- Published on Thursday, 15 April 2010 12:41 James Hatch
Harder & Steenbeck Airbrushes
- Evolution Silverline Solo
- Evolution Silverline fPc ‘Two in One’
- Infinity Solo
I have been lucky enough to receive 3 Harder & Steenbeck airbrushes from Everything Airbrush within the last week and have been giving them some extensive use. Those who know me know that I have used nothing other than Iwata airbrushes since I came back into modelling, and I have certainly never seen, let alone used any other brand. There seems to be two camps in the UK when it comes to modellers; those that swear Iwata are the best, and those that turn their nose at them and use Harder & Steenbeck airbrushes. I fell into the former category, I’m afraid to say, without a hint as to what the ‘opposition’ may actually be like. I do tend to be rather ‘stuck in my ways’ when it comes to trying out things new.
Harder & Steenbeck are a relative newcomer to the world of modelling, with its airbrushes being used for about every other application. This was going to be an interesting ride for me, especially when I decided to sacrifice my Messerschmitt Me 262 for the cause and do everything from the main surface spraying, down to the mottle.
Right, just what did I actually receive?
- Evolution Silverline Solo
- Evolution Silverline fPc ‘Two in One’
- Infinity Solo
Before I start, it’s as well to say that the first two airbrushes are very similar in specification. The ‘Two in One’ airbrush comes with a second needle, nozzle and colour cup to change it from a 0.15mm to 0.4mm setup, plus it comes with an ‘fPc’ valve (fine pressure control), whereas the Silverline Solo comes with a 0.2mm nozzle and 2ml colour cup as standard. Right, let’s take a look at each one before we put them through the ringer.
EVOLUTION Silverline Solo £93.99 incl.VAT
Presentation: This brush comes in a compact black plastic case with a transparent flip lid. The company name is emblazoned on the lid in silver. The first impressions here are very good. The package generally looks to be of a very high standard, and the airbrush within has a faultless nickel finish with the product name and details lightly and stylishly etched into the nickel work. One of the first things I do notice with this brush, and then subsequently on the others, is that they come with a quick release fitting as standard. My current setup has an Iwata brush on a quick release, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that this fitting was indeed compatible with what I already had. That is certainly a plus mark from me. The colour cup is quite small compared with what I am used to, but when you consider that this airbrush is fitted with a 0.2mm nozzle, the 2ml cup would be sufficient for most spraying jobs. After all, if you need another fill, it’s simple to do so. This colour cup can also be unscrewed in order to remove it to change it for a different size, should you need to. No other colour cup is supplied though. Don’t forget, this brush is known as a ‘Solo’. A well seated rubber ‘O’ ring within the chassis prevents any paint from seeping out.
As do some of the Iwata range, this airbrush also has a trigger limiter on the rear of the pen-like body. This can be screwed clockwise to limit the trigger down to the smallest of movements, and anti-clockwise to achieve full trigger stroke.
Now, how easily does this airbrush strip down? I notice no tools are supplied with this brush. No spanner as come supplied with the Iwata brushes. Ok, here we go. First of all, the rear section of the airbrush comes away with around only one full turn. Exposed now is the needle securing nut. As I loosen this to remove the needle, I notice the entry into this nut is bevelled inwards. That’s a nice touch as it will lessen the risk to the needle tip when re-inserted. Now, with this brush, and unlike those that I know, the trigger assembly is easily removable. To do this, I simply unscrew the rear section of the brush and the trigger assembly just drops out with ease. The trigger itself has a ball joint on its foot, and a crescent shape piece which interlocks into the middle section.
So far, so good!
Now, onto the nozzle. To access this, I unscrew the needle cap/air head assembly (in one) and the fluid nozzle is simply sitting within it and just drops out into the hand. No tools are needed! To clean the nozzle, it simply can’t be any easier! By now, I would normally have had a spanner out! The nozzle is also quite a large piece compared with the tiny Iwata ones. I know I refer to the Iwata from time to time, but don’t forget, this is what I find myself comparing this against, whether I like it or not.
Reassembly in reverse, and this airbrush can be stripped and cleaned in minutes, including a rebuild. When the needle is inserted, it seems to self centre very well and no obstacle causes it to catch as it makes its way back into the nozzle, sliding in with precision. Vorsprung durch technik!
With this brush though, there are seals and ‘O’ rings present, and I don’t have to worry about these on my Iwata. It would be prudent to ensure that you lose none of these when stripping this brush down, although as they are all well seated and none were loose.
How does this brush perform?
To keep these reviews simple and objective, I have used one medium which is Gunze Aqueous acrylic paint. I have also used the paint with a 50:50 mix ratio to Mr Thinner. I had absolutely no problems spraying this medium, complete with the cellulose thinners with this ratio of paint to thinner. I have been advised in future to try to thin this mix a little further, maybe to 40:60 paint to thinner. All test brushing, including that done on my model, was done at 15PSI.
This airbrush has absolutely no problem with spraying a nice broad surface as would normal on a model main coat. After my spray test, I used this airbrush to spray the underside of my Messerschmitt Me 262 with RLM 76. I would be more than happy to use this brush for such work in future. These coats went on with a beautifully smooth and even finish that I was very happy with.
Spraying lines, patterns and mottle was easily done. I had to adjust my spraying distances a little compared to what I usually use with my Iwata, and until I fathomed this out, I sprayed a little too closely and some paint did well up. Afterwards, I found I could manipulate this airbrush into spraying these test lines with no problems. As the colour cup is non-lidded, I had to make sure I didn’t pull any awkward manoeuvres due to the 2ml colour cup. During these tests, I didn’t have to clean the airbrush through once, except to change colours in between spraying my model and doing the initial test patterns. No clogging or poor spraying was experienced. I’ve always been poor at trying do spray fine lines, no matter what. This is just my lack of practice if I’m honest, but my attempts with this airbrush are certainly no worse than my previous attempts. This brush feels very comfortable to handle irrespective of what I try to spray.
What a great airbrush. I seemed to take to this far easier than I thought I would and I certainly noticed the difference in nozzle size between this and my regular HPC+. As well as detail work, this airbrush is perfect for those mottle finishes that we all dread and is also a good all round performer. For the price, the quality and performance of this airbrush is exceptional.
EVOLUTION Silverline fPc ‘Two in One’ £142.99 incl. VAT
Presentation: This is an eye opener! Inside the attractive card sleeve lies a bright yellow ergonomic presentation case with the word ‘EVOLUTION’ emblazoned over it. The case is lockable by means of 2 black sliding clips. Inside the box, apart from the airbrush, lies a second colour cup and a needle and nozzle set. For the sake of repetition, I’m not going to go into the minutiae of this brush as it’s basically the same as the Evolution Solo already mentioned above, BUT this is 2 airbrushes in one. This brush comes with a 2ml colour cup and a 0.15mm nozzle fitted as standard, but the extra set of parts enable you to change this into a setup with a 5ml colour cup and a 0.4mm nozzle. So as you see, it’s extremely versatile. There is, however, one other difference, and that is the ‘fPc’. So what is this? Well, it basically stands for ‘fine pressure control’, and is the equivalent of the MAC valve I am used to on my other airbrushes. On this airbrush, the fPc sits just above the hose quick-fit attachment and is a very smoothly operating sliding collar. The resistance in its movement is perfect as for it not to be easily moved while the airbrush is in full flow, to pardon the expression. The fPc is a perfect tool to finely control flow when doing very fine work, or to slightly vary the spray pattern if doing decorative finishes.
So, what about spraying?
This airbrush performs exactly like the previous one, but when it comes to spraying wide areas, the 0.4mm nozzle makes this a breeze. This airbrush feels very much like the ‘workhorse’ which would do just about any job I ask of it. I couldn’t tell much of a difference, if any, between the 0.15mm nozzle on this tool, and the 0.2mm on the Evolution Solo, but my, you can sure tell the difference between the smaller and larger needles here. This really is as good as having two airbrushes for not much difference in cost than just one! Spraying, again, was faultless, and by now I was getting the hang of the nuances of the H&S airbrushes. Again, lines, pattern or mottle, this sprayed absolutely wonderfully. I felt confident enough to use this airbrush for the main upper surfaces of my Me 262 model. If you look at the photos, all the upper surfaces, complete with freehand camouflage and mottle, is done with this airbrush. Slight variations with the ‘fPc’ made mottle a joy to do. I rate this airbrush very highly indeed.
This airbrush behaves in exactly the same way as the first one, with the exception of the fPc valve. Using the 0.4mm needle and nozzle assembly means that the largest areas us modellers wish to spray are very comfortable to deal with. Changing the assemblies over during a session is a quick affair and certainly not onerous. Cleaning is very easy and a delight to do both between colours and at session end. My only criticism is that I wish the colour cups came with lids, but hey, that’s only because I can be careless! Again, another fantastic airbrush. It made a wonderful job of my Messerschmitt Me 262 model. This speaks for itself.
Infinity Solo £147.99 incl. VAT
Presentation: This airbrush is presented in an extremely nice brushed aluminium case with a clear plastic lid insert. The whole lot is then inserted within a very attractive card sleeve. Well, I have to say that this brush looks a million dollars! The front end, from just behind the trigger, is in the highest quality nickel finish, and the whole rear section has a satin red anodized finish. The detail on the airbrush, such as the trigger assembly, Quick Fix and the middle component are all finished in polished gold. Certainly a very special looking airbrush. The airbrush name is subtly etched into the nickel too, again, very stylishly. The default set up for this airbrush is a 0.15mm nozzle and a 2ml colour cup. Again, the quick release hose fitting is present.
What about the features? Well. The first thing you notice is that the rear anodized section is cutaway. Within view are the needle securing nut and another adjustable control. This control increases/decreases the resistance on the trigger, giving total control to how much paint you allow to be sprayed. Coupled with this is the rather unusual ‘Quick Fix’ dial at the back of the airbrush. This is part of the control which allows you to vary the distance that the trigger can be pulled back, but this time you can precisely set your best position for a specific task by pushing in the button and dialling it in to the brush. To delete the setting, you simply pull the button out again. Genius! That will get some serious use in future.
The airbrush comes with a needle guard to protect it in transit. The reason for this is that the actual needle cap which is to be used whilst spraying, it a two pronged split type to ensure fine detail. This must always be removed when not in use and the cap replaced to prevent needle damage. This needle cap comes in a sealed bag with a nickel torsion bar.
This airbrush strips down in exactly the same manner as the above two brushes, but the middle section needs to be slackened off by means of the small torsion bar which you slip into one of the holes in the attractive golden middle section. Not much pressure is required to both loosen and tighten this. The colour cup is again detachable meaning that you can add a larger one if needed, and also a larger needle and nozzle. This airbrush is made as a ‘Two in One’ if you require that option from the outset though.
Ok, let’s get this airbrush wet!
As this brush is fitted with a 0.15mm nozzle as default, it would be foolhardy to buy this and expect it to do the larger areas of a model, unless you were working in 1/48 downwards. This is very much a fine detail brush, or at least I feel it is. Don’t get me wrong, this airbrush handled my usual 50:50 mixture of Gunze paint wonderfully, but this amazing airbrush is designed for the fine work that makes our models stand out from the rest. Spraying a wider area is still very easy, but then again, I am only spraying a small section of plasticard. All the other demands I made of this airbrush were handled with absolute ease. My mottle tests were actually a little easier than the previous airbrush, and made more so by the inclusion of the trigger resistance control. With this set quite high, and a low number dialled into the trigger limiter, I know I really couldn’t make a mess of the mottle. If this airbrush was fitted with the ‘fPc’ than that would have been a marriage made in heaven. Having said that, such a valve is quite inexpensive. Check out the Everything Airbrush website for more detail. I gave away the post shading on my Me 262 model, to this airbrush, plus some of the other smaller airbrush work for weathering. A faultless performance.
This airbrush is a precision, high tech piece of German tooling that I am very proud to now have in my collection. This will no doubt become a future workhorse of my toolbox. For a large scale modeller, this would primarily be used for detail. For smaller scales, this brush would pretty much wrap up both main and small detail work. For the price too, this is a great airbrush. Full marks from me.
Airbrushing work on this 1/32 Messerschmitt Me 262A-2a/U2 done using a combination of these Harder & Steenbeck airbrushes. See airbrush text for details.
My sincere thanks to the good folks of both Everything Airbrush and Harder & Steenbeck for these review samples. Please click the banners below to visit their sites.
Retail prices are correct at time of review