presenting my Wold A1





So we lived happily ever after, right? Wait!

When everything was put back together, the airbrush had massive sputtering. That's usually a sign of an air leak somewhere. Not really unusual. I started to troubleshoot as usual based on my little experience with T&C Model As. But I couldn't get it right.
I went straight to the top level: Get a hold at Dave :)
With his guidance I found the leak was in the head's thread, not only the base. So I am slowly but surely getting there.

At this point it is almost there. Still a bit of hesitation getting to the wide end at certain points but slowly getting there.
I was able to do some of the finest lines I've ever done with an airbrush!
This test was with Createx Airbrush Colors diluted 1:1 with Dihydrogen Monoxide. Yeah, I'm a sucker for dangerous chemicals.

I hope you like and approve.
As usual, your comments are appreciated.

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I think it was Burdick that had issues with both Wold and TC which prompted his move to Europe to start Aerograph. I don't think there was much issue between Wold and TC. OC Wold filed a BUNCH of patents in those early years for both himself, and on behalf of TC. It is my opinion that the airbrush as we know it today is only here because of the work Wold did.

Love my Wolds! Congrats on your acquisition.
What a beautiful brush, I’d be delighted to own something like that. The handle is gorgeous and the nozzle as you point out looks in incredible condition. Congrats! And im pleased you couldn’t resist taking it apart and photographing it.
I'm glad you like it Ismael. They are excellent brushes and why I have been in a different Wold the past few months.

I know you and Dave like to have your brushes polished. I would guess you both use a buffing wheel. I've kept from doing that as I know parts would be airborne never to be seen again. Plus, I actually prefer to only hand polish my brushes. It leaves a bit of patina to them that, hopefully, makes them look used but well cared for.
Almost always hand polish here, too. The second Wold I ever purchased (red handled A-1) was a victim of a buffing wheel mishap - which became the last time I used a wheel on anything I didn't just finish cutting myself.

There is a reason I am so enamored with Wold brushes. Almost all of them will perform as well as many modern brushes I have, once they are sorted out. Their quality of build, and attention to detail is fantastic given the time period in which they were produced.

This one is an A1-37. Same basic build as the A-1 with the addition of a new, replaceable nozzle instead of the one piece base/nozzle combo. (The nozzle in this brush is original to the late 1930's manufacture date of this brush). The air and needle caps remained the same, however. As with many things Wold, the removable needle cap on both this brush, and Ismaels A-1 were industry firsts - allowing the user to get closer to the work surface for finer detail.

Forgot to mention, one of the features I love is the fact that the needle tube actually goes thru the trigger, preventing it from falling if the needle is removed. I don't need to tell how frequent triggers succumb to the force of gravity once the needle is removed...


*UPDATE* After playing a lot with sealing the head as per Dave's guidance I'm happy to report it is working beautifully.

Turned my attention to the case. Started carefully cleaning it. Hard to see in the crappy after-midnight cell phone pic but you can see I started from right to left.

WhatsApp Image 2024-03-23 at 12.57.07 AM.jpg


The inside also received a lot of care. Took it apart, cleaned and went back together with no fuss.