. . . . .and Thanks for the kind words of appreciation Hatchet Jack.
It appears that the issue is getting a "thin" coat of epoxy over a decal. The plan should be to get a "thick" coat of epoxy OVER the decal-not at one time, but eventually. The thin coat goes UNDER the decal. Threadmaster Lite I feel is very good but I only use Threadmaster Hi-Build. The decals I supply on 3M vinyl measure out at .0017" including the adhesive layer. A thin coat of anything won't cover the decal properly for good protection. If I am applying a decal past a snake skin application or a heavy thread wrap, I may end up placing up to 5 layers of epoxy to make sure all elements of the layout are level. Imagine how many layers of a Lite viscosity epoxy it would take to equal that level of coverage.
I have always used a brush to apply epoxy. . . .more than likely a cheap brush as I throw them away after each use. The leveling properties of the epoxy finishes today are so wonderful that an expensive brush is way overkill. If you use varnish as a finish, then the expensive brushes are likely to be needed.
I apply the first coat of epoxy over a decal while the rod in NOT in a rod dryer. That way I can control the epoxy application with long strokes along the axis of the rod. I place it in the dryer to do the guides.
I mix usually no more than 1CC of each part, and have been for years, blend slowly for 2-3 minutes and then add 2 or 3 drops of Sherwin-Williams' #54 Reducer which is DESIGNED for epoxies which helps the leveling properties happen much quicker. ...(these thread finishes are not true epoxies but this is a much closer chemical make-up than DNA or Acetone for thinning these finishes. It's not as "hot" as Acetone so it doesn't harm the decal in any way-it's way too dilute)
If you are intending to add a thinner to the Hi-Build varieties, do so at the beginning, shortly after initial Part A & B mixing is complete before the cross-linking of the epoxies gets ahead of you - usually nor more than 15 minutes after the mix is complete. If you wait toooooo long, then the "thinner" is not very effective and the quality of leveling will be harder to obtain - then you got problems....Time to make a new batch. The Lite varities would be good for a final coat when you really need a thin coat after fixing a dust spot, "bug" in the finish or other small defect.
Really, the solution to any epoxy application is at your fingertips . . . .KEEP THEM CLEAN. Use home-made soap or at least natural soap to get all of the oils off of your hands. Clean the areas of the rod that will need epoxy with 93% Isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel - I don't worry about lint, fuzzies or anything else that falls out of the towel because I will remove it with good quality masking tape - not the cheap stuff. I only touch the tape with one hand and areas of the rod that won't get epoxy with the other....then I don't touch the epoxy places with my fingers until I am done. I know where the rod has been but I don't know where my hands have been all the time. A short time before you epoxy will save you hours in the shop.
Hope this helps and thanks for reading as this is what I have learned by experience through lo these many years.
PS: Make note of my new website and email below.