Decal application instructions (Digital) Please read carefully.
Do not soak decals in water, THESE ARE NOT 'WATER SLIDE'
The decals have an adhesive which is water resistant and are basically peel and stick, but do come complete with a clear application tape so you can see where they are being placed.
Saying that, there are some important processes that you should adhere to so as to make this a smooth exercise. MOST IMPORTANT.... DO NOT HURRY THE PROCESS!
Firstly, clean the area of the frame with a dilute solution of water and detergent (common dishwashing liquid is fine – just a couple of drops in a bowl or cup/glass) and wipe clean with cotton. I use a purpose designed de-greaser, but I appreciate that this will not be available to all. Do not use polish, most contain silicones which will prevent proper adhesion.
Measure the decals and certainly in the case of full panel versions, mark the frame carefully (possibly with low tack masking tape) with the exact location that you wish the decals to be, making sure that the area selected is parallel to the tubing.
You now have to make the choice of whether you do a dry application or wet application.
My preferred method is a dry application, where the decal goes onto a dry frame. The benefits of this method are in that the frame can be lacquered immediately without waiting a long period for any moisture to dry from under the decal. The disadvantage is that you only get one chance to get it right, as once stuck, the decal can’t be moved. Wherever possible, I would always recommend this system. Please do not rush this process.
Remove the white paper carrier, leaving the decal attached to the clear application tape. Show the decal to the area of the frame you wish to apply the decal and gently attach the central area, making sure you have the correct position. Once the decal has been applied, press evenly through the application tape to bed the adhesive of the decal into the paintwork. Once this is so, gently and slowly remove the application tape (not like pulling off a band aid!). Once the application tape is removed, should any lifting or bubbles occur, please do not start rubbing at the decal to re-stick it, this may result in the print being worn away. If the decal does not stick first time, the frame was simply not clean enough.... period!
It is important to not have the decal ‘grab’ or stick in the wrong position. I use the finest 70 micron vinyl available, any thinner and it would potentially distort like cling wrap. Thin vinyl is essential to imitate the quality of the tricky water slide transfers which were probably fitted when new. Having said that, vinyl can never be as thin as the water slide or spirit fix decals from yesteryear, but then again, we are not producing thousands which would be necessary using the old methods. The decals are sound and strong, won’t break or crack, as long as they don’t have to be removed from the frame due to bad positioning on a dry paint surface.
A wet application allows a more forgiving application technique, and is probably best for ‘full panel’ designs, but the drawback is that you will need to wait a lengthy time (several days) after application so as the lacquer top coat isn’t spoiled by residual moisture. This method I would use mainly for large surface decals like full wrap, but as stated if you can dry is best.
For a wet application, wet the frame area again with the same dilute solution of water/detergent so as it’s pretty wet and then peel the backing paper off the decal, making sure that the complete decal is with the clear application tape and then stick the decal onto the frame. Being wet and slippery allows the decal to be slid into position if it is not straight and also allows any trapped bubbles to be squeezed out. The water/detergent solution does not harm the adhesive on the decal; most commercial trucks are done this way.
All decals have a clear transparent application tape over them to permit perfect alignment, especially when there are individual letters/designs involved, no matter how small. For dry application, the tape can be removed immediately (as described), for wet application, wet the frame area, peel off the white backing paper, apply the decals, smooth out and let sit for several hours. When confident that decals are stuck, take the corner of the application tape and slowly peel at an acute angle away from the frame leaving the decals installed. If there are any air bubbles that may be trapped (unusual), if they cannot be massaged out of the decal then a simple pin prick to the centre of the bubble, followed by a squeezing out of the air and a smoothing will cure the problem. Do not over-rub the decal due to reasons explained above. Wherever possible, I prefer a dry application.
LACQUER (Important notes)
The decals are digitally printed using the finest Roland Eco Sol inks which makes them UV colour fast up to 3 years (uncoated), but will last many years further when under the lacquer. Clear coating is best done by a professional paint shop that should have experience of this and use appropriate lacquers*.
Going it alone
If this is not possible and you wish to 'go it alone’, then great care must be observed when applying the lacquer. Most important is do not use a fully solvent based lacquer, as this may re-activated the (solvent) printed ink and destroy the decal, best to use an air dry water based or if not an acrylic lacquer. To start, follow the instructions on the tin (shake well, distance etc) and apply a very fine mist only, do not in any way be tempted to 'wet' the area, this may cause the decal to ‘bleed’ and possibly lift. Allow the lacquer to FULLY dry (follow instructions on tin) and harden. Then, apply a similar second coat, allow to dry and harden. I recommend at least 3 coats, although some of the more exotic frame producers claim up to 8! If you get ‘dripping’ you have applied too much! This should in most cases be enough, but several very fine coats will produce a long lasting and more professional finish.
*In most cases, paint shops will have experience of this and generally use a 2 pack polyurethane type lacquer for finishing over water based paint. If not, then the same applies to ‘going it alone’.
If you have used a wet method of application, allow at least a week for any moisture to disappear before clear-coating.
The application tape is there merely to carry the decal to the frame and must be removed after fitting. Please do not assume that this should be left in place (it has happened!).
The vast majority of frames were lacquered over, for several reasons, not least of all aesthetics, but in the case of ‘water slide’ if they were not, the decals would have simply washed off in the rain! Printed vinyl decals are more robust than some of the older types, but If you do choose not to lacquer over, then care must be observed when cleaning. Use only a soft sponge with a weak solution of washing up liquid. DO NOT RUB HARD, DO NOT USE POLISH, SOLVENTS OR ALCOHOL! (These will destroy the print)
If applying in very hot conditions, extra care must be taken as hot temperatures can make the adhesive more sticky and the decal more pliable. Best to apply in cooler conditions.
Fitting decals can sometimes be a little tricky even for professionals! If you do experience difficulties or just plain mess up, then please contact me, I will always try to help.