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Model Railroading > Fixative Shootout (Part 2)


Date: 08/16/20 22:55
Fixative Shootout (Part 2)
Author: tmotor

This is a continuation of the original Shootout,
https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?3,5069479
 
The results of the first Shootout were interesting.  Some of the comments suggested trying other candidates as fixatives.  So, let’s try another group and see what happens.
 
The Test “Car”
In the previous shootout, a black Walthers tank car was used.  However, masking around the obstructions with paper was problematic.  Moreover, the length limited the number of samples to 7 per side.  As the scope of the potential samples was expanded, it became clear the number of samples would be more than 7.   For this round of tests, the Walthers tank car was replaced with a section of 1” PVC pipe.  Tee fittings at the ends provided stability.  It was sprayed flat black, and heavily weathered with (same as before) Pan Pastels (740.5) “Burnt Sienna” above the waistline, and Pan Pastels (820.5) “Neutral Gray” below the waistline. 
 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/20 22:58 by tmotor.




Date: 08/16/20 22:56
Re: Fixative Shootout (Part 2)
Author: tmotor

The products are placed behind their sample, in the order applied.  From left to right:
 
Dead Flat
The First Place Finisher from the previous shootout is the baseline.  It will be hard to beat. 
 
Krylon “Fine Art”  [$12, 11 oz spray can, $1.10/oz]
In the first Shootout, the Krylon crashed and burned.  However, I did come across this  Fine Art version.  It has the usual buzz-bomb odor, so it needs to be applied in a spray booth, or outside.  The usual color shift occurred when it was wet, but like its cousin, there was still no improvement after it dried.  This one also goes in the Loser column.
 
Dick Blick  [$6, 12 oz spray can, $0.50/oz]
Been purchasing supplies from Mr. Blick for years.  Figured his fixative was worth a try.  Disappointing.  However, after I posted a negative review on their site, I received an email that apologized that it fell short of expectation and that a refund was posted to my credit card.  Wow, now that is what I call customer service!
 
Top Coat  [$15, 3 oz spray can, $5/oz]
I have had good results with their primers, Mr. Surfacer.  Based on their track record, I wanted to give their flat clear coats a try.  This one appears to be an acrylic.  It produced a dark color shift.
 
Mr. Super Clear  [$8, 6 oz spray can, $1.33/oz]
Based on the FLAMMABLE warnings, this must be enamel-based.  It produced a color shift like Dullcote.
 
Tamiya TS-80 Clear Flat  [$8.60, 3.4 oz spray can, $2.53/oz]
This was suggested by TO member “grandeguy”.  I discovered this spray can version (which is presumably enamel, based on the FLAMMABLE warnings), as well as an acrylic version (next up to bat).  The spray can version had a color shift about equal to Dullcote.
 
Tamiya XF-86 Clear Flat  [$2.30, 0.3 oz bottle, $7.66/oz]
The acrylic version was applied with an airbrush.  I was hoping the acrylic-based formulation would have less color shift, but pretty much matched the spray can version.
 
TruColor TCP-017 Clear Flat  [$5, 1 oz bottle, $5/oz]
I have been a TruColor fan for years (and AccuPaint before that), and figured it was worth a try.  Applied with an airbrush.  The color shift was too dark, and it was more of a “eggshell” rather than a flat finish; which was  disappointing on multiple levels. BTW, in case you are wondering, that is not a stock TruColor bottle.  I got tired of their plastic bottles being permeable and the solvent escaping.  Every time I went to use one, it was way too thick.  After several sets of empty glass jars from Model Master, my TruColor paint no longer evaporates.  Added bonus is being able to see when the paint is mixed properly thru clear glass.  Also, there is a bottle adapter for airbrushing, so fewer chances of running out of paint on a large project.  
 
Vallejo 70.520 Matt Varnish  [$3,  0.6 oz bottle, $5/oz]
Vallejo has a reputation for very fine pigments, and is highly regarded among aircraft and armor modelers.  This “synthetic lacquer” version is intended to provide a very durable finish, such as for Remote Control aircraft that is exposed to the elements.  It resulted in a color shift similar to the others.
 
Vallejo 26.651 Polyurethane Matt Varnish  [$5, 2 oz spray can, $2.50/oz.]
Vallejo offers this acrylic option.  It resulted in a dark color shift.
 
When ChrisCampi suggested giving hairspray a try, I searched Amazon and got 10 zillion hits.  Prices ranged from a few buck to the price of a luxury automobile.  Other than the packaging, perfume, and additives beneficial to hair health, I assume they are all pretty much the same. 
 
Aqua Net “Extra Super Hold”   [$8.64, 11 oz spray can, $0.79/oz]
As a child, I remember a can of Aqua Net sitting on the bathroom counter.  For me, that is the first thing that comes to mind when I hear “hair spray”.  Though it has been around for generations, it works better on hair than on Pan Pastels. 



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/20 23:12 by tmotor.




Date: 08/16/20 22:56
Re: Fixative Shootout (Part 2)
Author: tmotor

And the winner is…
 
Well, not too hard to pick a winner, when there is a 10-place tie for last place out of 11 contenders.  Other than slight variations in sheen, from flat to eggshell, there wasn’t much difference in the color shift.  In fact they are so similar it almost looks like all the samples came from the same spray can.  Dead Flat had the least amount of color shift by a long shot, so it is still the leader.
 
This merely validates the findings from the previous shootout.  I’m sure there are some other products that produce flat finishes that I have not sampled, but after 17 samples, some patterns developed that can pretty much predict the results.  If the fixative is enamel or lacquer-based, it will have a dark color shift.  Even acrylics have a dark color shift.  The less the odor, the better the results.  Perhaps the better performers are mostly water and do not bond chemically with the Pan Pastels, resulting in less color shift.  I’m not a chemist, so I can’t say for sure.  Whatever the reason, if it had an odor, it resulted in a dark color shift.
 
One reservation with hair spray is its use for the Peeling Paint technique, which uses an undercoating of hair spray to prevent proper adhesion of the paint applied over the top.  Will subsequent layers of weathering begin to flake-off?  How durable will it be?  Will normal handling of the car spoil the weathering as the bond fails?  Do I want to take the risk?  If the color shift had been minimal, it would be worth further investigation.  However, it saved me the trouble by leaving a dark color shift.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/20 22:57 by tmotor.



Date: 08/17/20 00:26
Re: Fixative Shootout (Part 2)
Author: tracktime

Nice comparison!  As for the TruColor bottles drying out, just add a little of their thinner, and those dried out bottles come right back to life!

Cheers,
Harry



Date: 08/17/20 06:37
Re: Fixative Shootout (Part 2)
Author: ChrisCampi

Super interesting! Thanks for the great comparison.



Date: 08/17/20 10:37
Re: Fixative Shootout (Part 2)
Author: Lighter

Thank you for expanding your coverage. I guess that it is apparent that I need to dig out the bottle of  Dead Flat that I've never tried.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/17/20 10:38 by Lighter.



Date: 08/17/20 12:20
Re: Fixative Shootout (Part 2)
Author: SPDRGWfan

Dead Flat seems to be a good one but where do you buy it.  That bottle looks home-made.



Date: 08/17/20 14:37
Re: Fixative Shootout (Part 2)
Author: tmotor

SPDRGWfan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Dead Flat seems to be a good one but where do you
> buy it.  That bottle looks home-made.

It is definitely a home grown product.  They claim it is patented.  :-0
Probably need to search for "RustAll", since that is the name of the 4 bottle set.  Bottle #3 is the "Dead Flat".  If purchased in the set, it is just labeled as "#3", but if purchased alone, it is usually labeled "Dead Flat".

Can order direct from the them, https://www.rustall.com/main.html

or here are online vendors:
https://trainlife.com/products/weathering-rustall-dead-flat-2-oz-bottle?utm_source=Springbot&utm_medium=Web&utm_campaign=AdRoll&redirect_mongo_id=59f8a5513065ec26be541764
http://www.zscalemonster.com/rustall/



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/19/20 17:50 by tmotor.



Date: 08/19/20 02:57
Re: Fixative Shootout (Part 2)
Author: Lighter

A note on the Vallejo Varnish tested. That isn't intended for use on pigments and pastels. Vallejo (and AKI and Ammo by MIG) have specific recommendations for both pastels and pigments. In the case of Vallejo they recommend using Vallejo airbrush thinner on pastels. I have NOT done any sort of imperical test on the Vallejo recommendation. I do have a planned model in the near future that will use a lot of pure pigments and will give a test to those binding materials I have on hand.

I just dragged out my bottle of Rustall Flat and it appears to be the consistency of Liquitex airbrush thinner and appears to have a pinch of artists talc for flattening.



Date: 08/22/20 09:32
Re: Fixative Shootout (Part 2)
Author: tmotor

Lighter Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> A note on the Vallejo Varnish tested. That isn't
> intended for use on pigments and pastels.

I couldn't agree more.  ;-)

> Vallejo (and AKI and Ammo by MIG) have specific
> recommendations for both pastels and pigments. In
> the case of Vallejo they recommend using Vallejo
> airbrush thinner on pastels.

I wouldn't have thought to use it for a fixative, but it is certainly worth a try.

> I just dragged out my bottle of Rustall Flat and
> it appears to be the consistency of Liquitex
> airbrush thinner

Interesting, might be worth a try as well.

> and appears to have a pinch of
> artists talc for flattening.

There is definitely some white particulate matter that settles-out.  Good to know what it is called.



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