By James Morikawa

NOTE:  I orgininally wrote this article thinking I had found a "unique way to apply water-transfer decals".   A recent visit by a framebuilder who built and painted in England,  made me realize there was nothing unique about it.    Similiar methods of using water-transfer decals, and applying them using varnish, or even poly-urethane paint has been done for years. There seems to be lost technology in the field of the various methods of applying water-transfer decals . . . and the use for them.  I need to up-grade, and edit this article.  I've since improved upon my application of decals.  I now use either polyurethane,  or acrylics  for superior decal adhesion.

 These are not your modern vinyl type decals with pressure-sensitive adhesives.   These are decals printed on water-tranfer paper,  using a water-soluable adhesive for bonding  a non-pressure sensitive adhesive.

I will attempt to describe the decal application.

 picture            picture

The transfer paper is too thick,  to make the decal-application successfully on  round frame tubes.  Yet, the paper needs to be that thickness for the the process of screen printing.  I need to thin the paper out after I screen-print the decals   not neccesary  for applications on flat surfaces.  Again, because I'm applying them to the round tubes of the frame,  I need to thin the paper out

Thinning the paper that's the key,  the "secret".

1.  picture     2.  picture

                               Picture 1:    Using clear packing tape (3M Scott brand is the best),  I've taped the back (the non-transfer side) of the decal paper.

                               Picture 2:    Using a razor knife, I cut a slit "halfway" through the paper's thickest.  I don't want to cut completely through the paper.

3.  picture     4.  picture

                               Picture 3:   At the razor slit,  I've started splitting the paper's thickness in half.

                               Picture 4:   Pictured here,  I'm pulling the transfer-paper apart, splitting it down the middle.  Takes a little practice, but easy after
                                                awhile.  The taped side is discarded.

5.  picture      6.  picture

                               Picture 5:   The decal paper tends to become "curly" after thinning.

                               Picture 6:   You can "un-curly" the decal-paper,  if you want,  by pressing them between the pages of a thick book,  for a couple of hours.

7.  picture       8.  picture

                              Picture 7:   Putting alignment lines on the back-side of the decal paper,  to aid in decal-alignment on the frame.

                              Picture 8:   Using masking tape,  a length of angle aluminum,  and pen  marking-out alignment marks on pieces of masking tape.

9.  picture      10.  picture

                              Picture 9:     The container on the left is the water-soluable decal adhesive.   I will be brushing the stuff on.   NOTE:   One can get superior adhesion using poly-urethane,
                                                  or Acyrlic Laquer, or Enamel.   I no longer use the water-soluable adhesive.   I need to up-date this webpage with the improvements.  From this point of  
                                                  article,  my present method of application has changled a little . . . but in the principle of application is still the same.

                              Picture 10:   Using a fine bristle artist brush,  I brush-on the adhesive at the decal-application site.  It
                                                 should be applied wet not to little,  not too much, but just enough.

11.  picture     12.  picture

                               Picture 11:  The  decalpaper/decal is applied over the wet adhesive,  and excessive adhesive is squeegeed out.  I want a thin  
                                                  layer of adhesive under the decal,  so I squeegee with firm pressure.   I then allow the adhesive and decal to dry
                                                  about 12 hours.

                               Pictuer 12:   Example of an applied decal, with tranfer paper  allowing it to dry.

13.  picture      14.   picture

                                                             Picture 13:   Applied chain-stay decal,  with transfer-paper still not removed.

                                                             Picture 14:   Applied seat-tube decal,  with tranfer-paper still not removed.

15.  picture    16.  picture

                               Picture 15:   After the adhesive and decal dries,  I spray water to re-wet and un-dry the adhesive.

                               Picture 16:   Re-wetting will soften the adhesive,  and the transfer paper can be gently pulled away.  The decal itself will act as a barrier,
                                                  which prevents "re-wetting" of adhesive under the decal.  Done right, the decal stays bonded to the frame.

17.  picture     18. picture

19.  picture

          Picture 17:            The excessive adhesive is gently removed with a soft wet towel.  This has to be done slowly, and gently.  

                              Picture 18 & 19:    Pictured here is the frame with all decals applied.   The frame now is ready for the finally 2 to 3 coats of urethane clear.


Well,  that's it.  Nothing more to write.  End of decal story.

Have a good day.

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