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Newsletter #129

Who Do You Trust?

As I write this, teachers in Chicago are on strike. One of the main issues is teacher evaluation. How can a teacher be evaluated? Is it just test scores, opinions of supervisors, parents and peers? Can any system really come up with a plan that works?

This got me thinking about how we all evaluate all sorts of things: products, movies, books, professionals, etc. In our fast moving world there are so many places to turn:

  • Magazines
  • Websites
  • Endorsements by pros
  • Word of mouth
  • Who sells the product
  • Do you trust that company representing the product
  • Reputations
  • Videos of the product in use

This reminds me of an unfortunate experience we had many years ago when the first Apollo sprayers were on the market. Unknown to us, a well-respected magazine wanted to evaluate the concept of HVLP spraying which was new to them. They contacted a high-end cabinetmaker and asked him to purchase and use a sprayer for a week. The article appeared and we were stunned. The comments:

  • The machine was too slow for a production shop
  • The material had to be thinned too much
  • Latex paint did not produce the desired result
  • The writer could not recommend our HVLP sprayers

We enquired and discovered that the production shop was using the smallest, lowest powered model, certainly not recommended for a production shop. We agreed with the finding. A more reasonable way to evaluate HVLP in this situation would have been with our most powerful machine at that time which would have done the job.

The magazine understood and the following month printed a letter to the editor from us, with our explanation, but damage had been done.

So here’s the lesson we learned. We are happy to have our equipment reviewed by people who are:

  • Using the right machine with the right coatings for the correct tasks
  • Knowledgeable about the technology
  • Ready to ask us questions when necessary
  • Using the review as an opportunity to give accurate and valuable information

This, of course has happened many times and we are most appreciative of the care and effort that go into a realistic review. I know many other manufacturers feel as I do.

I use the same guidelines whenever I’m researching any prospective purchase, be it a camera, a computer or a car.

Just to show off a little-here is a link to a great review that the Apollo Model 1050VR got in “Shop Proven Products” in the November issue of WOOD Magazine. Plus, here’s a link to the terrific video where the 1050VR is being put through its paces by Topcoat Review.


Sr. Vice President and COO

Apollo Sprayers International, Inc.


Product of the Month: Apollo Filter Stand

It’s funny how a simple tool can make all the difference to the success of a project. If you’ve ever spilled your coating in the process of filling your container, you know how it can really ruin your day! This handy device puts an end to that aggravation! It allows you to place a filter cone into the filter holder, place a 1 quart or a 2 quart coating container underneath the filter cone and easily pour your favorite coating through the filter cone. The cone traps any unwanted particles, dirt or lumps. It not only prevents wasted hours of clean up from spills but by filtering your material before filling your containers it ensures that nothing will ever clog your favorite spray gun again.

Finishing Feature Article by Charles Neil:

The Beauty of Waterborne Finishes

It’s a rare finishing class that I don’t get someone who has been a die-hard user of solvents, such as lacquer, conversion varnish and the like, who is reluctant to try waterbornes. There is certainly nothing wrong with those finishes, after all they have been around for years and have stood the test of time.

Waterborne finishes are the new kid on the block, right? Well sort of. Ever used latex paint, either interior or exterior? Well, that is basically a waterborne finish and it too has stood the test of time. Now, thanks to some creative chemistry we have waterborne coatings for furniture, automotive and READ MORE

Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Filters for an Air Compressor


You should be aware that moisture and oil can get into the air line and spray gun from your air compressor and mess up your work. This is one of the disadvantages of using an air compressor instead of a turbine to supply air. There’s no possibility of moisture or oil being transferred from a turbine.

To reduce the possibility of moisture getting into the air ine, drain the compressor’s tank on a regular basis. Oil usually enters the system through deteriorated gasket seals, so you shouldn’t have an oil problem unless the compressor is old.

To deal with both problems, you can install filters like those shown in the accompanying picture. There are many varieties of filters, including filters that can be hooked directly to the hose, just before it attaches to the spray gun.

If your finish supplier doesn’t carry filters, try an auto-body supply store.


Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Using a Viscosity Cupviscosity-cup.jpg

Finishes vary in viscosity (thickness in liquid form) depending on their type and formulation, and especially in temperature differences. The viscosity is thicker when the finish is cold and thinner when the finish is warm.

To measure viscosity dip a viscosity cup into a finish so the cup is full. Then lift the cup out of the finish and begin timing the drainage with a stopwatch. When the stream breaks, indicating that the cup is empty, stop the timer. The number of seconds is the measure of the viscosity.

There are many types of viscosity cups. Some are quite expensive. The most common cups used in finishing are the Ford #4 and the Zahn #2. You can go online and find conversion tables.

Finish manufacturers sometimes tell you the viscosity at which their finish should be sprayed for best results. But I’ve never found these numbers to be more than just general guidelines because the type of gun, air pressure and whether you’re using an air compressor or turbine, all make a difference.

I’ve found viscosity cups more helpful for dealing with temperature differences. If you determine that you get good results (usually meaning minimal orange peel) at a certain temperature and number of seconds drainage through a viscosity cup, it’s easy to check against this when the temperature is different. You’ll know if you need to add thinner or increase or decrease air pressure.

Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: How to Minimize Finish Odor

If you want as little finish smell as possible—for example, on cabinets in a house or office that is occupied, or on the inside of a box or chest—there are two finishes to choose between: water-based finish and shellac.

Other finishes, including oils, varnishes and lacquers will require days and maybe longer for all the residual odor to dissipate.

There are two major differences between water-based finish and shellac. Water-based finish is more scratch resistant and imparts no coloring to the wood. Shellac will scratch easier and add a warm yellow-orange tone to the wood.

Both dry rapidly, so you can apply multiple coats in a day. But you have to work fast if you are brushing, especially on complex surfaces such as the chair pictured.