Stickers and vent shields - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-28-2010, 09:30 PM   #1
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Name: Kevin (Ken)
Trailer: Bigfoot 17, 1988
Wisconsin
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Stickers and vent shields

I just bought an '88 Bigfoot 17' trailer. The stickers are really faded and cracked, and the pieces of flashing that form little roof-like shields for the appliances are in bad shape - they appear to be screwed on with some sort of tar-like gasket underneath.

My question is about what you can do to the surface, with what, and whether it is a good idea.

If messing with the fiberglass surface at all is a bad thing, I could just paint over the decals as they are, using tape and small brushes, and replace the rusty screws on the flashings, but otherwise leave the surface alone.

However, I wouldn't mind actually peeling it all off and starting over. I don't really like the design and logo anyway, and I'm sure the flashings would look better redone... provided there is some way to get the old stuff off that does not involve scarring or weakening the surface, and/or requires a lot of sanding and painting/refinishing the whole thing. The only methods I can imagine that might work would be either a heat gun or carefully chosen chemicals.
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Old 12-28-2010, 10:21 PM   #2
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We bought a 1980 Bigfoot a year ago and the stripes were faded and in colors that I didn't care for. The original tape stripes were in orange and dark olive green. I taped the edges and sprayed Krylon paint in light green and dark green. I also painted stripes on the frig vent and door. The 2 colors of dark green can be seen in this photo (new paint forward and old in rear).

1980 Bigfoot :: NW New Mexico picture by tomNjo - Photobucket

I also replaced all exterior screws with stainless steel screws.
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:02 AM   #3
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Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
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Replacing or repairing by paint of the decals has to do with money/time/effort. It's fairly easy to remove decals, but is time consuming. Then you'll need to replace with something or there's liable to be ghosting of the gel coat, so that takes time and money. Painting is time consuming with all the taping and painting... this may be the cheapest method, but may require several coats of paint... more time.

The stripes are available in a multitude of colors from a number of places on the web... or perhaps a sign shop in your local area. The actual Bigfoot logo may be available from Bigfoot industries. OR, you could do a tracing and take that to a sign shop and they can make you one in the color of your choice.

Personally, I'd go with replacement of the decals in the color of my choice. In the grand scheme of things it's a cheaper way to match the color of the tug... certainly cheaper than an all-over paint job.

Ken, do you have pictures you can share of the flashing problem?
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:35 AM   #4
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Name: B
Trailer: 1973 13 ft Compact II
Oregon
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Taking off the OLD faded decals...

Donna,
Tell us, again, how to take the old faded decals off the trailer. I know I asked you once and you said to use a hair dryer. I'm not getting a clear picture of how a hair dryer would remove the decals without using some other kind of 'agent' on it...chemicals like a nail remover...
Give it to me step-by-step, por favor!
Thanks mucho!
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Old 12-29-2010, 10:58 AM   #5
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Name: Kevin (Ken)
Trailer: Bigfoot 17, 1988
Wisconsin
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No pictures yet. The problem with the vent roof pieces is mostly the rusty screws, but also a couple of them are a bit mangled, and the black gaskets behind them don't look so great.

It sounds like the hairdryer method is what I was thinking of when I said heat gun. A heat gun is a super-powered, more concentrated hairdryer. If it doesn't damage the fiberglass, my guess is it will melt the glue behind the sticker surface and it will peel right off.

I don't really like the block BIGFOOT letters or the stripes much, so I may peel them off. Then I could tape up some sort of plain stripes to paint over the area if needed. Without trying to match up with the old lines exactly, it probably wouldn't be that hard. Or I could use some commercial stripe stickers I suppose. I never thought of that. I'll look into them.
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Old 12-29-2010, 11:53 AM   #6
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Ken,
If you lived just a wee bit closer to the North Oregon coast (although Seattle is really close when compared with Vermont, etc!), I would pop over and ask if I could borrow your 'heat gun'!
Looks like I'll be using my hairdryer. Here's hoping that it peels right off!
Thanks!
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:48 PM   #7
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Peels right off is subjective. It's going to take some effort. But, you need to soften the glue. Once you get the stripe off, see if Acetone will remove the sticky stuff. Acetone won't hurt the fiberglass (but be careful of your lungs and skin). What you don't want to do is use something oily like WD-40. You might try scraping some too, with an ice scraper or plastic knife. Don't DIG. Metal can cut the fiberglass, that's why plastic/plexiglass is suggested rather than a razor knife.
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:45 PM   #8
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Thanks for mentioning the ice scraper...I never would've thought of that!
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:00 PM   #9
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...wooden paint stir stick.
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Old 12-31-2010, 01:32 PM   #10
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Trailer: Bigfoot 25 ft RQ
Missouri
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It sounds like your flashing above the window simply needs to be removed and resealed. Butyl tape is what I would use. You will probably need a heat gun to soften up the dried sealant enough to remove it without damaging the trailer. I would never paint over a vinyl graphic. They are not that difficult to remove.

You can find cheap plastic paint scrapers at Lowe’s and Home Depot. Here are a few tools I came up with for fiberglass trailer work. I purchased from these merchants.

Plastic scraper
http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/steck-super-scraper-71510-p-14780.aspx

Heat gun kit
http://howardelectronics.com/steinel/ClassicHL1910E.html

Steck also has a plastic no mar pry bar for trim removal.

3-M adhesive remover and plain old acetone thinner are usually helpful in cleaning up adhesive remaining after a vinyl graphic is removed. Neither will damage the fiberglass finish. These are very flammable so don’t try applying heat while using them. Even a hair dryer would be extremely dangerous.

When you peel off old vinyl graphics you will most likely find a difference in the color and finish of the fiberglass underneath because it was protected from weathering by the decal.

You might get by with a hair dryer for vinyl graphics removal but a heat gun is pretty much a necessity for removing and resealing windows and around vents on the roof.

Another thing, I found this source of stainless screws on the internet. Just about every external trim screw put on by trailer manufacturers, especially Bigfoot, needs to be replaced because of rust. When I replace exterior screws I dip the threads of the new one in caulking or sealant to reduce the possibility of leaks.

http://www.manasquanfasteners.com/decking_screws_panhead

Finally, a good graphics shop could duplicate the original graphics. It would be best to find a shop where they would install them as well. It would be expensive but it could be done.
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Old 12-31-2010, 01:58 PM   #11
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Name: Kevin (Ken)
Trailer: Bigfoot 17, 1988
Wisconsin
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The flashings I'm talking about are not over the windows, but over the utility vents - they stick out like a little roof to keep water and runoff out. The problem is not so much the ugly sealing, but the mangled aluminum pieces themselves. If I can find replacements, I'll try to redo them with a heat gun, when I replace the screws and mess with the graphics. I probably won't do any of it until a couple of months from now, when I'm in a warmer climate.

That heat gun is mighty expensive. I find their "$340 value" claim outlandish. My Makita has similar specs, cost about $80 at a retail store, and seems like a more permanent/serious tool than I would recommend someone to buy for a one-off task like this. Maybe that Steinel is better, but it must be something to do with specialized tasks or daily use - some way an occasional user like me wouldn't need or even know about. I mostly use it for finishing purposes on steel sculptures, and occasional building/renovation tasks. I've had it for years.

If I didn't have one and just needed it for this task, I would look into a cheapie. I see lots of models on Amazon with good reviews in the $30 range. My guess is they probably work fine at first, but aren't very durable.
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Old 12-31-2010, 04:14 PM   #12
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Here is a cheapie at Harbor Freight

Search results for: 'heat gun'

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Old 01-04-2011, 05:28 PM   #13
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Trailer: 17.5 ft and 25 ft FB Bigfoot
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You should be able to get a heat gun for around $30. In Calgary, at Princess Auto they sell the Chinese, 'Force' for around that price.
A good decal shop certainly can replicate any existing decals. On my new
25' Bigfoot I had the front decals replaced, the Bigfoot decal duplicated and placed on the spare tire cover, and 3M rockguard (which I supplied) placed over the entire front of the trailer for under $400 CAD.
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Old 01-04-2011, 06:15 PM   #14
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Name: Kevin (Ken)
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$400... I'm afraid I'm not quite that into spiffing up the appearance of my trailer. If I were to go that far, I would probably need to repaint it anyway.

I figured out a way to make a pattern using masking tape and spray paint with parallel stripes and alternating triangles/trapezoids in between. I think I will heat gun the old stuff off and do it that way when the time comes. It should only cost as much as a few tape rolls and a can or two of spray paint.
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