Spray Painting Equipment Question

Hi All,

I just joined the board. I have an interest in building and sailing my own boats at a local pond, and had a question on paint finishing equipment I hope you all can help with:

  • Does anyone use a Paasche “H” series airbrush for hull and deck finishes?

  • If so - how do you like it? Is it high enough capacity to paint hulls and decks in the 24-36" range using single-part poly marine topside paints (assuming the airbrush will work w/a larger-sized nozzle)?

  • Are the purpose-built airbrush compressors the way to go, or could I get away with my hardware-store “pancake” nail-gun compressor? I worry a bit that the pancake will be over-kill, or that the regulator isn’t precise-enough.

The big deal is that from what I read of smaller “detail” spray guns, my pancake compressor doesn’t have the CFM capacity. That’s why I was thinking airbrush (I don’t want to buy a larger compressor).

Thanks, looking forward to hearing the thoughts and experience of the group.


If you have some sort of reservoir tank on your compressor, the bigger the better, you should be OK. The tank will smooth out any pulses from the compressor.

If it is a CFM problem, like your compressor does not supply enough, you can still use it, but you may have to spray for a few minutes, then stop and wait for the tank to get back up to max pressure again. If you are thinking about a new spray gun, like an automotive touch up gun, look for an HVLP model and you will be set!

I would certainly try the gun you have with your compressor before buying anything new.


I’m using a Paasch gun but it’s out in the cold garage so I don’t have model number. It is a single action and has both a small gravity cup and well as a small glass container.

I run mine off a 5 hp airless compressor w/20 gallon tank at 38 lbs. and use an inline moisture trap. There is no problem with compressor/tank keeping up with the gun. I usually shoot enamel when I don’t use spray cans and thin the paint out. Having very thin paint also eliminates trying to put only one coat on the hull - makes you come back multiple times and paint has set up (but not dry) by the time you come back for another coat. I know 2 Part poly is thinner than enamel - not sure about 1 part and never had a reason to spray it.

I do some motorcycle/snowmobile/atv helmets and the enamel has always been OK.

Your pancake compressor should work. Just let it catch up and don’t try to spray 5 coats on the entire hull at one time. :scared:

Thanks for the tips. I will take a look at the cost of the add-ons for my existing compressor (hose & hose fittings, air condenser/drier/filter, etc.) and what I think I need in the way of a spray gun (I found a class of HVLP sprayers called “mini guns” that seem OK relative to my compressor’s capacity), and compare that to the cost of the Paasche setup.


Please keep in mind what HVLP stands for … HIGH VOLUME which you don’t necessarily have with a pancake compressor and LOW PRESSURE which shouldn’t be a problem.

You might find the investment for HVLP might not meet your needs or performance expectations with your current compressor.

Look and compare the air volume the compressor can “HOLD” and then look at the volume required by the HVLP setup - and keep in mind that the low pressure does stiill produce overspray regardless what they say - just not as much as a pressurized gun.

one thing to watch out for when using HVLP guns is air temperature - if you hook up directly to the compressor without some sort of air tank and/or cooling coils in the line the air temp gets pretty hot. This will change how many paints (particularly 2 part paints) set up. Also, be careful that you filter out junk and oil before the air hits the gun. Many of the pancake compressors put quite a lot of particulate matter in the air line - OK if you’re using a staple gun or grinder but not good for painting.