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BenchVent BV555-D and BV555-R


Assembly & First Impressions

The BenchVent BV555-D with hose for external ventingThe first of the images below (click them for larger versions) shows the unit as it comes out of the box; it needs some assembly, and the second image (below) shows the various pieces. It goes together quite easily:

You'll need a cross head screwdriver for the feet and a 13mm spanner (or an adjustable wrench) for the handle. Note that none of the tools are supplied but they're all pretty standard household tools, if not model making tools. Instructions are included but they don't have much detail so I had to take a good look at the various screws, washers, and bolts to figure out where they should be used. The third image below shows them laid out as they need to be used.

Out of the box.BenchVent components.Nuts and bolts laid out as they are needed.

Connecting up the hose.

My review model is the BV555-D which includes a hose for external venting… so this also needed to be inserted through a hole in the case and attached, using a big jubilee clip (supplied) as shown in the large image above. (I guess the BV555-R has a built-in connection to the outside of the case). I anticipated that this would be a bit of a fiddle but it only took me a couple of minutes to get it in place. You'll need a flat blade screwdriver to tighten the jubilee clip.

After installing the filter, the front of the case slots on and is held in place by four thumbscrews. All that remained was to plug in the power cord (supplied), which has a standard kettle type plug and socket on the back of the machine, and to switch it on. The power switch is conveniently located on the top left of the machine (so glad it wasn't round the back). It's surprisingly quiet in operation and has a good airflow.

Airbrushing

This is primarily what I wanted the BenchVent for as I need to paint up a few dozen fairy doors every couple of month. Previously I've used a brush but it's much quicker to spray them… provided I had some means of dealing with the inevitable over spray. The BenchVent solves this problem so I can now do my airbrushing indoors. Yay!

Spray Cans

Using the BenchVent with spray can paintI use spray cans to prime figures and other small items and confess that I was hesitant about trying this with the BenchVent. I usually take things like this outside as I'm used to seeing quite a bit of overspray and clouds of paint wafting about; much more than you get with an airbrush. However the BenchVent coped admirably. A fact that was particularly well illustrated, at the end of the session, when I stupidly inverted the spray can in the kitchen waste bin to clear the nozzle and produced a cloud of paint that billowed out and speckled the kitchen floor. The BenchVent had coped so well that I'd kinda forgotten just how how bad the clouds are from a spray can.

Given that I'd hung the vent pipe out of the window it also expelled the paint smell… which was nice, although not absolutely necessary as I'm sure that the filter captured all the excess paint; so I'd be happy enough to do this in the winter, without the external venting, so long as I was priming just a few figures rather than a whole army. In fact I was so happy with how the BenchVent dealt with both the over spray and fumes that I went on to spray a pair of VW Beetle brake drums (1:1 scale model making) with high temperature paint. That stuff is REALLY smelly and I would never have dreamed of using it indoors before acquiring the BenchVent.

Spraying VW brake drums Showing where the excess spray went.

I'm also inclined to think, having now sprayed a number of items, that the filter is going to be able to cope with quite A LOT of spraying before it needs changing. It's also worth noting that most of the paint that did go into the filter ended up in the bottom half and that, having opened up the unit again to double check, I note that the filter can be turned though 180 degrees such that the bottom part gets moved to the top. My point here being that even when the bottom half of the filter starts to clog, I'll be able to spin it around to make full use of it.

Adhesives

This review might have ended here, and probably would for a BV555-R, but given that the BV555-D did such a great job of expelling the smell from my aerosol spraying as well as dealing with the paint mist, I began to explore other uses for it.

The BenchVent BV555-D does a great job of dealing with smelly glueI don't use a lot of smelly glue but it just so happens that my partner makes jewellery and has recently begun using a glue called E6000… which is smelly stuff. She commented after one session that it was "going to her head" despite having a window open above her work area so I suggested she tried the BenchVent. It's a tribute not only to it's ability to expel the smell, but also to how quiet it is in operation, that I was oblivious to the fact that she had taken me up on this until she informed me of the results: she couldn't even smell the glue while using. Result!

She did however report that the glue, which is a solvent adhesive (hence the smell), seemed to go off faster… not a problem, but something to take into consideration.

Soldering

I don't do a lot of soldering but, I gave it a try, and as you might expect given the results with the glue: the BenchVent also did a great job of getting rid of the smell of soldering.

What more can I say?

Hot wire cutting... without the smellHot Wire Cutting

Hot wire cutting! Did I just say "hot wire cutting"? Well yes, I did, and while this was never on the cards when I got this machine, let's face it: after what I've said so far: you're wondering aren't you?

And it's good news yet again. In the past I've done most of my hot wire cutting outside by running an extension cable into the garden. Alas not an option since moving into a third floor apartment so my few recent cutting sessions have taken place in the spare bedroom with the window open and the door closed. Obviously I still needed the window open so I could hang the BenchVent's hose out of it, but whereas previous sessions resulted in the room being a bit pongy for a while afterwards, this too is a thing of the past. So yet another result for the BenchVent.

Conclusions

There are some tools that you just can't wait to get home so you can play with them. I kinda doubt that anybody would put the BenchVent into that category. It won't, on it's own, allow you to discover or try out some new technique for making stuff. What it will do however, and has done for me, is facilitate your ability to do things when and where you couldn't do them before. For me it means not having to wait for a sunny day when it isn't blowing a gale, just to base coat a squad of figures… in fact I'm intending, when I can get my hands on a half decent compressor, to see what else I can do with my airbrush… and of course if you've read any of my other reviews, and/or seen any of my terrain making projects, you already know how much I like to hack at foam with a hot wire cutter. That I can now do that and have the BenchVent deal with the fumes for me… well I'm as happy as a pig in poop, without the smell!

A Final Note

Most of the over spray ends up in the bottom half of the filter.The filter is going to need to be changed from time to time, although as I've indicated above, it shouldn't need to be done all that often when employed for hobby use and it's life can probably be extended by spinning it around. When I initially spoke with The Bench Ventilation Company they were offering the filters in packs of six. I suggested to them that this was probably a bit excessive for the hobbyist as it required quite an investment for what probably amounts to a good few years worth of filters. Obviously the issue with supplying smaller quantities is that it makes them more difficult to ship, however they looked into it and are now supplying them in packs of three. I mention this because it's a clear indication that they listen to their customers, which is in turn a good indicator that they'd be helpful and supportive should you have any problems. So in my book that's 10 out of 10 for the company as well as the product.

Using the BenchVent with my airbrush - external venting not required for this.




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