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Stripping decals from a diecast model

Tip and a Question:  I made an index of my Scale Auto magazine collection referencing articles and other data by issue, complete with page numbers and a short subject heading. I did this in a Word document, and have it conveniently saved at the end of the inventory of my models.  

The data is in a document cover that can easily be disassembled to update or remove sheets when necessary. It’s a convenient way to find past articles, and I hope other modelers will be able to use this information.  

Having said that, I searched my index all the way back to the late 1990s for any reference on how to strip factory scripting or decals from a diecast model without messing up the paint.  

I’ve found a couple of references to stripping paint from a diecast, but not the applied decals. I would appreciate any help you can provide on how or even if this can be done.

Jim Dale
Waleska, Georgia

Ken: Thanks for the tip, Jim. The boys in the shop are not exactly what you would call computer-literate, but they’re going to give your system a try. Don‘t be surprised if you get an E-mail asking your help!

Regarding your question, you need to determine whether the lettering on your diecast is tampo printed or if it is, in fact, done with waterslide decals. We’ll give you options for both:

If it’s tampo lettering, which is essentially an ink stamp, it can be removed with nail-polish remover (the type without acetone).  

Test a small, inconspicuous area first.  Moist a cotton swab and work slowly, being careful not to grind through the paint. Change swabs frequently, as the letter begins to lift, and wipe the area with a wet (with water) cloth when you’re done.

If you’re dealing with waterslide decals, Micro Sol and Micro Set (decal setting agents) can be used to soften the decal to a point where you can carefully pick it off with a toothpick. The Micro Sol will get underneath the decal and soften the adhesive, and you’ll be able to remove it – probably not in one piece – without harming the paintwork.

Another way to lift off an old decal is to burnish a piece of masking tape onto the decal and lift it off. If this doesn’t remove the decal completely (or if it doesn’t work at all) then go with the Micro Sol.


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