The basis for the following article
was a posting I came across on the rec.models.railroading
newsgroup. I found it useful in learning some basics on how to
handle the decal solvent Hobsco Solvaset. If you have ever tried
this stuff, you know how strong a setting solution it is. Used
correctly, it can make just about any decal (yes, even those
much maligned Tamiya ones), snuggle down tighter than a tick on
a hound dog's back. If handled incorrectly, it can turn your
decal into one bit gooey mess. Read on, and learn! The posting
is italicized, while my comments are not.
If you're trying to make the
film vanish, give up. You can't. No matter what you do. Decal
film is a lump on the surface that is many times thicker than
the paint it sits on.
If on the other hand you CAN
see the film under normal viewing conditions, then try this:
When you are ready to apply the decal, overspray the model with
several light coats of Floquil Crystal Cote to which 10-15%
retarder has been added. Let the model sit for 24 hours. Float
the decals off the paper in a cup of tepid water to which a few
drops of clear ammonia has been added. The ammonia destroys the
water's surface tension and makes it "wetter". Two or
three drops are all you need. More is not better here. You
can also use Future for a gloss coat. While I have come across
newsgroups postings that suggest Solvaset may dissolve the
Future, this has not happened to me. My guess is that whoever
had this problem didn't let the Future cure. I would give it 12
hours to dry and cure before decaling.
Gently place the decal paper
side down on the water such that it floats and wait. In a minute
or two the paper will drop off and sink. Let the decal float for
a few more seconds while the glue washes off. In most cases,
you don't really need to wash the glue off. Solvaset seems to
work just as well if you skip this step.
Using tweezers, retrieve the
paper and use it to lift the decal out of the water. Place the
decal in the desired position on the model by sliding it off the
paper and use a paper towel to wick the excess water away from
it. If you need to move the decal around, brush a little
clear water on and around the decal. Then move it gently with a
Q-tip, toothpick or brush. Be gentle! Some decals are less
forgiving than others and will shatter if handled roughly.
Now is when you want to melt
the decal film and feather it into the paint surface. This is
what a decal solvent does. It destroys the edge of the film such
that there is not a step up, but rather a slope. This makes it
virtually impossible to see the film because there is no longer
an edge to catch the light or cast a shadow. It also causes the
film to conform to the surface of the substrate which makes it
even more difficult to see.
Use a fine quality sable or
similar brush to blot the remaining water off the decal and,
while it is still damp, gently apply a sparing amount of Hobsco
Solvaset. Here is where your technique comes into play. Make
sure you get the Solvaset to completely wick in under the decal.
That's why you want to work while the decal is still damp.
When he says "apply a sparing amount", he means it. I
found that out the hard way. When applying the star and bar
emblem on a wing of my Tamiya Thunderjet, I left a little
puddle, maybe 1/8'' diameter, sitting on a portion of the decal.
It disfigured that area terribly, and no amount of additional
setting solution would smooth it out.
Be careful with the Solvaset.
It is the strongest decal solvent I know of and it works very
quickly. Once applied, you must not touch the decal again until
it is completely dry or you will ruin it. Solvaset will handle
even the old Walther's and Champ decal films. Again, this is
good advice. You may be tempted to try and smooth out the decal
after the Solvaset starts to work. Believe me, within minutes,
the decal will look terrible and have more wrinkles in it than a
mummified prune. However, it you touch it, you will find a gooey
blob that once was the decal stuck to your finger.
Let the decal dry and check
for trapped air. If you already know how to apply decals this
won't be a problem, but beginners may have to work a little to
get the "hang" of it. Use a needle to puncture the
decal film and apply more solvent if needed. After a day to dry
completely, overspray with clear coat of your choice. Be
patient. Once the decal has dried out it will likely look
beautiful, with all raised or recessed detailing beneath it
clearly standing out. For really stubborn decals, you can apply
a second coat, but this is rarely needed.
If you do all this and can
still see the film then you are looking too hard.
There are better finishes than
Dullcoat, but if you like it, then stick with it. If you want to
try something else hoping to get a better finish then try
Floquil clear flat, Gunze-Sangyo matte coat or Krylon Matte
finish. To use the Krylon you need an airbrush. Carefully drill
a tiny hole in the side of the can right at the top rim and let
all the propellant escape. After the pressure falls to zero open
the hole and pour the contents out into a suitable paint
container. Apply with your airbrush just like any other paint.
This will work with any spray paint. You don't have to work with
the spray bomb, you can get the paint out. It will effervesce
for a while so let it sit open for an hour or two.
As will all setting solutions,
you should use a very diluted mix of warm clean water and
dishwashing liquid to wash off any dried solution before you
airbrush on a top coat.
I have tried the above technique
with both Academy and Tamiya decals. It worked beautifully. I
even tried this stuff on some very old Monogram decals. You
know, the ones that are so glossy you can see yourself in them,
and that have a thick milky glue adhesive which comes off when
you slide the decal onto the model. Well, this was the only
decal that Solvaset wouldn't work on. If fact, the Solvaset just
beaded up on the decal. Hopefully no one would be forced into a
position where they would have to use decals this old and