Tuesday, April 3, 2012

75 Vette--Decal Restoration!

I finished up a nice House of Kolor Snowhite Pearl paint job on the 1:25 '75 vintage Vette. Then I got a comment from a reader that it needs the red decals. And it does!


The problem is the decals, like the kit, are about 37 years old, and have seen better days! How in the world do you get old/faded/busted up waterslide decals, that came out when Gerald Ford was president, to look good now? The main issue of course is that any attempt to slide the decal off its backing will cause it to shatter--from the photo you can see the things are already cracked, split, cut up, and otherwise in bad shape!


Modern chemistry to the rescue....Microscale Industries makes chemicals perfect for restoring old decals. This was all new to me--the first time I tried to resurrect old decals. But there was a lot of guidance online. I started with the "Liquid Decal Film" on the left. I coated the old decals with "Film" and let them dry. This liquid bound the old cracked decal so it could be removed from its backing without shattering into a thousand pieces.


Next, I coated the body with some of the "Set" solution. This worked a bit like glue, so the decal softened and laid down correctly on the model. As per the instructions on the bottle, I then (carefully) brushed more on top of the decal and let it dry.


The decal was still hard to work with and broke in a few places. Fortunately I had 2 identical kits and 2 sets of decals to cobble together to make 1 good model. Also the "sol" solution saved me!

Microscale's Microsol was where the real magic occurred. I read that the crappiest, most ornery decals can be brought back to life with Microsol and for me, that was about right. "Sol" seemed to melt the dickens out of the decal, let it stretch and even out then dry to the body. When I initially applied Microsol, the decal looked terrible; Microsol seemed to create more air bubbles and distortions than it corrected--but once the decal dried it looked really good! The directions said to poke air bubbles with a needle and apply more "sol", which I did--over and over and over. With a lot of patience I managed to get pretty much all the air bubbles, cracks, and imperfections to go away....

The other thing I learned was: never, ever, EVER touch the decal once I laid down the "Sol"; when wet with any of these chemicals, the decal is extremely fragile, so handling the decal while it's wet will ruin it.

I also read online to use a hair drier to get the decals to hug corners and lay down flat. That helped a lot. In the end the solvent/hairdryer/drying process was repeated several times for each area that needed a decal. It all worked!


Overall, with a lot of patience this came out looking really good! It's hard to believe that decals this old can be used at all, but they can. Now it's time for 2 part clear--I will apply this right over the decals, I hope the clearcoat will not mess them up....fingers crossed.

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