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Decal tips. What am I doing wrong?


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I'm by no means a beginner at this. I've been applying these waterslide type of decals since the mid 70s when I was a pre-teen. You would think it would be a walk in the park by now. Back then, there was no decal set or decal solvent. Just plain old water and just about no attention to cleanliness and it seemed to go pretty smoothly back then. 

I'm using the Micro Set by itself. Should I order some Micro Sol and pick this project up at a later date? I just can't get the decals to sit flat, even on a flat surface. I have 4 more decals to do on the body. This is proving to be far more nerve racking than I thought it would be.

 

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I build race cars so decals are a given for me.  I will let you decide what setting solutions to use. I've used most of them and they all seem to do the trick. What I want to offer is this; I use very warm water for my decals and then I use a heat source once they are applied. Most folks use a hair blow dryer. I use a hobby heat gun. Lots of heat and not a lot of "wind" (I can't think of the word I need). Yes, you have to be careful with it or you will melt your decals. Those three things, solutions, warm water and a heat gun/blow dryer should be all you need to get your decals to conform.

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I'm not going near my decals with any kind of heat. I would think that would have a completely detrimental effect on this procedure.  I can't imagine where you ever got the idea to do this. 

I'm trying to keep the decal wet until it's completely in the right position, then I let it dry for at least 24 hours before clearcoating over them.

If you are using heat, you are completely doing it the wrong way.

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4 minutes ago, Mike C. said:

I'm not going near my decals with any kind of heat. I would think that would have a completely detrimental effect on this procedure.  I can't imagine where you ever got the idea to do this. 

I'm trying to keep the decal wet until it's completely in the right position, then I let it dry for at least 24 hours before clearcoating over them.

If you are using heat, you are completely doing it the wrong way.

Have  you ever applied carbon fiber decals? Sometimes heat is a must.  Bout like putting heat on shrink tubing just not as much.

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1 hour ago, Mike C. said:

I'm not going near my decals with any kind of heat. I would think that would have a completely detrimental effect on this procedure.  I can't imagine where you ever got the idea to do this. 

I'm trying to keep the decal wet until it's completely in the right position, then I let it dry for at least 24 hours before clearcoating over them.

If you are using heat, you are completely doing it the wrong way.

Mike, the use of heat is a well established staple of getting tough decals to settle down.  You don’t blast the decal for an extended period of time, you just use it for a brief amount. I’m not one who gets into Internet arguments, I don’t have the time nor the inclination but if you think using heat on decals is “completely doing it the wrong way” then you have not done your homework. You asked for “decal tips” and I gave you several. Good luck with your project. My apologies for trying to help.

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All I know is that the heat will surely dry everything out and that's totally the opposite of what I'm trying to do here. If you are talking vinyl decals, I could see that, but these are water slide decals, and a completely different approach is needed here.

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I use Solvaset when needed and it works really well. Never have used heat and never clear coat either but you can get 10 different suggestions from 10 different guys.

Maybe the decals suck. I've had decals that applied so well that I'm giggly excited about it and then there's ones like you are having trouble with.

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49 minutes ago, TonyK said:

I use Solvaset when needed and it works really well. Never have used heat and never clear coat either but you can get 10 different suggestions from 10 different guys.

Maybe the decals suck. I've had decals that applied so well that I'm giggly excited about it and then there's ones like you are having trouble with.

Well said and as far as I'm concerned, ALL decals suck, except when the cooperate with you.

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I can add little beyond what others have already stated. I also have used, sparingly, Salvo Sol as well as Solvaset. In fact, just now looking at my bottle of Solvaset that I used last night is over 25 years old and still seems to work just fine.  What I would add is to find a small sponge that women use to apply makeup. I use this to squidgy excessive fluid that can gather between a large decal and the model body. You can gently squidgy the moisture from under the decal to the edge and use a small paper towel to absorb the moisture of the body. Last night I was doing a large decal on both sides of the model, and it crossed both sides of the door panels. When they had dried for a time, I cut the decal with a #11 along the door opening lines and applied a very small amount of the set solution so that the decal would lay down a little into the door lines. I cleared the body this morning, so I'll see how that worked.  

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13 minutes ago, espo said:

What I would add is to find a small sponge that women use to apply makeup. I use this to squidgy excessive fluid that can gather between a large decal and the model body. You can gently squidgy the moisture from under the decal to the edge and use a small paper towel to absorb the moisture of the body.

I use makeup sponges also. Round one gently held in their center and rolled across the decal help them to lay down. Use the edge of wedge shaped ones to wick moisture off the edges of the decals.

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Just now, Miatatom said:

I use makeup sponges also. Round one gently held in their center and rolled across the decal help them to lay down. Use the edge of wedge shaped ones to wick moisture off the edges of the decals.

Ya, they work great, and it keeps my fat fingers off of the decal, 

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Mike, I really do want to see you succeed with your project.  We all share this common passion.  Decal solutions soften the decal chemically so that it will conform.  Heat softens the decal mechanically so that it conforms.  You do not have a continuous breeze blowing across the decal.  You just hit the decal for a few seconds with high heat.  You can literally watch the decal relax.  Yes, if you hold the heat on the decal for too long you will actually melt it.  You just want to warm it up enough to soften it.  There is no drying out the decal with this method.  Not every decal or manufacturer’s decal sheets will need this technique done to them but for very stubborn decals such as yours, it might be just the thing they need.  BTW, I still work my decals with a blotter after the heat is applied.  I will keep adding solutions and heat until I’m satisfied.

I know you don’t know me from Adam but I do know what I’m talking about in regards to laying down decals.  Go to my profile and look at the models I’ve posted.  Also, check out some of the YouTube videos where guys actually show the process in real time.  There may very well be some older threads on this site about the same thing that you are going through.  Just don’t write something off because you’ve never done it before.  Good luck.

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Thanks John. I do check a lot of the videos on YouTube and they all seem to differ in some way. I need to figure out what is the best for what I have to work with. Right now I may go back and get the Micro Sol and see if that helps.

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Hey, Dusty, that is very close to what my wife uses for her hobbies.  Hers may be a little smaller.  Mine looks like a miniature hair dryer.  It definitely gets hot.  Very hot.  I don’t use mine all of the time but is an invaluable tool.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Okay, I'm still doing the AMT Boondocker Blazer. I'm down to my last decal for the rear passenger side one so I gotta make this one count. I'm pretty sure I'm doing everything I'm supposed to. Maybe I have the timing wrong. I'm letting each decal soak in the warm water (with a drop on Dawn dish soap) for about 1 minute. Then I lay it on a dry paper towel for about 30 seconds.  I then brush on the Micro set solution onto the body. Then I attempt to slide it onto the body, but it seems like its curling all up every time. The vintage decal started to split while it was still soaking. The 2 decals I'm happy with, I Q-tipped some of the Micro Sol solution.

I have looked at numerous AMT instruction sheets and I'm not finding any AMT specific decal recommendations.  Does the problem lie in my timing?

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