Setting Up an Airless Air-Assisted Spraygun

Here's advice on a slick way to set up multiple pumps for quick material changeover using AAA equipment. February 8, 2008

I'm fixing to purchase a dedicated clear system for my one man shop. I've gone back and forth between another pot system which I now use and AAA. I have experience with conventional and airless, but not AAA. With airless guns you need to be fully on or fully off the trigger, no feathering allowed, or you get fluid build at the tip and spitting, drips... I'm assuming AAA guns are the same?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor W:
Personally I think these setups (if they are done right) have been the best thing to happen to wood finishing in a long time. I have many years in this industry and have used all types of setups and I do think you would be very happy with it. The AAA gun is a modified airless, so yes, you have no feather control, but as far as the dripping goes, well... there really is none. Because of the atomizing air coming in, it acts like a conventional and keeps the particles small so you don't get large drops like the airless.

Based on my experience, I can give you a couple of ways to set it up, depending on money factors and profit charges of course. If you have the money, buy two pumps and plumb them between a single manifold that runs to one gun. So you would have sealer in one and your topcoat in the other. Pumps are pricey, but given the costs of an up to date gun, they can be cheap if gotten at the right places (eBay). So all you have to do is shut off the valve of the product you don't want to use at the manifold and turn on the opposing one, purge the hose and gun until you get your new material, and you're ready to go all in about 1 minute.

What about cleaning out that paint line and gun, you ask? Well, just plumb another line into the manifold that leads to the old pot you won't be using now and fill it with thinner to use as a hose and gun cleaner. Turn off the valves going to the pumps, open the valve that leads to the pot, hit the pressure, and you're good to go - flush that baby out!

Make sure that before you open the valve to the pot, you fully close the valves to the pumps, as they are at a much higher pressure than the pot. Better yet, make sure you have an air shutoff valve at each pump and close those as well.

This may seem like a lot of work, or maybe too time consuming, but believe me, after maybe 1/2 day setting up this system, you will be able to change products in under a minute and cleanup is a snap.

If time is of no concern, then just use 1 pump and switch between sealers and topcoats with that pump. Or you can go to a one pile or self sealing system and leave that product in there all the time. I do, however, think you will be very pleased.

One more note on AAA. If your customers are used to seeing a product that has been sprayed with a conventional gun, be aware that no AAA HVLP or regular setup can match the fine finish that a conventional gun puts out. Some dealers will say they do, but they don't. So as a last resort, you could use the AAA for sealing, as you cannot match the speed and build of the AAA. Then finish sand flat so you can apply the topcoat with the conventional to get that highly atomized look.

After all that, however, I do believe no finish shop can do without an AAA these days. Just too many plusses to the minuses.

From contributor E:
I'm also a one man operation. In my first 2 years with an AAA, I've discovered tips are the best way to solve many problems (other than basic spray talent). I use a #9 for sealer/primer or when I need to flood large parts. A #6 or #4 for finer spray patterns.

I agree with contributor W - spitting or drips don't exist. As for changing out material, it's quite fast going from sealer to top coats. I use a second hose set for white/color, which takes about 2-3 minutes to change over.

Like many here, my first experience with the equipment was good but cautious. Now I view the system as a must have. Whenever I have to use any conventional guns, it feels like I'm in the 1950s. You'll find out soon enough.

From contributor J:
Contributor W, AAA systems have been around for a long time. I've been in the equipment business for 20 years and they were well established before then.

From contributor W:
I'm not sure what statement you were directing that at. I am very aware they have been around a long time. I still use an old blue A series from Graco made around 1983 for my HS primer setup.

From contributor W:
I think I see what you responded to. I should have said the "modern day" setup, as the original setups (mainly the gun) were lacking in quality.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the feedback. I ordered a 10:1 Falcon today. For the price I couldn't say no. If I don't like the Graco gun I'll upgrade to the MVX when I can. I'm looking forward to checking out the hype firsthand!