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Decaling an undecorated Athearn car - Any prep needed?

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Decaling an undecorated Athearn car - Any prep needed?
Posted by davefr on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 8:36 AM

I've ordered my first undecorated Athearn hopper car which I want to add special Microscale decals to.  The factory color of this car is fine so there's no painting needed.

1. Is the Athearn factory surface adequate for direct decaling using Microsol/Microset?  Or do I need an additional gloss finish to be applied as a base for the decal?

2. Should the decal be covered/sealed with a layer of clear? (don't want gloss).

What process do you all use for decaling an undecorated car? 

TIA

 

 

 

 

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 8:55 AM

I spray a coat of gloss or semi-gloss over the model, that smooth surface seems to work better for decaling. Plus if you use Solvaset or something similar to make the decal 'snuggle down', it could potentially affect the paint on the model, so the gloss layer protects it.

Once the decals are in place and 'snuggled down', you'd want to spray it with flat finish. That seals in the decals so they don't get yellowed over time, and provides a good surface for weathering like with chalks or powders.

I generally use Tamiya spray can paint for the flat and gloss spray. They are made for model use, and have a finer nozzle spray than hardware store spray cans, which are generally made for bigger things like painting lawn furniture or whatever.

Stix
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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 10:08 AM

A smooth surface always makes for better decaling -- both adhesion and appearance.  I have had success smoothing the surface with a tortillon, which is an artist supply: tightly wound paper into something that looks like a pencil, with a pointed end.  Sometimes called a blending stump or Conte pencil.  You rub in the area where the decal will go and it changes the texture to smooth and shiney.

Now having said that, I did not attempt a huge surface area such as you'd see with very large logos such as the Santa Fe put on some boxcars, or the big logos of the Frisco and such.  

And yes to the sealing coat.

As with any skill, practice makes perfect, 

Dave Nelson

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 10:36 AM

I recently purchased 12 Walthers Mainline passenger cars that were painted, but undecorated.

I used Tamiya gray primer, followed by Tamiya acrylic paint to repaint the cars. I airbrushed six of the cars with a gloss coat and the other six cars with a flat coat.

Before decaling the painted cars, I hand brushed Tamiya clear gloss coat on the six cars with airbrushed flat finish, but I did not apply a clear gloss coat over the previously airbrushed gloss finish.

When I hand brushed the Tamiya clear gloss coat on the six cars with airbrushed flat finish, I only covered the small areas where the decals were to be applied.

After applying the decals, I airbrushed the entire surface of the gloss coat cars with Tamiya clear gloss coat. I airbrushed the entire surface of the flat coat cars with Tamiya clear flat coat.   

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by FRRYKid on Thursday, February 15, 2024 2:34 AM

In my experience, before you even think about putting decals on, you want to give the car a good dose of either Micro-Sol (red bottle) or Solvaset until the solution doesn't bead up and evaporate. (Prime the plastic as it were.)

I had a quartet of undecorated Accurail boxcar red hoppers that I got from a collecction I was given. I found that a single coat of decal solution didn't do anything. The only thing I could come up with was there were manufacturing oils or something similar that broke up the solution. I just kept applying solution and finally got it to where I was happy. (They ending up getting painted for sugar beet service. Eastern Montana layout so sugar beets have been here for quite awhile.)

"The only stupid question is the unasked question."
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Posted by DigitalGriffin on Thursday, February 15, 2024 11:16 AM

Is it my imagination, or does solvaset smell exactly like diluted vinegar?

If your decals are old, they may need restoration, or they will tear EASY.

restore old decals - FineScale Modeler - Essential magazine for scale model builders, model kit reviews, how-to scale modeling, and scale modeling products

Don - Specializing in layout DC->DCC conversions

Modeling C&O transition era and steel industries There's Nothing Like Big Steam!

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, February 15, 2024 11:47 AM

davefr

I've ordered my first undecorated Athearn hopper car which I want to add special Microscale decals to.  The factory color of this car is fine so there's no painting needed.

1. Is the Athearn factory surface adequate for direct decaling using Microsol/Microset?  Or do I need an additional gloss finish to be applied as a base for the decal?

2. Should the decal be covered/sealed with a layer of clear? (don't want gloss).

What process do you all use for decaling an undecorated car? 

TIA

 

 

 

 

 

Typical decals work best over gloss paint finishes, so you'll have to determine of the paint is glossy enough.  Some Athearns may or may not be.

Would it hurt to put gloss coat over the paint and under where the decal would go?  That's what I do.

Then dull coat over the entire finished product to even it out (because the gloss coat will tend to stand out around the decal's lettering.)

 

- Douglas

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Posted by azrail on Thursday, February 15, 2024 1:56 PM

Putting a decal over a puddle of Micro-Sol or (especially)Solvaset can melt or distort the decal...especially if it is a thin decal (MicroScale). Best to use a puddle of Micro-Set before placing down the decal. 

And yes, to do a good job you will need several coats of Micro-Sol and let it dry between coats, using a pin to pop any bubbles over rivets or panels.

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Posted by FRRYKid on Friday, February 16, 2024 2:24 AM

DigitalGriffin

Is it my imagination, or does solvaset smell exactly like diluted vinegar?

As I have never used solvaset, I don't know. But I have noticed that if I have been doing a lot of decaling with Micro-Set and Sol, that I do smell the hint of vinegar.

"The only stupid question is the unasked question."
Brain waves can power an electric train. RealFact #832 from Snapple.
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Posted by pike-62 on Friday, February 16, 2024 5:55 AM

My go to for decalling has always been a gloss cote of Future floor finish prior to decals. When applying the decals I use microscale setting solution (blue bottle) to get everything positioned. Once set and fairly dry I use the solvent (red bottle) to get everything to snuggle down. Using this on the Future allows for the solvent to "melt" the decal into the gloss which further hides the edges and helps give a  uniform look to the decalled and painted surfaces. From experience, I do one of the following steps. If I feel that I can go directly to a top cote of dull or satin coatings I will do that. Sometimes I will spray another cote of future over the entire model to make the surface as uniform as posible the spray the dull cote.

 

One thing for sure, you do not want to decal over bare plastic. There has to be some sort of paint for the decal to bond with.

 

This is a model I just went with Dull right over the decal after setting them.

 

 

 

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, February 17, 2024 12:27 PM

Something I haven't seen explicitly mentioned yet, although hinted at:

Injection-molded pieces have a 'parting agent' on their surface, and this remains effective long after the castings have cooled.  You need to remove this by washing with mild detergent solution and then rinsing thoroughly, ideally with deionized/distilled water.

The same is true of parts on trees or sprues that are to be painted after assembly.

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Posted by pike-62 on Monday, February 19, 2024 3:11 PM

Overmod

Something I haven't seen explicitly mentioned yet, although hinted at:

Injection-molded pieces have a 'parting agent' on their surface, and this remains effective long after the castings have cooled.  You need to remove this by washing with mild detergent solution and then rinsing thoroughly, ideally with deionized/distilled water.

The same is true of parts on trees or sprues that are to be painted after assembly.

 

 

The mold release, Parting agent on injection molded parts is more of a myth than fact. Yes, cast resin parts will use these when small shops use rubber/silicone molds to cast 2 part resins. The injection mold industry does not use this.

 

I work in a facility that has 17 injection mold machines and I can guarantee you you will not even find a can of release in that shop. The problems it causes far far far outweigh any benifit. The release from the molds comes from a couple factors. First being the cleanliness of the mold cavity. Part shrinkage is also a big factor in how parts release. We spend a lot of time in the mold design to ensure that the part shrinks properly in the cavity durring the cooling  (freeze) process of the part in the mold. We have to take into account the temp that we will be injecting the material at to get the proper shrink amount. This means we have to make the mold slightly larger than the finished part will be. Some other factors durring the process is the speed in which we inject, the hold time at pressure sometimes refered to as "packing" and the cooling time before we open the mold cavities. There is a lot more to the process than I covered depending on the material used.

 

 

Dan

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Posted by mobilman44 on Tuesday, February 20, 2024 5:57 AM

Hi,

May I add...  before paint and decal application, a wash of water and a dash of "dawn" will get rid of any release residue or finger prints.  Much of this can't be seen, but it is there, and can affect the result. 

I first noticed this on a couple of model car (auto) kits I built, and an set of Athearn heavy passenger cars.  Ha, this is one of those steps we tend to bypass.

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, formerly modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by Southgate 2 on Wednesday, February 21, 2024 11:46 PM

dknelson

A smooth surface always makes for better decaling -- both adhesion and appearance.  I have had success smoothing the surface with a tortillon, which is an artist supply: tightly wound paper into something that looks like a pencil, with a pointed end.  Sometimes called a blending stump or Conte pencil.  You rub in the area where the decal will go and it changes the texture to smooth and shiney.

Now having said that, I did not attempt a huge surface area such as you'd see with very large logos such as the Santa Fe put on some boxcars, or the big logos of the Frisco and such.  

And yes to the sealing coat.

As with any skill, practice makes perfect, 

Dave Nelson

 

Thanks for sharing this info, Dave. After I read it, I ordered some tortillons in a set. I used it not only to shine up the matte surface of a road number area, but also to remove the original numbers after soaking them in Micro Sol. It took a few minutes, worked great!

Now I no longer have to hang my head in shame for having two locomotives with the same road number!   Dan

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