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Old 15-01-2013, 12:13   #1
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Vinyl boat letter removal?

Anyone have any sure fire methods for removing 20+ year old vinyl letters without harming the gelcoat?
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Old 15-01-2013, 12:23   #2
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Re: Vinyl boat letter removal?

I have the same job ahead of me this week!

I am going to try a heat gun and 3M adhesive remover. I will let you know how it goes.

Also, I'll follow this string in case someone has a better idea. It's raining today, so hopefully there is time to stop me if it's a really bad idea!

Cheers,
Octopussy

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Old 15-01-2013, 12:40   #3
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3M eraser wheel. Put it in your cordless drill and go at it. After you have it off A little Thinners will get rid of any remaining glue
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Old 15-01-2013, 12:44   #4
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Re: Vinyl boat letter removal?

A hair dryer and your finger nail. Just heat the letters up as you pull them off. A heat gun works better, but if you leave it on, it's possible to damage the gel coat.
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Old 15-01-2013, 12:46   #5
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Re: Vinyl boat letter removal?

I would start with a heat gun and a plastic putty knife. If that did not help, then i would try some soy stripper, but be careful to not leave it on too long. The gelcoat will start to get soft, and there might be some oops along the way.
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Old 15-01-2013, 12:50   #6
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Re: Vinyl boat letter removal?

I have removed them with a heat gun and a plastic scraper. It takes a little patience. Don't use anything that might scratch or chemically damage the gelcoat.
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Old 15-01-2013, 12:52   #7
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Re: Vinyl boat letter removal?

i used a disposable razor. light thinner for the glue. worked for me
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Old 15-01-2013, 12:54   #8
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Re: Vinyl boat letter removal?

Acetone will remove the remaining adhesive without damaging the gelcoat.
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Old 15-01-2013, 18:06   #9
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Re: Vinyl boat letter removal?

I like a brand new razor blade. Note, however, that after 20 years, you'll still be able to see the old one. The gel coat will be raised and shinier.
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Old 15-01-2013, 18:58   #10
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Re: Vinyl boat letter removal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stumble View Post
A hair dryer and your finger nail. Just heat the letters up as you pull them off. A heat gun works better, but if you leave it on, it's possible to damage the gel coat.
We changed all the lettering on two boats last summer using the hairdryer method. We changed the lettering on our cruising boat twice because I did not like the way the lettering looked the first time. Be careful not to let the lettering get too hot because then it will stretch and break. There is a sweet point where the lettering is hot enough to lift off yet stays intact so you can easily peel it off.

It's much easier than it looks but it does require a little patience.
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Old 15-01-2013, 19:08   #11
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Yep heat and a scraper softer than the gel coat, I like the plastic putty knifes from home depot. I'm not good enough with a razor blade to not hurt the gel coat.
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Old 15-01-2013, 19:38   #12
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Re: Vinyl boat letter removal?

I just removed about 240 feet of vinyl double stripes and two sets of names each about 8 feet wide.

Used a single-edge razor (in a windshield scraper handle) to get each piece started, then peeled them back while using a hair dryer to warm them. With the RIGHT amount of heat the sticky gum came off clean with the vinyl. Too much heat and the vinyl got too soft and broke off into little piece. Do NOT use a heat gun -- definitely too much heat.

For those sections that didn't come off clean, I used the scraper (held at a very low angle) with the dryer, and it scraped off easily but left the sticky adhesive on the gelcoat. (Some scraper-holders tend to support the blade unevenly so you might have to use just one side; to avoid digging the corners of the blade into the gelcoat.)

The adhesive is easily removed with 3M 08908 Woodgrain and Stripe Adhesive Remover. This stuff converts the glue to something resembling soap scum, and that removes easily with 3M General Purpose Adhesive Remover or similar solvents. The Woodgrain and Stripe remover is expensive stuff but it will save you a lot of frustration and work. Without it you will endlessly rub the sticky stuff while trying to dissolve it, but mostly you will push it around the surface. Take my word for it, 3M 08908 Woodgrain and Stripe Adhesive Remover is the secret sauce.
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Old 15-01-2013, 19:47   #13
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Re: Vinyl boat letter removal?

The best thing I found to remove vinyl from gel coat was to use an old broken 1 inch (or wider if you can find one) hacksaw blade about eight inches long.
Grind the teeth off and then grind a chisel type 45 degree angle on the end then use a stone to give it a real good edge.
Use it at a low angle and because it can flex it makes an excellent scraping tool for removing vinyl without taking lumps out of the gel coat.
Best tool in my toolbox for the job!
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Old 15-01-2013, 20:10   #14
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Re: Vinyl boat letter removal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FilBrown View Post
The best thing I found to remove vinyl from gel coat was to use an old broken 1 inch (or wider if you can find one) hacksaw blade about eight inches long.
Grind the teeth off and then grind a chisel type 45 degree angle on the end then use a stone to give it a real good edge.
Use it at a low angle and because it can flex it makes an excellent scraping tool for removing vinyl without taking lumps out of the gel coat.
Best tool in my toolbox for the job!
sounds scary
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Old 15-01-2013, 20:17   #15
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Re: Vinyl boat letter removal?

Another vote for the hair dryer method--it works and it's safe
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