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Removing decals

RELATED TOPICS: DECALS
Q: You may have had this question before, but I would like to know the following - what is the easiest method of removing 30- to 40-year-old decals from models without damaging the plastic? Thanks for your help.

- Bob Dixon
Waterloo, Iowa

Ken: Thanks for writing, Bob. We're not sure from your question whether you're trying to preserve the old paint or whether you're simply concerned about how to avoid damaging the bare plastic - so we'll address both.

If the decals were applied on a painted surface, and you're not concerned about saving that paint, you can strip the entire model with any commercial stripping product that's compatible with plastic, and the decals will dissolve along with the paint.

The first one that comes to mind is Castrol "Super Clean" (the purple stuff) available at most automotive stores. Other products are available at the local hobby store, including Easy Lift-off, which also works well. Soak the car in either of those solutions until the paint lifts, then clean out the crevasses with an old toothbrush.

However, if the decals were applied on paint that you want to save, the procedure is somewhat more tedious.

I don't know of anything that will soften decals that old, so you'll have to carefully polish or sand the surface, without touching the paint underneath. You'll want to use a polishing kit or some sanding pads that are not coarser than 4000- or 6000-grit.

Try to locate a small area, where you can rub the paint off without destroying the look of the model, and try various products (including mildly abrasive polishing compound) and methods (sandpaper, polishing sticks, or cloth) until you discover one that does the least damage to the paint.

With patience, it can be done.

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