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Removing and Replacing Decals

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Removing and Replacing Decals
Posted by ChrisVA on Monday, November 15, 2021 7:34 AM

I got this tender on eBay with this decal on both sides. What is best way to remove this with minimal damage to tender/paint?

tender

Are the decals a good choice for replacing them?

http://www.microscale.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Session_ID=1d587d8d229c2bfca87ff2f86562cc3e&Screen=PROD&Product_Code=87-118&Store_Code=MD&search=northern+pacific&offset=&filter_cat=&PowerSearch_Begin_Only=&sort=&range_low=&range_high=


Thanks!

 

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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, November 15, 2021 7:44 AM

There are a number of solvents that will soften and loosen existing decals without damaging the paint. I use Micro-Sol. There are other brands but I can't think of their names off the top of my head.

Amazon.com: Micro Sol Microscale BMF128 Setting Solution MSSOL : Health & Household

A light application of Micro Sol can be used to soften decals during application to get the decal to lay flat on irregular surfaces, such as those with rivets. Using a heavier dose can help remove existing decals. 

I believe the Microscale decals are dry transfers but I'm not sure. They will tend to flake off if a piece is frequently handled so I would use some sort of clear spray over them to give them a protective coat. 

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, November 15, 2021 7:51 AM

Removing decals is very easy. Stay away from any sort of paint remover.

Normal decals come off with products like micro sol. Tamiya makes a stronger fluid in two strengths. Mark fit and mark fit strong if micro sol isn't strong enough. 

I start with the weakest stuff. 

Some decals dissolve very quickly in isopropyl alcohol but so do some model paints, even factory applied.  I found that out the hard way.

Hard to tell for sure from the photo but I'd say  that tender has been painted flat black under the decals probably to paint out the original printed on road markings. Removing those road markings can be a rpita, just btw.  

Alyth Yard

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Posted by rrebell on Monday, November 15, 2021 8:49 AM

Sometimes the decals are oversprayed, then they become very hard to get rid of.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, November 15, 2021 9:43 AM

rrebell

Sometimes the decals are oversprayed, then they become very hard to get rid of.

 

Good point. "Properly installed" decals are usually oversprayed with a lacquer type finish like Dullcote. That can be tricky to dissolve and products like micro sol will have no effect on the lacquer.

The normal thinner for lacquer is acetone which is a very aggressive multi purpose solvent.

Hmmm.

Testors ELO is pretty mild. It's mainly just DOT 3 brake fluid. Maybe try that in very small amounts just over the lettering. Maybe use a Q tip to apply. Tamiya makes nifty pointed mini q tip type sticks which can place solvents very accurately. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, November 15, 2021 10:38 AM
If the decals won't come off using soap and water, it's very likely that they've been over-sprayed with a clear finish.  That means that your best option is to use a paint stripper .  Remove the trucks and couplers, along with the underbody, if there is one.
 
Do not use brake fluid as a stripper - while it does work well on some plastics, it may also completely destroy models made from other plastics.  (I once stripped an Atlas diesel using brake fluid, and it was unrecognisable as such after only 15 minutes in the stripper.)
 
On older models, I've had good success using methyl hydrate (available in hardware and home improvement stores).  If you use it, wear nitrile gloves, as it's readily absorbed through the skin, and can create some serious health issues.
 
Another option is Super Clean, which seems to work well on many paints, as does 99% alcohol, available at pharmacies.
 
Lastspikemike
The normal thinner for lacquer is acetone which is a very aggressive multi purpose solvent.
 
Oddly enough, the proper thinner for lacquer is lacquer thinner, not acetone.  Do not use either of these products for paint stripping of plastic models.  They'll work fine on metal, but will destroy plastic.

Wayne

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, November 15, 2021 1:11 PM

In my experience, removing the lettering from a decal isn't that hard using Solvaset etc., but the decal film seems to remain no matter what. If you're re-decaling in the same areas it's not a big deal, but it can be noticeable that there is a 'ghost' of decal film on the car or engine.

Stix
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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, November 15, 2021 2:31 PM

In my past life I work for the State Auditor of Ohio and was responsible for the computer warrant (check) writing system. One of the things I learned was that a favorite trick of forgerers is to soak blank checks in brake fluid and allow them to dry before passing them as bad checks. Within 24 four hours, they will disintegrate into dust, thus destroying the evidence. With our warrants, rather than write forgeries, they would alter the amounts. One of our guys wrote a routine that would spell out the amount on the welfare recipient warrants making it more difficult. 

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Posted by FRRYKid on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 3:27 AM

The trick I use is the already mentioned Micro Sol, a paint brush, a pencil eraser and patience. I have relettered/redone enough cars that I have gotten very good at it. Every once in a while, it removes paint but not very often and I've gotten good enough that I can usually mix up paint to match.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 7:35 AM

doctorwayne
On older models, I've had good success using methyl hydrate (available in hardware and home improvement stores).  If you use it, wear nitrile gloves, as it's readily absorbed through the skin, and can create some serious health issues.   Another option is Super Clean, which seems to work well on many paints, as does 99% alcohol, available at pharmacies.

wjstix
In my experience, removing the lettering from a decal isn't that hard using Solvaset etc., but the decal film seems to remain no matter what. If you're re-decaling in the same areas it's not a big deal, but it can be noticeable that there is a 'ghost' of decal film on the car or engine.

FRRYKid
The trick I use is the already mentioned Micro Sol, a paint brush, a pencil eraser and patience. I have relettered/redone enough cars that I have gotten very good at it. Every once in a while, it removes paint but not very often and I've gotten good enough that I can usually mix up paint to match.

These three responses, from fellow modelers that have actually removed decals, are great information.

I will only add that "Daco Strong" works much better than "Solavaset" for removing decals. Unfortunately, Daco Strong is very hard to find in the USA. I order mine from hobby shops in Europe.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 8:35 AM

Acetone is lacquer thinner.

ELO contains DOT 3 brake fluid, information from its SDS. However, it isn't 100% brake fluid.

Ironically, using ELO to lift the decal shouldn't affect the underlying plastic if you use it in a q tip or brush because the lacquer coat and decal itself will absorb the fluid anyway. You clean off any residue long before it has any effect on plastic. Only ABS plastic will be attacked by significant exposure to brake fluid. 

I have actually removed decals several times now.

I have also removed painted on "decals" which are quite difficult to remove. Using ELO for that requires care that the ELO is removed promptly and completely when the paint film begins to crinkle.   If you leave it too long on ABS plastic (often used to mould locomotives) the plastic will be damaged.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 9:00 AM

Lastspikemike
I have actually removed decals several times now.

Would you share some pictures of your results with the group please?

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 1:26 PM

SeeYou190

 

 
Lastspikemike
I have actually removed decals several times now.

 

Would you share some pictures of your results with the group please?

-Kevin

 

Happy to as soon as posting them directly to this site is arranged for.

Not before then.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by mreagant on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 1:57 PM

I've posted before to a similar question that I've had good success removing print stamped factory lettering,ect using only a pencil eraser. Working very slowly and carefully it will all come off. 

I've never tried this method on decals, but it might be worth a try since it avoids the sometime risky business of solvent type products.

I once tried 91 percent isopropyl alcohol and it ate off paint down to the plastic. The result actually worked for that particular purpose, but it made me wary of such procedures.

Mike Thomasson

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 12:21 AM

Well, that isn't going to happen any time soon.

However, lucky for you, posting pictures is actually very easy. There is a sticky at the top of the page that has information to help you figure it out. I am sure that with a little help you can get it done. Your responses will be so much more useful with pictures of your accomplishments.

You can do it.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by ChrisVA on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 7:30 AM

Update to all:
I used Micro Sol and a micro brush to remove the decals. No paint damage.

Thanks for all of the tips!

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 7:34 AM

ChrisVA
I used Micro Sol and a micro brush to remove the decals. No paint damage.

Star  Star  Star  Star  Star  Star  Star  Star  Star  Star  

Great to hear you had success. You are fortunate the previous owner did not put too much effort into setting and sealing the decals.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 7:48 AM

SeeYou190

-Kevin

Hey, I have one of those cars somewhere!

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 8:18 AM

maxman
Hey, I have one of those cars somewhere!

The ALP car is one of the better in the NMRA "Heritage Line" of freight cars.

The one I bought (in the picture) was damaged where the previous owner tried to change the car number. I tried to fix it, and made it worse. The solution was to add the green stripe and new numbers.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 12:05 PM

Lastspikemike
Acetone is lacquer thinner.

Acetone is an ingredient in lacquer thinner, but itself is not lacquer thinner.  Acetone evapourates much more quickly than lacquer thinner.

At one time, lacquer thinner was a very suitable and effective choice as a bonding agent for styrene, but government regulations, (at least in Canada) bastardised the formula by removing some unstated component.  It will still work as a paint thinner, but is useless for bonding styrene.

I recently learned, though, that proper lacquer thinner is still available (at a higher cost, of course).  I'm guessing that nowadays it's meant for specific types of paint, either new ones, or some particular traditional ones. 
It is also suitable for gluing styrene, which means that once my rapid-evapourating MEK is used-up, I can use a less volatile product for plastic kits and scratchbuilds.

Wayne

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Posted by doctorwayne on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 12:15 PM

ChrisVA

Update to all:
I used Micro Sol and a micro brush to remove the decals. No paint damage.

Thanks for all of the tips!

Glad to hear that you've had success, Chris.

I have several Bachmann and Athearn Genesis tenders, most with painted-on lettering.  I'll be using a paint stripper suitable for plastics, but in most cases, I want to remove both the lettering and the paint.
I've bought lots of pre-owned and un-used old-stock freight and passenger car kits, and have stripped pretty well all of them.  That allows me to modify them with better or more correct details, and then re-letter them to represent, in many cases, specific prototypes.

Wayne

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 2:42 PM

Pre environmentally correct lacquer thinner was mostly toluene which will dissolve styrene if course. Not good stuff to be using these days. That's the stuff that was taken out of Testors styrene cement  for safety reasons. 

Methanol is also a lacquer thinner and safer than either toluene or acetone. 

I believe acetone is now the main ingredient of current lacquer thinners compliant with VOC standards.   

 Lacquer thinner is a substance that will thin lacquer, in the context of this thread. I.e. will dissolve and thus remove lacquer.

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 3:05 PM

Note that virtually all factory pre-decorated models are pad-printed, not decals. Removing the pad printed lettering with Solvaset is easier than removing decals, since as I noted the decal film tends to remain - you remove the ink of the decal, but not the clear film. With a factory-decorated model, you can remove the lettering without a trace with Solvaset and an eraser - and patience.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 7:15 PM

Based on my several experiences now removing pad printed lettering I am definitely going to try the low key approach next time, if there is a next time.

Is Solvaset any stronger than Microset or Microsol? There seems to be a terminology confusion between "set" and "sol". I just remember that the blue label is for floating the decals around and the red label ls for melting them down into the nooks and crannies. Microset (blue) floats decals whereas Microsol (red) can destroy. 

Tamiya uses "set" to mean the same as Microscale uses "sol". Confusing to me.

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Posted by FRRYKid on Thursday, November 18, 2021 3:00 AM

Lastspikemike

Based on my several experiences now removing pad printed lettering I am definitely going to try the low key approach next time, if there is a next time.

Is Solvaset any stronger than Microset or Microsol? There seems to be a terminology confusion between "set" and "sol". I just remember that the blue label is for floating the decals around and the red label ls for melting them down into the nooks and crannies. Microset (blue) floats decals whereas Microsol (red) can destroy. 

Tamiya uses "set" to mean the same as Microscale uses "sol". Confusing to me. 

I haven't used the Solvaset myself (only the Microscale products) but from everything I've read Solvaset is approximately the same strength as the Micro Sol. I haven't read or seen anything on Tamiya's entry into the decal market, so I can't say anything either way.

The Micro Set (blue) can also be used for flat areas when there isn't any need to "melt" around heavy details. It does fine around rivets, etc. But for "heavy" detail as in corrugated passenger car sides, engine grills, etc, Micro Sol (red) after using the blue to position is a good idea.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, November 18, 2021 9:21 AM

Tamiya Mark Set is much stronger than Microsol. You might ask how I found out but I won't post a photo.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, November 18, 2021 3:53 PM

Lastspikemike
I won't post a photo.

It is kind of tricky. Not everyone can figure it out.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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