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Old 10-21-2012, 05:30 AM   #1
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Vinyl Lettering Removal

What is the best way to remove vinyl lettering from a fiberglass boat?
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:34 AM   #2
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Heat Gun
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:28 AM   #3
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There is a product made for that "Sticker Off" I have seen on the shelves but never tried it.
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:55 AM   #4
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3M Stripe Remover Wheel (Vinyl Eraser)
3M-7498 STRIPE WHEEL W/ARBOR - Amazon.com

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Old 10-21-2012, 10:18 AM   #5
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Yep. The wheels rock. You can usually make pretty quick work of them with a heat gun or hair dryer. A plain rubber eraser from Staples or the likes will work the same as the wheel on a smaller scale.
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Old 10-21-2012, 10:18 AM   #6
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Heat Gun and slowly peel off
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Old 10-21-2012, 10:32 AM   #7
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Depending on its age, heat gun is the easiest, cheapest, and safest way to start. If it doesn't work then perhaps, move to other chemical methods. A heat gun worked fine for our 5 year-old lettering.
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Old 10-21-2012, 10:37 AM   #8
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3M Stripe Remover Wheel (Vinyl Eraser)
3M-7498 STRIPE WHEEL W/ARBOR - Amazon.com

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This looks like a good approach. Very good reviews too.
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Old 10-21-2012, 10:40 AM   #9
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This looks like a good approach. Very good reviews too.
With this, I just see a good way to scratch the snot out of your gelcoat, but I haven't tried it, so this is the voice of ignorance talking
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Old 10-21-2012, 11:28 AM   #10
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The wheels actually work very well. I do graphics as a side business and have used them many times. They won't hurt gelcoat at all, they just wear quickly and are often more expense and trouble than needed for a boat name.

They are just soft natural rubber and can't hurt gelcoat as long as you keep the RPMs down.
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Old 10-21-2012, 11:35 AM   #11
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Let the sun heat the lettering and gel behind it up, and use your finger nail to peal up a corner and slowly pull it off. If no sun, use a hair dryer to heat it up. Simple!
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Old 10-21-2012, 12:46 PM   #12
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The first answer (a heat gun) was the best answer. Just yesterday I hellped a slip neighbor remove vinyl lettering from his dock box with a heat gun.

The mistake I see first timers make (and he was making it) is to not get the surface hot enough and to not heat a big enough area.

If the lettering tears or is hard to remove or the adhesive remains on the gelcoat, it's not hot enough. And don't just try to heat one letter, pull it off and move to the next. Heat several inches towards the next letter or section.

It takes a little practice but it works well.
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Old 10-21-2012, 01:38 PM   #13
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Heat gun and citrus cleaner to get the gummy residue off.
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Old 10-22-2012, 01:05 AM   #14
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Heat guns are great for bubbling and removing paint so take care applying heat to sticker letters on a painted fibreglass surface.
Eucalyptus oil will remove glue residue from labels,price stickers,etc, probably easier to buy in Australia than USA, we have all those trees. BruceK
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:09 AM   #15
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I work in graphics full time, those suggesting heat followed by a solvent are correct, can't speak of the wheel system as I've never had need for one. Depending on how long the graphic has been in place, after removal you may see a ghost image due to either uv exposure fading the surrounding area or the constant expansion and contraction of the vinyl may have caused the gelcoat to "swell" a microscopic amount. Either way the best remedy I've found is to wet sand the area (thoroughly clean the area before starting) with 600 followed by 1000 and then buffing with 3M Finesse or Mequiar's. A drop or two of dishwashing liquid in the water is a big help with the sanding, I would also recommend using a rubber sanding block. If yours is a painted hull go very easy. The only downside to this technique is that the sanded/polished area may now likely look a lot better than the rest of the boat! - Boyd
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Old 10-22-2012, 03:31 PM   #16
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I used a hair dryer with great success. We have a heat gun as well but I started with the hair dryer out of caution and it worked just great so no need to bust out the big gun. I was actually surprised how easy it was with decade plus old lettering. Do have the ghost image (of the first AND second names) but didn't do anything about it... not that bad compared to the prior boat with the original name scored into the gel coat with lots of cross hatching. not sure if they'd used one of those wheel things to remove the lettering or someone got clever with an exacto knife or what...
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Old 10-22-2012, 03:46 PM   #17
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Do have the ghost image (of the first AND second names) but didn't do anything about it... not that bad compared to the prior boat...
The previous name of our boat was Grand Destiny (Alameda name). The name was beautifully painted on the transom. Shame to sand it off but neither of us like names on GBs that play on "Grand" or "Banks," so it had to go. Someone had cut the flying bridge nameboards down to just hold the nav lights so the name was on the sides of the flying bridge with custom vinyl lettering. We hadn't bought a heat gun yet so we, too, used a hair dryer and it worked great followed by citrus cleaner to get the gum off.

Before Grand Destiny the name had been Christopher Robin (Sausalito name). This had been in vinyl (I assume) letters on the transom on the white gelcoat between the teak transom planks and the caprail. The lettering had been on long enough for the gelcoat to swell (or the surrounding gelocoat to weather off). Whichever, when the light is just right from the side you can just make out the name.

I made new full-size teak nameboard/nav light holders for the sides of the flying bridge and name and hailing port boards to go on the teak transom. So we don't have any lettering on fiberglass now.

Bu every time I see the faint Christopher Robin on the transom I always wonder what the motivation was to give the boat that name. Probably an interesting story.
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:21 PM   #18
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... every time I see the faint Christopher Robin on the transom I always wonder what the motivation was to give the boat that name. Probably an interesting story.
The prior boat's first name, that was etched into the transom apparently when the lettering was removed, was "SQUIRREL". This was on a J-42 sailboat. Hmmmmm...
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:33 PM   #19
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We have old vinyl lettering on the transom and will be removing it with a new "green acetone" product called Bio-Solv. We're actually using it all over the boat and will be making a couple of product demo videos. One video will specifically be about removing vinyl letters. I'll post it here when it's done.
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:50 PM   #20
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Warning! Pointless story follows. Back in the late forties a friend of mine and her husband bought a boat named Olad. Olad had originally been named Whistle Binkie. She wanted to change the name back to Whistle Binkie. When she found out the price of gold leaf she decided that Olad was a fine name.
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