Review of Wagner Control Spray (tm) Plus
I have been using Timeless varnish on my canvas work for a couple of years, rolling it on with much fuss and loss of varnish in clean up. I drooled over the Fuji HVLP sprayer but couldn't justify spending $400-500 on a tool I would use only a few times a year.
Recently I noticed BC has posted the Wagner Control Spray (tm) Plus HVLP sprayer on the site. This unit costs $80, 1/5th of the Fuji device. I ordered one and it showed up last week.
Lots of plastic - all plastic if you don't count the metal varnish cup and a few pins. What do you expect for $80?
Still, it has a viscosity measuring device and some instructions. I had to thin Timeless down 1:6 with distilled water (1 part water, 6 parts Timeless) to get the test time down under 30 seconds.
Then I messed with some old canvas prints.
First, I made a highly informal spray booth in my shower, lining it with lowball painter's plastic drop cloth. That blew all over the place with the sprayer air alone, so I added a piece of foam core board and pinned the canvas to that. I also wore a serious dust mask - not the kind you use in the 'flu clinic - but one I use for spraying glyphosate (Roundup) on my farm - an organic vapor mask plus an eye shield. I also ran the extractor blower in the bathroom.
That done, I messed with the spray volume control, finally setting it on close to the lowest varnish flow setting (light trigger). A few of my earlier efforts with heavier sprays dripped and ran significantly (the media was mounted vertically). I also set the spray pattern to a vertical ellipse and held the spray nozzle about 12" from the workpiece, moving the sprayer at about 1 foot/second and keeping it at a constant distance from the workpiece. The buildup of varnish was very low on each pass but 4-5 passes like this gave me a decent coating - very even, no drips, bubbles, smears, etc.
When I was done I had nearly a full cup of product left - very little had actually gone onto the workpiece. This is actually what I wanted - a thin coating of varnish to protect but not enough to alter the appearance of the finished image. I returned the leftover to my Timeless bucket. Next time I will have to use less distilled water to thin and eventually my Timeless stock will be the correct viscosity for shooting with the spray unit.
At this point I highly recommend the Wagner unit - can't miss for $80. Cleanup is easy - just take it apart, wash in warm soapy water (don't wash the turbine unit!) and you are ready for the next spray job.
I have yet to mount the finished canvas on stretchers - that will come next week - but the current result looks just as good as my laborious roller jobs. Plus I used a fraction of the amount of varnish that went into the roller/pan and went down the drain in cleanup.
Considering that Timeless runs ~$100/gallon, an $80 dollar sprayer is not a bad investment. I'm sure the Fuji unit is easier to use but I'm not sure the results would be any different.
January 28, 2013, 8:25 pm