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Classic Transfer
The Do’s and Don’ts of overcoating transfers

Although we pride ourselves in supplying the thinnest and highest attainable quality Waterslide and Vinyl transfers, they are not immune to the damaging effects caused by Petrol/chemical spillages, certain degreasants and rubbing compounds and so this is why we have always highly recommended overcoating our products to protect them from such harsh products.

We understand that when it comes to overcoating our transfers, it can be a minefield, and so we have endeavoured to shed some light on the Do’s and Don’ts of overcoating our transfers.

THE DO’S

– You can use a Two-Pack Lacquer on Waterslide and Vinyl

You can use Clear Oil Based Varnish on Waterslide and Vinyl

You may be able to use some acrylic/Enamel Sprays (if you test them first and avoid cheap products)

You can overcoat the whole panel/tank or you can just overcoat to the edge of the transfer only

THE DON’TS

– You should not use Clear Cellulose and Single Pack Acrylic Sprays as this will cause the transfer to shrink

– You should not overcoat Waterslide Transfers straight away (allow at least 24 hours to dry before overcoating)

– You should try to avoid powder coating and baking the transfers as sometimes this can cause them to shrink due to the heat

– You should avoid extremes of temperature (ideally overcoat at room temperature)

We also recognise that for a long time we have been unable to recommend specific overcoating products due to manufacturers constantly changing formulas however, recently we have completed some testing on a variety of products which should point you in the right direction. Please note that you do so at your own risk.

You can read a more in depth analysis of the different overcoating products below:

CLEAR OIL BASED VARNISH

Clear Oil Based Varnish is probably one of the more traditional methods of overcoating transfers and is still widely used on much older machines to convey a more classic look. This option is mostly brushed on and so can leave brush marks if rushed or done incorrectly. Oil-based varnish, including polyurethane varnish and oil paint, can also be sprayed, of course, because any thin liquid can be sprayed. But you need to be aware of a significant difference. Varnish dries much slower than the other finishes, and unlike lacquer and water-based finish, each coat should be allowed to fully dry before the next coat is sprayed.

Most Oil Based Varnishes will take a lot longer to cure which in turn means longer times between coats. From our brief testing, the quickest drying times between coats was 6 hours or above, however, we believe you should leave it overnight for best results and apply at least 2-3 coats.

Some Oil Based Varnishes are petrol proof but from our experience it will take at least a 1-2 weeks for the varnish to fully cure and become petrol proof. If in any doubt, please test the varnish on some scrap first to see how petrol resistant it is.

Can you use Polyurethane? The short answer is yes, however it is worth pointing out this product can yellow with age on lighter surfaces and therefore it is a less favourable option. Yacht Varnishes work very well but are not necessarily petrol proof. Smaller enamel varnishes such as Revel and Humbrol which you can get from Craft shops work very well if you wish to only overcoat the transfer itself and not the whole paintwork. These seem to be petrol proof once fully cured. Always remember to clean your brush with white spirit or mineral spirits U.S.A.

Traditional Finish

Useful if you only want to overcoat the transfer and not the whole surface

Less harmful than Aerosols

✖ Longer curing times

✖ Not always petrol proof

✖ Can leave brush marks

TWO-PACK CLEAR LACQUER

Some of our customers in the specialist motorcycle painting business have perfected the art of overcoating our transfers with Two-Pack Clear lacquer. Two-pack lacquers (2K) are much more resilient but have their own application problems due to a) slower drying times and b) poisonous fumes. Even so, they are the preferred material for most motorcycle respray and repair shops and can even be bought in aersol cans. They are often based on the same resins as 2 pack paints, hence their much increased weather and chemical resistance compared to air drying lacquers.

How to apply Two-Pack: Do not add extra thinners. Generally a light mist/dust coat is applied followed by a full coat some 20-30 minutes later. Not all Two-Packs are the same quality and always refer to the manufacturers data sheets and instructions for more information.

Used by Professional Motorcycle Painting Specialists

Offers highest attainable durability of all overcoating products

Suited to heavy use areas, high temperature surfaces and other harsh environments

✖ Much more harmful. Respirator, gloves and goggles should always be worn when applying 2K

ACRYLIC/ENAMEL AEROSOLS

Acrylic/Enamel Aerosols have always been a bit of a grey area. You can purchase many of these products from shops such as Amazon and Halfords. With such a wide variety of options to chose from, it can be a bit daunting finding the perfect product. From our experience we have found it’s best skip the cheap products and buy the higher quality Aerosols only.

We have found that a lot of the products create an ‘orange peel’ effect if you do not spray a thick enough coat. This in turn creates another problem, as sometimes if you spray to heavy, the lacquer will run. The Halfords Petrol Resistant Lacquer is a good example of this. It can be hard to find the right balance.

They do have their own benefits. If you need to lacquer the surface quickly, these can be ideal due to the quick drying times between coats. A lot of them also offer a good level of UV and occasionally Petrol resistance. These products could be ideal for use on a side panel but perhaps not the best option for more complex and large surface areas.

Quick drying/curing times

Good level of UV and weather resistance

✖ Can create an ‘orange peel’ effect

✖ Can yellow lighter surfaces

✖ May not be petrol proof

✖ Inferior quality compared to 2K Products

WATER BASED VARNISH

Generally we wouldn’t recommend water-based as these are far less durable than all other options. They are usually much thinner and dry quickly. Sometimes they can leave a flatter finish than enamel. We have tried Humbrol Clear from Amazon, we brushed on 6 coats and this did provide a level of protection against petrol after two weeks however, we have not tested this outdoors for very long so we would not gurantee this.

Cures quickly/easy to apply

✖ Not very durable

✖ May leave a flat/dull finish

✖ May not be petrol proof

HINTS AND TIPS

If you have recently painted the surface, we generally suggest leaving the paint for a week to cure properly. If you apply transfers too soon, they can sometimes bubble. Many in the painting profession have mastered this and can shorten the curing times. After the paint is fully cured, apply the transfers as per our instructions. Once vinyl are applied, you can lacquer almost straight away but full adhesion will take hours. Waterslide transfers will need 24 hours to dry.

Flatting the surface before you have applied our transfers will create small channels where air can get trapped and cause the transfer to bubble. This is more apparent on waterslide transfers so apply to a smooth surface.

Remember to clean brushes used with oil based products in white spirit/mineral spirit.

Remember to wear the correct safety equipment.

CONCLUSION

We understand how daunting it is when there are so many products available and we cannot test them all, but from our research we beleive that Two-Pack Lacquer or Clear Oil based varnish will leave the best results. Most of which can offer a good resistance to Weather, UV and petrol whilst leaving a clear high quality finish. If in any doubt, use the test scrap supplied with every Vinyl Transfer order, or you can request some waterslide scrap from us.

We hope that this article has been found useful and if you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us for more information.

Classic Transfer
How to Apply Tank Lines (Wet Method)

1. Surface must be clean and free from grease.

2. The vinyl is sandwiched between a waxed backing paper and a low tack application tape. Make sure your surface and transfers are at room temperature. You can use a heat gun or hair dryer to do this. Unpick the ends and carefully remove the waxed paper, making sure that all of the graphic adheres to the application tape. Check as you go that no small areas remain on the waxed paper. Should this happen, lay the application tape down again and rub over the face.

3. Turn the application tape on it’s back so the sticky side is up. Spray the adhesive side with Application fluid or water with 1% soap/detergent. Then spray the tank with the water as well.

4. Apply both the design and the application tape to the workpiece, starting with the most complex curvatures first. As you start to lay the rest down you will notice that the design will try to crease at the other end. Best way to fix this is to stretch the vinyl further down and up as you get nearer to the end.

5. Once the vinyl transfer is in place, spray over with more application fluid and now use your flexible squeegee to rub over and squeeze out the trapped water and air bubbles. If you think some of the design is not aligned, do not rub over this, as by squeezing out the water you are activating the adhesive.

6. Slowly remove the application tape. Check that there are no air bubbles under the graphics. If there are these, they can be worked to the edge or popped with a pin. This can be further wetted with water to which a very small quantity of washing up liquid has been added. this will assist in the smoothing out process of large areas. Squeegee out all the moisture before finally removing the facing paper.

7. If there are some areas that aren’t aligned properly, heat these carefully with a hair dryer or heat gun, this allows the vinyl to be flexible and stretch. Be careful not to over do this as if it’s too hot it will stretch too much. Now you can use a knife or scalpel to carefully lift parts of the design you aren’t happy with and re-align and apply. If you have stretched the vinyl, you may need to cut a piece of the vinyl off and either overlap the rest or align. Usually this can be concealed quite tidily.

All graphics should be protected from petrol/chemical spillages, certain degreaseants and rubbing compounds. If in any doubt, use the enclosed test strip with the products you intend to use.

CLEAR CELLULOSE WILL CAUSE TRANSFER TO SHRINK, AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

Overcoating with Two Pack Clear Lacquers Some of our customers in the specialist motor cycle painting business have perfected the art of overcoating our transfers with Two Pack clear Lacquer. Generally a light mist coat is applied followed by a full coat some 30 minutes later. However, not all Two Packs are to the same quality and we are unable to give assurances with this paint system. You do so at your own risk.

Classic Transfer
How to Apply Waterslide Transfers

1. Surface must be clean and free from grease. cellulose or Two Pack finishes should be left for at least one week before applying transfers to allow vapours to escape. DO NOT FLAT SURFACE before applying transfer.

2. Immerse the transfer in cold water (not ice) for about 15 seconds to allow the transfer to curl.

3. Remove the transfer from the water and allow a little waiting time for the water to soften gum to release the transfer from the backing. at this stage the transfer and backing will flatten out again. Wait until the transfer slides freely on the backing paper.

4. Slide the transfer so that the design just overlaps the backing paper edge, then apply by sliding out the backing from between the transfer and the work piece. Should a corner become bent underneath, this can be teased out with a fine sewing needle. Be careful not to puncture the transfer with the point.

5. Position and eliminate air bubbles by gently stroking the transfer with the moistened side of little finger. Then mop up excess moisture and gum with kitchen paper. Check again for air bubbles after ten to fifteen minutes and if necessary, repeat the procedure. We use an artists paintbrush to gently brush over the transfer and this also removes any air bubbles very well.

6. Allow 24 hours to thoroughly dry then clean off any dried gum on the transfer and surrounding workplace.

PROTECT WITH CLEAR BRUSHED VARNISH WHICH MUST BE OIL BASED (CLEAN BRUSH WITH WHITE SPIRIT OR MINERAL SPIRIT U.S.A.)

CLEAR CELLULOSE AND SING PACK ACRYLIC SPRAYS WILL CAUSE THE TRANSFER TO SHRINK, AVOID AT ALL COSTS 

Overcoating with Two Pack clear Lacquers

Some of our customers in the specialist motor cycle painting business have perfected the art of overcoating transfers with Two Pack clear lacquer. DO NOT ADD EXTRA THINNERS. Generally a light mist coat is applied followed by a full coat some 30 minutes later. However, not all Two Packs are to the same quality and we are unable to give assurances with this paint system.

You do so at your own risk

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Classic Transfer
How To Apply Vinyl Transfers (Dry Method)

1. Surface must be clean and free from grease.

2. The graphic is sandwiched between a waxed backing paper and a low tack application tape which is folded around the backing at the ends. Unpick the ends and carefully remove the waxed paper, making sure that all of the graphic adheres to the application tape. Check as you go that no small areas such as full stops etc.. remain on the waxed paper. Should this happen, lay the application tape down again and rub over the face.

3. Apply both the design and the application tape to the workpiece and rub over the design with a thumbnail or for larger graphics, a credit card or similar to ensure a good bond.

4. Slowly remove the application tape. Check that there are no air bubbles under the graphics. If there are these, they can be worked to the edge or popped with a pin. Small Graphics can be fixed dry. Large Graphics can be wetted with water to which a very small quantity of washing up liquid has been added. this will assist in the smoothing out process of large areas. Squeegee out all the moisture before finally removing the facing paper.

All graphics should be protected from petrol/chemical spillages, certain degreaseants and rubbing compounds. If in any doubt, use the enclosed test strip with the products you intend to use.

CLEAR CELLULOSE WILL CAUSE TRANSFER TO SHRINK, AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

Overcoating with Two Pack Clear Lacquers

Some of our customers in the specialist motor cycle painting business have perfected the art of overcoating our transfers with Two Pack clear Lacquer. Generally a light mist coat is applied followed by a full coat some 30 minutes later. However, not all Two Packs are to the same quality and we are unable to give assurances with this paint system.

You do so at your own risk

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Classic Transfer
How To Apply a Stencil Paintmask

Instructions

Surface Must be clean and free from grease.

1. The graphic is sandwiched between a waxed backing paper and a low tack application tape which is folded around the backing at the ends. Unpick the ends and carefully remove the waxed paper, making sure that all of the graphic adheres to the application tape. Check as you go that no small areas such as the middles of letters etc. remain on the waxed paper. Should this happen lay the application tape down again and rub over the face.

2. Apply both the stencil and the application tape to the workpiece and rub over the design with a thumbnail or for larger graphics, a Squeegee from our range or similar to ensure a good bond.

3. Slowly remove the application tape. You may need a craft knife to pick at a corner to get this started. The application tape is slightly less tacky than the paint mask. The application tape is in several strips to assist removal, particularly at inner contours such as an 8 or A etc.

4. When you are satisfied that the mask is in the correct location make sure all the edges are fully bonded to the plate/surface. You are now ready to brush paint but if you elect to spray you may need further masking with tape/newspaper to protect the edges of the plate.

5. As there are so many paint systems currently in use, enamel – cellulose – two pack etc. we can’t give a time when you should lift the stencil except to say when the paint is still soft. Be careful not to allow the stencil to touch the soft paint. Pick out the middles of the letters or figures with a craft knife.