Tips on applying waterslide decals.


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ZE52414

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Dec 6, 2016
3,178
3,714
32
Peoria, United States
#1
So here in a bit I'm going for my first attempt on waterslide decals on my iver tank. Any tips would be great. I've heard this could get real tricky real fast. Thanks in advance.
 

barracuda

I live for the CABE
Oct 27, 2009
1,777
1,728
Niles, California
#2
I'll post here what I tell folks that buy my decals:

Cut out the decal, paper and all, till you have an irregularly shaped piece of the paper with the decal on it. I don't trim too, too close because I don't want to mess with corralling little bits. But cut away the paper you aren't going to use.

Follow any instructions you have for the soaking very closely. The ones I make take only around 10 or fifteen seconds in the water, and it seems like the decal holds together better that way. Then place the decal - backing paper and all - in position and slide the paper out from under it, gently holding the decal itself close to where you want it to be.

You kinda have to manage the whole thing with one hand while pulling out the paper with the other - I found it works well to slide about an eighth to a quarter of an inch off the backing and onto the position first, then withdraw the rest of the paper, while gently holding the decal film itself in place

You can't move it around too much after that. Some, but not a lot of play, enough to get everything straight and in position. I like to have a wet, medium (1/2 inch flat watercolor brush) brush to use to gently smooth out any bubbles. And that's it.
 

ZE52414

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Dec 6, 2016
3,178
3,714
32
Peoria, United States
#3
I'll post here what I tell folks that buy my decals:

Cut out the decal, paper and all, till you have an irregularly shaped piece of the paper with the decal on it. I don't trim too, too close because I don't want to mess with corralling little bits. But cut away the paper you aren't going to use.

Follow any instructions you have for the soaking very closely. The ones I make take only around 10 or fifteen seconds in the water, and it seems like the decal holds together better that way. Then place the decal - backing paper and all - in position and slide the paper out from under it, gently holding the decal itself close to where you want it to be.

You kinda have to manage the whole thing with one hand while pulling out the paper with the other - I found it works well to slide about an eighth to a quarter of an inch off the backing and onto the position first, then withdraw the rest of the paper, while gently holding the decal film itself in place

You can't move it around too much after that. Some, but not a lot of play, enough to get everything straight and in position. I like to have a wet, medium (1/2 inch flat watercolor brush) brush to use to gently smooth out any bubbles. And that's it.
I appreciate the info. I will try exactly what you said! Wish me luck!! :)
 

deepsouth

Finally riding a big boys bike
Jan 15, 2017
276
733
64
Monroe, Ga
#5
You can also use a product called Solvaset. It helps decals conform to not flat shapes. Apply with a soft brush . Resist the temptation to touch if decals look like they are puckering up. They WILL smooth out. Used it for years on model cars with great results.
 
Likes: ZE52414

GTs58

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Sep 2, 2012
7,878
5,266
Central Arizona
#7
I'll add a little to barracuda's instructions. I use warm water and never soak more than the 15 seconds. After soaking I set the decal down on the countertop for a minute and then I make sure the decal has completely separated from the paper. If you can move the complete decal slightly on the paper it's ready to install. If the complete decal does not slide on the paper let it set a little bit longer and it will eventually release. Trying to install a decal that has not completely released will result in a broken/split/cracked decal. In my experience, over soaking is bad and will cause the clear to cloud up so don't over soak, just let it sit on the countertop until it's fully released.
 

spoker

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Mar 3, 2011
4,437
1,528
Minneapolis, United States
#9
solveset should always be part of the program,it will take out the air bubbles and increase adhesion,reduces alot of errors,saves you from have to mess with it causing damage,its like using grease and wax remover when painting
 
Likes: ZE52414

bikemonkey

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Jun 25, 2016
649
766
65
North Carolina , Albemarle, NC, United States
#11
May I add my .5 cent's worth. ALWAYS use a container that is long/wide enough so the decal can lie flat and not force it to curl up, thus resulting in a visit to the third circle of hell...
 

bikemonkey

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Jun 25, 2016
649
766
65
North Carolina , Albemarle, NC, United States
#12
solveset should always be part of the program,it will take out the air bubbles and increase adhesion,reduces alot of errors,saves you from have to mess with it causing damage,its like using grease and wax remover when painting
Never heard of that before - thanks!
Here is a link for ordering.
 
Likes: hoofhearted

morton

I live for the CABE
Nov 9, 2007
1,373
1,483
York, United States
#13
Decal tip for OLD decals. They usually deteriorate with age and when you try to apply them, the break up.

If they haven't yellowed (on the clear parts), I use an airbrush to spray 1 or 2 light coats of Krylon clear enamel onto the decal. (spay bomb into a cup, and pour contents into the air brush bottle).

When dry (a few hours at least), I use an Exacto knife and cut around the decal to remove as much of the clear carrier as possible, then apply as normal.

The clear will increase the thickness a bit so don't over due it, just enough to keep the decal together. I've salvaged many old decals using this method but spraying directly from the can usually results in a too thick coating and can damage the decal.
 

2jakes

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Sep 1, 2010
6,507
4,415
Elysium Fields
#14
Good advice from everyone.
I use soft Q-tips to position & also to absorb the water and smooth out any area
that needs it.
Think like a surgeon and work gently.
Remember that there is only so much time to make corrections.
As it starts to dry any change or repositioning may break the decal.:)
 
Last edited:
Likes: morton

morton

I live for the CABE
Nov 9, 2007
1,373
1,483
York, United States
#15
Good advice from everyone.
I use soft Q-tips to position & also to absorb the water and smooth out any area
that needs it.
Think like a surgeon and work gently.
Remember that there is only so much time to make corrections.
As it starts to dry any change or repositioning may break the decal.:)
I too use the Q-tips. Get them at the local pharmacy for about $8 a thousand. They have about a 4" wooden handle and the cotton tip on just one end. Work well with decals and I find them very useful for cleaning out bearing races and other pia areas that need to be cleaned. Dip the end in solvent and you can easily clean out those areas, or any part that has thick grease in hard to reach areas. I also shave off part of the cotton end and use them to clean siphon tube and other areas on my airbrush. .
 
Likes: 2jakes

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