Boat Lettering Removal:
The first step in removing an old boat name is to determine what you’re dealing with. Is it a painted boat name or vinyl boat name?
Vinyl lettering Removal:
Peel up the edge and pull from the surface. You can get this started with a plastic scraper or your fingernails pretty simply. A heat gun, hair dryer or in some cases the heat from the sun can help this process. Sometimes pulling back on itself or at a small angle to the surface can help bring the adhesive with the film. Remove excess adhesive with Goof-Off or GooGone, or other similar adhesive removal product.
After the lettering is removed, take this opportunity to polish the surface thoroughly, which cannot be done with lettering in place. Power buff the surface with a waxless polishing compound. The compound should also not contain Teflon; Silicones as this can affect the adhesion of the new name.
Most lettering is one-part enamel and most hull surfaces are gel coat. If that is the case, acetone and rubbing compound mixture used with a power buffer can take the lettering off. This will also polish the gel coat at the same time. This method is best when the paint is worn thin. If the paint is newer and thicker it is best to soften the paint with an acetone saturated pad of paper towels first, then while the paint is still soft quickly scrape the paint off with a razor-blade scraper. It is important to round the corners of the razor blade first with sand paper as to not scratch the gel coat. This should take off a majority of the paint. The power buffer will get the small ruminant and polish the surface to a mirror finish.
It is best when using compounds to use high-end professional products that do not contain waxes or silicones. The idea is to get a mirror finish without waxes, Teflon, silicones etc. These products are disguising the lack of a true mirror finish. Besides, with these contaminates, the new name won’t adhere as well or last as long.
Removing a painted boat name
Another method for removing and old boat name if its painted on with enamel from is to spray Easy-Off oven cleaner on the lettering. Mask off any painted or varnished surfaces; also mask the “drip” areas. The oven cleaner will bubble the paint in a few minutes. Before the paint starts to drip, scrape the letter with a razor blade scraper. Wipe off the excess. You will notice this turned the gel coat yellow. Don’t panic! Wipe the entire area with distilled vinegar. This will turn the gel coat back to its original white. Do not use this method on colored gel coats or painted hulls such as Hatteras, which has an Imron surface. The next step is to polish to a high gloss.
Check out the process with a window scraper on our youtube channel.
A third method for removing an old boat name from gel coat, and in some cases, a linear polyurethane surface, is to wet sand the lettering from the surface. Usually start with a 400 grit, then sand with 800, then 3M superduty rubbing compound.