Clear coating race car models. Should they be that shiny?!

198 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

Something that has been sort of bugging me for a while is the clear coating of racing models, especially older subjects. I've been to a ton of races, mostly road races, over the past 33 years, and to a car, I have never seen them shine like most of the models I have seen. Especially contest models. Curious as to what others think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Race cars should not have a contest winning shine to them

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

My take on it...

If I clear the paint, decals get cleared... IF they are meant to represent graphics which are or would have been painted on the 1:1. If they are meant to be the adhesive-backed sponsor stickers, they go on after that, without clear. I never try to get my race cars too shiny, because practically no 1:1 race car ever is.

Sometimes I'll bend or break my own rule, but that's the gist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Yes, I was wondering the same thing. I've got an old 7-11 IMSA mustng I've started decalling the body of. I did clear it with Future, mainly to keep old decals down. Is there a semi-gloss or flat clear available that doesn't need an airbrush to use? I've got a Mark Martin Valvoline T-bird I need to clear.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

There is no one correct answer. Some real cars are better finished than others, and when in a timeline makes a difference too. Pre-race versus post-race for example. Plus often presentation and restored cars are detailed better than workhorse race cars. I have seen some race cars that look shabby, others that look fantastic, at least before the race.

Then you have the issue of when you scale something down, the surface becomes finer, maybe definable as shinier. And that is somewhat subjective too.

As far as “contest models”, what defines them from other models? I’m not sure why different approaches need to be taken if that was what you were getting at.

Build it the way you want it to look for yourself, and if you are building for someone else, find out what they want and try to match that. If you are building to please some arbitrary judges, you’re on your own; I got nothing for that… B)

While it is true that many (most?) of the older cars were not clear coated, it doesn’t mean that by using clear it is automatically not going to give you the desired results. Just as many real cars that are clear coated can be realistically replicated in scale using other paint methods, and no clear. Factor in decals with different sheens than paints, and other inconsistencies… To me, each project needs to be assessed on its own merits.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

The easy answer: Look at the real car you're modeling, and copy what you see.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

You might also consider how you will be displaying your cars, how they will be exposed to the elements, and what they will look like 10 or more years down the road if they are not Cleared.

CadillacPat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

The easy answer: Look at the real car you're modeling, and copy what you see.

You might also consider how you will be displaying your cars, how they will be exposed to the elements, and what they will look like 10 or more years down the road if they are not Cleared.

CadillacPat

Where is DREW when you need him :rolleyes: ....Asked, Answered, till the sun goes down..... ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I'm with Pat. I want the decals to last forever. Not dry up and flake off over twenty years. So I will clear my race cars. But I will not polish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

IMG_3067-vi.jpg

OMG, that's what I forgot! Clear coat and polish.

Harry is accurate, look at the car you are replicating and copy the reflection levels. The IROC shops used to be in NJ and I got invited to their open house a couple of times. Man were those cars rough!

iroc227s-vi.jpg

body damage, tears in fiberglass just rivited back together, over spray and damage repaired in different shine levels like old NYC taxis! They only have to look good from the stands!

Edited by Tom Geiger

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I'm with Pat. I want the decals to last forever. Not dry up and flake off over twenty years. So I will clear my race cars. But I will not polish.

I have models well over 30 years old, no clear. I have never, ever had any decal dry up or flake off any model. Ever. Is this a real problem? Or are you assuming that if you don't clear, the decals will eventually fall off?

I have never seen that happen. If it's never happened to my models (all manufacturers, all different decal manufacturers), why is it happening to others?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Or are you assuming that if you don't clear, the decals will eventually fall off?

I have bought older glue bombs that had decals flaking off. Granted they were 30 years old, very likely, and put on badly, but still. So yes, it is mostly assumption.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Harry, I've seen a lot of old faded dried up decals with raised edges on a lot of faded discolored paintjobs, because people did not ClearCoat their Models that then sat on shelves for years and years.

CadillacPat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I have bought older glue bombs that had decals flaking off. Granted they were 30 years old, very likely, and put on badly, but still. So yes, it is mostly assumption.

I'd be willing to bet the decals were applied improperly. Soaked in water too long, all the glue soaked off. Like I said, I have models 30+ years old, I've never seen any sign of any decal coming off any model that I've ever built. IMO the practice of clearing to "protect" decals is completely unnecessary. Of course, it's harmless... and if someone sleeps better at night feeling their decals are "protected," more power to 'em. But from my experience, totally unnecessary if the decals were applied correctly in the first place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

I have a few pictures of old drag cars and it's pretty clear to see the lettering on the side of the car is just as shiny as the car itself. Was every race done this way ? no idea .

exibit A

DodgeBoys64interior.jpg

I started clearing over decals after I bought a few old builtups and on a few of them the decals are old and flakey . To each there own.

When I did this one, I wanted to seal the decals down and cleared the whole car. It's a not a mile deep shine like some I've seen , it even has a just ever so slight bit of orange peel that I refuse to rub out because I think it more accurately represents the 1/1 the way it is . IMO only btw

catalina3.JPG

Edited by gtx6970

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

​As someone who has been involved in racing for almost thirty years as a track side official, I can say with confidence that the cars that I've seen and been close to ARE clear coated. They have a shine to their finishes, but not that mile deep shine that you will see on show cars. Some cars are painted and some cars are covered by wraps, but each has a shine to the finish. But by the end of race they all look the same, very dull, oily and dirty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

My take on it... it's a model car first. Even if it's a replica of a 1:1 car, it's still a model. So do whatever you want. If you think it will make you happy to clearcoat, then clearcoat. The shiny model always gets the nod. Unless... it is supposed to be satin, such as a rat rod. Personally, I would not coat over the decals, but I may clear the paint before decal app. That's just me, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Yes, I was wondering the same thing. I've got an old 7-11 IMSA mustng I've started decalling the body of. I did clear it with Future, mainly to keep old decals down. Is there a semi-gloss or flat clear available that doesn't need an airbrush to use? I've got a Mark Martin Valvoline T-bird I need to clear.

Testors used to offer both semi-gloss and flat IIRC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

As far as “contest models”, what defines them from other models? I’m not sure why different approaches need to be taken if that was what you were getting at.

By contest models, I was mainly commenting on those that I have seen at contests, and those that are photographed for periodicals. I have always held the belief that race cars do not have show car finishes and most of the miniature replicas, like those in the photo's from the recent NNL, have an unnatural to my eye overly shiny look.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Two of my Drag Race cars did have clear coat and they really stood out in the staging lanes, looked great in photos etc. ( sponsor decals over clear as they were updated every year )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Okay, this is just for Drag Cars.

Some 1:1 Drag Racers have only decals over the paint, and they should not be cleared, because the real ones are not either. But in all cars I build, the graphics, textes etc are painted on, when they are usually clear coated (Or At least sometimes), when the clear coat and polish is needed. I think it just looks much better when they are cleared and polished. Many Drag Cars are finished very nicely and they are shiny.

_smaller.jpg

_smaller.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Stand 25 ft away from a racecar and then 1 ft away from your model. the finish should look the same. BTW, racecars were lettered by hand with one shot back in the day, so the finish should be as shiny as the car. `At 25 ft away you can't tell the difference (IMHO) anyway. I clear over them and I don't worry about it. If my cars lose a contest because the decals were cleared over, I'm OK with that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

An interesting side note on this topic, I remember reading that some NASCAR teams were actually spraying clear over the sponsor stickers on their cars to gain a mild areo advantage....!

Anyway, the issue to me is not so much the clearing of the deals over the painted finish, but the over all sheen of the model. Make any sense?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

Is there a semi-gloss or flat clear available that doesn't need an airbrush to use?

I prefer using Gunze-Sangyo (Mr. Hobby) acrylic spray-cans (the whole range - gloss, semi-gloss and flat clearcoats).

Edited by PowerPlant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I clear over it all with gloss, I know it's probably not "correct" but I like them to look "better than new". I do it with race cars, old cars, everything unless I'm intentionally doing a beater and even then it gets a flat or semi clear coat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This topic is now closed to further replies.