The only combination of varnish and solvent that I know works for sure (for me anyway) is Man-O-War Marine spar varnish. Don't use anything else if you want my results. After application of the decal and removal of the rice paper, one must use kerosene to remove the excess varnish from the frame. Here's what to do:
1. Take each decal and at one corner of the paper fold it over and roll it a bit until the rice paper seperates from the stiff registration paper; peel it back a small amount so you can grab it with a fingernail once you're ready to apply the decal. Apply a medium-thin coat of varnish on the backside of the decal using your finger and gently spreading a layer over all parts of the decal that are to remain on the frame. Don't put any extra beyond a small border past the edges of the ink if you can, although don't miss anything trying to minimize the extra varnish.
2. Let the varnish get tacky which can take anywhere from about 10 minutes to 1/2 hour or more depending on thickness of your layer, temp. and humidity, etc. The decal is ready to apply when you can touch it with your fingertip and pick up the decal as it sticks to your finger. Make sure it's good and tacky as opposed to just barely holding on. You can wave the decal around a bit or use a hair dryer if you want to accelerate drying but it is best to let it get ready naturally. Don't let the varnish get too dry.
3. When the decal is ready, peel the rice paper carefully from the backing and apply the decal to the location desired ( I have found that in the case of a rare decal such as yours, in the middle of your forehead is a good spot ;-) ) and gently, starting from the center of the decal and working towards the edges, burnish it down nice and flat. If you place the decal center down first and wrap it towards the outer edges, you should not trap many if any air bubbles. Wait a few minutes while periodically reburnishing the decal with your fingers, center to edges.
4. Usually about 5 mins. is plenty of time to wait. Then take a paper towel that has been folded into a small pad and wetted with warm water from a bowl or dish of some sort, and gently dab the decal and soak it thourouly until the rice paper releases completely and slides off. Then immediately dip your finger in the kerosene and rub gently around the outside of the decal until you dissolve and smear the excess varnish around (it's usually kinda milky whitish as it does this) then douse the papar towel pad in water again and wipe the stuff off with lots of water. Two times over lightly are better that going at it all at once. Check after the firs time over to see if anything is still left. If the excess is completely gone and you're sure of it, then proceed to the next step, otherwise do the second round of this sequence. You must have a light touch during all of these operations.
5. Once everything extra is gone and you've rinsed it really good, you can carefully soak up the water with a fresh paper towel, gently blotting on and around the decal itself while just wipeing up the rest. Make sure you get everything that runs everywhere, especially down to and under the BB shell, as the residue will leave traces behind if you don't catch it.
6. Check for any trapped air bubbles. If you see any, take an ex-acto knife with a #11 blade (the standard sharp pointy one) and very carefully poke STRAIGHT DOWN into the air bubble quickly like a pin prick and then gently press the air bubble down. Get them all if you can. If it's the decal I'm thinking of, you shouldn't have much since the decal is so small.
7. If you need me to talk you through it or if you want to have a few pieces to practice with before you commit to the real thing drop me a line, I'll snip some pieces for you to play with. Really old decals are more difficult to apply than newer ones, so it might be worth your while to test the process first; I certainly would if I were you.
Hope this helps (how could it not?) and good luck!
Oops! I unlurked. Sorry, couldn't help myself. C-YA!
> I'm restoring an old Benotto and would appreciate any
> suggestions for applying varnish decals, including the
> best type of varnish for this. Thanks Scott
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