removing old letters - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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Old 05-19-2007
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removing old letters

Just bought a new (to us) boat and want to change the name. Any suggestions on how to remove the old, stick-on vinyl letters?

Julie303
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Old 05-19-2007
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Try a hair dryer to loosen the glue. Then peel them up. There will probably be shadows from the stickers once the vinyl is up. You can try a mild adhesive remover like Goo Gone. And some hull polishes will also take it off.
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Old 05-19-2007
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Ahoy Julie

Well you can use a heat gun to soften the adhesive and then scrape the letters off. Then follow up with 3M decal remover. This method works good. The decal remover will take off the rest of the glue left behind.

Now for the bad news. Depending on how long the letters have been on your boat, there will be shadow from the old letters. The older the decals the more it will show. In some cases you can even feel a bump where the letters were. If you have an old boat it will probably have quite a bit of gelcoat on it. You can try using a buffer with compound to try to get it out. If that isn't working try, wet sanding with 600 grit, and then go back to the buffing compound.

By this time you are a whooped puppy and ready for a beer or some other adult beverage. Now when you go back you might still see a very faint outline of the letters but they will fade with time. Your boat will look great from 10 yards.

Fair winds

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Easy-Off oven cleaner will take most lettering off without damaging the gelcoat beneath. However, if the boat is painted it might damage the paint... so YMMV.

Be careful if you go the heat gun route, since the heat gun can be hot enough to damage the laminate if you're not careful.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog
Easy-Off oven cleaner will take most lettering off without damaging the gelcoat beneath. However, if the boat is painted it might damage the paint... so YMMV.

Be careful if you go the heat gun route, since the heat gun can be hot enough to damage the laminate if you're not careful.
I didn't want to incur the expense of a heat gun and went with a hair dryer --worked like a charm to get the letters off. I did mine in two parts -- name, then hailing port. Fior the name, I rubbed the hairdryer-heated adhesive off with my fingers and ended up with nasty blisters (not certain if they were from the friction or the heat, but ouch). For the hailing port, I used Goo Gone and it worked like a charm. I ordered my boat lettering from BoatUS.com -- highly recommended. I tried EZ-Off on one section and was a bit nervous with how caustic that stuff is. Hair-dryer route was a piece of cake - really.
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I just did mine about a week ago. I think a lot depends on how long the letters have been on the boat. I came prepared with a hair dryer and also windex. I had heard that window cleaner does a nice job prepping vinyl graphics for removal. It turns out I just used a partially dulled razor blade on the very edge of the graphic and was able to peel it off without the aid of anything special. My boat is a '99 so maybe I was just lucky that it wasn't a '75 or something. Nothing special, just strong fingertips
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The lettering on my boat was painted and it came off nicely with Easy-off. After removing the letters, I found that the gelcoat had been oxidized away around the letters, leaving an image of the letters in raised relief. I suspect that the same thing can happen with vinyl graphics.

My solution was to block sand the area with 600 grit wet sandpaper and then polish the whole transom with 3M fiberglass restorer. It worked well.
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