Earlex 5500 and waterborne lacquers

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Forum topic by randyCdn posted 03-05-2014 08:38 PM 5619 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 2874 days

03-05-2014 08:38 PM

Topic tags/keywords: earlex 5500 waterborne lacquer question

I have an earlex 5500 and I am trying to spray waterborne lacquers (both pigmented and clear) but I am getting a poor finish quality. I have used the gun on solvent-borne products without any issues but I am really struggling to get a good finish with waterborne finishes. The finishes are measuring 150s out of the can with the nonstandard earlex viscosity cup and I have tried thinning by 5% and 10% with no real change in result. Additional additives are not recommended by the material manufactures. I’m going back and forth between spraying cardboard and measuring the mil thickness I’m getting and spraying on prepped scraps of hardwood. I’m finding the finish quite inconsistent, with a dry, pebble looking texture. I will admit to having high expectations and expect my finish to look consistent, to the point that I get a reasonable reflection in the light. Reading the target coatings forum, I have noted there are a few other Earlex users who have had troubles but the threads typically die off without resolution. I am wondering if anyone here has had good success using their Earlex for these materials?

17 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8653 posts in 4979 days

#1 posted 03-05-2014 08:44 PM

have you replaced needle between using solvent and waterborne? waterborne should use a larger sized needle

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View randyCdn's profile


6 posts in 2874 days

#2 posted 03-05-2014 08:50 PM

I have tried both a 1.5mm and a 2.0mm needle/tip. I couldn’t get the finish to layout and ‘level’ in either case.

View retfr8flyr's profile


386 posts in 2999 days

#3 posted 03-05-2014 09:43 PM

I have the Earlex 6900, not the 5500 but I have sprayed both Acrylic paint and WB Poly without any problems. I didn’t even thin the WB Poly, just straight from the can with the 2.0 needle. I haven’t tried WB Lacquer yet but it sounds like the Lacquer is drying too quickly. Have you tried General Finishes Enduro Extender to slow the drying time and let it level out?

-- Earl

View DubyaB's profile


18 posts in 2916 days

#4 posted 03-06-2014 01:15 AM

I use that earlex machine exclusively with target em6000 water borne lacquer right from the can. I use the 2.0 needle, with excellent results. Make sure your overlapping enough and not afraid to lay it down fairly heavy, play around with the flow screw until you’re happy. How far away from the project are ya spraying?

View randyCdn's profile


6 posts in 2874 days

#5 posted 03-06-2014 03:44 AM

Thanks guys. This is the first time I’ve tried WB products in the gun and I am getting a little frustrated with it. The project I want to spray is actually done and ready for finish. I’ve now spent a week of evenings fiddling with this and I’m unsure if it is the gun, the material I’m using (Kem Aqua), the operator (me) or a combination.

Questions for DubyaB,
1) Are you achieving a 4-5mil wet thickness coat in a single pass? And, if so, can you estimate how slow you’re moving? I assume you’re about 6-8” from the surface.
2) Would you be able to outline your finishing schedule, including prep?

View retfr8flyr's profile


386 posts in 2999 days

#6 posted 03-06-2014 03:50 AM

I’m in for this info also, as EM6000 is what I plan on using in the future.

-- Earl

View firefighterontheside's profile


21550 posts in 3187 days

#7 posted 03-06-2014 04:00 AM

Randy, it’s gotta be related to the viscosity. Possibly thin it more, but don’t how,d me to that. I’ve not used the lacquer in my 5500. Earlextech is a member here and should be along eventually here to answer your question. If he doesn’t happen along, search his name and send him a message. He’s always happy to help.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View TheDane's profile


6029 posts in 4994 days

#8 posted 03-06-2014 04:26 AM

I have used EM6000 (straight out of the can with no thinning or additives) with my Earlex 5000 … very happy with the results.

After the first coat was dry I knocked it back with 400-grit then re-applied. Did the same with the 2nd coat, then applied a 3rd coat. I try to stay within 6” to 8” and do a generous overlap.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View ScottStewart's profile


120 posts in 3463 days

#9 posted 03-06-2014 04:55 AM

If you are willing to spend a bit of cash, I would recommend the Charles Neil finishing online program. I don’t know the answer, but I would bet he does. There is a forum with the program that I’ve asked finishing questions on and gotten good help (and if Charles didn’t give the answer, he usually dropped a line to say that he agreed with what the other posters said).

Good luck.

View DubyaB's profile


18 posts in 2916 days

#10 posted 03-06-2014 05:41 AM

1) not sure on the thickness as I don’t have a guage but I’m moving fairly fast overlap 50 percent about 8 our 10 inches away, also I usually do the surface twice 90 degrees to the first path(quick). I think the product has a lot to do with it.

2) prep for me, sand to 180 or 220 grit depending on wood, vacuum off dust and wipe down with spirits, spray first coat, light sand raised grain, wipe dust off with damp rag, spray coat two, spray coat three no sanding between coats necessary because of a complete burn in with the em6000 (this is why I use it), buff out finish with a brown paper bag(I don’t know where I got this but it works!), wax, done! Drys fast, three coats in an afternoon easy, safe easy to use, simple clean up.

View JustplaneJeff's profile


277 posts in 3234 days

#11 posted 03-06-2014 12:56 PM

I have an Apollo 4 stage hvlp system and had the same results. After trying different tips, flow, and thinning, I went back to a regular compressed air top cup gun, and had good results

-- JustplaneJeff

View skipj's profile


97 posts in 3603 days

#12 posted 03-06-2014 01:28 PM

You are not using stearated sandpaper are you. that is a no no for waterbase finishes.

View randyCdn's profile


6 posts in 2874 days

#13 posted 03-06-2014 03:18 PM

I’m using a similar prep. Abernet disks for sanding.

Reading a bit more online it may bean issue with kem aqua requiring a specific sealer/primer. Kem aqua plus is self sealing and apparently more forgiving.

I gather em6000 is the clear lacquer from target. Has anyone tried em6500, the pigmented white base coat lacquer? I cannot get target coatings locally, but can get Sherwin Williams and ML Cambell.

View johnLT's profile


24 posts in 3469 days

#14 posted 03-06-2014 04:26 PM

I have the Earlex 5000 and was having problems like you describe. The finish seemed so thin I thought I was spraying water! I went to a local store that carried it and they made different suggestions. Before I left, one of them added if their suggestions did not work, I should try this product: Vermont Natural Coatings, Furniture Finish. Of course I left with a quart. I just finished my first gallon of the stuff with a BIG smile. I do not thin it and use the 1.5 needle. I do a VERY light sanding between coats. No bad smell during use and no outgassing later. Most important, my wife loves it.

Speaking a true beginner, this product “saved” me.

View randyCdn's profile


6 posts in 2874 days

#15 posted 03-08-2014 06:39 PM

Trying again this weekend with a different product and similar results. When I look at the spray pattern from the Earlex, I am seeing quite a distribution in droplet sizes, even with the fluid control turned way down. Some are fine, others are much larger. As I turn up the material flow, the layout is heavier but the pattern certainly becomes more coarse. Should I be thinning the material to the point at which I get a more even distribution of droplet sizes?

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