Removing Silicone Residue - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-23-2014, 10:34 AM   #1
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Removing Silicone Residue

On our Scamp rebuild, we are coming across a lot of places where a previous owner sealed gaps and holes with silicone. We've scraped the bulk of it off, but it leaves a residue behind that will impair any repair we want to make or paint we want to apply.

What is the best way to remove the silicone residue?
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Old 12-23-2014, 11:02 AM   #2
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There may be better ways than mine and care must be taken but I have been very successful using gasoline. I brush on a coating of gasoline and let it sit for a few minutes, then follow up with a second coat and let that sit for a few minutes. The silicone will soften and get "gummy" and I scrape it off with a putty knife. If you use a steel putty knife you must be very careful or the gel coat will scratch. A plastic scraper also might work. A small paint brush or an old toothbrush works to put the gasoline on the silicone. Now to get the gasoline residue off I use acetone or MEK. Be careful, all these products are very flammable. Just use a very small amount of gasoline.
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Old 12-23-2014, 11:04 AM   #3
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If you are painting, a good mechanical removal works fine. I would start with a good sharp paint scrapper to remove the bulk of it. I know you said you scraped, but keeping your scraper really sharp helps to remove pretty much all of it. You could then scuff the rest off with fine sandpaper. I would clean and degrease after this (as you will have to do even to the gelcoat alone before paint), then another light sanding and repeat cleaning.

If you are not painting, and don't want to sand, then mineral spirits (turpentine) or rubbing alcohol tend to soften the silicone, and allow removal with a non abrasive pad.

Not sure I would want to use gasoline, but you could try a small inconspicuous spot first.
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Old 12-23-2014, 11:20 AM   #4
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PLEASE... DO NOT use any flammables, such as gasoline, to remove a insulating medium such as silicone. That can be a perfect storm to build up a static spark and cause ignition.
There are several products and methods that will safely remove silicone, ask at your local hardware/paint store or do at Google search for same:
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Old 12-23-2014, 11:37 AM   #5
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Flammable solvents are used all the time with fiberglass work and for other tasks, acetone which is something that gets lots of use (and I use a fair bit) is extremely flammable.

I would definitely advise to use with caution, and ensure that there is no ignition source to cause combustion. Know what you are doing, and how to safely do it.
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Old 12-23-2014, 12:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
Flammable solvents are used all the time with fiberglass work and for other tasks, acetone which is something that gets lots of use (and I use a fair bit) is extremely flammable.

I would definitely advise to use with caution, and ensure that there is no ignition source to cause combustion. Know what you are doing, and how to safely do it.
Just to clarify and amplify my earlier comment about using flammables.

Most solvents used in fiberglass work have a high flash point and quickly evaporate from the working surface when used with a cloth. Add to that, they are usually dispensed from a small container with a cap that is kept closed to prevent evaporation. This makes for a smaller risk, but I did have a graphic artist that worked for me get severe burns on her arm using acetone to wipe down a drafting table, that was set alight with a static spark..

Gasoline, on the other hand, is very slow to evaporate, it's vapors can travel a substantial distance, it can pool on the floor, and is usually dispensed by the user from a larger container, usually one without a safety cap.

The perfect storm appears when the user starts wiping down the fiberglass surface and draws a static spark when lifting a dry rag from the surface.

And speaking of fiberglass, gasoline and fires:
A personal friend of mine once owned a Volvo P-1900, a rare and limited production Volvo convertible of the late 50's of which only about 50 were ever built. Here's a link to them: Fantastic Fiberglass: The ultra-rare Volvo Sport P1900 | Autoweek

He was cleaning the brake backing plates with gasoline and splashed some on the paint work. To clean it off he grabbed a dry towel and rapidly rubbed where the gas had splashed and, when he lifted the towel it burst into flames, caused by a static spark. Even more unfortunately, he dropped the burning towel into the pan of gasoline he was cleaning with and the end result that it burned the fiberglass Volvo P-1900 to the ground.

I really doubt if there is any creditable source that will endorse using gasoline as a cleaning solvent when other alternatives are available.

And, btw, because the O.P. is in CO in the winter, be especially careful to not doing the work in a garage with an exposed flame water heater, another source for the Big Bang.
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Old 12-23-2014, 10:23 PM   #7
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I may have posted this in a similar thread. I've had great success using plastic razor blades in getting even visible silicone residue off.
http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/pag...,43407&p=53612



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Old 12-23-2014, 10:35 PM   #8
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Silicone... OMG the Devil's BANE. This is an old thread, but it may be helpful: Test of Silicone Removers
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Old 12-23-2014, 10:37 PM   #9
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BCDave, summed up Silicone in this direct post Silicone Remover?

Hide the body!
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Old 12-23-2014, 11:17 PM   #10
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Thanks for the advice everyone! Looks like a little silicone is a lot of work!
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Old 12-24-2014, 01:43 PM   #11
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Hi Donna D. and others - pertaining to "DAP - Silicone-be-gone". Whereas the 2012 FGRV thread seems to indicate this product is no longer available in the USA -
It IS available in our famous CTC stores - at least its in our rural central Ontario store! Canadian Tire is a very common retailer across Canada. Their code for this DAP product is 67-0709-0.
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