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chuck540z3

1/32 Tam.Spitfire "Kicked Up A Notch" Dec 20/18 DONE!!

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The painted markings look great 👍  Interesting that you can get masks to do this, I had no idea.  I should paint the main markings more often because I seem to have lost my mojo with getting decals to have that 'painted on look'.

 

When I did my 1/48 Malta spit, I cut masks myself for the roundels and fuselage letters which was a bit of a trial, but it came out OK in the end & as you say, weathering helps hide glitches & I weathered the crap out of mine.

 

Re Tamyia lacquer thinner with their acrylics - YES!  I use it too, and it gives a better result than their acrylic thinner.  Strangely however, I've found a few Tamiya acrylic colours (e.g. JN Green) which don't seem to mix well with their lacquer thinner & I have to use their acrylic thinner.

 

vQ5w32Q.jpg

Edited by Thommo

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Thank you everyone and cool Spit there Thommo.  My Spit will be dirty too, but not quite as weathered as yours!

 

I thought I should mention a few things about the Maketar Paint Masks, that I just learned myself.  As mentioned, I was very impressed with the quality of the masking material and the precision that it was cut.  The masking is thinner (at 0.06mm) than Tamiya tape and stronger, so it's definitely different.  Checking out their website (which is hard to find below), they are using a material called "Kabuki", which is made in Japan.  One thing that I was really impressed with was how perfect the roundels were cut, so that I could rotate them without fear of them not fitting together any more due to imperfections in circumference.

 

The other thing I learned if you check out the website, is that vinyl masks always shrink, so you need to use them right away if you want the exact original size.  This is why my HGW vinyl masks for the windscreen and canopy did not fit any more.  I had to use the outside masks for the inside due to this shrinkage and wound up using Eduard tape masks, which are no doubt made of Kabuki as well, for the outside.  I ordered a custom set of Maketar masks for the fine lettering of the serial "MJ 199" in vinyl, because I'll be using it right away and I think vinyl might have a slighter sharper edge to it because it's so small in height, which is 5 mm.  Time will tell and if they shrink to 4.5 mm, nobody will notice!

 

Maketar Paint Masks

 

Cheers,

Chuck

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56 minutes ago, chuck540z3 said:

 

 

The other thing I learned if you check out the website, is that vinyl masks always shrink, so you need to use them right away if you want the exact original size.  This is why my HGW vinyl masks for the windscreen and canopy did not fit any more.  I had to use the outside masks for the inside due to this shrinkage and wound up using Eduard tape masks, which are no doubt made of Kabuki as well, for the outside.  I ordered a custom set of Maketar masks for the fine lettering of the serial "MJ 199" in vinyl, because I'll be using it right away and I think vinyl might have a slighter sharper edge to it because it's so small in height, which is 5 mm.  Time will tell and if they shrink to 4.5 mm, nobody will notice!

 

Maketar Paint Masks

 

Cheers,

Chuck

 

Thanks for the heads up. I have several vinyl masks in the stash, I'll need to check them out closely during application.

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Thanks for the great tutorial and tips. Your spit is looking incredible, excellent work as usual from you. 

 

:)

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Thanks again Gents! 

 

A quick update with Tamiya X-22 Acrylic Clear Gloss.  After a few more touch-ups, I sprayed the entire model with X-22 to:

 

1)  Prepare the surface for stencils and some small decals.

2)  Seal the paint, especially any rough edges, like along the edges of the painted roundels and lettering.

3)  Expose more flaws to be repaired.  Again, a shiny surface reveals more flaws that a rough finish.

4)  Seal tiny rivet detail, so that subsequent paint won't fill it if removed.

5)  Create a "do-over" surface, so that as I add weathering washes and thinned paint, I can remove it if I don't like it with solvent, without worrying about removing the base colors.

 

Again, the X-22 was thinned with 40% Tamiya lacquer thinner.  I used to use Pledge/Future all the time- heck, I even have a tutorial in the Tools and Tips forum on using it, but once I discovered X-22, I hardly ever use the stuff any more and never for a gloss coat.  X-22 lays down perfectly flat (with thinner), dries in no time and most importantly, it dries much harder than Future so that it can be sanded easily.  I've tried every clear coat imaginable (examples below, with Future in jar) and I've found that X-22 is the best overall and Alclad Aqua Gloss the worst.   If you're still using Future, give it a try.

 

fOSzj1.jpg


Now a bunch of pics that are self-explanatory.  Keep in mind that a gloss surface changes colors and makes them more intense, like the worn and chipped paint.  This is really true of areas on the fuselage where I have sanded down the paint to reveal the aluminum underneath.  The intensity will all be dialed back with thinned flat paint and a dull coat upon completion. 

WwRIZO.jpg


9YVF2B.jpg


NrwJco.jpg

 

wOUoA6.jpg

 

EmQKNR.jpg

 

qcaMcq.jpg

 

QKUG4n.jpg

 

mV96sD.jpg

 

 

Cheers,

Chuck

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by chuck540z3

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On 11/13/2018 at 11:35 AM, chuck540z3 said:

 

 

Carmen,

 

The first volume is ISBN-10: 1550461486, while the second is ISBN-10: 1550462679.  The first volume is extremely hard to find and therefore expensive, even used.  It was over $300 a few months ago but I managed to buy one recently for about $70 Cdn.  The second one is more readily available and you should be able to pick one up used for $20-$30 Cdn.  If you can only buy one, the second one is still terrific and a source of many pics of Spitfires taken during the war, including 401 Squadron, the focus of this build.

 

Spitfire, The Canadians Volume I and II

 

Cheers,

Chuck

Chuck,

Just bought the book Vol II for a $3.78 USd with free shipping.

Found on the same website for Vol 1 for $20.00 USD and $7.50 USD Shipping. I'll oder that down the road.

abebooks.com

 

BTW your kits are incredible. Well done sir.


Cheers

Edited by AlienFrogModeller

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I started using your method when you did your F-15C. It works very well. I have just started experimenting with Mr. Color GX100 Super Clear which needs more thinning, but the results have been great so far.

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The Spit looks really good so far Chuck. Those masks were a lot of work but, so worth it, nothing like painted on markings. As always, looking forward to your next update.

 

Steve

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A wonderful retrospective about your dad and uncles, Chuck.  I can only parrot what everyone else has said about your build; stunning...absolutely stunning.  Yes, as Steve said, the masks are labour intensive but the results are so worth it.  Paint instead of coloured, stick paper?  Can't argue with that.

 

Continued success on the project, my good man.

 

Mike

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Thanks Guys.  I really appreciate your kind comments!

 

November 21/18

 

Decals, especially small stencils and thin walkway boundaries, can be a nightmare to get to settle down and not look like, well, decals!  I’m guessing this has everything to do with the exposed perimeter vs. surface area ratio or more simply put, there’s relatively a lot more air to sneak under small decals than big ones to make them silver, even with decal solutions like Microsol.  I have a fairly detailed tutorial on decaling that I created over at LSP that I’ll post later, but right now I want to discuss something else that is new to me:  “Wet Transfer Decals”, made by HGW Models.  I received these decals as a kit with the HGW seatbelts I used and some of the canopy masks.  My first reaction was skepticism when I looked at them, because I’ve been underwhelmed before with Hobby Decal “Dry Transfer Stencils”, that I used on my F-4E.  With dry transfer decals you rub them off their backing with a pencil or other object and sometimes they stick and a lot of the time they don’t.  If they don’t, they are a real bear to remove and you need at least 2-3 of every decal if you have a chance of completing the stenciling process.  I tried a multitude of applicators, shiny to flat finishes and I even warmed them before application and overall, they were terrible.  When they worked, they looked awesome, because there was no carrier film to melt into the model surface.

 

With painted on insignias, it would be a shame to not try the wet transfer decals, so I tried a few on the bottom of this Spitfire according to some instructions I found online and a few I created on my own as follows:

 

1.  Have a smooth surface to begin with, which of course is normal for all decaling.

 

2.  Carrier film covers the entire decal sheet, so you should cut around each decal to separate it from the others, but unlike normal decals, you actually want to have quite a bit of carrier film to play with.  Have as much film as you can easily handle from the water dish to the model.

 

3.  Wet the application area with Microset or similar decaling solution (NEVER Microsol!), then slip the decal into very warm water for about 15 seconds.  Using your fingers, slip the decal off the paper backing on the model and position into place as you normally would with any decal.  Note:  These decals are relatively tough, so you can get a little bit rough with them without breaking them- a big bonus!

 

4.  Once you are happy with the position of the decal, pat off any water with a Kleenex, then use a soft Q-tip to push out air and water from the portion of the decal you want on your model.  Leave the edges a bit rough, so that you can grab them later when the decal dries.

 

5. Let the decal dry for a long time.  The HGW instructions call for 6-8 hours, but I left mine for at least 20 hours.  Any failures I found on-line could be attributed to rushing the process, so take your time.

 

6. Once the decal is completely dry, use tweezers or a #11 knife to lift one edge, then pull the film off slowly and discard.

 

7. Using warm water and a soft cloth, rub off any residual glue.  Again, these decals are tough, so you don’t need to baby them too much.

 

8.  Seal all the decals with X-22 or other clear coat, so that they can withstand solvents and other weathering applications.

 

Now some pics of my results.  Here’s the dreaded walkway lines and stencils on the wings.  If you look closely, you can see the outline of the carrier film around each decal.  For the long walkways, I cut them in half on the left side and in thirds on the longer right side, for ease of handling.  There no way to do them in one piece without a lot of grief.

 

qDamLd.jpg

 

After they dried, I carefully pulled off the top film.

 

cujSt5.jpg

 

After cleaning off any residual glue, voila!  Stencils with no carrier film of any kind.  I did lose a small bit of the front walkway, but that’s not a big problem if I wanted to redo this small piece, since the decal sheet has a replacement.

 

2JXUuI.jpg

 

Now a quick walk-around of some of the other decals.  Try and get a perfectly straight black line like that with paint!

 

xWgc7D.jpg

 

Note how sharp they are, even the tiny ones.

 

Rvg18D.jpg

 

Normal decals on these irregular surfaces would be a nightmare, but they took me only seconds to apply.  The dimples in the plastic will disappear once I have a dull coat applied.

 

o7veSn.jpg

 

DSSsVC.jpg

 

You often see decal film along the edges of this fuel stencil.  Instead, you only see writing.  Amazing.

 

BlOoLW.jpg

 

Now the almost sad part.  As sharp as the wing decals are, they should be scuffed up to match the wear patterns I have already created.  If you check out the museum Spit pics I have above, a lot of the walkway is rubbed off as well, so using a #4000 polishing cloth, I beat them up a bit.  After sanding, I sealed all the decals with more X-22.

 

Also note that I have inserted the antenna mast base into the fuselage, which is a bit of a reddish brown.  This part is made of some kind of rubber-like material and although it is often painted on restored Spits, it is dark on all the WWII pics I can find in the Bracken books.  Since it's a bit beat up on the museum Spit, I plan on weathering it as well.

 

kyNVay.jpg

 

W493oS.jpg

 

So there you have it.  I am now a HUGE fan of water transfer decals and the stencils on this model took me about half the time as with regular decals.  Unfortunately, although HGW makes several sheets for prop aircraft, I can't seem to find any for jets from any manufacturer.  These decals would be amazing for the zillion "No Step" and other stencils that usually take forever to do on most fighters.

 

This may look like a bit of overkill to some of you, but trust me, it will all come together at the end as a workhorse of WWII.  Now I need to take a short break for a week or two, because I need some minor surgery on my right wrist that will be in a brace for 10 days.  No biggie as far as operations go, but no modeling either.  Maybe that serial number paint mask will arrive during this time, which is held up in the mail thanks to our stupid postal workers who are on strike- and always pull this stunt just before Black Friday and Xmas.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

 

Now a couple of questions for those who might know.  What do a lot of these stencils mean, like the big "M's" that are all over the place and the "W/T" markings.  Also, why is the walkway on the right side longer than the left side of the wing?

 

Cheers,

Chuck

Edited by chuck540z3

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Really amazing job Chuck!!! And yes i love those wet transfers!!! I haven't try them yet but i trust your opinion!!!

One note though, i think that the black walkway line should not pass over the insignia on the wings!! Please check it out!! 

Regards, John

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8 hours ago, zaxos345 said:

Really amazing job Chuck!!! And yes i love those wet transfers!!! I haven't try them yet but i trust your opinion!!!

One note though, i think that the black walkway line should not pass over the insignia on the wings!! Please check it out!! 

Regards, John

 

Thanks John.

 

I struggled with whether or not to place the walkways over the roundel or just up to the edges.  The Tamiya decal instructions and HGW instructions clearly show the walkway going the full length of the wing, right over the roundel, but it would have been much easier to just place them up to the edges of the roundel instead.  One would assume that Tamiya had a reason for doing so, based upon their references.

 

Checking out pics of the top of the wing is hard to do, because the quality of the pics are often iffy, the blue of the roundel is so dark and there is a strong natural panel line where the walkway goes.  My conclusion after checking many pics is that it's hit and miss, with some going over the roundel and I would guess most of the time, not at all, just like the color of the tape on the wheels and the number of pieces of tape (1 vs 2).  "Walking the edge" of copyright laws, here's a pic on Page 80 of the second Bracken book, that shows the era of Spitfire IXc I'm building and also 401 Squadron.  The walkway clearly goes over the roundel and there's even a forward line at the tip of the wing, which the HGW decal set has, but the Tamiya set does not.  As an aside, this pic is a great reference for some of the weathering I'll be doing.  Note the exhaust pattern which is slightly above the exhaust stacks, then it trends downward toward the cockpit.

 

jEZoiP.jpg

 

I had another message from an ARC member, suggesting that this was wrong as well, so I thank you both for pointing this out just in case, because I can easily remove the walkway line if I choose to.  Based upon the pic above and a review of many other builds of this kit, I'm going to keep it- and now I'll add the forward line at the wingtip as well, just to prove that this walkway is maybe a bit different than what most modelers are used to.

 

Cheers,

Chuck

Edited by chuck540z3

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That is why i love this kind of ''arguments'' haha, you always learn something!!!!

Keep well Chuck,

 

John

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38 minutes ago, zaxos345 said:

That is why i love this kind of ''arguments'' haha, you always learn something!!!!

Keep well Chuck,

 

John

 

Despite my comments and pic above, I'm having second thoughts.  A review of other modeling forums on this subject has a few "experts" claim that painting walkways over roundels was never done, so I think I'm just asking for trouble.  There will always be some who will point this out as an error (at a model contest maybe?) and there's really no use in being defensive.  Yes it was done (I have other pics to prove it), but if the majority of Spitfires didn't have it and the majority of modelers think it's wrong to do so, I'll just sand them off and take the safe route of compliance. 

 

This reminds me of my research on puttied wings when I did my P-51D Mustang build.  I found some wartime pics of the wings that showed that through wear from boot marks on top of the wing, some of the rivet detail started to show through again.  Not all of it, but quite a few rivet dipples started to pop up here and there, so I tried to replicate this variable look.  BIG mistake!  Ever since I did, I have had constant suggestions that the next time I build this kit, I really should putty the wings perfectly smooth.  :bandhead2:    Now if you really want some controversy that will never end, ask what color the main landing gear wells should be!

 

In my experience, 80% of those who think they know something specific about an aircraft are really just echoing what they heard from somebody else, which means they are wrong about 50% of the time.  😉

 

Cheers,

Chuck

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You just sold me on those decals.  I've been on the fence about using them on a current project of mine until I read your post above.    You also sold me on using Tamiya X-22 instead of future (which I have never been able to get to work properly).   I just pulled the trigger on ordering some of this stuff.

 

Appreciate you taking the time to provide all these very useful tips!

 

 

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28 minutes ago, 11bee said:

You just sold me on those decals.  I've been on the fence about using them on a current project of mine until I read your post above.    You also sold me on using Tamiya X-22 instead of future (which I have never been able to get to work properly).   I just pulled the trigger on ordering some of this stuff.

 

Appreciate you taking the time to provide all these very useful tips!

 

 

 

Hey, you're welcome!  Try to buy a few bottles of X-22, because you will wind up using a lot of it and thin with about 40% Tamiya lacquer thinner.  I use a 0.3mm needle airbrush when spraying it, because my usual 0.18mm airbrush tends to clog once in awhile, because it's acrylic and dries a bit quicker than the lacquers I usually spray with it.

 

One other tip.  Like most paints, it tends to dust up a bit near wing roots, etc. due to air turbulence, so you may need to do some light sanding between coats.  I spray perpendicular to the wing along the fuselage to help avoid that as much as possible.  You will likely experience some light dust on other parts of your model, but that will wipe up easily with a clean cloth.

 

Cheers,

Chuck

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1 hour ago, chuck540z3 said:

 

Despite my comments and pic above, I'm having second thoughts.  A review of other modeling forums on this subject has a few "experts" claim that painting walkways over roundels was never done, so I think I'm just asking for trouble.  There will always be some who will point this out as an error (at a model contest maybe?) and there's really no use in being defensive.  Yes it was done (I have other pics to prove it), but if the majority of Spitfires didn't have it and the majority of modelers think it's wrong to do so, I'll just sand them off and take the safe route of compliance. 

 

This reminds me of my research on puttied wings when I did my P-51D Mustang build.  I found some wartime pics of the wings that showed that through wear from boot marks on top of the wing, some of the rivet detail started to show through again.  Not all of it, but quite a few rivet dipples started to pop up here and there, so I tried to replicate this variable look.  BIG mistake!  Ever since I did, I have had constant suggestions that the next time I build this kit, I really should putty the wings perfectly smooth.  :bandhead2:    Now if you really want some controversy that will never end, ask what color the main landing gear wells should be!

 

In my experience, 80% of those who think they know something specific about an aircraft are really just echoing what they heard from somebody else, which means they are wrong about 50% of the time.  😉

 

Cheers,

Chuck

Chuck, i will express only my way of thinking on this...

I don't model for others, i pick a model, i pick a subject that i like but i also have photos to work with (i mean war time ones like the one you posted) and i try to replicate it as close as possible. You have the photos to prove that there was an exception from the rule and you try to depict the exact aircraft, so....where are you wrong about that?? The fault would be of the guys they did it back on those difficult times, not yours!!

What i want to say with my poor English is that if you have the evidence, just leave it as it is!!!

Again this is my humble opinion!!

 

John

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30 minutes ago, zaxos345 said:

Chuck, i will express only my way of thinking on this...

I don't model for others, i pick a model, i pick a subject that i like but i also have photos to work with (i mean war time ones like the one you posted) and i try to replicate it as close as possible. You have the photos to prove that there was an exception from the rule and you try to depict the exact aircraft, so....where are you wrong about that?? The fault would be of the guys they did it back on those difficult times, not yours!!

What i want to say with my poor English is that if you have the evidence, just leave it as it is!!!

Again this is my humble opinion!!

 

John

 

Thanks John,

 

Unfortunately, although I build for mostly me, I need to worry about what others think, because I enter model contests and publish my builds in magazines.  Judging models at a model contest is a thankless job and if my model is tied with another model and the judge(s) think my walkways are wrong, that could be the difference.  I don't really need or want to prove that they are correct, so it's better to conform than try and swim upstream against popular thinking. 

 

Cheers,

Chuck

 

Edited by chuck540z3

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A quick update- and since I'm doing decals, a Decaling Tutorial!

 

As discussed above, I punted and removed the walkway across the roundel on each wing.  This was done with fine sandpaper, as I did on other parts of the walkway line to erode it a bit due to wear.  While I was at it, I added the short forward walkway lines to match the pic of the real deal above.  When it dries overnight, I'll peel off the top film.

 

8mJgWm.jpg

 

And before I'm out of modeling commission tomorrow, I painted and prepped the remaining parts of this build.

 

6xdwM6.jpg

 

The cowlings were again painted with Tamiya Gloss Black, to prep them for Alclad Aluminum.  Man I love this paint!  Super smooth and dry to the light touch in 10 minutes.

 

RY56iD.jpg

 

 

Now the decaling tutorial I did over at LSP 11 months ago when I was finishing up my F-15C build, for those who might be looking for some tips.

 

 

How to Apply Decals

The following tutorial on the application of decals is for all modeling skill levels, from Beginner to Advanced. I consider myself Advanced, because I have made just about every mistake imaginable and have ruined many a decal, but I have also discovered and developed a number of techniques to save the decaling process, which may be new to some. Whenever I attend a modeling contest, the one thing that strikes me as the most obvious modeling mistake continues to be silvered or poorly applied decals. In most cases, this is totally unnecessary with a little extra care as outlined below, which I will break down into 5 points. Before I start, I know all about using Future/Pledge as an alternative agent to adhere decals to a model with no worry of silvering. This always comes up in a decaling discussion, however in my opinion, this method also creates a lumpy and sticky mess and you lose the ability to move a decal shortly after application. Further, Future/Pledge won't suck a decal down into fine detail below it, as you will see below, so I'm not a fan of this method of decaling. To each their own.

1. Before You Begin

Almost nothing in modeling can create as much satisfaction and/or at the same time, frustrating stress as the application of decals, sometimes in the same session. To reduce the number of decaling challenges, I try to do the following before I begin.

1. I know that everybody knows this already, but I can't emphasize this enough: Make sure you have a VERY smooth gloss coat on your model to begin with. An orange peel paint job = an orange peel gloss coat, which can cause you a lot of trouble with silvering later. Get the paint smooth, followed by a good couple of coats of a clear gloss finish like Future/Pledge or Tamiya X-22.

2. Book yourself a few hours of time when you won't get interrupted, likely over 2-3 days. For some reason my wife has the uncanny ability to distract me every time I try to decal, which drives me absolutely nuts. It's not her fault of course, so negotiate or find some time when you can focus on the task at hand with no interruptions. Decaling takes a long time if you want to do it right.

3. If you can, have two sets of decals available, so that you can make mistakes with an easy back-up at hand. If the decal sheets are slightly different, this can also provide an alternative so that you can pick and choose the best decal for the application at hand. Nothing is worse when decaling, than to screw up a decal of a limited-run OOP decal sheet that cannot be replaced. Trust me, I know this pain too well.

4. Also, if you can, test a few of the decals that you may not be using on a piece of plastic to get a feel for the properties of the decal sheet. The best decals are super thin, yet tough and they won't break with handling. The worst decals are thick and shatter easily and should be avoided altogether, although that option is not always available. Some decals come off the decal sheet easily, while others seem to take forever, so it's good to know ahead of time what you're going to be dealing with. See Types of Decals below.

5. Find a soft chair or other contraption to hold your model at 90 degrees to being flat or inverted. Gravity is your friend, so you want your decals to always be flat as they are applied with decal solutions.

6. Have your references ready. The decal instructions (which are usually bad) and other reference pics should be easily at hand so that you know what decal to use and where it belongs- exactly.

7. Decals come off the paper backing the easiest in very warm water. If you can find one, use an electric coffee mug warmer like the one below. Using very warm water, a good decal will slide off the decal sheet and conform around irregular surfaces in less than 10 seconds.

8. Have a desk lamp or other direct source of light that can cast shadows across your model. You want your work area bright, but you also need a light source that will help detect imperfections from an angle. I also have a good flashlight at hand for the same reason.

9. Have a needle in a pin vice ready. Many decals can have bubbles underneath, so you need to poke a tiny hole in them for the air to escape. The pin vice gives you way more control than just using a needle without one.

10. Along with the needle, have a new #11 blade ready in a knife handle.

11. Have two small but soft paintbrushes ready for the application of Microset (MT) and Microsol (MS), or equivalent decaling solutions, with one marked with masking tape so that you know which brush is used for which solution. You do NOT want to mix these brushes up! MT is a vinegar-like mild acid that softens decals and allows them to slide easier than straight water, while MS actually melts the decals. More on that later.



2. Types of Decals

Decals come in a wide variety of quality and ease of application, which I categorize into only 2 groups: Good ones and Bad ones. Good decals are super thin, they slide of the cardboard backing easily with warm water and you can move them around, sometimes even roughly, without them breaking apart. They are clear and sharp and also settle down onto the gloss surface firmly with MS and do not let air underneath. Bad decals do almost none of the above so they should be avoided at all cost. After countless hours of careful model assembly and painting, one or two bad decals can ruin the entire build. For example, on my current F-15C build, the Tamiya kit decals are poorly printed, are very thick and they tend to shatter when I pull them off the backing. I don't care what subject you have in mind, do not use bad decals. They are not worth it and you will be sorry if you do. Some decals will not react to decal solvents at all. Many of the yellow decals in the Academy F/A-18 kits are bullet proof from reacting to solvents and I have actually placed one of them in a cap of 100% MS for 10 minutes and it came out like it went in: Hard and rigid. This is why I always source a good set of decals before I begin a model- and I try to buy two sets.

A quick comment about dry transfer decals. In general, they look excellent on their plastic backing and if you can get them off the plastic in one piece, they can look terrific. The problem is getting them to rub off on a shiny surface, because they don't want to stick and often break up as you try to apply them. I have tried many different methods and rubbing tools to apply these decals and overall my luck has been abysmal, especially on curved surfaces, so I now avoid them. That doesn't necessarily make them bad, but I'll bet you will have similar luck.



3. Basic Decaling

So you've booked off two hours and are now ready to decal, with some or all of the above tips handled. Proceed as follows:


1. Keep the MT and MS readily available but apart from each other so you don't mix them up.

2. Keep the decal sheet away from the MT and MS, just in case you spill one of the bottles like I did 2 weeks ago, ruining the entire decal sheet.

3. Flip the model over and start at the bottom. If you screw up some decals early on, it won't show as much later, if at all.

4. Start with a small decal first, like a “No Step” or other small stencil to get a feel for the decaling process with that particular decal sheet.

5. Cut off the decal sheet only those decals that you are going to be using over the next 5 minutes or so. That way, you won't lose tiny decals as you are distracted. Check the edges of the decal for carrier film.  There should be a small lip, but if its too wide, trim some of it off, because you want as little decal film as possible.  Leave a sliver of extra film, however, because the film is the thinnest part of the decal and the ultimate seal against air getting underneath. This also applies to complex decals where they may be in one piece and difficult to apply as one.  Depending on the decal, you might want to cut it in segments, making it easier to handle and apply.

6. Using MT, wet the area to be decaled with a drop or two of solution with a soft paint brush.

7. Using tweezers or even your fingers, slide the decal into the warm water until you can see that it is fully soaked, then pull it out near the location of application.

8. Using the paint brush, gently push the edges of the decal to see if it will move. If it will, slide it onto the model. If it won't, give it a few more seconds. After several decals, you will be able to predict how long this decal sheet takes to release the decals, which can be a few seconds to almost a minute.

9. Position the decal to the EXACT location and angle you want, using both your wet finger and the paint brush. When you are happy with the position, use a Kleenex or toilet tissue to wick off the extra water by positioning the tissue at the edge of the decal, not on it. You don't want to risk moving the decal and you don't want any crap from the tissue getting under the decal. A note on tissues. Do not use Extra Soft or other chemically treated tissues. They might feel good on your nose, but they do not absorb water very easily.

10. Gently rub the decal with the brush to ensure there are no air bubbles left underneath.

11. Let the decal sit there for at least a minute to dry, which means that I usually go on to the next few decals.

12. Using MS with the OTHER paint brush assigned to this solution, gently cover the decal with the solution without rubbing. Make sure this takes 6-7 seconds or less and do not soak the decal. You want just enough solution to fully cover the decal.

13. Now the part that almost everyone already knows about. The decal will start to distort and wrinkle, very badly in many circumstances, and tempt you to do something about it. Don't do it! Don't look at it or even think about it for at least a ½ hour or more. The MS solution initially makes the decal expand, causing it to wrinkle, before it finally contracts, hopefully sucking the decal down to the finish underneath and conforming to most of the surface if it is irregular. Many modelers do not apply MS if the decal appears to be lying down properly to begin with. In my experience, most decals will pop up slightly as they dry, creating that dreaded silvering, sometimes days and even weeks later. This is especially true of small decals of stencils, etc., that have a large outside perimeter to surface area ratio, allowing unwanted air underneath from just about every angle. Melt the decal down with MS now and you likely won't have to worry about it ever again.

14. As you apply decals and MS, you can sometimes move fairly quickly in an assembly line fashion, with the first decals dry and smooth, the middle decals still wrinkled from MS and the latest decals about to be treated with MS. Try to do only one surface at a time, in this case the entire bottom of the model, then let everything dry for at least an hour or two before you even think about handling it. A finger print on a drying decal will ruin it.

15. When the decals are dry, use the direct light source to check for flaws and silvering by shining the light at an angle to the decal. If the decal hasn't settled down quite enough, add some more MS and let it do its thing for another 15 minutes or so. Again, add MS sparingly and don't soak the decal.

16. Decals should conform to all surfaces underneath them, so rivet and panel line detail should show as well. If the MS has not sucked the decal down into the rivet or panel line sufficiently on its own after drying, which is usually the case, use a #11 knife blade to scribe along the panel line, slicing the decal. This procedure is tricky and you obviously have to be very, very careful and steady handed. I usually use the weight of knife as enough force downwards to slice the decal rather than put any more force on it. The edges of the cut may be a bit ragged, but no worries. Apply another coat of MS along the panel line cut and leave it again for 15- 30 minutes. The decal will sink down into the panel line and the decal will heal, rejoining itself with the fusion of the decal parts. Do the same with rivet detail underneath, using a needle in a pin vice, then adding MS to the hole in the decal.

17. When the bottom of the model is dry (minimum 1 hour), tilt the model either completely over to the top or on its side, using a soft chair or other contraption to hold the surface you want to decal horizontal. I use my desk chair that has fabric covered arms. The bottom of the chair will hold the tip of one wing, the back of the chair the bottom or top and the arm the front or rear of the fuselage, assuming the model is big enough. Apply decals as above, let it dry, then turn it again like a rotisserie.

18. When all of your decals are applied and you are happy with all of them (unlikely, so see below), wipe off all decal solvent residue with a soft, wet and lint free cloth. Let dry.

19. Spray another spot coat of clear gloss to each and every decal to seal them in. What you want to do is to seal the edges from any further lift and resultant silvering, but also to smooth out the edges of each decal so that it's hard if not impossible to see the decal film at all. You want this coat to be thick, so spray the decals in two sessions so that the gloss coat dries properly.

 

 

4. Problem Decals

While it would be great if all decals laid down and behaved perfectly, that is rarely the case on large models like jets in my experience, because you have both numbers and size working against you. There are always one or two decals that give me grief, so I'll go over the usual suspects from mild to severe.

1. Bubbles. After the decal has dried completed, there are sometimes the odd air bubble trapped underneath, leaving a bulge in the decal. The fix for this is simple: Poke a hole in the air bubble and add more MS. If you're lucky this may take only one treatment, but I have actually had to do this up to 10 times on the same decal before I was happy with the outcome. Do the same for panel lines and rivet detail that hasn't shown through.

2. Wrinkles that won't go away. These are a real pain and are usually associated with two-layer decals, especially yellow ones like formation lights. I think this is because the outside yellow decal reacts to MS while the underlying white decal barely does, so the two layers wrinkle at different rates, leaving a bit of a mess. At this stage, you don't have much to lose because if the decal won't behave, you need to replace it- hence the desire to have two sets of decals. I react to this problem in 3 stages:

Stage 1

Add more MS and play with it. As the decal softens, you can poke holes in the wrinkle with a needle to release air pockets and as it dries you can use the paint brush to actually push the wrinkle down. This procedure is super dangerous without experience, but after doing this many times, I now know when to let the MS just sit and when to play with the wrinkle. Don't touch the blemish while the decal is wet, but after it has dried for about 5 minutes, you can use the paint brush. If it's sticky at all, back off and let it dry some more. When you get the decal to look a bit better, let it dry for at least 12 hours. You will be amazed at how much a wrinkle will shrink if you give it enough time to dry. This might take 2-3 iterations over 2 days or more, but my luck with repairing badly wrinkled decals is about 60-70%.

Stage 2

The wrinkle in the decal is still there and you are totally F$%#d! No, you're really not. You still have 2 options before going to Stage 3: Paint or Repair. In both cases you will need to sand down the wrinkle with fine #1500-2000 grit sandpaper to remove the raised flaw, then wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove any solvent residue. You need to be very careful when sanding to not destroy the good portions of the decal and focus only on the flaw.

Since many decals are mostly black and/or white, the flawed area can be painted again with the appropriate paint color, usually with a paint brush. Do not use masking tape if you can help it, because it will lift the remaining part of the decal. I try to use a lacquer paint for this task, because it's super thin and won't build up, while thicker paint like enamel or acrylic paint might. If the color of the decal can't be matched very well, repair the decal instead.

To repair a decal I use another identical decal (again, the need for 2 decal sheets) and cut out just the portion I need to facilitate the repair, then apply the new decal over the affected area. Done properly, you would be surprised how seamless it actually looks, especially after a thick coat of gloss coat later. Since the affected area reacted poorly to MS in the first place, don't add any more and let the gloss coat seal the decal in.

Stage 3

Since Stage 1 and Stage 2 didn't work, you really are totally F$%#d, but don't panic yet, because you are going to completely remove the decal and replace it. Using Scotch Tape (or similar), place the tape over the decal and burnish it down over the entire decal as much as possible, then lift it gently from the sides, taking the decal with it. This method rarely lifts the entire decal the first time, but after 2-3 tries, you can usually get about 90% or more of the decal off, even after drying and often a gloss coat. For tiny residual decal film that won't lift, I apply MS to a microbrush and work it, which usually gets the remainder off. If that won't do it, let it dry then lightly sand it, which will hopefully work only on the gloss coat before you erode into the actual paint underneath. Wipe the area clean with water, then apply a replacement decal. Since something wasn't right with the first decal at that location, use MS very sparingly if possible.  Re-apply a good gloss coat and let dry.

 

5. Silvered Decals

So you've followed all my tips above and after everything has dried, you still have one or two decals that have silvered. This has happened to me after the decals were sealed in with gloss coat and the final dull coat applied. Clear dull coats usually give decals a much different look than with a gloss coat, which both hides decal edges, but sometimes reveals that not all is well underneath a decal. The fix for this is simple but crude: Using a new and very sharp #11 knife, poke some holes into the decal with the tip, then ooze in some more MS. Surprisingly, unless you slip or are sloppy, you won't see the cuts with the naked eye, whereas with a pin prick, you might due to the extra width of the needle. With the MS trapped underneath the decal, it should pull the decal down, leaving a bit of gloss after it dries. Now lightly sand the decal with #1500 grit sandpaper.  Yes, sand it, because it should have some clear coat protecting it and you want to remove any lumps and especially the edges of the decal.  Reapply dull coat and you should be ready for the model contest, where you just dodged a big deduction bullet!

 

Now a few pics of what I'm yakking about above.  The Tool Kit:

 

6fg6c9.jpg

 

The shinier the surface, the better the chance you have of a successful decal session.

 

CdR56k.jpg

 

The soft chair method, to create a horizontal surface for the decal to lay flat.

 

Kjwura.jpg

 

This allows even small decals to sink into panel lines and rivet detail, with no silvering.

 

K0xwRZ.jpg

 

When sealed in with another coat of X-22 (or similar), the edges of each decal melt into the underlying surface.

 

J87H4i.jpg

 

And one other example of the final effect after a flat coat.  Everything should look like it was painted on, with no (or very little) carrier film.

 

q0Ye96.jpg

 

 

That's it for now Boys,

Chuck

 

 

 

 

Edited by chuck540z3

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Great tutorial! I just ordered my mug warmer!!

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On 11/21/2018 at 4:12 AM, chuck540z3 said:

 

 

Now a couple of questions for those who might know.  What do a lot of these stencils mean, like the big "M's" that are all over the place and the "W/T" markings.  Also, why is the walkway on the right side longer than the left side of the wing?

 

Cheers,

Chuck 

This is a great thread, lots of useful information and really high grade modelling, and of course the Spitfire is one of my favourites, I don't know if anyone answered your questions on the stencils and walkways but I'll have a go, however i am not an expert, I just read a lot.

I do not know what the "M" stencil is for but I would like to know, The W/T stencil was to show that components were electrically bonded, in those days morse Wireless Telegraphy was in use hence W/T.

The Spitfire wing walkways originally differed because of the early Spitfires having a single radiator, so the upper skin on the radiator side was thinner and not to be walked on, with the twin radiator of the Spitfire IX the wing skinning was thicker and the wing walkways could be the same on both wings, however there probably was a change over period were the earlier wing walkways were still applied.

 

Cheers

 

Dennis

Edited by Britaholic

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