(Frequently Asked Questions)
This is the place where we will post questions
and answers to items most asked by our customers. If
you think an item belongs in the FAQ or you have a question
to ask about our product line, please feel free to contact
our Railroad department at
I Can’t See the White Lettering
Against the Backing Paper – Help!
We often receive the suggestion to use a darker decal paper,
as white decals can be hard to see against the light blue
paper that we use. Our paper supplier is offering
a darker blue paper than has been used in the past.
In any case, we suggest coloring the backside of the decal paper with
a black ink marker to make light colored decals more visible. This will
not damage the decal lettering at all and any felt tip chisel point marker
Dulux – What Color is that?
In the 1800’s, Gold Leaf lettering and striping was
an art form that employed many talented sign painters at
almost all the railroads. Labor was inexpensive at
the time, and their were many jobs that could only be done
by hand. However, by the 1930’s, cost cutting
had become necessary in order for the railroads to survive
the lean times of the Depression.
One high – maintenance area that was fairly easy
to streamline involved the use of Gold lettering on locomotives
and passenger cars. Imitation Gold was developed with
the paint manufacturers in a effort to create a color that
would give the pleasing appearance of Gold Leaf at a lower
cost and increased ease of application. A deep Yellow
color, commonly called Dulux, was developed with varying
shades as required by the railroads. In the wake of
cost cutting and the limited supplies of Gold Leaf metallic
paint prior to and during World War II, the Dulux color
became widely used by all railroads and the change over
remained even after the war ended. Many shades of
Dulux were developed and used from the 1940’s to present
Light Gray? – It should be
Railroads that used Aluminum Leaf (Silver) to letter their
equipment faced a dilemma similar to what faced the use
of Gold Leaf on other railroads. As cost rose, and
the shortage of the metallic paints, a Light Gray color
was developed and became known as Imitation Aluminum. The
imitation aluminum was less costly and less time consuming
in application then the Aluminum Leaf. When
the Light Gray color was painted on the black steam locomotives,
the color appeared to be white.
Microscale also used Light Gray to represent Schotchlite Ò reflective
lettering. This is lettering that is cut out of a
self-adhesive material that reflects light, providing high
visibility after dark at grade crossings and in railroad
yards. Many roads use this material for lettering
and striping on their diesel locomotives such as Southern
Pacific & Canadian National to name a few. When
applied to a dark background, this color appears to be white,
but with the prototypical hint of Gray.
Decals can be removed from a model provided the model has
not been over sprayed with a finishing coat. That
is, a gloss, satin or flat finishing product. If the
model has a finish coating applied, then it might become
necessary to completely strip the painted model and start
If the decals have no finish coat applied, first start
by applying adhesive back masking tape over the decal. The
tackier tape used, the better luck you will have with the
removal. After rubbing the tape in place, lift and
slowly pull at a shallow angle back over its self. With
luck, most of the decal lettering should lift off. Any
remaining decal material can then be soaked off with water.
Another method is to use our product, Micro-Sol (red label)
to the remaining decal. Let the solution soak a few
minutes and then use a pink rubber pencil eraser and rub
over the decal working carefully as not to remove the painted
surface. A fingernail will also work. Be sure
to rinse off the area with fresh water as letting the Micro-Sol
set too long can case the paint to lift. Repeat as
I have a Model I want to renumber – Why doesn’t
your Decal match the Lettering already on the Model?
We put a lot of effort into the artwork used to produce
our decals to make them as accurate as possible. Unfortunately,
many preprinted models are not as accurate in their lettering. Discrepancies
between lettering sizes and colors will occur between the
models and decals due to the unfamiliarity of the manufacturers
with the particular lettering style fonts used by the railroads. They
may choose a font that is close rather than redraw it. Colors
are often matched overseas to photos with color drifts that
do not reflect the true color used by the railroads.
It should be noted that many of today’s manufacturers
are producing models that do reflect lettering fonts used
by the railroads. Accurate scaling of the lettering
is the only issue that may still play in the mix of things.
Basic Instructions for the Application
of Microscale Waterslide Decals
- The object to be decaled must have a clean and relatively
smooth glossy surface.
- Cut out the Decal lettering and dip in clean water (preferably
Distilled water) anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds. Note: Some
lettering might take a longer soaking time than other
sheets. Set the Decal on a damp paper towel for
a short period of time or until the Decal slides freely
on the backing paper.
- Place Decal where desired on object. It might
be of help if a layer of Micro-Set is brushed on the object
first and then place the Decal. This process will
allow the Decal to avoid the Silvering effect that can
happen with just the water. Work as fast as you
can in placing the lettering as the Micro-Set starts the
wrinkling of the Decal and setting it to the object.
- Blot gently around the edges of the Decal with a paper
towel or tissue to remove excess water and allow to dry
completely. Add more Micro-Set as necessary over
the top of the Decal very carefully. This process
will make the Decal lettering a part of the model.
- When placing a Decal on slightly irregular surfaces,
use Micro-Sol. This is the stronger of the two products
and aids in soften the Decal to fill the contour, rivets
and crevices on the object. The setting solution
also improves adhesion by eliminating the tiny bubbles
that can be trapped under the Decal film.
- When the Decals are completely dry, it is necessary
to wash off the Decal glue and water spots from the object
with a damp paper towel or you may brush the water on
and then dab it dry. Do not wipe the Decal
lettering. Drying time may vary, but allow
several hours or overnight to before proceeding.
- It is recommended that a clear protective coating be
applied to the entire surface of the object. The
over spraying of the Decals will protect them from handling
and seal the painted surfac
We offer a few examples:
Microscale – Micro Gloss, Micro Flat, and Micro Satin
for use on painted plastic surfaces. These are a water
PPG, Dupont, House of Color - Urethane Acrylic Automotive
Paint, Fast Drying.
PPG, Dupont, House of Color - Urethane Enamel Automotive
Paint, Slow Drying.
Vista Paint – Urethane Acrethane Gloss Clear Water
Based coating for use on wood products.
Testors - Gloss-Coat or Dull-Coat, solvent-based product.
MICROSCALE RECOMMENDS YOU TEST DECAL
SAMPLE FOR YOUR APPLICATION BEFORE GOING INTO PRODUCTION. THIS
PROCESS JUST MIGHT SAVE YOUR OBJECT AND HAVING TO START
OVER FROM SCRACH.