Earlex HV5500 Spray Station


rodger.

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***pics to be added***

 

I have owned this unit for over a year, and have sprayed about 12 quarts of finish with it. I thought that this would be a good time to post a review, as I have had some time and experience with the machine.

 

First, let me say that I was attracted to this mahine for 2 principal reasons. First, Marc gave it a great review and I trust his opinion. Secondly, the price is so darn good! I got it for 279.99 CDN. I needed another needle set (an additional 50 dollars), and I was ready to go.

 

Originally, I was set on buying a Fuji Mini Mite 4, which comes it at about 3 times the cost of the Earlex (well at least here in Canada. The Fuji includes the turbine, siphon cub, 25 foot hose, and whip hose).

 

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What comes in the box?

 

The package came with the turbine, a teflon coated 1 quart cup, spray gun assembly, a 13' foot hose, hose clip, 2.0 needle set, a small tool kit (viscosity cup, cleaning brush, specialized wrench), and an insructuonal DVD.

 

The first thing I did when I opened the box was to check that all the parts were included. I instantly changed out the 2.0 needle for a 1.5 needle. My primary purpose for buying this machine was to spray water borne polyurethane topcoats. The manufacturer recommended using a 1.5 needle for my intended purpose. I tried to persuade the salesman to throw one in (or at least trade me for the 2.0), but he wouldnt go for it. Ah well.

 

Changing the needle set also helped familarize me with the gun.

 

Instructional DVD

 

The DVD is pretty informative. The presenter goes through typical scenarios using the system (spraying dyes, topcoats, paint, how to clean the gun, etc). It's definately worth a watch. I was surprised however that presenter did not wear a respirator at all during the DVD.

 

HVLP Gun with Siphon Cup

 

The gun itself is well constructed and the parts are well machined. Removing the gun from the cup is easy and straighforward, as is breaking down the gun for cleaning. I was impressed with the construction of the gun itself. It is also very comfortable to hold and use.

 

The gun has three fan patterns (vertical, horizontal, and circular). Switching through them is as easy as turning the nozzle. No need to loosen the ring.

 

The gun is a bleeder gun, so the air is always "on" and spraying though the gun. The only adjustment for flow rate in a knurled knob at the rear of the gun.

 

Hose

 

The hose is far less durable then I would like. Its similar to a shop vac hose, and care must be taken not to step on it. I would far prefer a hose like on the Fuji, but that would also increase the cost of the unit significantly.

 

The hose fits into the gun with a friction fit. Most of the time this is no issue at all, but I did have one occassion when the hose popped off during spraying, and one other time when it popped out while cleaning the gun. These issues could have been my fault (maybe I did not insert the hose the entire way).

 

Two Stage Turbine

 

The turbine case is plastic, has a carry handle, and has storage for the hose, power cable, and gun. The included clip is desigend to hold the hose end when removing the gun to fill it, clean it, etc. The clip is cheap and I broke it the first day during normal use (hanging the hose on it).

 

The onboard cord storage is near useless, so I also avoid using it. The design is to wrap the cord up on the bottom of the unit (kind of like a blender). I found the cord kept falling off, so I just added a cord wrap.

 

The unit is also designed to store the hose. I find this storage solution also difficult, as the hose needs to be wrapped up rather tightly to fit. I simply avoid using this storage as well. If I had to transport the unit to a jobsite I would probably use it, otherwise I just hang the hose on the wall in my shop to avoid the hassle.

 

The gun storage is handy, and I really like it. It prevents the gun from tipping over, and I use it all the time.

 

One thing I do not at all is the air intake position (under the unit). It draws air from under the turbine, and can suck up a lot of dust and debris from a typical shop floor, or from a driveway (if you spray outdoors). I use a piece of hardboard under the unit when I spray to avoid sucking up nasty stuff into the turbine.

 

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Spray Results

 

I only spray water based poly with this unit. I typically use general high performace poly, and have sprayed various furniture pieces with the Earlex 5500 (book cases, frames, tables,etc).

 

OveralI I am impressed with the results from this machine. I am very happy with the quality finish this machine is capable of. I would encourage anyone looking into HVLP to consider the Earlex and give it a test. I also did not need to thin my finish, though I could have thinned it 10% if required.

 

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Conclusions

 

There is a lot to like about this unit. The price point is great, and the finished results it is capable of are impressive. The unit provides onboard storage, and is light/easy to transport. Adjustments to flow rate are simple and predicable.

 

There are also some things that could use improvement. I am not a fan of the hose, and I always need to be mindful of it so I dont crush it. The air intake is not in a good place, and care must be taken when placing the machine. It is powerful enough for my intended use (water based poly) but may lack power for spraying other topcoats (like paint).

 

Overall a great value for the price - the results are great. This machine is capable of laying down a clean, even finish. I would encourage anyone looking in HVLP to give the Earlex 5500 a try.

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Great review Pug!

 

I own once of these as well an I disagree on the hose and cord storage but, that can be as much opinion as anything. 

 

I do wish the power cord was longer tho.

I should have mentioned the power cord. I do use an extension cord every time I spray. Good catch!

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Great review Pug. I also own the same Earlex and also bought the 1.5mm needle set too as it looks like you spray the same as me. I know what you mean about cord storage and also wish it was longer. I have a similar problem with the hose storage. When completely wrapped up I use a piece of string just to tie the end to the previous wrap to keep it neat. When not being used I also store it on a shelf in its original box.

 

I put mine on a chair or bench to raise the unit off the floor to minimize the possibility of ingesting crap from the floor. I think I'll just put it on a piece of hardboard or cardboard from now on. Obvious when you point it out :) .   

 

These are only very minor issues considering its price point and relatively good quality of results. I'm also very happy with it.

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Yeah, the hose can be a pain in the butt and is prone to popping out suddenly if it gets loose in the slot. Agreed that the cord should be longer, I also always need an extension cord for it. Someday I plan on upgrading my HVLP as I would like a lot more control over the gun than what the Earlex can offer, but it's still does a great job, worth what I paid for it, and perfect to get someone in the game of HVLP.

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