I just want to start out by saying that I've been browsing (lurking) this forum for about a week now, and I am totally impressed by the professionalism displayed here. Not just the learned skill, but the overall attitude (or lack of) of most of you guys. No smart-ass comments, no "I'm better than you, so you should listen to what I have to say" b-s. I've never seen a forum like this...Nice job!!

Let it be known that I've loved painting since I was a kid...I started painting at age 10 or so (I'm 52 now). Rattle cans, brushes, etc. I still **** at freehand stuff..lol. I'm a lefty, so my symmetry is lousy at best. I'm also self-taught, and I've always had the attitude of "I can do this, screw what everybody else says". I also have a hard time listening to someone else telling me how to do things...one of my pitfalls...lol.

I've been trying to master the art of skilled painting for about 15 years. I started out in my driveway and basement, and had good results (good, not great). I opened my cycle shop in 2013, and did a few paint jobs in a not-so-sterile environment. They came out OK, but there was lots of room for improvement.

In 2015, I started hitting it hard, buying low-grade equipment and wondering why my stuff wasn't coming out as good as the stuff I shot in my driveway. Part of it was that the paint room was right next to our powder coating area...lots of dust. When we moved our shop just a few months ago, the new spot had a separate room that at first glance, I thought "Yes!! A dedicated paint room"!! A customer of ours paints a lot, and helped setup the new paint room, and I gave him full access to use it for helping out. He turned me on to a local paint shop, and had me go there to buy his supplies so that he could paint some of our stuff as well. By this time, I had resigned myself to the fact that I couldn't shoot worth s--t, and I'd rather pay a guy to paint for us.

After talking to the owner (a 45 yr veteran of painting) of the paint supply shop for a few days, he stopped by, and checked out our room. He instantly pointed out several things that were wrong, and why my paint was coming out horrible. We discovered that one of the airline valves had a nylon ball in it, which was lubed with grease...not ideal for paint. He recommended using a different (not cheap) regulator on the gun. He also pointed out that the wax/grease remover was wrong as well. We were using DupliColor, and it turns out it is soy/water based...not ideal for paint prep. This stuff is what was causing minor pits in the paint and clear. So, after replacing all the airlines that were contaminated with grease, and buying a $70 regulator, I said "F--k it, let's go all the way", and bought a new medium grade gun, better sandpaper, proper sanding blocks, a better canister filter ($250), better polishes and pastes, better buffer, and higher grade paints and clears.

The result was amazing!! The best $1k I ever spent!! The base sprayed like a 5 yr old could do it, and the clear sprayed like glass. Only a couple dust specks made their way into the paint room, and of course, found their way into the clear. Easy enough to fix with the proper blocks and paper. So, for 5 years, I've been "perfecting" my technique with junk equipment, and it's paid off. "Train hard, so that you may fight easy" is an old adage of mine. Using cheap gear really made me fine tune my own skills to the point of near perfection.

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I also started airbrushing and pinstriping about 3 years ago...Airbrushing I can handle...pinstriping, not so much. That's gonna take a lot more practice. But hey, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it, right? lol...

Thanks again for creating such a warm, friendly forum...I'm really digging the folks here, and the overall wealth of knowledge. I'll be lurking around...I really am a man of few words. (BS Jd!! Look at the friggin novel you just wrote!!)