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What to do when applying older decals?


Spitfires Forever
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How many of us have experienced decals disintegrating upon placing them on our aircraft or even when soaking prior to placement?  If you are like me you probably have a nice collection of decals, some of which may be at least 10 years or older in age. I am one who has been collecting hard to find or OOP sets waiting for a model to be applied to. My question is how many of you apply decal film on older or just super thin and brittle decals before application? How does it work for you and do any of you have any helpful tips that have made decal application less traumatic? I am open to any advice.

Cheers

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I have a bit of experience in this area SF.  The last three models I've done have all been older kits, with older decals that I either wanted or needed to use.  I brush a coat of MicroMark decal film over the entire sheet when necessary, or just the decals I need at other times.  The directions say it's dry after 15 minutes and presumably ready to use.  In my case, it's usually a day or so before I get around to actually using them.   

 

What I've found to work rather well is dipping the decals into quite warm water, just about a simmer really, or a might less.   I place an electric "hot plate" on my modeling table with a small pan of tap water.  I find it works best to hold them under 20 seconds or more.  I have had them come loose from the paper in the water and then I just grabbed the decal with tweezers and applied it right away.   The last ones I applied were from 1990, for the original kit decals, and a ProModeler aftermarkert SuperScale sheet from '96.  Those 31 year-old Monogram decals worked almost perfectly, with only one decal's corner tip lost.    

 

It might be worth a try, and definitely try on a decal you don't just have to have!  I hope this helps and good luck with your decaling!  

Cheer, Gary 🍻

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The older models, especially Monogram and Revell use a thicker film which perhaps plays a role in longevity. Tamiya decals seem to be a bit thick too but with some MicroSol they behave quite nicely. I have found that ICM decals can be very tricky due to their thinness but they lay down quite nicely. And I agree on the use of hot water, much more effective.

Cheers

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36 minutes ago, Spitfires Forever said:

Tamiya decals seem to be a bit thick too but with some MicroSol they behave quite nicely.

 

"The best way to get all Japanese decals ( Fujimi, Hasegawa, Tamiya etc)to work as they're supposed to is use hot water and the correct setting solutions. You'll need a bottle each of Gunze Mr Setter and Mr Softer. Micro sol and others won't work as they're formulated differently. Do not use Gunze on Microscale or Cartograf decals as it will chew right through them.

Dip the decal in hot water, it doesn't need to be boiling but it does need to be fairly hot. The temperature of a drinkable tea will do. The glue is heat activated and is what makes up most of the thickness. If you dip it in cold water you'll spend the rest of the day waiting and cursing.

Lay down some Mr Setter, this is in the blue bottle. It acts as an additional glue. Slide the decal onto it and into postion and leave it alone. The decal should wrinkle a little.

Give it 10 mins or so and go over the decal with a brush with a little Mr Softer (green bottle) on it. Use sparingly as it is extremely hot. Too much and it will damage the paint, especially the weaker acrylics. The decal will now wrinkle a lot. Do not touch it as it is almost liquified at this point.

Once it is dry it will have smoothed out and will lay down beautifully over just about any raised or recessed detail you care to think of. Used properly it is probably the best conforming decal process in the industry. Used incorrectly and you'll be just another guy complaining about crap Japanese decals." 

 

Note, some older Tamiya kits have Superscale printed decals, these look to be quite fragile.   They don't always store well...

 

Basically,  test out one you don't need and see how it behaves,  I see people on here use 40-50 year old Frog decals with no problem, so approach on a case by case basis.

 

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Hi Troy!

Thanks for your info re Japanese decals and those chemicals use / warnings.

Guess - it was all trying & learning on errors.

I just put mine in a storage box, being too lazy🙄

Maybe I start using them after all 😀

Zig

 

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I was recently applying +40 years old decals by ESCI without any special treatment. After applying I used three times Microsol/Microset softening, because the film was thick and too stiff . In general I have found  vast majority of decal applicable directly even if they are that old. However, I was unable to use old Williams Bros decals at all. They were stick to paper as there was no soluble glue in between... (soaking for an hour did not helped at all). 

J-W

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Just experienced this issue of disintegrating decals.  I keep all my decals , both kit and aftermarket in plastic folders in ring binders and these are kept in my model room so at ambient temperature.  Hopefully this helps to prevent the decals fracturing a bit.  I try to test a spare on if there is first, then at least I have an idea of what to expect.  I am building a JGMT Ouragan and the deals are pretty old with oddly opaque carrier film.  They completely fall apart as soon as wet. The smaller numbers I have been able to slide off the paper and reassemble on the kit but the large shark mouth was destroyed. I did try to use the Microscale decal film on some other decals like the ejection seat triangles and they had a noticeable effect holding the decal together but in my case only for a second or two before they fell apart again.  I suspect on lesser damaged decals, the film would be a good solution to recover them.  I'm now going to try to cut stencils to spray the shark mouth to finish the kit as there is no aftermarket set available.

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I've moved this to the correct area, as while they might be decals for a WWII subject, they're decals first and foremost, som there's a specific area for asking such questions. :)

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8 hours ago, Mike said:

I've moved this to the correct area, as while they might be decals for a WWII subject, they're decals first and foremost, som there's a specific area for asking such questions. :)

Thanks Mike, wasn't sure where to post it.

Cherrs

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9 hours ago, neilh said:

Just experienced this issue of disintegrating decals.  I keep all my decals , both kit and aftermarket in plastic folders in ring binders and these are kept in my model room so at ambient temperature.  Hopefully this helps to prevent the decals fracturing a bit.  I try to test a spare on if there is first, then at least I have an idea of what to expect.  I am building a JGMT Ouragan and the deals are pretty old with oddly opaque carrier film.  They completely fall apart as soon as wet. The smaller numbers I have been able to slide off the paper and reassemble on the kit but the large shark mouth was destroyed. I did try to use the Microscale decal film on some other decals like the ejection seat triangles and they had a noticeable effect holding the decal together but in my case only for a second or two before they fell apart again.  I suspect on lesser damaged decals, the film would be a good solution to recover them.  I'm now going to try to cut stencils to spray the shark mouth to finish the kit as there is no aftermarket set available.

Some decals depending on the manufacturer just don't hold up and there isn't much you can do about it unfortunately. Some of the worst are old ESCI and some aftermarket decals I have worked with. In fact, I had built an an Italeri Spit Mk XVI and the decals just blew up upon application so had to scrounge around my stash to make an aircraft that never existed. The worst is when you have some very rare markings for a very specific aircraft that you finally decide to build. Been there done that too many times. A minor irritation to be sure but can get a little pricey unfortunately. We shall press on regardless.

Cheers

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On 10/8/2021 at 1:29 AM, Troy Smith said:

 

"The best way to get all Japanese decals ( Fujimi, Hasegawa, Tamiya etc)to work as they're supposed to is use hot water and the correct setting solutions. You'll need a bottle each of Gunze Mr Setter and Mr Softer. Micro sol and others won't work as they're formulated differently. Do not use Gunze on Microscale or Cartograf decals as it will chew right through them.

Dip the decal in hot water, it doesn't need to be boiling but it does need to be fairly hot. The temperature of a drinkable tea will do. The glue is heat activated and is what makes up most of the thickness. If you dip it in cold water you'll spend the rest of the day waiting and cursing.

Lay down some Mr Setter, this is in the blue bottle. It acts as an additional glue. Slide the decal onto it and into postion and leave it alone. The decal should wrinkle a little.

Give it 10 mins or so and go over the decal with a brush with a little Mr Softer (green bottle) on it. Use sparingly as it is extremely hot. Too much and it will damage the paint, especially the weaker acrylics. The decal will now wrinkle a lot. Do not touch it as it is almost liquified at this point.

Once it is dry it will have smoothed out and will lay down beautifully over just about any raised or recessed detail you care to think of. Used properly it is probably the best conforming decal process in the industry. Used incorrectly and you'll be just another guy complaining about crap Japanese decals." 

 

Note, some older Tamiya kits have Superscale printed decals, these look to be quite fragile.   They don't always store well...

 

Basically,  test out one you don't need and see how it behaves,  I see people on here use 40-50 year old Frog decals with no problem, so approach on a case by case basis.

 

That's great advice you've given there Troy, especially for the newer converts to our hobby. 

My collection of Modeldecal sheets were purchased when Modeltoys of Portsmouth were still in existence and run by the late Richard L Ward.

I am still using them successfully to this day, despite some of them being around 30 + years old. I tend use the hot water method to release the transfer followed by a dip into clean hot water to remove all milky residue from the back of the design. It is then applied to the model with the aid of Micro Sol and Set.

I have often wondered if there is such a thing as a "shelf life" for transfer sheets, given that, as you have said, some of the original Frog sheets can be around 50 years old.

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