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(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 would work.

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 day.

Light Gray? – It should be White!

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.

Removing Decals

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 over.

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 necessary.

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

  1. The object to be decaled must have a clean and relatively smooth glossy surface.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 base product.

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.



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Microscale Industries
18435 Bandilier Circle
Fountain Valley California 92708
Phone: (714) 593-1422
Fax: (714) 593-1432