Every once in a while, a topic comes up about people wanting to buy a spray setup, but they have a tight budget. Usually, the Asturo guns get brought up, but I would like to throw some more in the ring.
For my primary equipment, I use an Asturo AAA for most of my spraying and have an Asturo legend cup gun for smaller jobs. They both are fantastic, but not at all cheap. I also have a few cup guns and one of the Porter Cable HVLP top cup guns.
When the plastic Asturo cups get worn and need replacing, they cost me about 32 bucks plus shipping. I saw guns in a Grizzly catalog that looked like clones of the 90 dollar Porter Cable gun, but they were 47 dollars, and another model that looked similar for 20 dollars. What the heck? I ordered one of each plus one of the mini top cup guns for touchups to see how they worked. If nothing else, I can just switch the cups with the Asturo and PC and throw away the guns, for that price.
This weekend, I got to try out the 20 dollar gun as I had sanded down a few of my gunstocks and stained them with ICA CNA stains in a bright red and an electric blue to give them a custom look. They needed a bunch of coats of gloss lacquer. The gun actually sprays very well. After seeing the results, I am going to order a half dozen more and keep them for spraying stains, so I don't have to keep cleaning the guns after every color change. They are darn near disposable at that price.
I still have to try the 47 dollar one, but I am sure it will spray as good or better. The 47 dollar gun has the same exact cup as the Asturo I have, while the 20 dollar gun's cup is a bit lighter duty, but the thread pattern is the same.
So if I were looking to buy a new setup on a budget, I would look hard at these guns and spend the money I saved on the best compressor I could afford.
From contributor T:
I have 5 identical gravity feed HVLP guns bought at Home Depot, made by Husky, previously Campbell Hausfeld. Parts are interchangeable and I can clean these guns blindfolded. They are cheap and well made, but nothing new or high tech. I am okay with them, but wonder what a good gun is like. I need lots of spray guns ready to go to get these cabinets out the door fast. Half are used with stains, one with high gloss urethane to build a clear coat and one with low sheen as a final coat. I clean them as they get too dirty to spray properly, usually every three days. If they made a gun that could be cleaned without disassembly, I'd want it. It's always the fluid nozzle and needle that develop buildups first, followed by the air cap, which is the easy part to clean.
I use water-based finishes only and love them now that I know how they perform. My advice is to use whatever is fast for you. My next efficiency project is to put a downdraft table in the spray booth to finish sand and fix flaws faster. I like to push things along so that the woodworking shop can focus on making parts and assembly. Once it's in the spray booth, it goes out the door next. Next step will be outsourcing some parts.
I am hoping by tomorrow I will have one or two more Porter Cable PS2H gravity guns.
This past weekend, I had my choice of using the Airmix, a DeVilbiss Finishline gravity gun or the Porter Cable gravity gun. I was spraying Duravar, thinned 20% with reducer (and 10% catalyst). I opted for the Porter Cable since I was not in my own shop, and in my own shop I have the Porter Cable gravity gun and an Asturo ECO (with a remote pressure feed pot).
The $60 Porter Cable gravity gun is by far the best value I have seen in a gun. It is machined nicely. The cup above has a unique no-drip port venting hole. But since the Asturo AAA was mentioned and since I really like my Asturo ECO so much, I want to know more about that AAA. It is hard to choose one over the other. Can I make a wrong choice? Probably not with the brands that I mentioned.
As far as which is better between the cups and the AAA, I have found that when spraying CV on large panels, doors, the speed and quality of the AAA make it better than a cup gun and faster than the pot guns I used to use, and the ability to adjust it on the fly make it better for me than an airless. But for smaller jobs like face frames, or if I just need to spray a small project or do something onsite, I like the cup guns. Do you do a lot of bigger projects where it would be more profitable to drop the pickup hose in a bucket of clear so you can spray all day? If so, get the AAA. If you do a lot of color mixing, tinting and smaller batches of clear, stay with the small stuff.
When I spray kitchens onsite, I actually use a little hotdog style compressor I got at Sam's Club for under 130 bucks. Of course, it needs to catch up with me and I am not spraying for extended periods of time. For what I do, I should really have a minimum 3 or 4 horse and 25 gallons, but those jobs that I do onsite are only about half a dozen a year, so I am sticking with what I have. The small compressor is quieter and some kitchens in older houses are too cramped already and the outlets trip if you run too big of a motor on them, so it sometimes takes more finesse than muscle.
1 - Kremlin AirMix
1 - Asturo K24 Double Diaphram Pump, setup to run 2 guns
2 - Asturo ECO SSP LVLP guns
I'm well set to spray everything from dyes to Polomyx.
I too have an assortment of Big Name guns, but these are great specialty work. I have one for whites, black, and metal (cooper, alum, etc.). And Paul, I am thinking that these guns are made for the hobbyists that do not have big compressors. I have run the HVLP gravity gun off a 2hp, 4 gal compressor. It needed to catch up on larger projects. But I think the newer guns use less air.
One thing you won't want to do with a pump is shoot samples. The amount of catalyzed CV or primer wasted to do this would buy many gravity guns every year. Other people have written posts about having reps come out, set up the pump/gun, teach you how to use it and leave it with you for a week or a month. If there isn't a rep in your area who will offer this service up front, then it begs the question as to how they will be after they've made the sale. I'm not a Kremlin sales rep, but when I had a leak in an internal pump seal, the rep was out the next day, set up a replacement, took the pump and serviced it and brought it back at no charge. No question, though - go AAA ASAP.