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Old 02-04-2015, 02:15 PM   #1
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How did you remove your decals?


I have a 2001 36' Class A that has some really nasty decals And a lot of them. They are faded, cracked and peeling and missing. The basement portion has paint that is faded so it looks like it is two different colors and some of the clear coat is peeling off it. The sun has attacked it pretty good. I'm going to repaint the bottom for sure, but I'm hoping I can cut and polish the gelcoat back to nice condition and uniform color. Initial test spots seem to indicate I can.

The big problem is removing the decals. A small amount will remove somewhat easy with a heat gun but most break and can only be peeled in slivers at a time.

I've read varying approaches online from heat to eraser wheels to liquid like vinyl off or 3m. I've even saw some mention about steam irons. Most of this is not specific to a large RV with a large sqft worth of decals to remove or for gel coated fiberglass.

Can anyone here offer any recommendations for making the process less tedious? I saw a lot about that vinyl off product but it looked like it spam from the company because the replies about it where single post users and they included full links to the product, it looked fishy. I don't want to order it or other so called miracle liquids unless it comes recommended by real users and it is that much better than cheaper alternatives and solvents.

I know most who have done it say it is the last time they will do it, but if anyone has done it more than once I suppose you may have a technique that makes it easier. That or perhaps just a gluten for punishmen, lol.

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Old 02-04-2015, 04:25 PM   #2
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Damon Owners Club
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A silicon Decal Eraser Wheel mounted on a electric drill was used to remove
the decals on my RV.
3m eraser wheel home depot - Yahoo Image Search Results
A gummy residue was left and had to be cleaned off with thinner.

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Old 02-04-2015, 04:30 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. If you can recall, how many. wheels did you go through on yours and how long do you estimate it took per sqft to remove? I'm trying to get an idea of just how much time I'm going to need to allot in this process. Some mentioned up to a solid week of work and while I can believe it I'm definitely not looking forwards to 40 or more hours just to get the decals off before even dealing with the ghosting and polishing.
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Old 02-04-2015, 05:10 PM   #4
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Vinyl-Off by CrystalTek? Green products that work

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Old 02-04-2015, 05:49 PM   #5
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Wow that is impressive. I don't know if my graphics are the same type though. The thinner single color swooshes on mine look like that material and they seem to remove ok with heat. There are also thicker multi color (printed?) decals that were tough to remove with heat so I wonder if that will have the same result on those graphics. Those graphics were also in better shape so it would appear they are more rugged than the single color light weight vinyl ones.

Also in that video it does not mention the product used, are you sure it is vinyl off and can it work as well on gelcoat fiberglass (that video looks like the trailer is painted metal construction)?

I'm willing it give it a try if people can vouch for it and it will work that well.

In the research I was doing someonest mentioned their painter said not to use if painting over because it can cause fisheye? Any truth to that or can you use it so long as you thoroughly clean afterwards? Unless it penetrates into the gel, which could be possible but I have no clue, it would seem cleaning it would remove it because after all you must have all wax and other impurities cleaned as well.
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Old 02-04-2015, 05:57 PM   #6
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The silicon wheels used on my RV were like a stack of 6 inch diameter pancake, there were 6 together. It took approx 2 days to remove decals with heat and plastic puddy knife and another 5 days to remove the heat fractures decals. It cost me $800 for decal removal and after watching them, I considered it a money well spent. Covering the shadows left behind with my choice of paint color, design and clear coat cost an additional $7K. The estimate on a full body paint $25K.
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Old 02-04-2015, 06:12 PM   #7
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Get some MEK methel ethel keytone

Brush it on and they grt soft and peel off.

Do NOT get it on plastic as it woll disolve it.

Try in a corner.
Tony & Lori
1989 Country Coach Savannah SE
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Old 02-04-2015, 06:32 PM   #8
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You have received some good advise.

I know how I removed mine.

very slowly and with great effort
Jim and Darlene Wright
plus Ryder,Poodle and
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Old 02-04-2015, 11:46 PM   #9
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Thanks for all of the replies thus far!

I assume MEK is gelcoat safe? I've seen others clean up adhesive with acetone so I assume the gelcoat resin is impervious to many solvents? I will give that a try first just because I can pick some up at the hardware store.

As for the wheels, all the videos I see show them using power drills to run them. That seems like it would cause fatigue fast. Has anyone tried running them in an angle or disc grinder? Seems like that would be the best but I have no clue if the rpms are right and if they even fit or have arbors for that.

I'm going to do the paint myself. I have all the equipment and painted in the past. I'm not going to do full body though unless the white gelcoat doesn't clean up and blend the ghosting. Instead I am going to the basement portion and the rear cap that are painted but badly faded. The only x factor is I've never done fiberglass and sanding the bad paint and gelcoat seems like it would take forever. I'm thinking that soda blasting may be just the ticket. I've done a lot of blasting but never with soda media. Since I'm doing this myself and not in a paint booth I will most likely use single stage instead of base clear. I'm confident it will turn out very good, not show quality by any means. To be honest even a rattle can job would be an improvement so even a decent job will go a long way.

I think I have enough ideas between the heat, wheels and chemical removers to start experimenting with the removal, but I'm open to more. If anyone has painted their rv I would love to hear about how you prepped it for paint and especially how it turned out in both the short and long term with a single stage paint even if you didn't shoot it yourself.

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Old 02-05-2015, 04:28 AM   #10
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To remove the Lear shield from the front of my Motorhome I used a product by Auto Tek called Adhesive Remover. Used by major trucking firms to take decals off of trailers. Worked like a charm and was the easiest product I used in removing the plastic shield. I would highly recommend it.
Tom and Gloria 2017 Newmar Ventana 4369, TOAD: 2015 GMC Canyon, Blue Ox Towbar, Baseplate and M&G Braking System
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Old 02-08-2015, 10:00 PM   #11
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Has anyone tried oxalic acid for the residue? It is frequently used as a stain remover on boats.
Don Simmons
2006 Winnebago Voyage 33V Pushed by a 2014 Chevrolet Captiva
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Old 02-09-2015, 12:29 AM   #12
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I watched the painters do my rig. I designed the pattern to cover the shadows and eliminate space gaps in the pattern. The tape they used was blue but not masking. It gave clean separation and did not stick or leave adhesive on the new paint underneath. Left a great gold pin strip.
There was Lots of clear plastic to prevent overspray onto roof, vents, windows and plain white jell coat. Brown paper was used nest to the areas to be painted, and used to cover/separate colors.
The painters accomplished one side at a time. Right side, Left side, Rear, Front.
I was advised not to use the color black as that color is most likely to fracture under UV sunlight.
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Old 02-09-2015, 06:21 AM   #13
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I hope you understand that the gelcoat is coloured white and that the parts beneath the decals have never seen sunlight and so will not be faded like the rest of the unit will be.

When you remove the decals there will be 'ghost' image of them in the gelcoat that you will not get rid of.
Ted 'n' Laurie, plus Jackson (aka Deputy Dog, the Parson Russell Terrier 'fur kid') and, Rylie (who crossed the Rainbow Bridge June 14, 2012).
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Old 02-09-2015, 06:54 PM   #14
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I had the same problem with my unit. The painted portion held up OK in the florida sun but the decals cracked and shrunk. It was imposible to take them off using the heat gun method. After trying many commercially available chemical removers with little success I found the eraser wheel method to be the most effective. You will still need to use the chemical decal removers to get off the adhesive gum left behind by the wheel. The 3M wheel was good but the other generic products are almost as good. They don't last as long. I don't know how big your unit is and how much you have to take off but I used 4 wheels to get off the worst 2 colors of the decals and left one color on the unit. Good luck. You will be spending a good 2 weeks on your project and will only be marginally pleased with the results. Red decals will leave stains on painted surfaces that you will not be able to get out and the ghosting others mentioned will be noticable until the sun evens the surface out after a few years. As you can tell from my post, I am looking at a total repaint soon. Either that or trade in the unit.

Denis, Ruth and Gracie
the K-9 Dashboard Ornament
2007 Newmar Baystar 3202
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