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Help please! Decals and Painting a locomotive?

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  • Member since
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Help please! Decals and Painting a locomotive?
Posted by gpharo on Monday, August 22, 2016 10:27 PM

I am in the process of painting two locomotives for my two little guys. So far I have successfully; stripped the locos, painted on primer, painted the locomotive.  I am using Tamiya TS plastic spray paints.

At this point I just applied Microscale MicroGloss MI-4 for decal surface preparation, I only applied it to the areas that are getting the decals,  1) Is this correct?  Should I have applied MicroGloss to the entire loco or sprayed the loco with clear gloss from Tamiya or Testors?

Next I plan on applying the decals with MicroSet, 2) once the decal has dried do I coat it again with MicroSet?

3) After I would like to coat the whole loco, do I apply a  gloss clear coat then a flat/dull coat or straight to a flat/dull coat?

4) Should I use Tamiya flat coat or Testors Dull Coat?  I beleive this coat needs to be thin and light?

5) I recently painted and decaled a test loco and everything was going well, until I applied the flat clear coat, the paint underneath cracked?  What probably caused this?

I don't want to disappoint my little guys and they are both excited for dad to custom paint locos for them.Smile

Thanks,

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Posted by FRRYKid on Monday, August 22, 2016 10:47 PM

gpharo

At this point I just applied Microscale MicroGloss MI-4 for decal surface preparation, I only applied it to the areas that are getting the decals,  1) Is this correct?  Should I have applied MicroGloss to the entire loco or sprayed the loco with clear gloss from Tamiya or Testors?

By most people's definition, if you are going to gloss the loco it needed to be done completely. (Disclosure: Personally I have found that the way I do my decaling, I don't gloss coat at all. I have only ever had two decals silver on me and I have applied probably at least 100 to 150 decals over the years. When one freelances, that comes with the territory.)

gpharo

Next I plan on applying the decals with MicroSet, 2) once the decal has dried do I coat it again with MicroSet?

Depends on the type of surface your applying the decal to. If it's smooth, another coat of the Set is not a bad idea. If the area is fairly bumpy (vent fan, radiator, etc) then a coat of MicroSol would be needed to get the decal to "hug" the area.

gpharo

3) After I would like to coat the whole loco, do I apply a  gloss clear coat then a flat/dull coat or straight to a flat/dull coat?

Depends on the age of the loco. If it's to be a freshly painted engine, gloss coat. Older paint job, dull coat

gpharo

4) Should I use Tamiya flat coat or Testors Dull Coat?  I beleive this coat needs to be thin and light?

If you're using a spray can, the dull coat. Airbrush, shouldn't make much difference as long as the pressure and dilution are correct. (Disclosure: I don't use clear coats myself. I haven't been able to properly brush them. Don't have an airbrush due to lack of a booth and Northern climate.) Yes, multiple coats are better than one thick coat.

gpharo

5) I recently painted and decaled a test loco and everything was going well, until I applied the flat clear coat, the paint underneath cracked?  What probably caused this?

Best guess (and this is strickly a guess), the paint on the engine hadn't been given enough time to dry properly. Be paitent and give it a few day to dry completely. The other option is that the clear coat was too thick.

Maybe other people have some better ideas on the subjects, but those are my takes on the problems.

"The only stupid question is the unasked question."
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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, August 22, 2016 11:29 PM

I use an airbrush for such work, so can only comment on what works with that method.
If you're applying a gloss for decaling, apply it to the entire painted shell, and let it fully cure before decaling.

I like to cut the decals as close to the useable image as possible, even for Microscale decals with their "tapered borders".  To do so, I cut the individual pieces from the sheet with space around them, then, working on a hard surface (sheet of glass), use a sharp blade to snick-off the blank paper around the images as close as is possible.  By cutting straight down with the blade, you avoid the raised edge which a slicing motion creates - this will help the decal's edges to better lie flat when applied.  Sharpen the blade often as you work.

You may or may not wish to use Microset when applying the decals - I usually use only distilled water, until the decals are properly placed - you can re-wet as often as is necessary to achieve the desired placement.. 
Once the decals are in place and dry, add setting solution as required to get the decals to lie as snugly to the surface as possible.  I usually start with Microset, then after that initial application, switch to Walthers Solvaset (you can dilute it with distilled water if you find it too strong for a particular application).

When the decals are fully dried, apply another spray of clear gloss:  the reason for this is because the gloss of the decals is seldom identical to the gloss of the surface on which they were applied - skipping this may make the decaled area more noticeable.  Once that has cured, spray the entire body shell with a clear finish of your choice:  this can be difficult with spray cans, as not only do they usually put out more paint than an airbrush, but they're also limited in the finishes available.  With an airbrush, you can spray gloss, any type of semi-gloss, from really pretty shiny to almost flat, and, of course, dead flat.  What you choose should be in line with the look you want on the finished locomotives.  
Keep in mind that on a real locomotive, the just-painted gloss will dull over time, but dirt (weathering) starts out on that glossy surface.  If you're planning on heavily-weathered locomotives, do this clear coat in flat, but otherwise a low-sheen semi-gloss would likely look better for a lightly weathered locomotive.

Your problem on the test loco could be that the previous paint was not fully cured and the paint being applied may not have been compatible with it.  Dullcote is lacquer-based and may react with water-based paints if they're not fully cured.  Again, we get back to the airbrush/spray can issue, where the latter often puts down more paint than necessary, with unfortunate consequences.  I have airbrushed Dullcote and very heavily-thinned lacquer-based weathering colours over Tamiya paint without problems, but would suggest that your clear finishes be from the same manufacturer as the paint you use.

Wayne

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Posted by gpharo on Monday, August 22, 2016 11:29 PM

Thank you for responding, even though I applied MicroGloss to the areas that are getting decals, would it be okay to spray a clear gloss coat to the entire loco and then decal?

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, August 22, 2016 11:52 PM

gpharo:

Lots of questions. I will answer the ones I can.

Applying the Microscale Micro Gloss to just the decal areas is fine provided you are going to use the Micro Gloss to coat the whole model after the decals are applied.

Some modellers don't bother with the gloss coat after the decals are applied. Once the decals are seated on the surface (using Micro Sol or similar solutions) they simply use a dull finish to seal the decals in place. The reason that many modellers do use a gloss coat immediately after applying the decals (on a glossy surface) is to eliminate any visible edges on the decals. Your choice, but if you look at the superb work of modellers like doctorwayne who do use a gloss coat over the decals first you will have a hard time seeing the decal film.

I don't think that exactly what gloss coat you used is crucial, providing it is applied in thin coats. Testors spray cans tend to put down a lot of paint in a hurry so you need to have a very light touch. I have not used Micro Gloss personally but I think the same logic should apply, i.e., like you said, use light coats.

As far as what caused the paint to crack, that is hard to say exactly. I would suspect that the underlying coats were too thick and/or not thoroughly dry, but I'm guessing. Did you use an airbrush or a paint brush for the Gloss Coat? If you used a paint brush I would suggest investing in an airbrush.

Other factors could be the age of the decals, the relative humidity in the room when you painted, or some or all of the above. In the future all I can suggest is to err on the side of less is more. In other words, use thinner coats and allow more drying time. Be patient. (I'm the last person who should be talking about patience - I tend to charge ahead without regard to the very things I am recommending. This is a case of "Do as I said, not as I do!Smile, Wink & GrinDunce).

Regards

Dave

 

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Posted by delray1967 on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 3:49 AM

I've only painted and decayed maybe 20 cars/locos and I'm still learning. :) Even the worst case (one of my first projects) was with old decals that cracked horribly...good news is with weathering it's not as noticeable as it was fresh out of the paint shop.

For a tell for you these aren't contest models so I'm sure your lil guys will love them no matter what! :) If they are really screwed up, strip them and start over...you already know how to do that and you'll just get better. Everything is 'practice' for your next project. I proudly display my mistakes so I, and others, can see how I've gotten better (and it's not the end of the world if they don't turn out perfectly).

A second application of micro set, or micro sol probably won't hurt. I've found that a second (or third or fourth...) will often show silvering when it looked fine dry (a drop of water may also show silvering?). I tend to use a really sharp exacto blade to pick the decal all over (so the sol or set) can get under the decal. You can literally see the silvering disappear as the solution fills the air spaces. Do this until you're satisfied with the end result.

If I gloss coat (sometimes I don't because the paint is smooth or I am just lazy), I coat the whole model...it's just easier and it produces a more even finish on the entire model. If I don't glosscoat, (and I've put decals on some pretty gritty, flat finishes) I just have to micro sol the heck out of it...5 or 6 times, pricking any silvered areas until they're gone. Keep the decal horizontal...I've had a decal sag when I put the model upright while the micro sol did it's thing. I've also had a decal float out of position when I puddle too much sol on it, trying to get it settle over big molded on details. No problem...soak again to soften the decal, scrub it off and try it again. Kinda sucked but it's a lesson I'll not forget.

Good job making your guys a custom loco...I bet they will never forget it. :)

http://delray1967.shutterfly.com/pictures/5

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Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 7:12 AM

I've had problems with silvering despite using glosscote.  I saw a recent video by Cody Grivno and he put 3 coats of gloss on before decaling.  I have not tried that yet.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by gpharo on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 9:19 AM

Thank you for your reponses, but at this point I am contemplating spraying the whole loco with a clear gloss coat, even though I already put Microscale MicroGloss to the decal areas only (no decals applied yet). Would this be advisable?  Also, how long should I wait to put on clear gloss after painting?

 

Sorry for all the questionsConfused

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Posted by dstarr on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 9:58 AM

gpharo

I am in the process of painting two locomotives for my two little guys. So far I have successfully; stripped the locos, painted on primer, painted the locomotive.  I am using Tamiya TS plastic spray paints.

 

At this point I just applied Microscale MicroGloss MI-4 for decal surface preparation, I only applied it to the areas that are getting the decals,  1) Is this correct?  Should I have applied MicroGloss to the entire loco or sprayed the loco with clear gloss from Tamiya or Testors?

Me, I don't bother with putting gloss under decals.  My decals stick just fine over flat paint like Floquil.

gpharo

Next I plan on applying the decals with MicroSet, 2) once the decal has dried do I coat it again with MicroSet?

I use Solvaset.  Never tried the Micro Set/Microsol stuff.  Solvaset softens the decal film and lets it snuggle down around rivets and other lumps and bumps.  You need the decal to dry enough that it doesn't float away when you apply the Solvaset. And you cannot touch or move the decal after applying Solvaset, the decal will tear, trust me on this.  Make sure it is in exactly the right position before Solvasetting.

gpharo

3) After I would like to coat the whole loco, do I apply a  gloss clear coat then a flat/dull coat or straight to a flat/dull coat?

   I never put on gloss coat over decals.  Just Testor's Dullcote from a rattle can.

gpharo

4) Should I use Tamiya flat coat or Testors Dull Coat?  I beleive this coat needs to be thin and light?

I only use Testors Dullcote.  I tried something else once and it made the decals go all crinkly.

gpharo

5) I recently painted and decaled a test loco and everything was going well, until I applied the flat clear coat, the paint underneath cracked?  What probably caused this?

   Could be a lot of things.  Maybe too thick a coat of paint?  I limit things to one coat of primer, no more than two coats of finish color, and a topcoat of Dullcote to blend in the decals.  Much more and the paint gets thick enough to obscure details and to crack.  Could be your top coat is incompable with your color coats. Solvent based paint (laquer) can craze water based acrylic paint.  DullCote is solvent based, and might cause trouble over acrylics.  Me, I use lacquer all the way, and will continue to do so until my stash of Floquil runs out. 

gpharo

I don't want to disappoint my little guys and they are both excited for dad to custom paint locos for them.Smile

Thanks,

 

 

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Posted by Jimmy_Braum on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 10:50 AM

A little trick I discovered is- instead of brushing on the micro sol, try this. 

get some Q tips, and soak one end in the set.  then GENTLY BUT FIRMLY roll the soaked end on the decal.  It will help to speed up The "snugging time" and it looks a lot better.  But be warned, too much pressure, and the decal will start to fall apart. 

(My Model Railroad, My Rules) 

These are the opinions of a 26 year old, from the east end of, and modeling, the same section of the Wheeling and Lake Erie railway.  As well as a freelanced road (Austinville and Dynamite City railroad).

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 10:29 PM

gpharo:

"Sorry for all the questions"

Hey dude! Absolutely no need to be sorry for asking questions! As has been said many times, "the only stupid question is the one you don't ask". Answering questions is one of the main reasons that the forums exist.

Keep in mind that your thread is being read by many people, and it is likely providing answers to their questions too.

Dave

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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Wednesday, August 24, 2016 8:48 AM

As for the cracking paint, it could be that the paint was not quite dry when the clear coat was done. To cure (pun intended) this, the paint needs to be totally dried, and cured, with no discearnable odor. This can take 24 hours, or longer, depending on ambient temperature and humidity.

Other causes could be it was too thick, either color or clear coats, fix is to make sure they are thin, light, multiple coats. (Some colors I have used have needed more than 5-6 light coats, that thin and light of a coat is needed.) 

And, I will go against the advise on Dullcote - If you are using Tamiya paint for color, use the same Tamiya clear. (I.e. If it is Tamiya acrylic color, use Tamiya acrylic clear, if it is enamel color, use enamel clear, lacquer with lacquer, etc...) If the color coat is one type of paint, and the clear is a different type, i.e. acrylic color/lacquer clear, it could sometimes cause crazing and/or cracking of either the color or the clear, making the same appearance. 

Ricky W.

HO scale Proto-freelancer.

My Railroad rules:

1: It's my railroad, my rules.

2: It's for having fun and enjoyment.

3: Any objections, consult above rules.

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Posted by Uncle_Bob on Wednesday, August 24, 2016 5:20 PM

Try using Future as a gloss coat.  You can mix in ACRYLIC dull coats (NOT Testors Dullcote -- it's not compatible) for varying degrees of sheen.  Also, make sure the pain t is bone dry before you apply the clear coat, and that the clear is also dry before you start decaling, or you can have problems (as you've found out).Finally, don't get Future near ammonia or you could have a problem with clouding.

As for decal setting solutions, here's a link that may help you find some other than the normal Microscale and Walthers products.  It never hurts to try some new (to you) products. The Gunze stuff is great, but hard to find in the States except online.

http://uamf.org.uk/faq/solutions.html

(Heh -- forgot to include the link, thus the edit.)

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Posted by azrail on Thursday, August 25, 2016 5:54 PM

I have found that Model Master Lustreless Flat is a better "dead flat" coating than Dullcote (which has a slight sheen to it)

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Posted by gpharo on Friday, August 26, 2016 11:35 PM

I appreciate everyones responses, I will feel more confident when I start my next project...but I need some advice moving forward on my current project.

Currently the loco has been stripped, primed and painted with Tamiya TS plastic spray paints.  I applied MicroGloss to only the areas that are getting a decal, but I believe that where I applied the MicroGloss will be quite evident when the loco is finished. It was like this on my test loco.

I would like an even, balanced finish and I am contemplating putting a couple coats of clear gloss on the entire loco? But I'm not sure how it will look or react over the MicroGloss. Thoughts please?

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, August 27, 2016 12:30 AM

gpharo:

I think you have probably already answered your question. If you want "...an even, balanced finish..." then you have to apply an 'even, balanced finish'. In my mind, applying the MicroGloss to only parts of the model goes directly against what you said you want.

Enough of the tongue lashing! How did you apply the MicroGloss?  If you brush painted it then you probably put down a fairly heavy coat. If you used a spray can they tend to put down a lot of paint in a hurry, but at least the edges of the spray will be very thin. However, both can create an uneven surface, but if it was only one coat then its likely that very little 'damage' has been done. In other words, you probably won't see it unless you are using a magnifying glass.

To safely test whether or not a clear gloss coat will react with the MicroGloss you need to get yourself a junker model and apply the various coats of paint, starting from the beginning, to see what happens. Don't rush the process. Make sure each coat is thoroughly dry before applying the next. Obviously that will take a few days, but if you don't do the test properly and patiently, why bother at all. I know - patience seems to be hard to come by when you are watching paint drySmile, Wink & Grin.

Sorry, I'm not trying to sound condescending.

Bottom line is, if you don't have an airbrush then I suggest you get one. (If you do have one then you can disregard the rest of the post). They don't have to cost a lot of money. In fact, workable, general purpose airbrushes can be had for less than $30.00. Don't expect to do pin striping with them though!

http://www.harborfreight.com/air-tools/paint/34-oz-deluxe-airbrush-kit-69492.html

Of course you will need a compressor and some other bits too. Here are some suggestions:

http://www.harborfreight.com/air-tools/air-compressors/3-gal-13-hp-100-psi-oilless-pancake-air-compressor-60637.html

http://www.harborfreight.com/air-tools/air-hoses/38-in-x-25-ft-premium-rubber-air-hose-61936.html

http://www.harborfreight.com/air-tools/air-tool-accessories/38-in-air-filter-with-regulator-68232.html

The compressor is probably robust enough to inflate tires, but don't expect it to run larger air tools.

Dave

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Posted by dh28473 on Saturday, August 27, 2016 10:25 AM
should distiled water be used be used for soaking the decals in rather than tap water?
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Posted by doctorwayne on Saturday, August 27, 2016 1:46 PM

It depends on your tap water:  if it has a lot of mineral inclusions, it can show-up as a stain or discolouration on the model after the decal has dried.
You can buy a gallon of distilled water at the supermarket for very little, and it should last for quite a bit of decaling.  It's also useful when thinning water-based paints.
I used dish detergent to clean out the collection bucket on my dehumudifier, then use the clean collected water to refill the distilled water jug when required - works great, the supply is endless and it's cheap! Stick out tongue

Wayne

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Posted by dh28473 on Sunday, August 28, 2016 10:03 AM
what about boiling the water first and letting it cool?
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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, August 28, 2016 12:28 PM

Boiling will likely kill bacteria and I think that it removes or lessens the effect of chlorine, but it doesn't remove any minerals, other than those that collect on the heating element in an electric kettle.
I'm not sure about the cost of distilled water, but it's not a lot and a gallon will likely last for a couple of years, even if you do a lot of decaling.  I usually put some in a glass, and dip the decal into it, then set the decal on a sheet of glass to soak, occasionally using my finger to add a few drops from the glass.  You can return the unused water to the jug, I suppose.

Wayne

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