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Problems with Paint Spray Cans?
by Gene Wilkinson
How often have you picked up a can of spray paint to do some touch-up and discovered that the only thing you could get out of is was a feeble sputter? Probably quite a number of times. Over a period of years it has happened to me a lot, but I always seemed to rationalize that it was an old can of relatively cheap paint, so what the heck!
A year or so ago, I had to special order a can of spray paint to match the Ultracote covering I was putting on my new plane. I did so grudgingly because this stuff cost me $11.00 for just one can and I only used it to paint the cowling and wheel pants. After I finished, 90% of the paint was left.
As is usual with new planes, it eventually became "field worn" and needed some touch up. I got out that expensive can of paint to spruce up the scuffed cowling, shook the can real well and was greeted with an anemic dribble of paint out of the nozzle! Needless to say, I was steamed! Eleven bucks down the drain!
The more I thought about it, the more exasperated I got, and finally ended up writing a caustic letter to the manufacturer stating that the least they could do would be to figure out a way for the customer to clear out a clogged spray can (they admonish you in the instructions NOT to stick pins in the nozzle). To my surprise, I received a nice and informative letter from the manufacturer (in this case, Chevron Hobby Products) explaining just how to go about clearing a clog in the feed tube of the spray can! I followed their directions and by golly, they worked! I'll pass the instructions on so perhaps others may benefit.
1. Pound a small nail (2d or smaller) through a board so that the nail protrudes about a half inch on the other side of the board.
2. Remove the spray button from the spray can, then place the top of the can over the nail exactly where the spray button would go. The can is now inverted with the spray valve resting on the nail.
3. Wrap a rag around the top of the can so it is pretty well sealed around the board. This is to prevent paint from spraying out all over the place.
4. While tightly holding the rag around the can, push the can down on the nail several times and any undispersed pigment should clear out and hopefully be contained by the rag.
This technique will work only if the undispersed pigment is at the top end of the pick-up tube at the spray button end. It may not be successful if the clog is at the bottom of the pick up tube.

From Flite Lines, Gerald Gill & Don Tabor, Editors
PO Box 12913, Prescott, AZ 86304-2913