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Do I need to clearcoat enamel

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Life events had keep me away from the workbench for the past three years, however the pandemic has freed up my time and I`m returning to the several stalled projects that have been laying idle. Hence, I have two questions.

1) One project in particular was shot in MCM red enamel. I had wet sanded the orange peel out and was waiting for it to dry/cure before clear coating.   Three years later, upon pulling the red body out of retirement I see that the enamel laid down real nicely and all the parts have a nice gloss sheen. Upon discovering this I`m wondering if I need to clear-coat the body.  I mean with the passing of three years I`m certain the enamel has adequately gassed off and cured. So should I clear-coat it to protect the finish?

2) Because this project is a race car it has quite a number of sponsor decals as well as some graphics that I had custom replicated for the project.  Before I stopped on project three years ago I had applied the decals/graphics to the  body. Do the decals need a clear-coat on top of them for protection? 


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I’d bet if it looks good now, it’ll stay looking good most likely without needing to clear coat.  A good automotive wax might help project it from eventually fading and deteriorating but if it looks good now and you’re happy I’d be inclined to leave it alone 

There’s plenty of debate over whether to clear over decals - I don’t think they’ll suffer usually  if you DON’T clear over them, but also I guess it can’t hurt if you decide you want to!

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We are talking about a model car, right?  It is not like you have to protect the paint from severe outdoor weather. :D

Seriously though, most non-metallic (solid) color paints are designed to be used without clear coats. If you are happy with the finish, leave it alone.

Some metallic colors dry to a flat or satin finish - those are designed to show they full sheen with a clear coat.  In those cases, yes, clear coat.

I usually use hobby paints and I don't think I have ever clear coated a non-metallic paint.  And not that it matters much, but aren't MCM paints lacquers?  Either way, if the paint is shiny enough I would leave it alone.

Edited by peteski
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I like to clear coat over decals to keep them from eventually falling off and/or yellowing. 

That being said, there is the downside that the clearcoat will yellow over time if you use enamel clear. Another downside is that some lacquer clears can cause the decals to wrinkle. 

Since it's been so long with your model and it still looks good, I'd leave it alone. 

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This is one of the better paint jobs I`ve done so far. So, I heed you'll advise and not clear-coat the body.

Now with that said my final question is...

1) Will waxing the body protect the decals from  airborne dirt /dust and oily finger prints.

2) Do you good folks have any suggestions on a good wax for my project that wont yellow over time...some of the decals do have "white" as part of their background color.

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I use Tamiya wax, and I love it. It will indeed protect the finish from finger prints, makes them wipe right off. Works great on windows, too. It’s easy on the decals and gives them a nice sheen.  Beware that after applying the wax the body will be very slippery. Also, after applying wax nothing else will stick to the surface (decals, glue, paint, BMF, etc) so be sure it’s the last thing you do to the body or glass. 

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