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How to apply tiny decals

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  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
How to apply tiny decals
Posted by Bobstamp on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 1:51 PM

I am getting ready to apply red cross decals to the lifeboats on my USS Repose hospital ship model, but...how!? 

The decals are tiny, just 1.5 mm (0.059") "square". At this point I can't imagine soaking them off and still being able to apply and manipulate them.

Suggestions?

Bob 

On the bench: 1/500 Revell S.S. Hope, being built as the hospital ship U.S.S. Repose; Academy 1/72 F-86F Sabre, and a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor). 

  • Member since
    May 2020
  • From: North East of England
Posted by Hutch6390 on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 3:13 PM

Hi, Bob - applying decals is my least favourite part of modelling, and I've recently started using a very simple gadget to help deal with them - especially small ones.  It's just a little plastic tub - the sort used for storing food in the fridge - with a small, rectangular, disposable dishwashing sponge in it (it helps if the sponge doesn't have much room to move in the tub).  Add water so the sponge is wet through but the upper surface is still about 1/8" above the water level.  Place the decal backing sheet face-up on this until the decal/s required release from the paper, and remove either the (still relatively dry) paper with the decal on it, or just the decal itself (according to your preference), and apply to the model.  I find even small individual decals - aircraft stencils etc. - much easier to handle.  It somehow makes the whole process easier and less stressful.  Instead of having to do them one at a time, or have them coming adrift from the paper while floating in a bowl of water, several can be put on the sponge at the same time & dealt with at your own pace.

If you have a plastic tub & a small sponge lying around, why not give it a try with something a bit less critical than your project, say, a few spare decals on some scrap plastic?  Hope this helps. 

Vell, Zaphod's just zis guy, you know?

TakkaTakkaTakkaTakkaTakkaTakka

 

  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 3:31 PM

Hello!

My take on it is as folows:  Icut the decal from the sheet so as to have a piecę of paper somewhat bigger than the decal itself. I grab it with tweezers and put it in a bowl of warm water - don't let go! - hold it in water for a second or two and then I put it on my workbench paper down, decal up. At this point the small piece of paper is usually slightly curved - that helps a lot, I can put it on my workbench and pick it up again with no problem. Now the decal is wet, I leave it on the workbench for a minute or two - it needs time for the glue to dissolve. I usually use this time to cut out another decal. I check with the tip of the tweezers if the decal moves - if yes, I put just a little water on the spot on the model where I want the decal to go and I take the wet decal still on paper and place it next to the wet spot on the model. Then, with the tip of the tweezers I move (slide) the decal from the paper to the model. I try to get the final position for the decal - sometimes I need to add a tiny drop of water, sometimes I need to wick some water away with tissue. When the decal is where I want it, I tap it gently with tissue - so that the glue grips, and then I hit the decal with a small amount of decal solvent - so as not to refloat it. You can always add more solvent later. And that would be about it...

Hope it helps - have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 4:10 PM

Fine-point cross-lock tweezers are your friend. I've got three different pairs that I use for everything...but especially useful for tiny decals.

(It's important to pay a bit extra for good quality. On cheap ones the points won't align properly, leaving them either unable to 'grab' effectively...or prone to 'spring' and let go of or tear and damage decals.)

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."
  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Friday, April 9, 2021 10:24 PM

Did it! Here’s the result of my first attempt to apply a Red Cross decal to one of the small lifeboats for my model of the hospital ship, U.S.S. Repose:

Now I just have to repeat my performance another 19 times! I see that the cross is a smidgeon crooked, not that it will make any difference. As a very small lifeboat, it will be nested inside a somewhat larger lifeboat, and will barely be visible. 

As I’ve continued building this model, which was packaged as S.S. Hope, a variant of the original Haven-class ships, I’ve realized that it’s hopelessly inaccurate and out of scale. And only the boxing seems to have changed since the model was first marketed as U.S.S. Haven. Photographs of Repose during the Vietnam War show Red Crosses on the lifeboats that should have been scaled down to at least a quarter of the size of the decals that came with the model. But if the decals I have are difficult to apply, I can’t image applying ones four times smaller. I could probably get away with tiny red blobs.* Nevertheless, I think I’m going to be pleased with the final result.

Thanks for all the great tips.  

Bob

* I could print smaller DIY decals, but I don't think it's worth the effort.

 

 

On the bench: 1/500 Revell S.S. Hope, being built as the hospital ship U.S.S. Repose; Academy 1/72 F-86F Sabre, and a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor). 

  • Member since
    May 2020
  • From: North East of England
Posted by Hutch6390 on Saturday, April 10, 2021 8:34 AM

Bobstamp
Did it! Here’s the result of my first attempt to apply a Red Cross decal to one of the small lifeboats for my model of the hospital ship, U.S.S. Repose:

Nice one, well done!  I see what you mean about the size of them - I don't envy you that job, good luck with the rest of them!

Vell, Zaphod's just zis guy, you know?

TakkaTakkaTakkaTakkaTakkaTakka

 

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Sunday, April 11, 2021 4:40 PM

I've decided that I can't live with those overscale Red Cross decals! So I scanned the original decal sheet, reduced the size of the images by about 70%, printed them on a sheet of transparent decal film, and sprayed the film liberally with Mr. Hobby Topcoat. When it's dry, I'll see if I can apply the decals. Should be challenging.

I have also decided, based on an examination of Vietnam War-era photographs of Repose, that the small model lifeboats nest too deeply into their larger brethren. So I've added a narrow strip of 0.03" styrene sheet to the bottom of each of the six larger lifeboats in order to raise the small boats enough to look a bit more realistic.

Stay tuned....

Bob

On the bench: 1/500 Revell S.S. Hope, being built as the hospital ship U.S.S. Repose; Academy 1/72 F-86F Sabre, and a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor). 

  • Member since
    February 2006
  • From: Boston
Posted by Wilbur Wright on Sunday, April 11, 2021 11:31 PM

I will often use a tiny amount of Elmers white glue for this. Applied with a pin.

Soak off carefully one at a time then place the glue on the model area. Then the wet decal, and adjust quickly.  Roll over with a-tip to flatten 

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