OOPSIE, and The Consequences Thereof
Let's start at the beginning, or maybe quite a bit before then. I acquired my first airbrush back in 1968, an early-60s Paasche H given to me by the next-door neighbor of a girlfriend. It was and still is a quality piece of work and I still have it, velvet-lined case and all, although it must be admitted it hasn't been used in a very long time. These days it's mostly a treasured keepsake of my early days in "serious" modeling, albeit one that could easily be put back into service if necessary.
1968 was a watershed year for me in many ways, but the two that matter to this ramble are that Paasche H and the Binks hobby compressor I purchased to feed its requisite air supply. That first Binks compressor was a horse; it always worked and it was seemingly unbreakable. It was in almost daily use for some 20 years before finally giving up the ghost when it became the victim of a ruptured diaphragm in late 1988. Still, it had proven itself, which mandated an easy decision to replace it with an identical unit. That replacement is still chugging along, or at least it was when I retired it in favor of the far quieter Paasche D3000R my wife gave me for Christmas back in 2015. Ah; that Paasche! It was a revelation because it had an air tank, a water trap, and a pressure regulator built into the unit; none of which were present on either Binks as-purchased, plus the Paasche was nearly silent since it ran off the compressed air stored in the tank most of the time, a huge plus in the ongoing game of ensuring domestic tranquility on the home front. (Translation: Mama don't like that compressor noise!)
Nothing lasts forever, though, and that spiffy Paasche compressor gradually began cycling more and more frequently and taking longer to fill the air tank each time it cycled, which should have been a tip-off of some sort if I had been paying any attention at all, but of course I hadn't been. A cursory check and several leak-down tests had proven to me that none of the various air fittings on the unit were compromised even though the holding tank no longer held pressure for very long, so the whole thing was written off as the idiosyncrasies of an aging compressor. Stuff happens, right?
That's been the status quo for several months now, but everything changed a week or so ago. There were warning signs, as there so often are in Life, but like so many of us I chose to ignore them until The Fateful Night which began as I went to bed and was told by my wife that the compressor was running again. That's wasn't unusual so I made some sort of reply that involved ignoring the compressor until the next day, and I went to bed. That was Strike One. Strike Two came at 0330 the next morning when I got up to answer natures' call and noticed the compressor was merrily compressing away, apparently without making any progress at all where filling its modest storage tank was concerned. That's not what's supposed to happen so the continual racket should have been yet another a major flag for me, but the need for sleep overcame any curiosity on my part so I went back to bed. Strike Three came when I got up at 0630 and discovered the darned thing was still running! That finally stirred me from the grasp of Self-Induced Oblivion and I went over to turn the darned thing off, only to discover that it had somehow managed to pee a nasty greyish liquid all over the carpet in the space where it sat beside my modeling desk. Yes; it was, and still is, a Stupid Thing to keep a compressor on a piece of unprotected carpet and I never should have done it, but then I'd never had any personal experience with an oil-less hobby compressor puking assorted nastiness all over the floor either. Who would've thought that could even happen!
Then I noticed the compressor, which had been running until the moment I manually shut it off, wasn't actually compressing anything; it was just merrily humming away and making no productive contribution to the situation whatsoever. A close examination led to the discovery of a hole, maybe a 16th of an inch in more-or-less diameter at the edge of the holding tank, pretty much where you would find the weld that attached the end cap to the unit. A phone call to Paasche seemed in order but that only produced a No-Joy moment for me because their compressors, or mine anyway, are only warranted for one year and I'd had this one for far longer than that. The guys over there were nice enough, you understand, but they weren't any help at all, although they did take the time to section a compressor tank to show me they all would exhibit some degree of rusting over time and there were definite signs of rusting around that hole in my unit (but not on the carpet; go figure). They also assured me, multiple times and in three-part harmony, that both halves of the problem were mine because the unit was several years out of warranty---an unpleasant reality, if you will---and there I was, hard down with no recourse as far as the manufacturer was concerned. It was time to Work the Problem.
The immediate solution was simple enough. A miraculous cleaning product called Spot Shot took away every vestige of staining from the afflicted carpet. The tank repair was simple too: The rusted-out hole was enlarged with a drill and a sheet-metal screw of a greater diameter than the hole I'd just made was wrenched into place using epoxy as a potting agent to ensure the thing couldn't possibly leak anymore, which it doesn't. The tank holds pressure, I can paint again, the carpet is clean, and everything is probably as good as it can be except that now I think there's some sort of pressure relief valve that's beginning to fail too, which takes us to today's lesson, to wit:
Don't ignore the obvious. If your compressor, airbrush, or any other tool or fixture you use is acting in a peculiar manner it would probably behoove you to investigate the reason it's doing that. Throwing in a little basic preventive action too, such as putting a compressor in a shallow plastic tub or similar before you even turn it on, can help matters considerably and you can save yourself some grief down the road.
In hindsight, I'm guessing there was a pinhole at that weld in the tank that allowed the rust monster to develop to the point where a penetration was the inevitable result of what I'm thinking was inadequate QC at the manufacturer's level. (I was a certified aircraft welder in my younger days and I've got more than a passing familiarity with such things...) The cause really doesn't matter very much, though, because I could've/should've investigated the situation when the unit very first began to act up and I didn't. I also could've/should've had some sort of containment under the compressor, to keep the rubber pads on its feet from discoloring the floor if nothing else but I didn't do that either. Jeez, Phillip...
My ultimate solution was a new compressor, relegating the Paasche to the status of backup unit. That came with a personal decision to avoid that company's compressors as well, although it must be said that hobby compressors belong to that family of devices that can no longer be economically produced within the United States, thus rendering them all to be somewhat at long-term risk of failure. It's not so much a case that one compressor is Good while others are Bad, but rather a case of paying attention to your tools. That means I discovered once again that there's always something to learn and taking the time to do that would lead to a better outcome at the end of the day. You'd think I'd know that by now...
What We Think and What It Really Was
We live in interesting times. If you're reading this blog it's because you're an aviation enthusiast, and maybe a scale modeler too. You collect resources, you buy books, and you might even scour the deepest reaches of eBay looking for old photographs of airplanes to add to your collection of references. You quite possibly build model airplanes as well, with the substantial investment in kits, paint, decals, and accessories that comes with that hobby. If you're like most of us, your view of such things has been greatly influenced by the documentaries and movies that are out there, but rarely has there any thought to what we're going to call The Truth. We're going to take a minute to share a couple of photos provided to us by Bobby Rocker to illustrate what we mean.
No idea who the pilot is; 99% chance it’s not Paul Palmer.
NG706 is not listed as being lost on that deployment. VA-36 lost four jets on that deployment with two pilots made POWs, one recovered and one KIA.
VA-36 Roadrunners (callsign “Gale Force”) were an east coast squadron attached to CVW-9 for Enterprise’s first combat deployment. The Air Wing had a unique four Skyhawk attack complement with VA-36, VA-76, VA-93 and VA-94 attached along with Phantom squadrons VF-92 and VF-96 and the normal “cats and dogs”.
Besides the Shoehorn mods you can also see the under-cockpit antenna for AGM-12 Bullpup guidance.
Thanks very much to Rick for sharing this one---what a photo!
And that's it for today, ya'll. Be kind to your neighbors and we'll meet again soon!