Let’s get to the business end - airless spray guns.
Whether you put the ‘new’ in ‘newbie’ or find yourself the onsite guru, constant new generation equipment can confuse anyone.
Innovation usually happens in increments, so often when these ‘new gen’ releases occur they might not seem as worth it as the marketing makes out.
But that’s not the case with airless spray guns.
Graco’s two key airless spray guns - FTx & Contractor PC - are not only different from their competitors, but the jump to the new Contractor PC is legitimately significant. So, we’re going to break that down.
ALSO, we’re going to talk about how to identify when and how to replace your own spray gun pins with Graco’s replacement kits.
What’s the difference between the contractor FTX and contractor PC spray guns?
They’re both spray guns. They’re both contractor quality. They’re both long-lasting.
So what’s the difference?
More than just colours and looks, the difference between the Graco FTX and Graco Contractor PC guns is significant. Graco completely re-engineered the PC internals from the FTX design to make the whole spraying experience easier and more cost effective.
We know that sounds like brand jargon, but here’s something material for you:
- 50% lighter trigger pull
- Easy 2, 3 or 4-finger adjustable trigger
- Lightest spray gun in its class
- Pin cartridge is replaceable onsite in under 60 seconds without tools
If you’re on the trigger all day, something as medial as trigger pull resistance becomes real; hello cramps. And that cartridge means you can swap it out onsite, mid-spray without any downtime. Throw a couple extras in the tool box and you're super safe. PLUS, the cartridge is actually cheaper than the FTX gen.
In terms of what you get when you buy a sprayer, previously FTX spray guns were standard for all contractor range airless sprayers but now they come only on the 190PC and 390PC. From the 395 PC Pro upwards, you’re getting the Contractor PC now. If you’re looking at a Magnum unit, you actually get an GS2 or SG3 gun standard, which isn't suitable for contractor-level usage.
How to replace the cartridge pin on a Graco Contractor PC
As we said, this is not a long process. If you’ve got an extra couple cartridges about, then you can get this done with no downtime at all.
What you’ll need
- Shifter (in the case the cartridge is too tight)
- Replacement Cartridge - 17Y297
1. Unlock the pin
2. Unscrew existing cartridge
3. Replace cartridge
4. Re-lock the pin
It’s as simple as it sounds. The only complication might be that your current cartridge is too tight to undo by hand - perks of working with pressure. The shifter you have on hand to handle your hoses will make light work of that though.
How to replace the pin on a Graco FTX spray gun
Now, the FTX is a bit more complicated so we’ve put together a video to show you how to do this for yourself.
What you’ll need
1. Removing the back
Simple starts. Take your 5/8" socket and remove the back of the hand piece. Slow down when nearing the end of the thread since there are three components loosely sitting that you don’t want to lose.
2. Removing the front seating
Now, from the outset, whenever you’re removing or replacing the front seating activate and hold the trigger in.
I repeat, activate the trigger!
This is essential, because the pin has constant pressure against the seating in order to hold flow of material. If the trigger is not engaged and you unscrew the seating, you risk scoring the pin with the seating and thus rendering it useless. You’ll then find yourself buying another replacement kit and sharing some colourful words with the world.
You get it.
So, whilst the trigger is activated, use the 5/8" socket to remove the front of the gun. To remove the guard, give it a bit of pressure and it should flex out of the bottom slot relatively easily.
3. Removing the crossbar
The last step before removing the pin is the removal of a crossbar that links the trigger movement to the pin. Technically, this component is also called a pin, but that’s just confusing. So, we’re going with ‘crossbar’.
Use your 9/32” socket and a small shifter - two sockets would be ideal - and unscrew the nut.
4. Removing the pin
With the crossbar removed, there is nothing holding the pin in place. So, with a bit of wiggle or even a pin punch from behind, that will come out ready for replacement.
It’s not in the video, but at this stage, it’s a good time to get a damp rag and give the internals of your gun a good ol’ clean. No matter how well you look after your gear, paint always finds a way to get in annoying places.
As you might expect, reassembly is simply steps 1 through 5 in reverse. Again, remember to activate the trigger when rescrewing the seating over the pin… please.
Well, you should now be a regular Sherlock Holmes of the airless spray gun world.
As a final thought, don’t be going and getting those rip off repairs kits. Yes, they are available. But as I’m sure you’re aware, you get what you pay for.
All of Graco’s gear is built by them in house in the US, so you can be assured of quality.
Reach out if you run into any challenges.