Re: Decal problems

Jim Betz


Although I use Microscale decals almost
exclusively I also use a fair amount of Champ
and other decals. Many/most of them I have
had - in my possession - for more than a
decade ... and some for more than 2 decades.

I have never had a problem getting the decals
to separate from the backing.


Perhaps my 'process' will help you and others.

1) I put about 1/2" of -distilled- water in a glass
pie plate - and set it down on a dark towel.
Towel to catch any spills, dark so you can see
the decals in the water. I have used a drop or
two of PhotoFlo or other wetting agents in the
water in the past - but I don't any more because
it seemed to me that it softened the decals and
made them more likely to break up.

2) I cut the decals out using sharp scissors I
only use for decals. And drop them in the

3) About 3 to 5 minutes later (or more) I start
'just touching' the decal film with the point
of an Exacto knife - testing if the decal is
starting to move. If it is I let it sit about a
minute more.

4) Slide the decal off the paper, still immersed
in the distilled water - and slip the Exacto
blade under it and carefully lift it out of the

5) Transfer the decal to the model and lay it
down as close to the final position as I can.

6) Add at least one drop of the distilled water
on top of the decal and then use the tip of
the blade to position the decal.

7) Using small 1" square (or so) pieces of tissue
I put a corner into the edge of the bead of
water around the decal and wick the water

8) Set it aside (or work on another part of the
model or another model) and let the water
dry for about 15-20 minutes. If it is not
settled down enough I will add water and
work the decal down. I usually use a -sharp-
pin to puncture the decal - the kind that has
a round ball of plastic for a head. It is -very-
important that you move the pin in a
vertical line both going down and coming
back up.
During this phase I do not let the decal
dry fully - it always has some wetness to it.

9) When the decal is fully settled I wick away
any remaining water (again -never- touching
the decal with the tissue) and start the first
of several applications of setting solution.

10) During the first application of the setting
solution is when I ... finally ... get ever last
little bubble and 'shiny spots' settled down
by pricking with the pin.

11) Set aside to dry, reapply setting solution as
required until the decal is fully down. I
apply the setting solution with a brush
and 'float' the solution off the brush and
onto the model without touching the

12) Let the decal -fully- dry before doing any
over spray with a 'fixing' product such as
dull coat. (I first 'wash' the car with water
to remove any decal setting solution.)

Yes, the above takes a -long- time. I don't work
on just one model at a time. I only work on one
side of a model at a time and get the decals all
the way thru step 11 before I change to a different
side. Usually the side I'm working on is pretty
much horizontal most of the time - but I have
been know to 'tilt' them a bit when wicking the

OK - here is where some guys are going to
positively GROAN/YELL at me ...

For over 2 decades now the only setting
solution I've ever used for any decal work
has been Solvaset. Yes, it is very 'aggressive'.
But if the decal is Fully settled down before
you ever use it, and you Never touch the
decal with the brush, and you Don't try to
prick or touch the decal between drying
stages ... I have found I can use Solvaset
for any and all decals.
- Jim Betz

P.S. The above works for me. What do you
do that works for you?

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