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Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pigmented Lacquer?

John Member

I'm interested in anyone's experience with ML Campbell's Aqualente Pigmented Lacquer. It has a viscosity of 35 - 45 sec through a #4 Ford cup which will work well with my gravity feed HVLP conversion guns, and it is KCMA rated which should make it a good product for use on a bathroom cabinets. But I'm interested to hear anyone's opinion whose actually used it. Liked it, hated it, words of advise or caution, alternative products you liked better and why. Any alternatives have to be WB, because I'm not set up to handle solvents. Thanks.


12/11/15       #2: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...
Joe Member

I am only set up to do waterborne also. I started with ML Campbell's Aqualente and still use it because their supplier is local.

The pigmented Lacquer has been fine, but I hate the Stain blocking primer. Once it is mixed and thinned to the proper viscosity, it does a very good job, but it is a royal pain to mix once it has set for even a very short period of time even after thinning. I have broken stir sticks trying to get the caked material off the bottom of the can. The ML Campbell reps have suggested using a drill with an attachment for mixing it, but that really causes a lot of micro bubbling.

I have used Val Spar's Zenith products. Their primer is much better for thinning and mixing. The pigmented lacquer is as good as ML Campbell's, but their supplier are not local.

I wouldn't count ML Campbell out just because of the primer until you try it though.

12/11/15       #3: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...
John Member

Thanks Joe. That's really good to know about their primer. I'm not sure I can even buy Valspar products, although I've wished I could several times as it looks like they have several great products.


12/14/15       #4: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...

I've used the pigmented (and clear) Agualente since it came out, and ML Campbell's prior WB products (Polystar/Ultrastar) before that. It's my go-to product for pigmented, way better than the old stuff. I have no problems with the primer. Yeah, it's thick, but sometimes you want that for good build/scratch filling. Durability seems pretty good, though I suspect it's probably a notch below solvent-based CV.

12/14/15       #5: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...
John Member

THanks for the info. Pat. I just checked on the Agualente Stain Blocking Primer PIS and the viscosity is 40 - 50 sec through Ford #4 cup. That should be the sweet spot for my 1.8 mm gravity feed HVLP gun, without thinning. Or am I missing something, since I've never used it?


12/14/15       #6: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...

1.8 tip should work with thinning. If not, go to a 2.0.


12/14/15       #7: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...
Joe Member

Hi John,

I have never been able to get the viscosity to 40-50 through a Ford cup right out of the can. Your probably going to see it much higher right out of the can. You will need to thin it just to get it to 40-50.

I have had to thin all ML Campbell products to get them to the viscosity they recommend. Changing the tip helps some.

I have used CAT CPR guns with 3M's PPS. Never a gravity gun. I now use a CAT AAA pump. All required thinning to get to the correct viscosity.

12/14/15       #8: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...

What tip are you using on your AAA? I have the same rig and use a 309 or 311. I don't spray the primer with the AAA. I use a turbine HVLP gun with a 2.0 tip for that.


12/14/15       #9: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...
John Member

Thanks Joe. They list 40 - 50 seconds at 77 F. Maybe it's been colder when you've used it, or maybe it's not really 40 - 50. I've seen that on some other products listed at 45 seconds and I measured 60+. I've been thinking about buying an air assisted HVLP gun; this might be the project that justifies buying it.


12/14/15       #10: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...
Joe Member

I'm in southeast Virginia. I heat/cool the spray booth to 74 year round. I'm using the 409F(best) and 411F(ok). The F tip is just for waterborne and has a pre-atomizer in the tip. Helps but, I have to thin the Primer to about 45 and the pigmented/clear to 35-37 to get a good flow and to atomize better. Also have to increase the air to the tip. More waste, but works better.

12/14/15       #11: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...
John Member

Thanks for all your help Joe. Looks like I'll probably need to get that air assisted gun I've been thinking about.


12/15/15       #12: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...

I might be showing my ignorance here, but isn't a CAT CPR gun with 3M PPS a gravity system? A cup gun is a gravity gun, right?
I have that same setup, (along with the Bobcat AAA) and I'd hate to think how many people I've told the wrong info to!

12/15/15       #13: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...
Joe Member


My CPR gun is not a gravity feed. The cup is on the bottom and I use the PPS. I wish I had gone with the gravity feed, but I was steered to my set up by the local rep. It works very good, but the cup does get in the way at times.

I also use the CAT AAA with the bobcat. I rarely use the CPR anymore. Most for something that doesn't require more than on cup of finish.

12/15/15       #14: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...

Gravity means the cup is on top of the gun.
The other kind is siphon feed.


12/15/15       #15: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...

Gotcha. Didn't know they made a PPS for a "bottom cup" gun. Heck, I didn't even know they made bottom cup guns any more!
I hear you on using the AAA more than the CPR. With the AAA, I feel like it's hard to lay down a bad finish. It's just annoying when you need to spray 1 piece and have to mix up enough product to fill the hoses/ pump and then clean the whole mess out vs.
Mix 16 oz. in the PPS and throw it away!

12/16/15       #16: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...

How much you guys paying per gallon of primer? Gallon tinted topcoat? Is it true gallon or less?

12/16/15       #17: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...

$48 for primer, $62 for tinted. Full gallons.

12/17/15       #18: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...
alex whitefield

I enjoyed using pigmented Aqualente. I found the booth temp was very important. Don't shoot It cold or it will turn out poorly. I had a hard time matching mid and dark tone colors. They matched them in clear paint--which did not cover well and ended up need more coats of paint. I switched to PPGs Breakthrough. Really good product. Does not dry as fast but if sprayed right can have a nice finish. It is indoor and outdoor so would work great in a bathroom.

1/3/16       #19: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...
Daniel Shafner  Member

Durability is "a notch" below that of real conversation vanish or catalyzed lacquer? Um, no. The difference in durability of a waterborne system to a catalyzed solvent system is light years apart. Still. After years of so-called next generation waterbornes the differences in durability haven't been bridged or even broached. It's still all hype. Scratch the waterborne with your fingernail after it's one month of full cure and see and feel for yourself.

And what about reversability? Waterborne finishes come off in a gooey mess.

Those are just two criteria to consider. But that romanticized notion of "a notch below" is fiction and wishful thinking.

1/3/16       #20: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...

I tried the fingernail test. Nothing happened. What should one expect to see? As for reversability and the gooey mess, are you talking about using a chemical stripper? Or sanding? Never tried a stripper on it, but I have sanded a fully cured finish a few times with no problem.

I realize "notch" is a somewhat vague measurement, but "light years"? I've only been doing this for a dozen years, so I haven't achieved true Curmudgeon status yet. I have however used WB during all those years and have witnessed a big improvement over that time.

Solvent-based products have their own set of issues, including pot/shelf life, mil thickness limits, blushing, mixing issues, nasty, explosive fumes... I could go on if you like.


1/3/16       #21: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...
Daniel Shafner  Member

I would only be talking about chemical finish removal, to sand off a finish is a destructive attack on the substrate as well as inefficient.

Mil thickness? Valspar Zenith has to be under 6 dry mils. Sherwin-Williams Kem Aqua has to be less than 5 dry mils.

There are pluses and minuses to every finish type. As finishers we have to prioritize those pluses and minuses, and that means first recignizing them and acknowledging them for what they are.

Yes, if you're talking about durability and holdout, light years isn't the hyperbole that it sounds like to you.

Your cost-benefit analysis of what you do is your mileage. And even if there is an appreciable consensus of finishers who share your same good experiences with coalescing finish systems there are still plenty of folks and factories who have studied them, weighed them for all their worth, and still elect to use solvent systems. The overwhelming majority of furniture manufacturers have yet to switch, both those few who remain in America, and those many who now manufacture overseas.

2/3/18       #22: Anyone use ML Campbell Aqualente Pi ...
Charles Member

A suggestion for mixing the primer with heavy solids.

We purchased a HarborFreight air-driven paint mixer (about $130).

We use this for MLCampbell's MagnaClaw Primer. This product also has a lot of solids that we could never completely mix with a stir stick. We shake the gallon cans for about 5 minutes, then turn the can over and shake for another 5 minutes. (Yes, we know the container sits in the shaker sideways. It may be overkill, but it keeps the boss happy!) When we check the bottom of the gallon there are no solids on the bottom.

We also use this when we add flow enhancer to our topcoat when needed. The topcoat gallon only contains about 120 ounces (that leaves room for our distributor to add color tint) so there is some room to add the flow enhancer. Again we shake the container for about 10 minutes.

Why 10 minutes? That was a quick bit of trial and error. We guessed at 10, found that the results were great, and left it at that. While the gallon is shaking, we are doing something else anyway. Besides, we were probably spending that time anyway with the stir stick, but not getting good results. Now the product is mixed very well with a consistent method.

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