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Tips for Cleaning Your Airbrush

Pictured is a Masters Gravity Flow Double Action Airbrush

From time to time you might need to disassemble your airbrush for cleaning.

Representative Parts list for Masters Airbrush.

Typically the needle travel adjustment knob does not have to be removed for cleaning.  When necessary, the knob can easily be removed from the handle without losing any parts.

The handle is removed from the body to expose the needle chuck.

The needle chuck nut is removed and the needle slides out of the needle chuck guide and body.

The needle holds the trigger from dropping out of the body.  Do not be alarmed if the trigger drops out when the body of the airbrush is turned upside down.


The spring case nut can be hard to locate.  Only the end is protruding from the body.  Remove the nut and the needle spring, needle spring guide, and the winged back lever can all be removed as a unit.  Note, when installed, the winged back lever has the small end up and the small end slides along the slot behind the trigger.   It the trigger has not dropped out, it can easily be removed at this point.

The needle cap, nozzle cap, and nozzle are removed from the front of the body.  The needle does not have to be removed first, however, by first removing the needle first, both the sharp point of the needle and the user can be protected.  To remove the nozzle, the small wrench is helpful, but the wrench should always be used with the slightest amount of torque.

To clean the needle, drag the needle along a cloth.  Different types of cleaner can be used.  For acrylics, water, alcohol, or window cleaner work well.  For oil paints, WD-40, lacquer thinner, carbonate cleaner all work well.

As you clean the needle and a small line of paint is left behind, you probably found the problem as to why your airbrush is not working.  Also note how the nozzle cap has a buildup of paint.  The buildup is common and will need cleaned from time to time.  An excessive accumulation of liquid paint on the nozzle cap can cause splatters to occur.  If you hang your airbrush for a few minutes, paint can also dry on the nozzle and partially block the airflow.

Below is a nozzle cap that is partially blocked with paint.  A round pointed wood tooth pick or airbrush cleaning tool works well to clean these small orifices.

Check the nozzle for paint buildup.  A small diameter wire or wire brush can be used to push out paint debris.

Check the needle seat in the body.  Sometimes a light is needed.  Make sure you have a nice round seat with no obstructions.

The last couple of pieces to be removed are the air valve assembly and quick release adapter.  The air valve assembly is a self contained piece.  Therefore, any loss of parts is minimized.  One does need to watch for the O rings. 

Typically, the air valve assembly does not have to be removed for cleaning, but removal will greatly enhance trying to get the trigger back into body and correctly positioned.

The cup cap has a small hole that must always be open.  Any time the airbrush is laid on it’s side, the hole in the cup cap will most likely become clogged.  Always try to hang or support the airbrush in an upright position.   Again a tooth pick or sharp airbrush cleaning tool works great to fix this minor problem.

Reassembly of the three nose pieces is in reverse order from which they were removed.  Be careful to watch for the small O ring around the nozzle.  I suggest tightening the parts only finger tight.  Using your fingers will also minimize the chance of cross threading.

If you do not feel you can get the nozzle snug, only use the wrench for a 1/8 of a turn.

Slide the needle spring, needle spring guide, and the winged back lever unit into position.  Then drop the trigger into position with the cylinder on the bottom of the trigger sliding into the hole on the bottom of the body.

Flip the body over to check if the cylinder of the trigger is seated within the O ring. 

Start the spring case nut and slide the trigger back and forth to make sure everything is free to move as you secure the nut.


Be sure to get the nut seated finger tight into the body.

Use your finger to guide and protect the end of the needle as you slide it into the needle guide.  The needle will slide through the slot in the trigger.  Typically the trigger will align for receiving the needle, but just in case the trigger slot is not aligned, be gentle as to not bend the needle point.

Watch for the needle to protrude from the nozzle.

Only the slightest amount of pressure is used to slide the needle into position within the nozzle.

Secure the needle with the chuck nut.

Retract the needle with the trigger before putting on the nozzle cap.  Only finger snug with the nozzle cap.

Again, retract the needle before securing the needle cap.  The needle cap is not necessary to operate the airbrush.  The cap protects the needle and aids to fan out the spray.  If you desire a very fine line of spray, the airbrush can be used without the cap.

Time to double check that the O rings are still in place around the air valve assembly.  The air valve is screwed into the body.  The quick connect is then screwed onto the air valve assembly.  The quick connect is not necessary, and the air supply hose can be connected directly onto the air valve assembly.

The quick connect makes disconnecting the airbrush from the air hose much easier and you can easily change out an airbrush if all your airbrushes have the quick connect.

Now that your airbrush is ready to go, let’s get back to painting.


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