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Old 09-28-2020, 01:50 PM   #1
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Mastering Decal Removal - 1/2 Done in 3 Hours

Rig: 2004 Minnie 29' E/450

I bought a 1500W heat gun from Harbor Freight for $14.95 and a stout plastic scraper.

It took me an hour or so to mess around and find the right technique, but I soon had the idea working well, and was peeling off 6-foot pieces of vinyl in one swoop.

Principle: Heat the adhesive, but allow the vinyl to stay only warm.

Using the heat gun at one end, I really got the who substrate (fiberglass or metal) very hot for about 12". You can pour a lot of heat into the substrate. Let the vinyl cool off. It's VERY thin and will cool down in about 20 seconds after removing the heat.

Use the plastic scraper to peel up a corner. With bare hand begin to slowly peel that corner. If the vinyl is hot to your touch - STOP, let the vinyl cool. Hot vinyl will just stretch and tear and not have the strength to allow you to peel. When the vinyl cools, the adhesive underneath is still being held hot by the substrate holding lots of heat. That's the idea condition - hot adhesive, cool vinyl. Peel until you can feel the resistance increasing and stop. Heat the area 10" ahead of your peel...the heat will work back through the substrate to reheat the adhesive under your peel. Begin peeling again.

In that fashion, I can peel an entire stripe with no breaks or specs left behind. I did only whole side including the cab in about 3 hours.

I am happy to have these old faded, dated looking generic swirls off my RV!
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Old 09-28-2020, 03:36 PM   #2
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Sounds like you've got a good system working for you and I won't even think of changing that but I'm doing the same only with what they are selling as "decal erasers" that fit in a drill.
But my main question is how you come out when done getting the decal off? Do you then have a section of wall that has not faded like the rest? We got the decal off but still have the decal shape in the slightly different color underneath!
Got any problem, going back with new decals, ot are you holding on any good plans to make them match?
We are hoping to get enough dirt/grime off and maybe use some cleaner and wax over well enough to not need to replace but I'm looking for any good solution/ideas you might have. I'm better off with none but would like it even better if I did not see where it used to be.
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Old 09-28-2020, 06:27 PM   #3
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Hi Mitch,

When the decal is off the surface under it is whiter than the rest. In other words, the paint is a bit faded except under the decal. So, there is a ghost image.

I'm not replacing the decals, I'm going to "wrap" the RV with vinyl wrap, so it won't matter about the ghosting.

I might have to leave the two thin stripes very high up the side near the roof because I don't think I can work on a ladder with the heat gun.
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Old 09-29-2020, 01:47 PM   #4
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My luck ran out!

As I moved to the opposite side of the RV, those decals had suffered major UV deterioration. They could not be peeled. There was such chemical breakdown of the vinyl, that is simply shredded in tiny pieces and could not be peeled at all.

So, I had to order one of those "Whizzy Wheels" rubber wheel for the drill. It will be here tomorrow. ARGH!!!!
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Old 09-29-2020, 02:20 PM   #5
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Know what you mean as I did not try to peel as there were obvious breaks between the parts where I thought it would be a constant fight to keep starting over.
On the good side, the wheel does seem to get it done pretty well once I got the feel of it. pressing too light, the wheel bounced, but pressingharder was a bit more work but did okay, once I felt I had the drill speed where I wanted. I was using a drill that does not lock at any specific speed which would be better as every time I let the drill bounce, I got different pressure on my finger for different speed. Given a week I might get that speed down but then I hope not to take a week!
This is what I have on back and what I have on the side after removing. We've done some polish on the front part to improve it "some" but not as nice as I wanted.
Point that you might consider is the way I found to get the "remains" off the side. I worked the tool from top down in about 1/4 inch strips which left me with a windrow of ground up decal that was pretty hot and seemed to melt back together, but if I waited a bit and then went back with the eraser, it flaked off much better than scrubbing.
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Old 09-30-2020, 06:57 AM   #6
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Morich,
OOOOh, yours looks worse than mine. It's a good thing I am getting them off now, before they become permanently baked on! I really wish these RV makers would wake up and smell the coffee about this horrible practice of decalmania.

My tool should arrive today.....
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Old 10-02-2020, 07:47 AM   #7
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My "Whizzy Wheel" decal remover arrived yesterday and last night I ran out to try it. I was very hopeful.

Uh, not so hopeful any more. I was using this eraser wheel on the baked on, UV deteriorated decals. The ones which would not peel off at all. Well, the wheel does sort of remove them, but leaves a nasty patch of melted vinyl, rubber eraser goo, and general mess, that might end up harder to clean than just slowly scraping them with the heat gun.

I'll be headed back to the rig in a couple hours to try to finish up, but I have to say the Whizzy Wheel is no magic solution. It wasn't that expensive, so I guess I should not be too hard on it. I almost think I'd be better off using a orbital sander.

The saga continues....

After roughly calculating the cost of "vinyl wrapping" the RV ($2000), I've decided on painting it instead...........with Behr Exterior Marquee house paint and rollers.
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Old 10-02-2020, 07:04 PM   #8
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Decals are finally gone!
The "Whizzer Wheel" got returned to Amazon. It actually made a gooey mess that cost me more time than it saved. I had to orbital sand the area where the Whizzer was used.
I picked out the colors, got a sample at Home Depot, and applied a small swatch to test how well it covers, looks, etc. I am using semi-gloss and will apply with a short nap roller.
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Old 10-04-2020, 08:05 PM   #9
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I used a citrus based solvent and a stiff red harbor freight scraper to get mine off. I should say some of mine off. It is quite the job.
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