Spraying enamel paints - what thinners to use?

Discussion in 'Techniques' started by D816Foxhound, 4 March 2018.

  1. D816Foxhound

    D816Foxhound Western Thunderer

    My experience of paint spraying models is limited. On the few occasions that I have, I have used Phoenix Precision enamels thinned with Langlow Turpentine. The results were good, but the spray had a really strong odour to it.

    Langlow genuine / pure turpentine seems impossible to obtain now so I was wondering what other WTers use to thin enamels for spraying?

    - Can "any old" white spirit be used? (I've been told that white spirit shouldn't be used as it can have "grit" in it).
    - Should the paint manufacturers own enamel thinners be used religiously with their paints? (my own experience would suggest that this is not necessary).
    - "Bird Brand" and "Rustins" genuine / pure Turpentine are reasonably easy to obtain. Are these brands OK for thinning enamel paints?

    I have already done a bit of searching on the net, but it would be interesting to hear what other WTers use to thin enamels, and especially interesting to hear what our professional painters use.

  2. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    For spraying Precision enamels I use their own quick air-drying thinners. Look for PQ9. I used to use white spirit, but the drying time was something like days. With the right thinners, touch dry next to no time, given warm conditions.

    Other enamels are happy with good quality white spirit as far as I can tell.
  3. Steph Dale

    Steph Dale Western Thunderer

    I've not used enamel for a while, but I've always thinned with Humbrol enamel thinners. It works with all enamel brands I've tried (Humbrol, Precision, Revell). I agree with Heather about the drying time being lengthy using regular white spirit.

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  4. John K

    John K Western Thunderer

    I’ve been using Xylene as the solvent for Phoenix paints for some time. I have a sneaky suspicion that Phoenix standard thinners is Xylene (but Chris Stapleton is never going to admit it - is he?).
    A 5 litre container costs around £25.
    John K

    Not entirely correct see post #7
    Last edited: 5 March 2018
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  5. warren haywood

    warren haywood Western Thunderer

    i just whack cellulose thinners in. Works fine
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  6. Tim Watson

    Tim Watson Western Thunderer

    We use xylene in the histology labs at work. It is carefully controlled in our environmental working conditions.

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  7. John K

    John K Western Thunderer

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  8. D816Foxhound

    D816Foxhound Western Thunderer

    Thank you all for your replies.

    In my searches on the net, the consensus indeed seems to be that using ordinary white spirit gives a longer drying time. There does not appear to be a detrimental effect on the quality of the paint finish, which was my main concern.

    In Ian Rathbone's "Painting and Lining" book, he states that he used to use Xylene but changed to using white spirit. And he says that he has, quote:- "doubts about 'rapid drying thinners' and paint manufacturers own thinners for their enamel paints". White spirit is less expensive as well.

    A quick look on the net found the following prices: PQ9 - £9.00/250ml. Humbrol - £5.50/125ml. Xylene £7.70/500ml. Bird Brand turpentine £4.00/500ml. Rustins turpentine £6.40/500ml. The link in John K's post gave Tetrosyl Standard Thinners £8.75/5 litres.
    For white spirit, Bird Brand £4.99/750ml. Langlow £3.95/750ml.

    So white spirit is cheaper for a lot more quantity and more widely available. John K's Standard Thinners is an absolute bargain!

    I was intrigued by Warren's post! Experience is everything! I have used cellulose to clean up afterwards, but not for spraying due to concerns it may attack resin castings.

    I have a few models in the paint queue, so this would be a good opportunity to carry out a comparison trial.

    Thanks again,

    Last edited: 5 March 2018
  9. unklian

    unklian Western Thunderer

    Most resins should be OK with xylene/toluene solvent thinners . I would be very wary about using them on styrene or plastic kit type plastic though .
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  10. John K

    John K Western Thunderer

    I've used it them to spray enamel paints on a lot of Slater's and Parkside kits, following a primer coat.
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  11. Ian Rathbone

    Ian Rathbone Member

    White spirit is a 'rapid air drying thinner'. Xylene and cellulose thinners are a bit more rapid. The speed at which the paint dries is a function of the paint and ambient conditions, not the thinners. Both Hornby and Bachmann use cellulose paints for their plastic models. The technique for spraying any plastic or resin model with a xylene or cellulose thinned paint is to spray 'dry', ie lots of air, fairly high pressure mist coats so that the paint is virtually dry on landing. Slowly build up the base layer this way before spraying wetter coats to finish. Wet paints also have a tendency to pull away from edges and corners (surface tension/physics) so this can be improved by 'dry' spraying first.

    'Standard' cellulose thinners is usually a recycled product and I only use it for cleaning. For spraying I use 'best' (Superflow, High Gloss are other names). 'Anti-bloom' is also good. Like Foxhound says, there's a book that explains it all ;-)

    Ian R

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