1. Arctic Train

    Arctic Train TrainBoard Member

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    Thought I'd pass along an experience I had today while applying some Microscale decals.

    I've always had a hard time seeing white decals (especially the microscopic ones) on standard Microscale decal sheets. You know, the light blue paper they use essentially makes the white decals invisible. As I get older and the old eyeballs get less acute I thought I'd employ a tactic I've heard about on this website to help make the tiny white decals appear easier on the blue background. I've heard painting the back of the decal sheet black the white decals show up better. So, I got my trusty can of flat black out and shot the back of the decal sheet. After drying there was absolutely no change in contrast when viewed from the front. Oh well, at least I tried it. Back to square one I thought, but when I tried to apply the decals lo and behold, the black paint on the back of the sheet prevented the water from soaking into the paper and releasing the decal. At least releasing the decal in a timely manner. As it turns out the decals are still useable but it takes about 30 minutes of soaking in order to release them from the backing. So far I don't see any difference in adhesion due to the extra soak time.

    Just thought I'd pass along the experience so if anyone is in a hurry to apply decals DO NOT paint the back of your decal sheet with a black spray can. I wonder what others have used if this is in fact a useable tactic in order to make white decals pop on the sheet?


    Brian
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'd also be curious of any suggestions.
     
  3. river_eagle

    river_eagle TrainBoard Member

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    black sharpie on back side
     
  4. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Mostly N Scale Staff Member

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    Yeah, I have used various colored markers before on the back, usually overhead projector markers. It soaks into the paper and dries quick but allows water to release the decals later.
     
  5. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    I wonder if back lighting might work. Like used to view xrays. Would it cause a contrast?
     
  6. Eagle2

    Eagle2 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I think Russ and river eagle nailed it. A lot of the spray cans we use are solvent based, hence a layer on the backing paper can interfere with the water slide decals. A technique which may help with that particular sheet is to cut out the decal with a little extra background. You can then pierce the extra backing with the point of a hobby knife and immerse the decal in the water rather than letting it float on the surface. This may well enable he water to stil soak through the backing and loosen the decal.
     
  7. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Mostly N Scale Staff Member

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    Another option is to peal the paint and part of the paper backing off the cut out decal. In essence "splitting" the paper. Be careful to keep the decal surface flat so as not to crack the film. The painted layer should peal off like the lid on an old sardine can.
     
  8. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

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    The backlighting trick might work, but just had an idea that might increase the contrast a wee tad - use a red filter, either a photographic filter or half of a set of red-blue 3D glasses. I'm in the middle of a project and there are some white numbers I need to see - my eyes are going to pots too - so I'll give that a try when I get home from work. It should make the blue darker and bring out the contrast just enough to see the white on light blue.
     
  9. Arctic Train

    Arctic Train TrainBoard Member

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    All great ideas. I was going to try the sharpie trick but when I got out my pen it was dry as a bone so thought I'd try the spray can trick. Is there a chance the sharpie could soak through to the point of staining the back of the decal?
    I've got a thick piece of Lexan that I use to cut decals on but don't really want to get into building a box with light inside to illuminate from underneath. For this particular decal sheet it wouldn't work anyway as the back of the sheet is solid black (via rattle can) No light gets through.
    This decal set I fear is pretty long in the tooth as the decals I am able to get off the sheet are very brittle. I think splitting the sheet is a no go. I have been successful with that technique tho on a similar project getting a laminated logo off of a business card.
    I've got a blue filter but it's really cheesy so the clarity isn't up to par for these micro decals. To be honest I didn't see much in the way of improved contrast. Maybe cause it was blue and not red/green??

    My current decal has been soaking for 3 hours now and is just getting loose. I'll try the "pierce the back of the decal paper" trick on the next one to see if this hastens the release.


    Thanks again guys for all the info.
    Brian
     
  10. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Mostly N Scale Staff Member

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    Maybe trying to sand the back of the decal sheet to remove enough paint to allow the water to soak through. I have found that the overhead projector markers I have used do not stain the decal in any way.
     
  11. Arctic Train

    Arctic Train TrainBoard Member

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    Update.... I was somewhat successful by scoring the back of the decal sheet something like Eagle2 advised. By lightly scoring the back side, the water did in fact soak in and loosen the decal. Still took a lot longer than normal but it did work way better than not scoring at all. A number of my decals are already cut out and too small to score. They still seem to release but very slowly. I really like Russell's idea of sanding the back. Before I cut out any more micro sized decals I will take a fine sanding block to the back.

    Thanks for the tip RS.


    Brian
     
  12. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

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    I tried the red filter trick (the same the B&W photographers use to improve sky contrast) and it improves visibility a little bit if the lettering is really white.

    On very light gray - like CNR post-1961 numbers - it doesn't work at all. Phooey.:eek:hboy:
     
  13. Arctic Train

    Arctic Train TrainBoard Member

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    Latest update,

    I finally got my micro tiny white decals cut out and installed on my boxcars. Just wanted to say thanks for everyone's ideas helping me out. After I did some light sanding on the remainder of the decal sheet the decals slid off just as normal. Sanding left a he## of a mess with all the black dust. Lesson learned: don't ever paint the back of your decal sheet. Use Markers.

    Attached is a photo of the finished product. The 2 boxcars in the center are the ones I customized. They are LBF cars that I stripped, repainted, and decaled. The one on the left is an original LBF and the one on the right is an Exact rail.

    [​IMG]

    Brian
     

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