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I bought a Gravity Feed HVLP spray gun from Harbor Freight. The brand name is Central Pneumatic. It was their low end model, and used to goes on sale for $40. Now, the same gun (or a very similar model) is more expensive. There is no indication of who manufactured the spray gun, and from the package I'm not sure where it was made. I'm pretty sure it's was made in Taiwan or China.

Built quality is good to very good. I only found nearly microscopic burrs inside the spray nozzle where the small nozzle hole had been drilled. There are no rough edges. It works smoothly, and all the adjustments are smooth. It includes a regulator. The handle is anodized green. It includes a little regulator that attaches to the handle between the gun and the air line.

Air use is a little high for my compressor, which is only rated at about 3 SCFM. I have not timed the compressor cycles, but it feels like I need to work slow in order not to exceed the 50% duty cycle on the compressor motor (30 minutes running out of every hour). If you are serious about painting, the smallest compressor you can use is probably in the 9 SCFM range.

It's a nice tool, and works well. The instructions are nearly useless. There is zero guidance on how to get fine spray at a low pressure. I'm still experimenting around. I'm not sure I've tried lowering the pressure and opening up the air flow valve. I tried a few combinations. At low pressure I got a splatter of paint, not spray. It is possible that the pressure was ok, but I need to open the air valve more at these low pressures.

In any case, this is a good spray gun, and may or may not be a true HVLP. It has far LESS overspray than a Devibliss Touch Up gun that I bought from (and returned to) Lowes Building Supply. The Harbor Freight HVLP gun has acceptable overspray. In contrast, the Devibliss Touch Up gun made a cloud of high speed, fine paint mist that was probably 80% overspray (or more).

Even as inexperienced as I am, I can adjust the HVLP gun to make a fine spray with probably less overspray than a spray can. If I adjust it to a fan-shaped spray pattern the gun uses huge amounts of air, so I use the round spray pattern.

At very low pressures, it doesn't atomize the paint well. My guess is that there is a trade off between overspray and a fine spray pattern. Still, remember that I'm going to try another adjustment next time I paint.

Pouring paint is a real mess, and pouring reducer (what the paint industry calls thinner) is even worse. Happily, I discovered that plastic turkey basters (with a rubber bulb) work great for moving small amounts of paint and reducer with minimal mess. It's great.

I've heard that using the same spray gun for primer and paint can be a problem. Primer dries VERY fast, and could easily clog the gun. The instant you are done with the primer (or if you take a break), get some reducer or cleaning thinner into the gun. It only takes a couple of table spoons. Don't spray your grass - it will kill the lawn. I spray into a trash can, or onto some used Beetle body parts near by. I swirl thinner around the paint cup, and pour it back into my reduced-ready-to-spary jar of primer. The primer I use is reduced with the same thinner used to clean up. I have also found that closing the air valve will enable thinner to just run out the spray tip. This seems to clean the gun without creating a cloud of thinner.

I keep a jar of not-so-clean thinner that has been used to rinse the gun. I think this thinner can be used a couple of times before being discarded. I suck a couple of table spoons of clean thinner out of a jar with the turkey baster, and rinse the gun. It is essentially impossible to pour thinner out of a 1/2 gallon can without making a huge mess. Remember, most of this stuff causes cancer. Less mess is good. I transfer some thinner to a clean jar.

I know I shouldn't use jars, but I don't have a stock of clean cans. If you have a suggestion, please email me.

Harbor freight makes their money on the $5 handling charge, and on the $5 shipping which takes 7 to 14 days. Orders over $50 have no handling charge, so think of something else you need. Orders by phone or online take 48 hours to process.

The big mystery to me is why Harbor Freight is the only supplier with an HVLP spray gun for $40. The next least expensive HVLP gun is well over $100. Devilbiss has a few Taiwan made non-HVLP spray guns that start around $40 (and are probably junk). What gives? The other products at Harbor Frieght seem to have normal prices. There's something weird about the spray gun market, and HVLP guns in particular. Clearly, to most manufacturers, HVLP = expensive. There is no magic technology to HVLP, just improved design and air flow control.


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