Cleaning old lettering off of a hull - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 15 Old 10-22-2009 Thread Starter
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Cleaning old lettering off of a hull

Hello,

OK so I am renaming the boat I just boat, I am having trouble removing some of the lettering. I tried the hairdryer and it worked for some of it but its just not cutting it. Any suggesttions? I was thinking of trying a very sharp razor blade but I dont' want to scratch the gelcoat. Is there any type of solvent that will take it off without damaging the gelcoat?

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post #2 of 15 Old 10-22-2009
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If it's paint or vinyl, "Aqua strip" from Back to Nature products should work, it's a non toxic stripper that does not harm gelcoat.

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It works best in warmer temps, so that may be an issue right now unless the boat's in storage.

Ron

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post #3 of 15 Old 10-22-2009
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To avoid scratching the gelcoat you can buy plastic razor blades in a good plastics place or maybe Home Depot. They work well without damage.
Brian
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post #4 of 15 Old 10-23-2009
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paint-on lettering or vinyl stick-on lettering?
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post #5 of 15 Old 10-23-2009
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Probably won't work well for vinyl letters

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If it's paint or vinyl, "Aqua strip" from Back to Nature products should work, it's a non toxic stripper that does not harm gelcoat.

Back To Nature Products

It works best in warmer temps, so that may be an issue right now unless the boat's in storage.
Aqua Strip probably won't work for vinyl letters or the adhesive on the vinyl.

To the OP - If it is vinyl letters, Oderless mineral spirits should work fine once you get most of the letter off. Acetone will work best, but it does soften gel coat if left on there a while. If you want to acetone, to avoid getting on the gel coat, pour a small amount in a cup and paint it on the letters. The acetone will soften the vinyl and then you can easily scrape it off with plastic razor blade or plastic scraper. Once most of the letter is gone, an aggressive wipe with a rag soaked in acetone will get the residual off. The only time gel coat is damaged with acetone is if you leave it on for several minutes/hours. With a rag, the acetone basically evaporates so quickly, the affects (on gel) are virtually non existent.

Wear good chemical resistant gloves (not vinyl) when you work with it and do it in a well ventilated place.

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post #6 of 15 Old 10-23-2009
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I found that a plain old metal razor blade didn't scratch the gel coat at all. If you want to be especially careful, you can round off the corners. I used the blade and acetone on a rag to remove some old vinyl lettering. Came off in a trice. The adhesive residue was more challenging than the letters themselves.
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post #7 of 15 Old 10-23-2009
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I've heard (but not tried) that oven cleaner works. Sounds radical to me.Try talking to the letter makers for suggestions.
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post #8 of 15 Old 10-23-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrB View Post
Aqua Strip probably won't work for vinyl letters or the adhesive on the vinyl.
DrB
I removed painted hull stripes with Aqua-strip and inadvertently applied some to the vinyl name decals... they definitely softened and one section of one letter came away with no effort.

Ron

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post #9 of 15 Old 10-23-2009
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Good to know

I removed painted hull stripes with Aqua-strip and inadvertently applied some to the vinyl name decals... they definitely softened and one section of one letter came away with no effort.

Interesting, most of the aqueous based paint removers don't do well with rubber-based adhesives. Maybe the vinyl letters had acrylic-based adhesive and therefore it would work.

Learn something new everyday.

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post #10 of 15 Old 10-23-2009
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My last boat had names in two layer embossed vinyl lettering, very well adhered. I tried everything to remove them, then turned the job over to the yard, who turned it over to a professional artist. The letters were on a Imroned hull - the artist finally said they could not be removed without the hull paint going with them. So I said take them them off - when the artist made the new name with computer-produced vinyl sheet lettering, he used a white background which matched the hull color, covering the mess where the old letters had been.

There are cases where the easy solutions just dont work.

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