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  • Member since
    September, 2008
  • From: East Templeton Ma
Posted by streetrod on Sunday, January 20, 2019 6:19 PM

Hi Everyone,

Has anyone used Fred Cady decals on a model car? i wondered how they apply, if they are difficult to layer, and if they are compatible with setting solutions such as Microset and microsol? I'm building a box stock original AMT Ala Kart but the decal sheet, while I still have it, is shot and the decal sheet from the 'new issue' Ala Kart is so far off color wise (purple) that I'd rather not use them. I do however have a set of Cady decals but have never used them before. Any help would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Barry Fadden

Classic Plastic Model Club

  • Member since
    December, 2003
  • From: Nova Scotia
Posted by Bainford on Monday, January 21, 2019 8:05 AM

Hi Barry. I have a few sets of Fred's decals in my stash, but haven't had ocassion to use them yet. The concept of layering decals sounds like the result would be kind of sloppy, but examples I've seen built by other people look surprisingly good. Hopefully someone will chime in with decal solution compatibility, as I'm kind of curious myself.

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
       - Antoine de Saint-Exepury


  • Member since
    March, 2011
Posted by gulftarpon on Monday, January 21, 2019 11:56 AM

Don't know if this helps, but I used them several times years ago. Very good quality. Each color is printed separately and you have to layer them. It's not really hard to do but it does take a little while because you have to allow a little time for each layer to dry. They were printed on a clear carrier film so you have to trim each decal close because they are printed on a whole sheet. One possible issue is age. Fred Cady went out of business probably 20 years ago and decals are sensitive to heat and humidity so maybe use some of the clear carrier film as a test to see how well they have aged.

  • Member since
    February, 2008
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by gbk1 on Monday, January 21, 2019 1:40 PM

Hi Barry,

Some comments about multilayer decals and getting strong, accurate colors. Cady decals have always had a good reputation but have always attracted comment because they are multilayer. I hate that this is to be one of those who comments that begins with "I've never ... but..." , but, I've never used Cady decals but I have a good deal of experience now using custom decals, both self designed and replica decals. So here goes...

In my experience if decals don't have some sort of strong opaque underlayer, usually white, the overlayed inks don't have the opacity to hold up over all but the lightest base colors. If you look at premium quality decals, whether they're in kits or aftermarket, they are usually silk screened and have a white base layer. The very best decals not only have the base layer but are individually printed with a final pass of clear ink to create a fine clear edge which extends just beyond the image and constitutes the edge of the discreet decal.

So that's the ideal case. Custom decal printers and small-lot decal providers have the challenge of printing easily and cheaply to allow for the very small volume of sales they must support. The most frequent technology used besides silk screening, which has high setup costs, is using a micro-dry printer, like an ALPS, which prints using the CYMK color system, layering Cyan (C), Yellow (Y), Magenta (M) and blacK (K) inks to create the desired color. I've also used at least one custom decal supplpier who says he uses a laser printing system which does the same thing, although I've never encountered or read of this anywhere else.

In any case, I have found that whenever decals are printed using this technology the color layers are quite transparent and require an additional white underlayer to hold up against all but the lightest colored backgrounds. Even the white layer itself, over darker colors, is somewhat translucent. The supplier I mentioned who claims to use a laser printer, for example, always includes a separate white underlayer set along with the color layer, even when the visible colors include white. So, for example, a white decal with a black edge (like on a racing number) would be printed twice, once as an entirely white background layer whose shape goes all the way out to the edge of the image, and then a color layer consisting of the white image area and the black outer edge. This assumes that the printing technology used will print white as a color. Notice that CYMK does not include white in its colors. In the CYMK system the color white is considered a "dont't print anything" instruction. This is the approach that's used on home inkjet and laser printers, which "assume" white as the background color and build other colors from there.

ALPS printers (and the very few other micro-dry printers out there) print white and metallics like gold, silver and copper, as discreet inks. On ALPS printers, for example, the operator must do a separate run if he is to include white or metallics in his print run. When I supply artwork to my custom printer (who uses an ALPS printer) I supply at least two art images, one for the white underlayer, and one for the CYMK colors. He prints at least  3 times, once to provide me with a separate white underlayer sheet, once to print white on the main color sheet, and then one last time for the CYMK colors over the white on the second sheet. If I want a metallic color, like gold, that's yet another separate piece of artwork for just the metallic areas.

From everything I've heard or read about Cady decals, they were printed somewhat in this manner, although having never seen or worked with a set I don't know if they include a white pass on the color layer. The good news is that the base color for the Ala Kart is white, so at least this is less of an issue in your case.

As I said, Cady decals have a very good reputation. But it sounds like they were made using the approach I'm describing. This will most likely mean that, unlike silk screened decals, each decal is not a discreet item that will come up off the backing in a predetermined shape and size. Instead, decals produced in this manner must be sealed under a clear coat to create the characteristic clear edge that makes using decals so convenient and accurate. Then, as mentioned by a previous poster, they must be carefully cut out as close to the image edge as is practical, in order to avoid a large clear edge that will show on the model.

Most small-lot micro-dry decal suppliers don't clear coat their decals, so that the end user, who is assumed to be an advanced modeler, can use the clear coat of his choice. Other board members may be able to advise if Cady decals were ever clear coated.

If your Cady sheet has a decal you know you won't be using you can test the sheet for all of these issues. You could cut out this "test" decal and see if it has the strength and body to be applied. If it appears very flimsy and breaks up as you handle it then the sheet requires clear coating. I use a craft acrylic clear spray, Tree House Gloss Acrylic Clear, which I buy at Hobby Lobby. It provides a strong stable clear coat (two coats is all you need) and yields pliable, stable decals. It doesn't craze when coated with clear lacquer gloss coats.

If you do try a test decal, examine it to see if Cady included a white pass on your color layer. If he did then you can be fairly confident that with just one white underlayer and the color layer you won't have any issues with transparency. Of course, as I said, because your primary color is white, you won't anyway. In fact you might want to test to see if you need the white underlayer at all!

Regarding decal setting solutions, I use standard hobby store setting solutions like Micro-Set and, when required, Mico-Sol. From everything I've heard any good reputable setting solution will do. Sometimes, if I'm lazy, I don't use any at all, just plenty of water when first floating the decal onto the surface, but Micro-Set ensures that decal handling is straightforward and that the decal will lay down without any issues. I have had zero compatibility issues, regardless of decal supplier, and I have never read about any such issues with Cady decals.

I hope this isn't overkill and gives you information you can use.


Bernard Kron Keep On Buildin'

  • Member since
    September, 2008
  • From: East Templeton Ma
Posted by streetrod on Monday, January 21, 2019 3:53 PM

Thank you Bainford and gulftarpon for your replys.

Bernard, I hoped you would respond to this and thanks for the information. i am going to try a decal I'm not using as I'm going to paint the black areas on the top and toneau cover so will use those to test. I'll let you know how this turns out in case you ever decide to use the Cady decals. I have had them for quite a while so not sure of them as far as usability is concerned. I have a club member who might make a couple of sets of the decals using the original sheet I have. The original set did not include the decals for the bottoms of the fenders so two sheets will be needed. I don't know if you've ever seen the 'new issue' decals for the Ala Kart but the colors are waaaaaayyyyyy off.

Thanks again for your reply as I always heed your information.


Classic Plastic Model Club

  • Member since
    December, 2005
  • From: Upstate New York
Posted by spencer1984 on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 8:55 AM

I used Fred Cady's decals on this build a few years ago, and going into it I was a little concerned about the layering aspect but it turned out to be a nonissue. Everything lined up just fine, even in places that required three separate decals on top of each other, and the film he used was thin enough that the edges are practically invisible unless you're *really* looking for them. I used neither clearcoat not setting solution.


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