Hoses and Turbines

Flexible hoses make working with a sprayer significantly easier, especially on site, where you're moving often, changing rooms, or working on staging. And since putting an HVLP gun down with the hose on is both close to impossible and a sure way to spill paint, a turbine with a cup holder is nice.

Hoses. Lemmer, Apollo, Campbell Hausfeld, and Turbinaire all have the best, most flexible hoses of the group. All of them are supple and can easily bend out of the way or wrap around your wrist, which I sometimes do to keep the hose off the work. A flexible hose also puts less strain on the gun?and on you?by allowing you to move around more freely, making the gun feel lighter and less tiring to hold. The thicker hoses on the Fuji, SprayTech, and Graco make the guns feel a little heavier and less mobile.

Turbines. All of the turbines supply the pressure needed for atomization and to keep the cup pressurized. They differ, however, in size and layout. Graco's is excellent: It's a mid-size unit that has great tool and fluid-set storage right on board. It has a cup holder, too, but it's positioned too low to store the gun with the hose on. The compact Lemmer turbine has a screw-on cup holder that allows you to store the gun with the hose on. You also can remove the cup holder and affix it to something else, like a wall in your shop, for easy storage, which I really like. If you're pressed for room in the van or shop, Turbinaire's turbine is the smallest and easiest to move around followed up by Campbell Hausfeld's. Apollo and Fuji are mid-sized units. The SprayTech is the bulkiest, but it has a great cup holder, which allows you to store the gun securely with the hose on.

Winners

Because each unit applied finishes so well, it comes down setup, cleanup, and how each tool settled in my hand during long days of spraying. The unit that meets these criteria perfectly is the Graco 233422. I can use it all day without unnecessary fatigue, change fluid sets with no problem, and have it thoroughly cleaned up in no time. I also really like the Campbell Hausfeld HV3500. Despite its plastic wear parts, the tool is comfortable to use, easy to set up, and simple to clean. The Apollo 800 also is a nice tool. It works beautifully, but the cup is difficult to keep clean. Next I like the Turbinaire 1235. While I found the gun uncomfortable to hold, the unit has a great hose and a compact turbine, and is easy to clean.

The Lemmer T-75, Fuji Q3, and SprayTech 0277030 tie for the remaining spot.

Fred Tellier is a cabinetmaker and professional finisher in Clinton, Conn.