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Application of water-slide transfers

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Tony Martyr16/01/2012 16:38:44
172 forum posts
37 photos
I have bought a set of loco numbers to finish off my model 'William'. I had to change my original chosen number when I realized it was one of my PINs!
From long ago I remember putting the transfer in luke warm water for about 30 seconds and then sliding them off the backing sheet with a brush.
I have just had a practice run but the transfer number seems to stick firmly to the (rather stiff) backing sheet even after 3 minutes soaking.
Is there a special technique to get modern decals free of their backing?
Wolfie16/01/2012 17:12:47
502 forum posts
Aha something in my sphere of expertise.
No Tony things haven't changed and I have been using water slide decals for nearly 40 years. I make my own these days.
You do occasionally get spots where the transfer sticks to the backing paper, but usually I just dump them in a saucer of water until they float off. You may have to tease it with a pair of accurate tweezers. They may take longer if they are old.
For application to the model you can't go wrong with Microsol and Set
Just over half way down this page

Edited By Wolfie on 16/01/2012 17:13:21

mick H16/01/2012 18:19:59
610 forum posts
17 photos
How do you make waterslide decals Wolfie ? I shall need some shortly.
Wolfie16/01/2012 19:27:06
502 forum posts
Okayyyy well in truck modelling which is what I do on the plastic side ( ) we have quite a problem when asked to build a specific lorry because you need to get the decals specially made and it can get bloody expensive.
You would think in this day and age that you could buy a sheet of clear decal paper and print on it with your computer printer. And you can and it comes out beautifully. Until you try putting on the model. The trouble is that printer inks are translucent and as soon as you put the decal on a model it disappears into the background unless the background is light.

So you can generally make decals for something thats white or silver or yellow but it doesn't work on red or blue or green. And we could still do it but for one major and somewhat frustrating omission. PC printers don't print white! If you could print in white you could print the decal in white and then go over it with the correct colours. The white barrier stops the background showing through.

We can however do this with micro-dry printers. Micro dry were the betamax of the printer world using small cartridges and heat to apply the ink. And you can get white cartidges. So if you can get hold of a micro dry (ALPS) printer which aren't made any more and cartridges you can make your own transfers. Rocking horses and poo come to mind.

I bought one off a modelling colleague in Cramlington about 3 years since for £250 bearing in mind you can get a brand new inkjet at PC World for about £28 these days. But at around £25 minimum for a set of decals for one lorry model I only had to do myself 10 sets to break even and I'm well over that now.

One problem is that I had to break an old PC back to Windows 98 as thats the most modern driver you can get, they don't work with XP or 7. And then find a vector drawing program compatible with Win 98. So I have a pc and printer sat in the spare room for the one and only purpose of making decals. I did try to loads Win 98 on my main machine via a virtual set up then realised the modern machine doesn't have an old style parallel printer port doh. I now have a usb to parallel adapter but haven't got round to trying it yet. Its working OK at the moment so I'm letting sleeping dogs lie.

So there you go thats what I use. Some guys that have them and there aren't many do make them for other folk and I can put you in touch with a couple of them if you wish.

Edited By Wolfie on 16/01/2012 19:34:35

DMB16/01/2012 20:14:49
788 forum posts
Hi Wolfie,
I have only recently read somewhere that there is a website holding a very large number of old drivers for the likes of ageing printers, etc. I think it was in Computeractive mag. I`ll see if I can find it and post details - it could help someone.
As regards incompatible plugs/ports, go to Maplins + tell `em your problem - they`ll come up with something.
Wolfie16/01/2012 20:48:02
502 forum posts
Its not a case of finding a driver John I already have the only one there is, they never upgraded it for XP as it was obsolete by then so the XP or newer driver simply never existed.
I already have a solution to the incompatible port thing, but I'm going to leave it until the next time I have to mess about with it for any reason.

Edited By Wolfie on 16/01/2012 20:48:58

Chris Trice16/01/2012 22:25:58
975 forum posts
2 photos
Going back to the original question, are they definitely water release decals? I have a vague memory that some decals designed for railway models used methylated spirits. I'd check with the person you bought them from. Waterslides use the same gum you find on envelopes and aren't very robust on metal models.
Wolfie16/01/2012 23:51:43
502 forum posts
Water slide decals will go on anything as long as you seal them in with some kind of varnish. Well known in the plastic modelling world were the excellent sealing properties of Johnsons Kleer floor polish. Unfortunately they changed the formula a while since and its no good any more.
I've put them on motorcycles before now.

Edited By Wolfie on 16/01/2012 23:52:20

chris stephens17/01/2012 01:49:30
1031 forum posts
1 photos
Hi Wolfie,
You can buy white water slide transfer sheet as well as clear, but as far as I know they are only for colour laser printers (black and white laser printers are too hot and melt the medium instead of the toner) . Your local copy centre should be able to point you in the right direction, if wanted to go that route.
Springbok17/01/2012 06:19:41
879 forum posts
34 photos
Thank you for all that information have printed it off and will keep in my reference area
Wolfie17/01/2012 09:00:48
502 forum posts
Yes you can buy white. But make sure you get the right stuff, there are 4 types.
White and clear for inkjet and white and clear for laserjet
Black and white or coloured is immaterial, its the inkjet paper that melts in a laserjet, that's why you have to make sure you have the correct stuff. I get mine from Crafty Computer Paper in Hexham but there are other suppliers.
One more thing to note, with this method (but not using an ALPS printer) you have to seal the decals in before putting them in water else the ink runs off the paper! I use an artists matt varnish spray.
Tony Martyr17/01/2012 10:35:46
172 forum posts
37 photos
OK I have managed to separate the transfer numbers and backing sheet but judging by the time taken soaking they were probably old stock.
My supplementary question is about varnishing over the fixed transfers -
I assume that as the base paint is gloss then the varnish has to be gloss (Precision Paints) but do I have to varnish the whole loco side - won't the varnished patch look different from the rest of the paintwork?
One of the advantages of making engines in the past has been that I have never had to deal with paintwork which I find very difficult in spite of reading the book(s)
Ed Duffner17/01/2012 11:36:10
676 forum posts
59 photos
I kicked myself several times a few months ago for recycling a working Citizen Printiva 650C printer. I thought I'd never need it again as it had been in the attic for years. Then I refinished a guitar and needed a white decal.
Wolfie17/01/2012 12:27:46
502 forum posts
You dumped an ALPS printer??????????!!!!!!! They sell for millions. Well hundreds. Don't suppose you have stil got any cartridges left? OMG dumped an ALPS theres blokes would bite your arm off for it.
Tony no the varnish doesn't have to match the base coat as long as its the same medium (enamel or acrylic). What we usually do is varnish the whole thing, cos that makes decal placement much easier and then just add a bit of the same stuff over the decal.

Edited By Wolfie on 17/01/2012 12:31:09

Cornish Jack17/01/2012 17:40:16
746 forum posts
91 photos
Re making your own transfers, we used to do this for scale model aircraft using gummed labels and rub-on lettering of various types. Once the required design is on the gummed side of the label, give it a coat or two of clear varnish, allow to dry and when required place in a saucer of water and use like standard transfers. Almost unlimited variety. It was also possible to use photo prints, sized as needed and use a fine razor blade to remove the top image layer and place them, similarly, on to gummed labels. Made some quite reasonable versions of our A&AEE logos that way.
Engine Builder17/01/2012 18:01:50
208 forum posts
There was an article in Model Engineer a year or so ago about making your own nameplates.
The method of making the decals was detailed.
andrew sharp 106/07/2012 07:08:56
1 forum posts

Hi Wolfie, I have just joined after reading your threads about transfers. You said you know some people whe could make transfers, could you let me know who they are. I convert matchbox vehicles and have the problem of white lettering. I have tried to overcame the problem with capturing the background colour, then printing on white water slide paper, giving them a irregular edge before application and then painting as near to the lettering as possible with the background colour. Although it has a good effect and poeple are happy with the result. I want better.

Diane Carney06/07/2012 09:47:51
392 forum posts
10 photos

I have occasionally used Precision Labels (John Peck) who will make anything you need, although he does stock standard items also. In my experience John is very helpful. He is specific about the file type he needs and you need to be very careful with your artwork, especially if there are several colours. I supplied pdfs but i think he can take CorelDraw files too. He turns jobs round very quikly. He is using an ALPS printer as far as I know. Coming up in ME 4434 is mention of a 5 inch gauge A4, Silver Fox, finished in 'as built' condition and I had the names (white lettering) and cabside numbers made through Precision Labels.



Wolfie09/07/2012 18:23:31
502 forum posts

Hi Andrew, Looks like you need to be on the Truck Model World forum as well as on here.


Theres Roger Johnson

and Chris Moxham


@Diane, yes I use Corel Draw with mine

Edited By Wolfie on 09/07/2012 18:24:37

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