Modeller’s Notebook 3

The Machine Stops

This is a short initial review of the Sparmax Zeta compressor which I have received for review. I intend to keep using it over the Autumn and will report back later with an extended service report.


The compressor arrives in a solid box, well packed and complete with pressure gauge/water trap, airhose, bench clamp and brush holder. The holder has a switch mechanism built into the base which, with any weight, will turn the compressor off, overriding the on/off switch on the compressor proper. Build is…. solid! Sparmax clearly expect some anti-tank activity and the compressor is given some impressive metal armour plate. Set up is a doddle and I didn’t even need the instruction sheet.


Before it arrived, I had some reservations about the compressor switching on and off by itself. I have a general reluctance to turn anything electrical on and off repeatedly, and I wondered if the air supply might be compromised. Simply put, there is no problem at all. Either way, you can just unplug the switch mechanism and use a standard airbrush holder so it is an added feature, not enforced.

In practice, in “Smart Stop” mode, as soon as the brush is lifted from the holder the compressor kicks in. There is no delay before the requested pressure is on tap. When the brush is returned, it switches off – triggered by the weight of the brush alone. Initially this is odd. But within ten minutes I got used to it and… I like it. There is a sort of psychological logic to an unused brush making no noise and after spraying a full paintload it is a fitting full stop to the session. The machine stops. Defined break. Have a cup of tea.

Pressure is easily adjusted by the lockable dial. In use I ran the compressor at around 20 pounds pressure but it will handle much higher ratings which I found useful for blow through cleaning. The airflow is steady and consistent, while noise (sitting on my carpet) is very low. Not silent, but not in any way troubling. I was using it this morning at 4am and didn’t feel anyone would be woken up.

About the only issue I had, and it is truly minor, is that the combined mount and switch is quite high above the work surface for loading paint. But I quickly got used to taking the brush out of the mount and loading that way.  On the plus side there is a generously deep clamp which worked on my double depth bench.

Overall, this is a really nice piece of kit. It is clearly professionally made, is reassuringly heavy and after four days of pretty solid use it has not missed a beat. No overheating, no variance in pressure. Basically it is quality engineering. I can’t fault it.

If you only need to run one brush at a time, as I do, then this is an excellent compressor.

Review item kindly provided by The Airbrush Company Ltd,