Finishing up decals on buildings

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by jtbterri, Apr 26, 2005.

  1. jtbterri

    jtbterri Member

    I've just finished my first attempt at putting decals on plastic/resin HO building kits. I used the decals as provided by the kit maker, so therefore do not know if they were some MRR brand name like Champ or Microscale.

    I applied them to three types of kits; expoxy(City Classics), styrene sheets(Twin Whistle), and a Walthers kit.

    The surface of the expoxy kit was first coated with a gloss spray. The surface of the styrene model was "rattle can" spray enamel, no gloss coat, and the surface of the Walther's model was as supplied with the kit with a slight wash of acrylic paint to highlight the mortar lines.

    I used the techniques i gathered from searches on this and other forums; soak the decal off in luke warm water, apply over a wetted(water) surface, removed water from face of decal after placing with soft tissue, apply a setting solution(Micro Sol) and let dry overnight.

    The results so far have been satisfactory, but I would like to have the decal be more transparent in some cases. So some questions.

    1. Is it okay to use Solvaset now instead of MicroSol? I've read that this is a little "stronger" agent. Or do you just keep repeating the MicroSol applications?
    2. Also once the decal is set to my satisfaction, is it necessary to coat the area where the decal is placed with Dullcoat or is it preferable to coat the complete structure, or can you leave the decal as placed with no coating on the top? The Walther's kit is the REA Transfer Building which seems to be a large structure to "Dullcoat" just for a few decals.

    Thanks for any ideas, as usual.
  2. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I wet the surface with micro sol, not water, and use Solva set when dry. Anything other than a very smooth surface will generally leave the decal film visable, hence the advise to use gloss cote, it leaves a smoother surface. If you apply dull cote you should do the entire model, as if you don't the models surface will not be even, although weathering can hide that. I wasn't too happy with decals I applied to Walthers passenger cars, which due to the windows I did not apply gloss to. I've been told, but have not yet tried, that I can spray the decals with gloss cote prior to soaking them and when applied they will look better. Anyone else ever try this?
  3. jtbterri

    jtbterri Member

    I went ahead and tried Solvaset on two(2) of the buildings that I had applied decals to using the water and Micro Sol steps.

    On the smooth sided expoxy building kit where I had applied a gloss spray prior to placing the decal, and had set the decal overnight using Micro Sol, the Solvaset as a second "setting" step worked as I had hoped. The decal set better with less evidence of being a decal. When I applied Dullcoat over that, it looks as if it were painted on. Great!

    On the Walther's building with brick sides the results were the opposite. The decal had been placed as above but without a gloss coat over the brick. The Solvaset caused bubbles and lots of "wrinkles" which would not set into the lines between the bricks. Bad. Interestingly enough, Walthers says to use Micro Sol and makes no mention of their Solvaset. Guess they knew something. Tried to go over it again with Micro Sol but no luck.

    It's been a good learning lesson for me. There is no one way to apply a decal from different manufacturers to every model and you have to rely on some experience, or someone's experience, to guide you. Hopefully my experience will help others on their projects.

  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Thanks for the follow-up George. Always good to read others' lessons learned!

    One question - did you try to convince the Walthers decal to snug down into the brick detail - with a toothpick, or soft brush - once the Solvaset was on?

  5. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    George, A couple comments which may or may not apply: I've noticed in the past that decals supplied with some structures are rather thick. This makes hiding the edges harder but also makes it more difficult to get the decal to settle into uneven surfaces, such as brick. The Solva Set works just as you descibed, it will make the decal wrinkle up and such. The important thing is to not touch it while it is in this condition, but just let it dry. It should smooth out, to no worse than it was prior to application. If you try to work it while wet you will basically destroy the decal. It may take several applications, and sometimes it just doesn't snuggle in satisfactorily. This is more the decals fault than anything else.
  6. jtbterri

    jtbterri Member

    Good points.
    Andrew No I didn't really work the decal when I applied the Solvaset. I went over the area that I had coated with Solvaset several times with the brush that comes on the cap with the product. Like Gary mentioned, I was afraid of stretching and/or breaking the decal. I felt that the chemical action between the Solvaset and the decal would soften the decal enough to allow it to "flow" into the joints between the bricks.

    I have since discussed this with the folks at Walthers and they felt that it may have been some type of reaction between MicroSol, Solvaset and the "varnish" covering/sealing the decal. By the way, they're furnishing a replacement set. Class act!!

    There's one more element in this equation that might have some bearing on the problem. These are fairly large decals; 3 1/2" long x 3/8" wide. They were originally set, to one degree or other, with the Micro Sol, to the surface of the plastic brick. When I applied the Solvaset after the decal had setup overnight, I may not have released all of the decal from the surface causing some areas to "hold on firmer" and not release while other areas released from the base, wrinkled but could not get space to settle down. Just conjecture. But looking at the results, there are some places where the decal is still almost smooth and others right next to the smooth area badly wrinkled.

    Also, I treated Solvaset much as I had Micro Sol and probably applied too much at one time. This had worked with the Micro Sol, but obviously did not with the Solvaset. The folks at Waklthers even suggested that since Solvaset is a stronger agent that Micro Sol, it wouldn't have hurt to dilute the Solvaset slightly.

    Another lesson learned. When working in new territory, go slow.

  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Sounds like Walthers has the customer service routine working nicely...! Glad to hear you get a second chance.

    I find your "lesson learned" is universal - I always stop (for example) weathering right when I get the feeling nothing is happening and I am tempted to dump a whole bunch of stuff on the model to "speed up the process". Usually when I stop there, wait 24 hours and look again, I am happy with the result. I ruined a few things before I learned this... ;)

  8. jtbterri

    jtbterri Member

    Since Wathers was nice enough to provide me a "second chance" I went ahead and tried the Solvaset again, this time "working it with a soft brush as suggested. Still couldn't get the decal to sunggle down, just wrinkle a bit.

    I definitely think that is part of the problem here. The decal is larger and probably thicker than the others I used.

    But the other problem is with the way the brick surface was prepared for this model. As I mentioned, I had applied a couple of light coats of acrylic paint which I flowed into the mortar lines. The surface of the brick was then wiped off. I did not apply a glosscoat over this mortar effect so there were, in effect, two(2) different surfaces for the decal and the subsequent setting solution, MicroSol or Solvaset, to work on. That may account for the fact that there are now several different effects over the same decaled area; areas where the decal wrinkled and didn't settle, areas where the decal settled into the brick, and areas where the surface is essentially smooth. Got to remember what others have said;.decals like smooth, glossy surfaces to be put on.

    Knowing what I know now, for an area where I'm going to apply a larger decal onto a brick surface, I wouldn't try to highlight the mortar lines or change the color of the brick surface on the area containg the decal. Rather, I would mask the area off, do my mortar effect on the balance of the brick, then remask so that I could apply a gloss coat over the area that would hold the decal. I think that would give the decal a better chance of settling in regardless of the setting agent or thickness of the decal.
  9. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    After applying your mortar, go ahead and apply gloss cote to the whole model, decal, then apply dull cote and weather. This will give you your best chance of success with the decal and provide a consistant finish to the model. You may consider using other brand decals or dry transfers. Thick decals are always difficult to work with and to hide the decal edge.

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