Rapidly remove old automotive decals and bumper stickers

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/07/25/rapidly-remove-old-automotive.html

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First of all, I’m a sign guy. Been in the business for many, many years. I’ve used similar wheels in the past, from different sources. They work well, but they’re always a last resort. Here’s why. We’ll have truckers who bring in their rigs that have old vinyl lettering that’s been baked on for twenty years, and they want it stripped off and replaced. The first attempted method of removal is heat, either from a hairdryer or a heat gun. The heat softens the adhesive under the vinyl, and makes it more pliable for peeling. After that, either peel carefully and slowly or use plastic scraper blades. You can also find solutions at your local sign supply that you can spray on, and the solution will penetrate the vinyl and soften the adhesive. If all of that fails, and the damned stuff is too old and brittle to peel, we go to the wheel. The wheel certainly yanks that crap off in a hurry, but it creates other problems. Obviously, something spinning at a high speed and contacting a solid surface is going to create heat. Often, that heat will melt the adhesive and vinyl both, and not in a good way. It can cause the vinyl and the adhesive to combine in a goop that’s even harder to pull off. But the real problem is that the wheel is an abrasive, and it’s gonna scuff whatever it’s hitting. We’ve used the wheel on truck doors that have a high-gloss finish and several layers of sealant, and in the end the area where the old vinyl was is dulled and ugly. (The truckers hate us, but dude, get your lettering changed more than every half-century.)

So yes, this can work, and will do the job really quickly. But if you’re dealing with a sticker that’s only a few years old, try something else first. If you’re dealing with a sticker placed on a nice paint job, it’s gonna end up scuffed.


Thank you. People should def. be very careful using this or any other rubbing and buffing tool near things they value – on the aged fiberglass of my pop-top, and on windows, this wheel removes old stickers quick – but I have not tried it on PAINT.


Oh man, that screw under the first G is gonna drive some OCD people nuts!


In other news, Jason . . . where can we all get a BB sticker? I mean, I could make my own, but . . .


I was sent to these guys, they did a great job:



You should private message me about this.

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Is this where the flamewar about intellectual property starts?


It would get you nowhere. There are thousands of companies out there doing that type of thing. It’s so prevalent that shutting any of it down would be a swamp no one would want to enter. I know, I know, that’s no defense. But it’s like arguing over whether or not Tucson should continue to be 120 in the summer. You can rail about it, but it’s not gonna change.

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I have my own vinyl plotter so I’m really just backing up my past purchases. :wink:

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Related, I’ve found that careful use of a wood chisel will cleanly remove a stuck decal from a license plate in one pass (or two depending on width) with minimal scratching.

It’s great to see that BB is getting into the VW conversion business. Westfalia was good, but I look forward to seeing what BoingBoing brings.

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I thought it was “vanning”.

Also, depending on the glue involved, heat guns or hair dryers can work really good for removing decals.

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