Apply Decals?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Shay2, Feb 24, 2001.

  1. Shay2

    Shay2 Member

    I am looking for info on how best to apply decals on a newly painted surface.
    I've read someplace that its best to have a gloss finish where the decal will be placed, an use Polly Set and then spray with DullCoat when everything is dry. Is this correct?
    Secondly, what about decaling new, undecorated plastic? Do you still need an undercoat of clear gloss?
  2. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Rich,
    Yes it is best to decal on a glossy part as the decals when used with Microscale Micro Set(Setting solution for decals) this liquid softens decals and improves adhesion.
    As to the second part of your query, spray your model what ever color you want first, then where you are going to apply decals, use gloss. When all decals have dried.(Overnight) spray the loco with Dullcoat.
  3. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    The only thing I would add to what Shamus said is -
    Keep a small bowl of CLEAN water on hand, with a small soft bristle paint brush in it.
    You will also need a good pair of fine point tweezers.
    Also - very important - keep a fresh supply of x-acto blades & a good straight edge. Change the blade every few cuts. Nothing can mess up decal film like even a slightly dull blade!
    After you've cut out your decal, use the tweezers to hold it in the water for 10 or 15 seconds. (large decals may take a little longer)
    Place the decalon the model, close to where you want it, & use the brush to gently push the decal off the backing paper, & kind of "float" it into position. Once you've got it where you want it, use a small piece of paper towel to VERY GENTLY blot off the excess water.
    Now use the brush to apply Micro-Set adhesive. Be careful, because the decal can still be moved out of position, & you want to be sure everything is right before the Micro-Set dries.
    Once the Micro-Set has dried, apply Micro-Sol. This softens the decal, & causes it to conform to any irregularity in the surface of the model. (grooves, rivets, etc...)
    Wait for this to dry, & check for bubbles or "silvering" under the decal film. If you see any, simply poke some holes in the affected area with a needle or sharp point of an x-acto blade, apply more Micro-Sol, & allow to dry again.
    After everything's dry, apply your flat finish, weather to your liking, & you're done!
    Hope this helps. Good luck!

    P.S. Practice first on some old "bad order" equipment.

    [This message has been edited by Charlie (edited 02-24-2001).]
  4. George

    George Member

    Speaking of decals, I just had another "memorable" night with dry transfers.

    I tried them when they first came out years ago and I still hate them. You can't use Solvaset on them.

    They're awkward to apply.

    You can't place them with tweezers and realign them if you make a mistake.......

    What did anyone ever have against a bowl of warm water?
  5. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Amen George!
    They look good if you get them right, but it's a one shot deal, & I get very few things right on the first take.
  6. George

    George Member

    What's the poop with printing your own decals?

    I've been told that the paper is expensive, but I can't see that as an obstacle when it comes to running around and waiting for a decal order from a local dealer.

    There was a printer marketed a few years ago, but it must have been a bust as I have not seen it advertised in the magazines in a long time. I seem to remember that the trick is between getting the right paper and a printer that prints white ink?

    Who knows what about it? [​IMG]

  7. George

    George Member

    One post script for Shay2 and anyone else. We all forgot to mention the use of "SOLVASET".

    SOLVASET is a wonderful product which when brushed on a wet decal in place, causes the decal to settle around and into irregular surfaces. It makes decals settle all around rivets, corrugated surfaces and struts. Ever wonder how you were going to decal a ribbed sided freight car? SOLVASET is the answer.

  8. Shay2

    Shay2 Member

    Hi George,
    I've been using the Solvaset and it works great. But thanks for the notation.
    My biggest trouble is with bubbles. Now, rather than trying to work them out with a q-tip I just prick a hole away from, not in, the lettering and the bubble goes away.

    I'd love to print my own, too!
    If anyone has direct experience with this I'd love to hear from them. Even if the sheets are a bit expensive, I'd still like to give them a try. I understand from some other posts you need a special printer. That I'm not willing to buy. But I know of a local Print shop the has all types. If I had the sheets and a disk with the words and fonts I like he could run them off easily!

    I'd like to custom my logging line with a few different owners to show the reality that existed from the 1870's thru 1930's. That will take about 6 different company names.

    Rush Run River Logging Co.
  9. George

    George Member

    Hello Shay2

    Don't give up on a printer yet. The price has to come down so the next time you need a new one, perhaps you'll be able to score! [​IMG]

    Ultimately, it has to be more cost effective than ordering them, plus you can make some $$$ on the side making for other people.

  10. FA-2

    FA-2 New Member

    Many of us find decals to be a royal PITA. As far as I am concerned, dry transfers are a god-send. They don't tear near as easy (I've never torn one) or disintegrate like decals. I used to use decals all the time on model cars, but for whatever reason I have never gotten a model rr decal to work right.

    It is not the warm water that we have something against, but rather the decal itself.
  11. George

    George Member

    Hello FA-2!

    The problem you're encountering is actually that of age. The older the decal, the more "brittle" they become. If you put one in water and it disintegrates, it's been on a shelf or in a drawer for a very long time.

    At a Sotheby's auction of a massive "HO" collection a few years back, I had the good fortune to meet the man who was commissioned to paint and decal the bulk of the collection by it's owner. He noted that many of the decals used were no longer commercially, nor otherwise available, and they were actually what gave exceptional value to many of the pieces. How about that?

    Keeping this in mind, NEVER balk at looking at a box of decals at a store or a show. Even if you prefer dry transfers, you can use old decals as templates for the future. The colour and dimensions have been researched, which may be impossible at present to replicate.

    Use them to make your own decals or dry transfers.

    I've cringed with decals crumpling in a bowl, yet I do recall there's some way around this disaster. In the 80's there was an article in Railroad Model Craftsman citing this with a cure of coating a decal sheet before use. The sheet was covered with a liquid product, creating a clear film when dry, which held the image into place. It had a glossy finish, necessitating the use of Dullcote not only to protect, but to tone down the appearance.

    Unfortunately I do not recall the name of this product. Perhaps one of our participants would?

  12. Catt

    Catt Guest

    If your using older decals or some you've printed yourself there is one way to save your self a lot of grief.Before you do anything else at all with the decals coat them with several coats of Testors Glosscote. This will seal and reinforce the decal so that it stays in one piece in the water.

    Catt! NARA#1 & A freelancer for life
  13. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I think the product your thinking of is simply called Micro-Liquid Decal Film made by Micro-Scale.
    I had to learn about old decals the hard way too. [​IMG]

    [This message has been edited by Charlie (edited 04-05-2001).]

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