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Old 07-10-2017, 09:53 PM   #1
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Removing Decals on Gelcoat

Well, I am learning a new skill set. Getting dried and cracked decals off a gelcoat camper is a lot of work. So far I have learned:

1) Pay someone else to do it if you can
2) If you have to do it yourself, a heat gun, a plastic bladed scrapper, and a lot of elbow grease will get the vinyl "mostly" off, but lots of old glue remains.
3) Of all the solvents in my garage, brake cleaner spray on lots of white rags will gel up the glue and it will wipe off without damaging the gelcoat.
4) "Magic Erasers" with brake cleaner as a solvent will make the old decal edge marks seem to disappear.
5) The sun side of my camper was the hardest to do. Those decals were "crazed" and dry. No amount of heat gun worked. I had to resort to my rubber wheel in the hand drill. MAN was my arthritis kicking up after that!
6) When the strips of vinyl do soften up, keep the heat gun on low about 8 inches ahead of your pull and pull the strip off 90 degrees to the surface in a steady pull. Do not back up with the heat gun! The vinyl is very thin and will melt right through.

If you ever try this I wish you luck. It is a real chore.

If anyone has any tips on how to put the new decals on, I am all ears.
I will most likely arrive at Goshen "In the white"; so don't laugh.
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Old 07-10-2017, 10:03 PM   #2
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Thanks. I'm considering doing that soon.
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Old 07-10-2017, 10:11 PM   #3
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The only tip I have for putting on vinyl graphics is hire a professional

But for taking off old, dry, cracked graphics I found the whizzy wheel, plastic razor blades, and acetone (for leftover glue) make the chore much easier. Did the entire front cap (2 small and 1very large graphics) in an afternoon. Just remember to wear a mask. The rubber dust from the whizzy wheel is nasty to ingest

http://remove-car-stickers.com

https://www.ebay.com/i/162453169664?...D1254640511837
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Old 07-11-2017, 07:28 AM   #4
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The only tip I have for putting on vinyl graphics is hire a professional
I had an old solid style wheel in the garage and about used it up getting the sun side decals off. Brake cleaner stayed liquid longer and the acetone, I found, dried out too quickly I found to get the glue to stay in the rags.

The style I picked (the 2015 model year) looks "easier" to apply if I wind up having to do it myself. I am hoping FR will take pity on me at Goshen and help me put them on.

Bringing beer! (For after of course!)
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Old 07-11-2017, 08:05 AM   #5
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There are No "Quick/Easy" way to remove Old Hard Decals,that has been pretty well established! Now in regards to Install some use plain water others use a Secret Solution! Being Embarrassed pulling into the Goshen Rally in the "White"is Avoidable by entering at 2:00 AM parking lights only,and drive Slow! Youroo!!
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Old 07-11-2017, 02:52 PM   #6
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I have replaced all of my striped decals. I will say removing the glue was the most difficult part but I used goo gone and a razer scraper and could remove the glue fairly quickly. As for replacing the decals, FR couldn't get mine anymore and the price for replacement ones were way too pricey for me. After a stripe and glue was removed, I just masked the stripe with masking tape and then painted them back on. They look great and are much more robust then the decals ever were. I was nervous about doing it, but I picked the smallest one to try first and was very pleased so the wife and I just did the rest. Very happy with the results and it really didn't take that long to complete.
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Old 07-11-2017, 05:48 PM   #7
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As far as putting new decals on, use soap and water. Fill up a squirt bottle with dish soap and water and spray the crap out of the area the new vinyl is going and the spray the back of the vinyl decal itself. You can make the mixture a little more soapy and it doesn't take as much work with a squeegee to get the decal to set. Plus you can chase out air bubbles pretty easy this way. Soap and water is the best way I know of to get larger decals in place without making a total mess out of new decals.
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Old 07-11-2017, 08:50 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Herk7769 View Post
Well, I am learning a new skill set. Getting dried and cracked decals off a gelcoat camper is a lot of work. So far I have learned:

1) Pay someone else to do it if you can
2) If you have to do it yourself, a heat gun, a plastic bladed scrapper, and a lot of elbow grease will get the vinyl "mostly" off, but lots of old glue remains.
3) Of all the solvents in my garage, brake cleaner spray on lots of white rags will gel up the glue and it will wipe off without damaging the gelcoat.
4) "Magic Erasers" with brake cleaner as a solvent will make the old decal edge marks seem to disappear.
5) The sun side of my camper was the hardest to do. Those decals were "crazed" and dry. No amount of heat gun worked. I had to resort to my rubber wheel in the hand drill. MAN was my arthritis kicking up after that!
6) When the strips of vinyl do soften up, keep the heat gun on low about 8 inches ahead of your pull and pull the strip off 90 degrees to the surface in a steady pull. Do not back up with the heat gun! The vinyl is very thin and will melt right through.

If you ever try this I wish you luck. It is a real chore.

If anyone has any tips on how to put the new decals on, I am all ears.
I will most likely arrive at Goshen "In the white"; so don't laugh.
Herk, have you checked out you tube for decal removal? Hope things are getting back to normal for you and the better half. Bless you both.
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Old 07-11-2017, 09:45 PM   #9
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We are camping again!

Our first trip was to Knoebels Amusement Park to set up a Rally with DblR for next Year, followed immediately by the FROG Gettysburg Rally. What a hoot!

Counting the days to Goshen; See you all there!

Lou and Laura
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Old 07-11-2017, 09:46 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by philobeddoe View Post
As far as putting new decals on, use soap and water. Fill up a squirt bottle with dish soap and water and spray the crap out of the area the new vinyl is going and the spray the back of the vinyl decal itself. You can make the mixture a little more soapy and it doesn't take as much work with a squeegee to get the decal to set. Plus you can chase out air bubbles pretty easy this way. Soap and water is the best way I know of to get larger decals in place without making a total mess out of new decals.
Sounds like the way I used to put decals on model aircraft! Don't the new decals have glue on them?
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:29 AM   #11
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We are camping again!

Our first trip was to Knoebels Amusement Park to set up a Rally with DblR for next Year, followed immediately by the FROG Gettysburg Rally. What a hoot!

Counting the days to Goshen; See you all there!

Lou and Laura
Good to here your both up to speed again and enjoying camping.
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:34 AM   #12
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Old 07-12-2017, 08:01 AM   #13
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Any brand of window cleaner without ammonia is what the pros around here use. Less mess and a better set than using soapy water. Cheap at Dollar Stores and the like.
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Old 07-12-2017, 10:00 AM   #14
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If anyone has any tips on how to put the new decals on, I am all ears.
I will most likely arrive at Goshen "In the white"; so don't laugh.
I've done this before with success... but I am not an expert in doing this.

if you can do the applications inside a building its better than fighting the wind and any flying insects outdoors. Worst nightmare is sticking a deer or horse fly under a 300$ decal or having the wind catch

make sure the entire area is clean and free of wax or no stick sealers .

I have used a soap water mixture in an application spray bottle and soaked the panel with the soapy water solution. keep it wet. ENSURE THIS DOES NOT DRY IN THE APPLICATION AREA (thus inside reapplication if possible)

Fine mist setting on the nozzle.
Lay the new decals on a large table or counter top.

remove the decal backing and soak them with the soap water mist as well.
place the decal onto the side and with the 2 surfaces misted you should be able to slide the decal around for alignment.

with one or 2 people holding the placement of the decal to the trailer ... start to squeegee the water soap mixture out starting from the middle working to the sides until the water soap mixture is gone . sort of a north south east west center to the edges action.

Use loads of paper towels to wipe the amounts squeezed out off the trailer.
let decals dry for 24 hours min.
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Old 07-12-2017, 09:26 PM   #15
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I've done this before with success... but I am not an expert in doing this.

if you can do the applications inside a building its better than fighting the wind and any flying insects outdoors. Worst nightmare is sticking a deer or horse fly under a 300$ decal or having the wind catch

make sure the entire area is clean and free of wax or no stick sealers .

I have used a soap water mixture in an application spray bottle and soaked the panel with the soapy water solution. keep it wet. ENSURE THIS DOES NOT DRY IN THE APPLICATION AREA (thus inside reapplication if possible)

Fine mist setting on the nozzle.
Lay the new decals on a large table or counter top.

remove the decal backing and soak them with the soap water mist as well.
place the decal onto the side and with the 2 surfaces misted you should be able to slide the decal around for alignment.

with one or 2 people holding the placement of the decal to the trailer ... start to squeegee the water soap mixture out starting from the middle working to the sides until the water soap mixture is gone . sort of a north south east west center to the edges action.

Use loads of paper towels to wipe the amounts squeezed out off the trailer.
let decals dry for 24 hours min.
Are we talking about the decals used by the OEM plant?

I can't imagine them doing it this way on the assembly line. I am scrapping off tons of glue (like rubber cement) that was under the vinyl.

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Old 07-13-2017, 06:50 AM   #16
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Are we talking about the decals used by the OEM plant?

I can't imagine them doing it this way on the assembly line. I am scrapping off tons of glue (like rubber cement) that was under the vinyl.

replacement decals... but you can try adjusting the decal after you have about a 1/2 or 3/4 of it on and getting a huge air bubble under it trapped or a crease in the middle. once applied they stretch and the color gets damaged from attempting to pull it with 2 hands to get it off and start again. if you try it 2 times you might as well buy a case of beer - open about 6 and ball up the decals and throw them out saying that was fun.

once the glue sticks there is no way to move and align the decal that I know of without having some sort of buffer (aka Windex, water with soap or whatever you use) between the decal and the camper wall.

remember you were the one why asked for some help in how people applied decals. I'm just sharing my experiences. including the 6 beer and balling the decals up. been there done that and it worked better with the water and soap application.
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Old 07-13-2017, 08:33 AM   #17
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NO! NO!

Please don't get upset with me! I am just trying to wrap my head around this.

I am only going to get one shot at doing this right and I am just trying to understand the process. I really do appreciate all the input, especially the very detailed one from MilCop4523.

It's the glue thing that has me wrapped around the axle!
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Old 07-13-2017, 09:09 AM   #18
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NO! NO!

Please don't get upset with me! I am just trying to wrap my head around this.

I am only going to get one shot at doing this right and I am just trying to understand the process. I really do appreciate all the input, especially the very detailed one from MilCop4523.

It's the glue thing that has me wrapped around the axle!
I'm not upset with you Herk. you have assisted me with more than one stumped question in the past (and am grateful for your support).

there are a lot of videos on the net showing graphics guys and gals doing it dry.

I have messed up decals before doing it that way.

The method I used was with the soap and water mist.
like I stated though I'm not a professional in doing decals. A lubricant substance between the decal and the trailer surface allows you owner to slide the decals around into proper position before squeezing that lube substance out and allowing the decal adhesive to adhere.

there is a backing that comes off the decals and many have a cover over the vinyl decal itself.
You will have to let the decal dry a bit before pulling the cover material off the decal if equipped with it when "floating the decal" or it will lift in spots.


there are a lot of videos on the net which may either help or hinder depending on which process you want to use.

I'd grab a sober buddy to assist if not maybe a couple Herk.
interested to see photos of the unit when done.
any tiny air bubbles can be removed with a small straight pin hole being made and squeezing the air out though.
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Old 07-13-2017, 09:21 AM   #19
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I'm not upset with you Herk. you have assisted me with more than one stumped question in the past (and am grateful for your support).

there are a lot of videos on the net showing graphics guys and gals doing it dry.

I have messed up decals before doing it that way.

The method I used was with the soap and water mist.
like I stated though I'm not a professional in doing decals. A lubricant substance between the decal and the trailer surface allows you owner to slide the decals around into proper position before squeezing that lube substance out and allowing the decal adhesive to adhere.

there is a backing that comes off the decals and many have a cover over the vinyl decal itself.
You will have to let the decal dry a bit before pulling the cover material off the decal if equipped with it when "floating the decal" or it will lift in spots.


there are a lot of videos on the net which may either help or hinder depending on which process you want to use.

I'd grab a sober buddy to assist if not maybe a couple Herk.
interested to see photos of the unit when done.
any tiny air bubbles can be removed with a small straight pin hole being made and squeezing the air out though.
Thanks, I hope I don't bone this up. Thank you for the great tips.
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Old 07-13-2017, 09:53 AM   #20
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We cleaned off the old cap graphics, then called the good car detailing/window film/graphics places and they came out to the house and installed the new ones in about 30 minutes for around $45. Perfect. No wrinkles, no bubbles, no stretching, no stress. On another rig we took the rig to them for custom graphics they created. Both were cheaper than we expected.
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