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Prona Touch-up Gun Review

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  • Prona Touch-up Gun Review

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Spraying topcoat to piano top edge.JPG Views:	1 Size:	3.05 MB ID:	1212151
    Introduction. I recently acquired a touch-up gun, and thought that I'd share my thoughts on it with everyone here. Before doing so, though, I need to mention that I have no personal association with the manufacturer other than having purchased the gun directly from them. Here's the full story:


    Background. One of my goals while attended the Canada Woodworking East Show this past October was to see if anyone was selling touch-up guns. Although I already had a turbine touch-up gun, I had never been happy with its mediocre performance and how it felt in my hand. As it so turned out, Prona, an ISO9001 accredited manufacturer that’s been around the pneumatic tool business for nearly 30 years, had a booth there. If you’re not familiar with the company, that’s understandable, because they’re only now beginning to badge their innovative, high quality tools with their own logo rather than manufacturing them for other, well-known companies, who place their own brand on them. And if their model RL90-F touch-up gun is any indication, that’s a great move as far as I’m concerned. Welcome to Canada, Prona!

    Click image for larger version  Name:	First impressions.JPG Views:	1 Size:	2.44 MB ID:	1212146
    First Impressions. The first thing that caught my attention was just how well made the gun was. Compared to my other touch-up gun, this gun stands head and shoulders above. The attention given to machining was first-rate, and certainly at par with the rest of the HVLP and RP guns in my collection. Everything fitted precisely: the nozzle, needle and aircap, and the control knobs turned just as one expects of a high-quality gun. I was also impressed with just how comfortable the gun felt in my hand and the quality of the anodized finish. But as anyone who uses spray guns is aware, there’s no better way to check out the quality of a gun than to take it for a test run in the booth. But before I could do that, I needed to break it down and do a thorough, level 3 cleaning.
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Cleaning nozzle.JPG Views:	1 Size:	3.82 MB ID:	1212149

    Cleaning. The first cleaning solvent I turned to was lacquer thinner, as I had no idea what manufacturing residue may have been left lurking inside the gun. But I shouldn’t have been even the slightest bit concerned, for once I had everything broken down, I noticed that the gun was squeaky clean. I pressed on, and following the lacquer thinner, I did a thorough washing down with denatured alcohol. Then, because I spray predominantly waterborne finishes, I flushed everything with water after reassembly.
    I encountered no problems but should comment that I needed to use a pair of pliers to remove the air vent plug from the cup lid the first time. Wow, talk about tight! But after that first loosening, it fit well yet allowed me to easily rotate it to bring the air vent hole into the correct, towards the operator position.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Removing nozzle with my own wrench.JPG Views:	1 Size:	2.89 MB ID:	1212152
    One thing I think the manufacturer should have included with the gun was the 15mm (9/16”) wrench needed to remove the nozzle. They had, however supplied a high-quality cleaning brush.

    Performance in the Booth. I was working on two projects during the time of this test, so elected to put the gun through its paces on them. I filled the 150cc plastic cup ¾ full with alcohol-based shellac, then set the pressure. Incidentally, an aluminum cup of the same size (its cover is plastic), plus a PPS adapter for 3M disposable cups are also available from the manufacturer.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Setting the pressure at the gun.JPG Views:	1 Size:	3.95 MB ID:	1212148
    The brochure that came with the gun showed the air pressure range in bar (also known as kg/cm2) and Mpa rather than the more familiar psi used here in Canada, so a quick google search showed it to be 12 – 21 psi for the fan aircap, and slightly higher for the round aircap, at 29 – 36 psi. Following conventional practice, I opened the air volume knob on the gun to full open and elected to control the air pressure at the tank. I used the pressure gauge I had mounted to the gun to confirm the inlet pressure, but decided to try out the air volume control on the gun just to see how well it worked. As expected, it and the pattern adjusting control worked smoothly and held their settings very well. For those of you just starting out in using air compressor-driven guns (as compared to turbine-driven guns), read the actual working pressure only after you’ve squeezed the trigger to the first stop (that’s just before fluid starts coming out). If you don’t, then all you’ll know is how much air pressure is being supplied to the gun, but not its in operation pressure.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Touching up with shellac.JPG Views:	1 Size:	3.03 MB ID:	1212150

    The gun had no difficulty in atomizing the shellac, so when it came to applying sander/sealer, which has a similar viscosity, I was expecting it to perform just as well. I wasn’t disappointed. The quality of the finish was equal to that laid down by my other, full-size HVLP guns, of which I have both compressor and turbine-driven models by various manufacturers.

    I played around with the pattern adjustment control, just to confirm how well it worked and was quite impressed. I also switched out the fan-style aircap for the round one, and again, found it worked very well. For those of you unfamiliar with round aircaps, I should explain that they’re used when all you want is a circular pattern. They can’t deliver an oval pattern, as there are no horns on the sides to provide pattern shaping. But if you’re using it for touching up a panel (whether it’s on a car or a piece of furniture), you’ll most often want to be using a circular pattern. Yes, I know that you can achieve something similar with a fan aircap by playing around with the pattern adjustment and cutting off all air to the horns, but nothing works better for that particular application than a dedicated circular aircap. Trust me, with its suggested retail price of $45, it’s worth every cent if touch-ups are what you’re wanting to use this gun for.


    Click image for larger version  Name:	Products applied to table.JPG Views:	2 Size:	3.61 MB ID:	1212154




    Touch-up Guns in the Shop. One of the more important characteristics of touch-up guns – and this baby is a great example – is their extremely low air volume consumption. With the gun set to the highest setting, only 1.75 cfm was needed. That means that just about any small tank (yes, even the smallest pancake models) compressor should be able to keep up without difficulty. And that should be good news for those of you who haven’t yet taken the plunge into spray finishing. Don’t count these touch-up guns short; they excel at spraying most finishes woodworkers use except the higher viscosity finishes such as polyurethane, without any thinning. But because of their narrow spraying swath and limited volume of fluid they can lay down at any one time, they’re best suited for smaller sized projects such as guitars, chairs and jewellery boxes. That’s not to say that they can’t be used for larger projects; it just means it’ll take a bit more time to lay down the finish.

    In the test, I applied finish to two different projects, one involving a rather complex section (it was the top of a grand piano into which I had inlaying the keys, to form the back of a bench. See the first photo in the article). The other project, a dining room table (photo several lines up) had three sections: two which were 8” X 5’ and a larger 2’ X 5’ piece. The gun performed very well, even when pressed to handle the larger pieces.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Needle has spring attached.JPG Views:	1 Size:	3.85 MB ID:	1212147

    Other Options to Consider

    - Needle Sets
    . I ordered mine with a 1.0mm needle set, which was perfect for the two finishes I was
    applying. In addition to that size, both .4mm and .6mm sets are also available. I’m not sure how often I’d use the smaller sets, but it’s nice to know that they’re available.

    - Cups. I ordered the plastic cup with my gun, rather than the aluminum version (it has a plastic cover) which is also offered. I did this for two reasons:

    1. I like to keep track of what’s loaded in the gun by writing the name of the finish particulars on the cup with a marker, which is something you can’t do on stainless steel.
    2. The second reason is that I can more readily see exactly how much finish is remaining in the cup, as the translucent wall of the plastic cup allows me to see through it well enough. Oh, and as far as the size of the cup is concerned, although they’re available in only the 150cc size, large enough for most projects it’s designed for, you can also get an adaptor for 3M disposable paint cups.

    Operating Instructions Brochure. The English translations were a bit awkward in some instances and there were a few typos, but overall if one has even a modicum of experience spraying finishes, they should be able to waddle through without difficulty. I already mentioned the somewhat non-standard air pressure and CFM information outlined in the brochure, but as I stated, one can readily find corresponding information on the web.

    Summary. What more can I say? This is a well designed and manufactured gun that performs extremely well. Considering its suggested retail price of $185.00, it’'s a bargain. If you'’re in the market for a gun, spraying accessories, or any other high quality pneumatic tools, check them out at: http://www.pronatools.com/
    Attached Files
    Last edited by MartyFromKingston; 12-06-2018, 02:35 PM.
    nnieman likes this.
    All the best,

    Marty

    President of Kingston Wood Artisans https://kwoodartca.wordpress.com/

    Proud member of the Wadkin Blockhead Club
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  • #2

    Re: Prona Touch-up Gun Review

    Thanks for the review Marty.

    I bought a princess auto touch up gun a few years ago when it was on sale for $15. It was an impulse buy, I wasn't really sure I needed a touch up gun.

    Since then it's proven to be very valuable. It's small enough that it can be powered by the little mini hot-dog compressor that's my preferred go-to for onsite installs (when you carry everything on and off a boat, as I do for most installs, you tend to prefer the small light tools!). I bring it to every job, and though I always hope not to have to use it, when you end up with some shipping damage (see above: carrying everything on and off of boats...) you're always glad to have it.

    Bottom line, I discovered that having a touch-up gun is really worth it.

    Problem: the princess auto gun is really unreliable and unpredictable. Sometimes it works perfectly, and the result is great, totally up-to-snuff. Other times the result is just terrible, and you know you're coming back in an hour to sand off and try again. And it seems to be unpredictable which of those results you're going to get! I've certainly never been able to predict it in any case.

    I'll definitely have to look into this gun.

    Thanks!

    Comment


    • #3

      Re: Prona Touch-up Gun Review

      Hey, Ryan,

      Yeah, it's certainly a great gun and a really interesting company.

      Marty
      All the best,

      Marty

      President of Kingston Wood Artisans https://kwoodartca.wordpress.com/

      Proud member of the Wadkin Blockhead Club

      Comment


      • #4

        Re: Prona Touch-up Gun Review

        Great review Marty

        Ive been looking for a touch up gun but got totally overwhelmed by the options.

        Ill check out this one!

        Nathan

        Comment


        • #5

          Re: Prona Touch-up Gun Review

          Good review. They have been available at the U S trade shows under their own name for at least 6 years. They make a wide variety of pneumatic tools including, air assist pumps, sanders and everything from soup to nuts when it comes to pneumatics. IIRC they have a distributor in MTL
          If your dreams don't scare you, you are not dreaming big enough

          Comment


          • #6

            Re: Prona Touch-up Gun Review

            I looked at their die grinders at that show and found them rather too heavy for my taste though nicely finished.
            Rob

            Comment

            • Thread Continues Below...

            • #7

              Re: Prona Touch-up Gun Review

              Too bad I hadn't realized you were going to that show, Rob, as we could have gotten together. Perhaps next time around?

              Cheers,

              Marty

              Originally posted by iamtooler View Post
              I looked at their die grinders at that show and found them rather too heavy for my taste though nicely finished.
              Rob
              All the best,

              Marty

              President of Kingston Wood Artisans https://kwoodartca.wordpress.com/

              Proud member of the Wadkin Blockhead Club

              Comment

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