Initial Impressions of Qualspray Spray Gun
  Re: (...)
I have two projects where I need to apply a very nice painted finish. Many paint primers and topcoats have a lot higher viscosity than clear coats. My prior experience with paint told me I needed a new spray gun to do the kind of job I wanted to do. Researching spray guns has to be one of the most confusing undertakings you can do as a woodworker. Nearly no one says "If you want to spray this, use this.". I seriously considered buying a 3M Accuspray gun with replaceable nozzles because it would so easy to clean. Some people thought they spray great, others said they had problems. I also seriously considered the 3M PPS spray cups because of it's ease of cleaning and the fact that you can spray at any angle with it, including upside down. In the end, I did what I should have done in the beginning. I called Jeff Jewitt at Homestead Finishing and told him what I wanted to spray. He immediately said "Oh, you need an AM Smartpak gun." It's a pressurized bottom cup gun that he claims can spray anything from shellac and lacquer up to latex paint. I ended up buying the AM-6008/PPS, which uses a 30 oz pressurized PPS cup. I bought the HVLP gun because my compressor can easily supply the 10 CFM it needs. For smaller compressors he offers a LVLP version.

I ordered the gun on Monday AM and it arrived on Tuesday AM. Talk about great service. The gun is packed in a nice padded plastic case, and contains 3 needles and nozzles, 3 air caps, a spare parts kit, and a cleaning brush and wrench.

Jeff includes are very well written set of instructions with the gun. 3M's PPS documentation was included with their cup, too.

The PPS cup system consists of a rigid outer cup and retaining ring, and an inner, replaceable flexible cup and cap with integral filter.

Here is the gun loaded with Sealcoat shellac. There are two pressure regulators. The one closest to the gun, included with the kit, controls the pressure to the PPS cup; you'll see a hose going from that regulator to the bottom of the cup. It's adjustable up to 10 psi, but you basically just set it at 5 psi for most materials. The lower regulator, not included with the kit, is used to set the inlet air pressure to the gun. With this gun you normally set it at 29 psi. The PPS cup attaches to the gun by pushing the gun adapter tube down over the filter cap and turning 1/4 turn to lock it in place.

After filling the cup and attaching it to the gun, you pull the trigger to pressurize the cup. That collapses the flexible inner cup and forces fluid up into the gun. When the gun starts to spray you are ready to go.

I used the 1.1 mm needle and nozzle to spray the Sealcoat. The flow and pattern were easy to adjust with the two control knobs, following Jeff's instructions, and I had no trouble spraying my drawer boxes. When that was dry I switched to EnduroVar and the 1.3 mm needle/nozzle set and top coated the drawers. EnduroVar has not been that easy for me to spray with my gravity feed HVLP guns, but it was easy peasy with this gun. I got very uniform coverage and very little to no orange peel.

OK, I was feeling good, but now the real test. Paint. I needed to prime and paint a laboratory cabinet and drawer faces I've been working on. I bought BIN Shellac primer and GF's Enduro White Poly for it. The product data sheet for the BIN said the viscosity was 60 KU, which is about 74 seconds through a #4 Ford cup, but I measured only 25 - 30 seconds. Curious. So, at that low measured viscosity I used the 1.1 needle/nozzle set and it sprayed fantastic. The photos are poor, but hopefully will give you some idea of how good it came out. Absolutely uniform with no orange peel, runs, sags, etc.

I sprayed two coats, sanding lightly in between to knock off the whiskers, and filling a couple of pin holes. It's silky smooth now and ready for top coating when the Enduro Pigmented Poly arrives.

Clean up was very simple with the PPS cup. The outer cup never sees liquid so the only clean up is wipe off any overspray. You can clean out the flexible cup or dispose of it. I'm cheap, so I cleaned it out which was pretty simple. I just doused it with ammonia and then soapy water. The gun, however, is no different than most others and required a near complete break down to get all the BIN out of it. This is where the 3M Accuspray gun would have an advantage. But the Qualspray gun sprays beautifully so I'm not complaining.

I hope this little review might be of use to others trying to sort through the maze of spray gun options. I think this gun is going to be my preferred setup for most everything I spray. I'll report back how it worked on the Enduro Pigmented Poly, which is supposed to be around 65 seconds viscosity.

  Re: Initial Impressions of Qualspray Spray Gun by jteneyck (I have two projects ...)
Great Review.

You can eliminate the second regulator for the PPS cup if you drill a tiny hole in the cup to relieve a little pressure. I've seen it done. Since your turbine always puts out a constant PSI, it shouldn't need to be adjustable. I'm a fan of the AccuSpray because they spray great, last forever, parts are easy to get and they're the only gun on the market that can be opened to clean. But, if you properly clean out your gun after each use, you will never have to open the gun unless you just want to see what's inside. I've never had a problem with an AccuSpray that wasn't directly attributed to lack of maintenance (cleaning). I use them every day.

It's nice to see a gun like the Qualspray shipped with several tips, needles and caps. It makes a world of difference when using different finishes. It's also nice to see that Qualspray didn't try to re-invent the wheel. It's a very basic, tried and true design.

I have problems with my Apollo guns and all of them are directly related to their unique design and their quirks. Simple is usually better when it comes to the ease of use and reliability of spray equipment.
  Re: Re: Initial Impressions of Qualspray Spray Gun by Snipe Hunter (Great Review. [br][b...)
Thanks Snipe. This gun runs on compressed air with the incoming air pressure at 29 psi, but it's adjustable. I don't think running a line directly to the cup would be a good idea. It has a pressure relief valve built into the bottom of the cup that I think trips around 10 psi. The cup pressure regulator that comes with the gun is meant to run at around 5 psi and there is a relief valve that will open if you exceed that by much. You can adjust the relief valve setting up to a maximum of 10 psi so you can run the cup up to it's rated limit, but that's it. Jeff Jewitt's instructions recommend running the pressure to the cup at around 5 psi normally, but to increase it to 7 - 8 psi for really viscous paint. When I get time I will install a separate gun inlet regulator on the wall nearby so that I can get rid of the first regulator at the gun. That will make it less awkward to handle.

I agree, it's nice that the gun came with more than one needle/nozzle set. That's one of the reasons I bought it; so that I could spray a wide range of materials. He sells additional needle/nozzles sets for it, from 0.9 - 2.5 mm, IIRC, at about $50 per set.

I was pretty happy using my cheap HVLP gravity guns until I sprayed with this gun. I got good results with them, but this one makes it a lot easier to lay down a smooth, consistent finish.

  Re: Initial Impressions of Qualspray Spray Gun by jteneyck (I have two projects ...)
In case you didn't see my post in the Woodworking forum, I finished the cabinet shown above by spraying two coats of General Finishes Enduro White Poly. That product has a stated viscosity of about 70 seconds #4 Ford cup, but I measured it around 100 seconds. But I tried spraying it with the 1.3 mm needle/nozzle set and it came out beautifully. The pressurized cup makes all the difference spraying these thick finishes.

I'm very pleased with the Qualspray AM-6800/PPS gun and 3M H/O PPS cup combination. It can spray the entire range of products I likely will need to spray. The gun is easy to adjust and sprays a very consistent, well patterned fan. Fit and finish seem very good. And I highly recommend the 3M PPS system. It has a built in filter, is dead simple to clean, and offers the advantage of being able to spray at angle angle including upside down. It is available in unpressurized and pressurized versions, for use with both bottom and gravity feed guns. Even the unpressurized version can be used to spray upside down.

  Re: Re: Initial Impressions of Qualspray Spray Gun by jteneyck (In case you didn't s...)
Several years ago I talked with Jeff and he recommended the gun you got. At that time I was expecting to spray paint. Once I decided I was only going to spray clears I waffled between your gun and the gravity version. I only have experience with the a cheap gravity gun so I ended up with the gravity version. It works so much better than the cheap HF gun. Nice to see a review of the pressure pot version.
  Re: Initial Impressions of Qualspray Spray Gun by jteneyck (I have two projects ...)
Great review John! This has been a big help in my decision making process. I spoke with Jeff yesterday and discussed my finishing needs and we came to the same solution as you did except I will be going with the LVLP version based on the compressor I have. Thank you for putting your review together and sharing.
  Re: Re: Initial Impressions of Qualspray Spray Gun by AdamR (Great review John! ...)
Happy it was of help, Adam. If the LVLP sprays like the HVLP version you will be very happy. Which cup did you go with?

I see that my photos above are gone; I must have moved some files. So here they are again in case anyone is interested.

  Re: Re: Initial Impressions of Qualspray Spray Gun by jteneyck (Happy it was of help...)
I will be ordering mine on Monday and going with the identical 3M PPS that you have. Thanks again and your results look great!
  Re: Initial Impressions of Qualspray Spray Gun by jteneyck (I have two projects ...)
Got a link for this system?? Interested.
" The founding fathers weren't trying to protect citizens' rights to have an interesting hobby." I Learn Each Day 1/18/13
  Re: Re: Initial Impressions of Qualspray Spray Gun by Gregory of Sherwood Forest (Got a link for this ...)
Look for the AM Series Smartpack guns on this page. There are both LVLP and HVLP versions. I bought the HVLP one with the 3M PPS H/O cup because my compressor has enough CFM for it. I used it again over the past three days and am very pleased with how well it sprays.


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