Thursday, May 11, 2017

Badger Renegade Krome Airbrush - Review

How goes it my fellow plamo nerds? I've been spending some quality time with my new airbrush, the Badger Renegade Krome - and after putting it through the gunpla gauntlet, it has emerged unscathed and ready for more! I've always been a skeptic when it comes to name brand stuff that have cheaper alternatives - but this excellent tool has set me straight. I already did the unboxing a few weeks back, so you can take a look at that if you want to see the kit contents and whatnot. Today I'll be sharing my thoughts on how the airbrush performs in plamo painting scenarios, and there's a video at the bottom showing it in action!



Click on the Read More link for the rest of this post...


Performance


Let me start off by saying that I am by no means an airbrush artist or illustrator. I build mecha models, so my review will revolve around how the Krome performs as a model painting tool and not so much about how fine a line it can produce. That said, I am able to make pretty fine lines with it, at least as tight a line as I think one will ever need when painting mecha models in 1/144 scale and up - but I'm sure a professional can get a much finer line.


The extra fine .21 needle and nozzle combo comes pre-installed. Using Mr. Color lacquers, I found that my usual thinning ratio (around 3.5:1 thinner to paint) caused tip-dry fairly often and resulted in a few clogs that caused spattering. I had to thin down to at least 4.5:1 before it sprayed nicely at 20 psi. The extra fine setup offers a lot of control, and lets you do a tight panel line preshade without having to hold the needle too close to the surface you're painting. In the paper test, the topmost squiggle was done from about half an inch from the paper at 18-20 psi. The needle limiter helps keep the width of your lines consistent. I found that the spray pattern is great for doing gradation and highlighting, because the extra-thin paint is deposited in semi transparent layers that you can build up where you need more opacity. A super tight spray pattern also means you'll spend less time masking against over-spray.


The trigger feels nice out of the box, but I applied some sewing machine oil to the trigger assembly for good measure. It is VERY sensitive, and the slightest nudge will release paint. It took some getting used to, but once I matched the trigger tension setting with my finger control, I enjoyed the improved sensitivity. Pull back action is slightly shorter than the G233.


Unlike my previous double-action brushes where air control was pretty much just an on/off switch, the trigger here actually let's you control air flow because the air valve spring travel feels longer - so pushing the trigger down half way releases less air than pushing it all the way down. I don't have the dexterity to take advantage of air flow control, but I'm hoping I can still develop the motor skills at my age...


Features


The needle limiter has some resistance when twisting it so you can dial in a precise setting. This is affected by how far in you screw in the handle itself, which has a rubber ring that compresses as you tighten it. There's a risk of damaging the nozzle or needle if you force it forward too much with the limiter, so you need to make sure that when set to 0, the limiter sits just close enough to the butt of the needle lug that it does not push it forward, but stops it from moving backwards. Any tighter than that and the nozzle will probably crack.


The Krome has a tension adjuster for the pull-back action of the trigger. I found the factory setting to be a little stiff, so I turned it counter-clockwise by about three revolutions for less resistance. The ergonomic rest makes it really nice and stable to hold, reducing the tendency of the brush to lean left or right even when your grip is relaxed and the air hose is tugging at it. The cup lid is a must for me, as I tend to overload the cup when doing base coats - and my broad, amateurish strokes causes the paint to slosh around in the cup.

At first I was worried about the exposed tip, and I even fashioned a protective cover from a  clear plastic tube - but after using the airbrush for a few weeks with the tip fully exposed, I started to like it. There's a lot less guessing where your paint is going to land, because you see exactly where the needle is aimed. Since tip-dry does occur even when paint is fairly well thinned, you can easily see if the paint is starting to cake on the needle, and wipe it clean before it shoots off and makes a splattered mess on your model.



The exposed tip does however make it more prone to needle bending accidents, so you'll have to be a little more careful when setting it down, cleaning it, or sticking it in your airbrush holder and cleaning pot. I couldn't find a holder I was happy with, so I made my own. Check out the DIY guide here:
DIY Airbrush Holder.


Disassembly / Assembly


Switching to the .33 setup is easy enough, though the pronged regulator was on pretty tight from the factory. I had to grip it with tweezers to unscrew it the first time. The regulator is attached to a ring that holds down the nozzle. It has tiny holes drilled around the perimeter that I presume help distribute the air flow evenly around the nozzle.


The threads on the regulator and hold-down ring are very fine, and you could easily cross-thread them if you're not careful. The lack of rubber o-rings in between these parts suggest that these need to be put back together precisely to ensure no air leaks occur. I would advise against teflon tape as it might mess with the alignment, but some beeswax to help with the seal shouldn't hurt if you keep getting bubbles in the cup.


Taking off the hold down ring gives access to the tiny nozzle, which is a drop-in, self-centering type, so removing it is not nearly as unnerving as unscrewing the nozzle off of the G233, or any other airbrush with a screw-in type nozzle. After swapping in the .33 needle, I reassembled the front end with the .33 nozzle as well. I thought I could still use the pronged regulator with this setup, but it turns out the hole is too small. You have to use the completely open regulator that comes in the box for the .33 setup. I found no need to take apart the air valve or the trigger assembly, but you can check out Don's review of the airbrush if you're interested in seeing the innards of the brush.

Cleaning


Cleaning the Krome is easier than the G233, thanks to the drop-in nozzle and cup design. I found that I was still able to do back-flushing by pinching the exposed needle with my index finger and thumb, or by placing the rubber cap on and holding it in place.






A couple flushes of cleaner and a quick swabbing with a soaked q-tip was usually enough between color changes. I use an angled interdental brush to clean the channels inside the cup after a session. I recommend doing your airbrush cleaning on something like a baking tray that has raised edges, so tiny parts like the nozzle don't go rolling off of your desk.

Here's a video showing the airbrush in action:



Summary


This is a REALLY nice airbrush. It looks and feels like something a professional artist would use, and it does have quite a following in the airbrushing scene. Despite the small, sensitive parts, it actually feels a lot more durable than any airbrush I've ever used. It's pretty hard to argue with the current market price too. It costs a little more than Tamiya's HG3 (which uses a threaded nozzle), and considerably less than an Iwata Eclipse (uses a self-centering nozzle). Also it's a 2-in-1, which you won't find in either Japanese brand's lineup.


Time will tell how long I can keep the needle and nozzle in good shape. I'm pretty careful with my tools so I don't expect I'll be needing replacements any time soon - but just in case, I ordered a Fine conversion kit, which gives me a spare .33 needle and nozzle (which I think I'll be using a lot more than the .21 setup), and the pronged regulator for the .33 setup. The regulator is black because all the other brushes in the Renegade line are black except for the Krome, but the parts are interchangeable. I think it looks better with the black front end...


I've also installed the "high-roller" trigger option. The increased height can (in theory) improve control because it makes the trigger pull-back arc longer, changing the ratio of trigger to needle movement. Basically, it takes more backward movement on the trigger to get the needle to move as much, and makes it less "twitchy".


It's hard to explain in words so here's a GIF:



That's all I have for today, I've got to get back to work on the Providence, but come visit again soon, there are a lot more tool reviews lined up! Until next time, keep building plamo!





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