Jay Pique wrote:
<<I'm just starting to research a legitimate spray finishing system and
was immediately surprised to read that HVLP is no longer the king of
the hill. Now I've got Kremlin Airmix and Asturo on the mind, not to
mention airless if I don't mind the hard edges or something.
And indeed, what a slippery slope it is. I would have to say that the
best way to find out what suits your needs it to identify the bulk of
what you will be spraying, what type of material you are spraying, and
how often you will be doing it.
I have spent hours on this subject and worn myself out. I am a
glutton for facts, but having made my living in the trades for some
time now I found years ago that nothing beats talking to someone that
uses a product on a regular basis. Some things seem to work better
than they should, and some don't work as well as expected.
That being said, my parameters were to find a >portable< system that
would spray (with the appropriate air caps) conversion lacquers,
industrial coatings, varnish, stain and dyes, and urethanes. Key here
being portable, and a strong leaning to "professional" (which usually
means quick dry, conversion or high solids) type finishes.
I tried conversion guns, but the overspray was not acceptable. When
properly thinned, the finishes from some of the low cfm requirement
guns was amazing. And the overspray was about half that of my regular
high pressure setup. But for me to drag out to my client's house to
use inside, it was still too much overspray, too much drift in the air.
The positive side was that the guns left a great "off the gun" finish,
it was EASY to set up the guns, easy to clean them, and with the driers
on the air lines I could use a good compressor and all my regular air
Cost was good too, less than $300 for one of the guns, and one that was
just about as good that was only $99. So I now use a similar air
compressor powered setup for finishing doors for a local door company
that has a spray and finish area (notice I did not say booth!) set up
about 300 ft. from their showroom to keep the fumes out of their
customer's noses. I can run a few hoses out to the spray area and
spray away, without any concerns of overspray or drift.
However, having tried the turbine powered HVLPs, I was stunned how much
less the overspray and drift were compared to my test HVLP conversion
guns. I tried out the following and in some cases used the following
guns. I have put some comments after the guns, not meaning to offend
anyone. I know we are all proud of our equipment, and these are only
my thoughts. I think that when you get up into the upper end of any
HVLP systems you will be fine. I only looked at 4 stage units, except
in the case one of the Graco systems that was a three stage.
Accuspray: Liked the unit overall. Liked the finish left from the
gun, but was only able to shoot latex at the contractor demo. Although
this gun has been in production (according to the conversation I had
with Mr. Jewitt) for about thirty years with no problems, AND has a
lifetime warranty on the gun body itself if you get the right one, I
just didn't like the plastic gun. And looking at replacement parts,
accessories and consumables, they were in my opinion too expensive when
compared to others. Local servicing available on a limited basis.
Apollo: Liked the finish left from the gun. I absolutely hated the
bleeder gun as it was always "on", blowing air and dust around too much
for my taste. I have never liked bleeder guns for anything, so this
wasn't a serious consideration.
Turbinaire: I thought this was the best feel and balance of the lot of
guns; it was really nice. The Turbinaire rep did admit that they
didn't make their own gun (who cares?) and that it was a refit of an
older model. But man was it nice; easy to adjust, and left a good
finish off the gun. The Turbinaire rep (a great guy BTW) got frisky
and actually shot unthinned latex paint from a can I watched him open.
Worked great. Price on consumables and accessories still a little
high, but I liked the system overall and thought it was a great value.
Came with a 6' whip included in the price. Turbinaire guy admitted
that the speed control on the model he showed me was a little gimmicky,
but did have its place. On the accounts he serviced he told me his
clients turn on the machine, open up the dial to full blast and leave
it there. No local repair or support for this system was available.
Graco: They no longer off the system that was recommended to me by a
friend of mine that uses his for full time refinishing. He shoots
mostly conversion lacquers, varnishes, urethanes, tints and dyes, and
loves his gun setup. Graco tech support is everywhere, and the Graco
rep told me that they have about 500 tech support guys on the phone
lines so you can call and talk to a live person just about anytime you
call. I was not able to try this setup as they weren't allowing demos
at their seminar. However, the offsetting factor here was great BBQ
with homemade sausage that was fresh off the grill. The guns setups
they had seem quite reasonable, and local service and accessories were
Capspray: Didn't like the setup or the old designs. The turbine was
much too bulky when compared to the other units (which all use the
Amtek - Lamb turbines) and it was an awkward feeling the design. The
guns felt cheap, and the guys at the seminar didn't know that much
about it or the availability of the accessories as they were there to
sell the airless setups.
Earlex: Plastic, plastic, plastic. The 3 stage I tried was made in
the US (other come from UK), but came with short hoses and plastic
turbine housings, and was just cheap feeling all the way around. I had
the feeling it was a $39 shop vac with a garden hose and a gun
attached. It may have been.
Fuji: I found out about this gun when I was participating in another
forum a couple of years ago when this subject came up. This is the one
I actually decided to buy. I like the quieter turbine, and the gun is
convertible to supply air from top rear of the handle or below in the
grip as usual. You can also turn this into a gravity feed gun (the
only HVLP in this group to do that) if that is what you require which I
will do since I spray some doors and other projects horizontally on
sawhorses. It has very reasonably priced consumbles and accessories,
and while the repair support is not local, every time I have called
their HQ in Canada I have talked to the owner, Paul. I am buying
straight from one of his distributors, which has made the price of this
unit not only affordable but has also raised my confidence in problem
resolution since like Paul, his distributor answers the phone himself.
The distributor used the equipment for years as a professional
refinisher before he decided to rep the product, and his commitment to
service seems as sincere as the owner's. His distributor is not a
salesman; he is a no nonsense midwesterner, and while he could answer
any question put to him, he never actually even tried to sell me the Q4
system. I liked the no nonsense, no hassle approach.
Both owner and distributor know the guns inside out, and just about all
the consumables and replacement parts are available overnight.
Apparently they have been running their business this way for years.
I like the fact the unit is available with package pricing, and that
the more you buy the better price you get. I need one portable system
that does it all, so I am buying the package with all the aircaps and
needles available, the gravity feed conversion, an extra whip, etc.
Also, it is tough to beat the Q4 price since they also sell the unit
with free shipping, including free shipping for the accessories
purchased with the original order for the system. Once again, I really
like the fact that the consumables and repair maintenance parts are so
I looked at the Kremlin, etc., briefly, but it is not made to be easily
portable. I also had a nasty case of sticker shock when I looked, but
hey, I had to look. But I have never heard anything but the best about
the Kremlin line for those that need that kind of high volume finishing
Hope all that helps out Jay. Or to anyone else interested in a new