CA (aka SuperGlue) sensitivity: yes, its a real thing

I never used CA all that much, less than most of my peers I would have said.  But over the past couple years my wife noticed that I would come out of our “craft room” with a stuffy nose.  At first I thought nothing of it, but then the stuffy nose started lasting more than just a couple hours, several days in fact, and I noticed something: that it always and only happened coincident with using CA, also know as Super Glue.

Thats right, I’m now sensitive to super glue, or specifically the otherwise harmless fumes it gives off when setting.

BSI industries to the rescue.

I had heard of their so called odorless CAs which are primarily marketed as being non-frosting (makes sense since its the fumes of regular CA which cases that), but more importantly people like me can use them without getting stuffed up for days.  The gluing performance in the context of scale model building is just as good.  The only “downside” if you want to call it that is that it is a bit more expensive, but knowing what I now know, I wish I started using this stuff long ago, before I became sensitive.  Maybe you should too?

Flames of War “Open Fire” Starter set

Bought this miniatures game starter set on a whim thinking it would be fun to play with my nephews.  No one took any interest in the game but I did paint up the set anyway.  This is bar none the absolute worst plastic model design and production I have ever seen.  The parts of the AVFs in particular were all distorted and completely failed to mate.   I had to use massive clamps and about a tube full of putty to get them even remotely respectable.  The figures were not much better with many of them having “half faces”.  This was not a case of a one off: any search regarding this set reveals this is exactly what Battleftont’s molds turned out.  They really should be embarrassed.

Never the less my effort to fix things up earned me Best in Category (Military Miscellaneous) and Best in Class (Military) at CAMS 2014.

Quality issues aside, I don’t think I’d ever do another 15mm scale project.  Its just so small.  Detail ends up being implied rather than actually there.

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MG Zeta Gundam 2.0

The exquisitely complex second edition of this kit, I am on the whole pleased with how it turned out.  Its designed to transformable to the “Waverider” configuration but I’d afraid doing so will shred the paint job so this will only ever be displayed in Mobile Suit mode.  “Gold” level award at CAMS 2012.

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HGUC Core Fighter

A real popular build of mine with fans of both military/aviation as well as scifi/Gundam.  Judged “Gold” at CAMS 2012.  It might have won best in category if it weren’t for a nasty silvering problem I had with the decals.  I’d never had such a problem before (edit: and never again since) so I’m going to blame it on bad decals from Bandai.

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Review: Badger TC910 Aspire Pro Airbrush Compressor

Introduction

Its been quite some time since Badger has updated their compressor portfolio: The entry level 180 series feels dated and while the exquisite, very high end 480s remain current, they also remain the province of true professionals with cash to spare. Occupying the middle for some years has been the TC909, a decent (but tankless) airbrush compressor Badger inherited when it acquired Thayer & Chandler (I’ve owned a 909 for several years and have loved it).  Now Badger is revamping their line with a new compressor motor, replacing the old 180s with the 180-15 and expanding the 900 series: The 909 will remain (with an updated look), below it they are adding the TC908 (essentially a 909 without the steel enclosure), and topping off the new line is the TC910, the subject of today’s review.


Badger TC910 Compressor (note: hose is NOT included).

 

Design and Features

The TC910 consists of a compact oil-less piston compressor mounted above a pressure tank, enclosed in a metal housing. It may seem familiar as this configuration is not unique to the 910: other manufacturers have similar designs. Badger’s employs a 1/6 horsepower motor coupled to a 3 litre air tank. They include a regulator with both moisture trap and pressure gauge, and finish it off with a pair of airbrush holders on the top. Unlike virtually everything else with the Badger name on it, the TC910 is not actually manufactured in Chicago Illinoi. Rather, like most all such airbrush compressor, they are made for them in China. Badger still puts their touch on it by performing their own 14 point inspection in Chicago before putting their sticker on it, and of course they back it with their widely acclaimed customer service and warranty. My sample had the misfortune of getting a somewhat rough courier experience between Chicago and East Coast Canada, arriving with a ding and some loose screws. Badger is of course accustomed to moving these things in large numbers on pallets where they wont see rough handling like my single did so my sample hopefully should not be typical of store bought units or well packed mail ordered ones.


Regulator, gauge, and moisture trap (again hose is not included).

 

Looking at the details of their design they get what matters right: The compressor feeds the air tank at the rear while the airbrush supply is at the front. This forces the air to pass through the length of the tank, allowing it to do its job as a first-stage moisture trap. There is a drain valve on the bottom of course which should be periodically used to keep excess moisture from pooling at the bottom. The power cord is a nice long length and overall the package is so compact that it boarders on being cute (barely 6×12 inches and less than 20lb). I wish they could have used the same 0-60psi gauge I’m used to on the older 909, this one going from 0-100, but that just means you don’t get quite as granular a reading. I did notice one quirk: the motor was offset just a hair to one side in the housing. On inspection I saw why: the screws for the handle protrude so far down that if the motor were perfectly centered they would conflict (Badger just needs to get their manufacturer to use a shorter screw). The airbrush holders on top are to me a bit of a novelty in that I’d rather have a holder at my desk but I admit more than once already they have been handy. One is specifically for siphon feed guns, the other for gravity.


Airbrush holders are not prejudice: Badger and H&S guns (obviously not included), both equally at home.

 

In use

When you first turn it on it seems totally silent, but as pressure builds in the tank so does the noise.  In “free air” outdoors (a quasi-anechoic setting), noise at 1M measured right around 60dB (A weighted). This is how most products like this are measured but it only represents a baseline on which to rate something (it rarely gives us a realistic expectation). In my modeling room with the unit sitting just out from the corner and about 3-4 feet from my ear it was hitting 75dB+. I placed it on an unused Auralex GRAMMA (an isolation platform meant for guitar amps and subwoofers) and put a spare Versatile (an absorptive acoustic foam tile) adjacent to it. In this configuration I managed to get the sound down below 65dB.  Make no mistake this is not “silent”, but you can easily carry on a conversation with it running, and my wife upstairs can’t even tell I’m using it if she is watching TV. There is still one noise issue though: the PRV (Pressure Release Valve) on the tank, a necessary safety feature, has a pull-pin which, being by design a loose fit, rattles with an incredibly irritating chatter when the motor runs. I managed to silence it without defeating the PRV in any way (but unless Badger wants to endorse my trick I’m going to have to keep it to myself).  Incidentally, if truly silent is what you are after, check out Badger’s 480 series compressors which use super quiet oil reciprocating motors (but be sure to bring money).

In use the TC910 is a modeler’s dream!

While I have loved my 909, the tankless design has its limitations. One is less than constant pressure: the start of every stroke would be a few PSI stronger than at the finish. Another issue is that with the moisture trap right off the compressor head air has no time to cool before it hits the moisture trap so it can’t do its job effectively. On particularly humid days I would get condensation in the hose (some designs put a length of hose between compressor head and regulator assembly to try and mitigate this). More recently I ran into a quirk with the tankless design: airbrushes like Badger’s Velocity or the Harder & Steenbeck Evolution are so fugal with air volume that, even while I held down the trigger, the 909’s motor was constantly starting/stopping every second, which is annoying and probably bad for the motor in the long run (this was never an issue though with more air hungry guns like my 200NH or 105 Patriot).


Compressor connection to pressure tank.

 

Even though the 910’s 3 litre tank is tiny by compressor standards, it is enough to make a massive difference! The cut in/out on the motor is 43 and 57 psi respectively and its displacement is quoted as .81cfm so at any reasonable working pressure (I mainly use 20-25psi) you get ROCK solid output with no variation to speak of.  Zero moisture (even tried it on a nasty warm humid day), and the motor gets to go through longer on/off cycles. Even with the previously mentioned frugal airbrush’s triggers held down the motor cuts in/out at a rate of almost a full minute.


Specs label with ETL safety listing.

 

Conclusions

A proper compressor seems to be the last thing we as modellers want to spend money on. I’ve been there: when I got my first airbrush back in the early 90s I connected it to a spare car tire because I couldn’t see spending $200+ for a compressor. It wasn’t long after that I dropped modeling altogether… because using that tire was such a pain. Several years ago when I decided to get back into the hobby I bought my 909 compressor and I have been avidly modeling ever since.  When the airbrush system “just plain works” it allows you to focus on your art instead of fussing with equipment.  There are plenty of different ways to power an airbrush, from the large, loud (but admittedly functional) air tool compressors, to exotic CO2 setups. I’m not saying this is the only way to go, but if you’ve been thinking about a compressor, with the new TC910 Badger has in my opinion hit a real home run, delivering everything a modeller would want in a compressor at a reasonable price.