An Easy Airless Spraying Rig

Written by on July 7, 2013 in Airless, Sprayers with 12 Comments

Every Painter needs a good “Rock Rig”

While high volume pumps are still all the rage in airless spraying, the middle weight .5 gpm class of skid style pumps will always have a place in the painter arsenal. In fact, .5-ers, whether blue or red in color, may well be the most commonly hauled out by paint contractors on drywall spray day. And word has it, they are pretty popular in running around exterior spray applications as well. In airless spraying, while size is for the most part a matter of preference, most professional painters will agree that in production applications where new drywall is to be finished, dry rolling (with no sprayer at all) just doesn’t compare.

The .5 gpm class is popular because it is simple but beefy technology. Simple in the sense that its just a little piston pump mounted on a skid frame, but beefy because it will just sit there and pump all day long. Graco, in fact, claims that the 395 Ultra is their most popular small electric pump.

How the 395 Ultra Compares

airless spraying

The Graco Ultra 395 and the Titan 440 are the most commonly used .5 gpm pumps.

The .5 gpm pumps are well suited to production style spraying of raw drywall in new construction and remodeling settings. The flow rate is a good match for the pace at which a sprayer operator wants to run, hour after hour, keeping in mind that another painter should be following with an 18″ roller, backrolling everything that is sprayed, for ideal results. Larger pumps are great for coatings of more viscosity than drywall primer, but when you jump out of the .5 gpm class, prices escalate rather quickly. By escalate, we mean: “double and sometimes triple”in order to get up to a .80 or .95 class pump. It’s overkill for most typical airless spraying tasks.

That said, we won’t focus on the virtue of size, but rather, how the 395 Ultra ranks “in class”. The only real comparison in the .5 gpm class is the legendary Titan 440. Our company has run Titan 440’s for many years. We have several of them, and they have always been a good baseline when thinking of airless spraying on drywall. That’s the cool thing about the .5 gpm class…very low maintenance and all about production. The 395 and the 440 are both 3300 psi max pumps. So, using the 440 as the obvious frame of comparison, here’s how the Ultra 395 weighs in, in this class.

Ergonomics

Weight – The first thing we noticed was that for such a small pump, the 395 Ultra feels heavy. The tale of the scale puts the 395 Ultra at 42 pounds, which is a few pounds heavier than it’s Titan counterpart. This bears no real impact on performance, other than it’s just a little heavier than you might be used to when lugging it up stairs. That said, the 395 Ultra is not on a traditional skid style frame. It has 4 actual feet that plant it pretty well where ever you place it. For better or worse, it does not slide around. There is no amount of vibration that is going to move it out of position, and there is absolutely no slide or tip over hazard.

Sensory Experience – In the .5 gpm class, the sound factor weighs heavily. Because this size of pump works pretty hard, the piston inside cycles more frequently than on larger pumps, which is the bulk of the noise you hear coming from the pump. One complaint we have always had about the 440 pumps is that they are screamers. The 395, while in the same power class, is significantly quieter by comparison. Not that it doesn’t work just as hard, or cycle as frequently, it is more the “tone” of the noise that is less obnxious, hour after hour.

Hose Tension – When airless spraying on any type of scale, the technician begins to feel like much of his or her day is spent wrestling with a pressurized hose. Hose tension, the “feel” of the hose, is a consideration. Pressurized hoses are inherently hard to manage, but it seems that Graco has hit on something with 1/4″x50′ Bluemax II hose. Very manageable when “under the gun”, which translates to less user fatigue from having to control a pulsing hose.

airless spraying

The Graco Contractor gun and the Titan LX 80 both set the standard for airless production spraying.

The Gun – The 395 Ultra comes with the classic Graco Contractor gun. For those of you who, like us, grew up on the old Titan LX-80’s, the Graco Contractor gun is very similar in practice. If you come from a more sophisticated gun background, such as the G40 or G15 style of guns, the Contractor series will seem bulky, heavy, almost barbaric. These are great qualities in what is, to many, a drywall shooter. This gun will not very often be fired up in the spray shop for cabinet grade work, but it can be dropped off ladders and staging on the jobsite all day long and stay true. Equipped with the RAC X switch tip and guard combo, the pump produces a smooth, even fan with no spits, clogs or issues. The two finger trigger has nice action. Again, simple, low maintenance.

The Price Factor – A quick Amazon check reveals that the Ultra 395 can be had for about a grand. This put it literally within dollars of the Titan 440 Impact, its most notable counterpart. So, in class, it is priced well. By comparison with other classes, we have seen larger airless pumps, outside of the .5 gpm class, that can quickly escalate to the $2-3k price range. They are amazing pumps, but for those who are looking more middleweight class, entry level ease of use, but uncompromising production, the .5-ers are still tough to beat on a dollar for dollar basis.

And the Graco 395 Ultra is a fine example of what that class has to offer: simple plug and play, and spray all day. Every day.

Scott Burt

Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine (www.paintmag.com) since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. This site is an extension of Scott's publication work, and he encourages readers to leave comments and questions about articles published here. Hope to hear from you!

Latest posts by Scott Burt (see all)

Tags: ,

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Instagram Connect on LinkedIn Connect on YouTube

12 Reader Comments

Trackback URL Comments RSS Feed

  1. Mike says:

    I’ve been using my 395 for years and it’s been pretty good to me. I don’t always keep pump Armor in it like I should, so I occasionally have to give the tube a whack with a rubber mallet to loosen the ball, but it’s always come back to life. I am very fastidious about cleaning though, running warm soapy water when possible and rinsing very thoroughly.
    Here’s an interesting question: What do you think about leaving paint in the hose and Unit if you are returning the next day to paint? I did this once and just deep sixed the Gun in a bucket of water. This way I didn’t need to re-prime the pump and go through all the clean-up set up. Curious to see if others have practiced this? It occurred to me that all the cleaning adds up to a lot of running of the pump and must take a toll on the packing over time.

  2. Dalia Whitham says:

    Pretty educational thanks, I reckon your current followers could possibly want even more well written content of this character continue the excellent work.

  3. Mick Klausewitz says:

    Any idea how the 390 compares with the 395. Any significant differences?

  4. ronzini says:

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty
    penny? I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% sure.

    Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Cheers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share your photos!

Top