MODELING: Custom Decal Printing

The market place for custom printed lettering has shrunk in recent years.  A couple key suppliers exited leaving little to choose from.  So I thought.  I was reading a post on Face Book that talked about mulit-color decals being printed by a company in Canada. The company is Precision Design Company.   They offer a number of mediums for printing ranging from ALPS and high resolution laser printing using an OKI printer that will print white of clear film

I decided to try the company and had a couple sets of gondola decals printed for use on a planned kitbash of a Glacier Park Models GS gondola kit.   The company is very quick in their turnaround on computer generated artwork.  I was fortunate to have some art generated for the desired Northern Pacific steel gondola.  The art was done with Adobe Illustrator and is extremely accurate.  Like most of the new generation of decal art it was traced from actual photographs avoid the old school method of relying on printers font.

The artwork was turned into decals within about three days and mailed via a US Post Office so delivering was very prompt.  These folks are super to deal with.  So what did the it look like when done?

Here is a shot of the smallest lettering which is approximately one inch high.  This is extremely fine resolution.   As you can see, the printing is opaque and smooth. It is as good as screen printing.  Not as sharp as Cartograf in Italy.  Oh yes, the set up cost is only $20 US and cost per sheet depends upon if you want a full or partial sheet or sheets.   The film was applied to a surface painted with Tru-Color lacquer.   I didn’t apply setting solution other than to test to see that the lettering didn’t smear.


The above page was done by Dean O’Neill as part of a presentation to Northern Pacific Railroad Historical Association (NPRHA) members as a modeling aid.  Rick Leach and Dean as prepared a a couple of Power Point presentations to educate members on the correct lettering and placement for a range of Northern Pacific freight equipment.

Believe it or not, There are a lot of similarties with the NP car and SP drop bottom gondola.  I am getting ahead of myself on a future build.





6 thoughts on “MODELING: Custom Decal Printing

  1. Gene.
    This looks good.
    But have you applied it ever rivets or on wood sided car?
    Both Tichy and Jim Abbott (Highball Graphics) use high resolution OKI printers. I tried using them for printing my decals but ran into problems.
    The problems have been getting the decals to “snuggle” down around detail work on the models, particularly rivets and into the “gaps” om wood style car siding. There has also been problems with getting them to stick, mainly with Tichy.
    There have been workarounds using them but I am really interested in finding anyone who can print opaque water slide decals in white and other colors that can be applied using age old methods. They must be able to settle down over details using Solvaset and Microscale setting solutions.
    If you tell me you have applied these decals using such methods I would be thrilled. I have heard (or heard tell) of guys who have applied them with no particular but my friends and I, along with a slew of others, can’t do it.
    Some have gone so far as using white glue to get them to even adhere. And, for the most part, I am talking to O scale decals. So, for now, I am back to using my tired, stubborn, insolent, fussy and wonderful all at the same time Alps.
    Having followed you for years, I would consider appraisal of their ease of application worthy of giving them a try.
    Thank you for any informationyou may be able to give me.
    John Hagen
    OBS-CALS your source for Obscure Decals
    21050 George Hunt Cir, Apt 821
    Waukesha, WI 53186 (personal)
    (262) 385-4450 (C)
    (262) 395-4828 (H)

  2. Gene, would you please send me a personal email address so I may ask you a question about the 2-3 years-ago RI reefer project you inherited. Not all modeling questions need be or ought be out in public.

    My email is:

    Alfred Fickensher
    Bettendorf, Iowa

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