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Never worng!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Searched the net, went to body shops, paint stores etc. etc. looking for answers on "How to Remove Decals Under Clearcoat".
Heard there is a clearcoat remover but couldn't find it anywhere.
Talked to several bike techs and one suggested I use a Dremel tool but wasn't specific on how to do it.

After some experimentation and some noticeable cosmetic errors I found a method that works.

BEFORE

AFTER


What You Need
- First and most importantly before you start and in case you goof and chip the paint
make sure you have paint that matches your bike. Black and white are easy to match.
I started without a matching paint and had some goofs until I found a method that worked.
My bike's color is a Coke can red. The closest matching color I found was in an enamel nail polish.
- A variable speed Dremel. Variable Speed being very important.
- #414 Felt Polishing Wheels.
- A gum remover such as Oops or Goo Gone. I prefer Oops (sold at Walmart) it works fast desolving gum residue.

How To
I started with the large decal on the right down tube and made a mess.
The problem I realized a little too late was - my Dremel is a single speed and it runs too fast.
It removed the clearcoat, the decal and the paint. :(
Went to Home Depot and got an extension cord with a dimmer switch.
With the speed cut down on the Dremel I was able to remove the large decal on the left down tube without chipping any paint.

With the Dremel running slower and changing the polishing wheels after it got worn
I was able to remove the rest of the decals without a problem.

The Method That Worked
Practice first in a 2 inch square section in an area that if you goof it won't be noticeable.
Important - Turn the Dremel to the lowest speed.
Equally Important - Tap the decal lightly. Don't rub or run the Dremel across the decal.
Tapping cuts through the clearcoat and pulls the vinyl off the decal leaving a gum residue.
The gum residue is easily removed using the Oops.
If the tap does not remove the clearcoat and the decal then slowly increase the speed.

Once you've found the correct speed continue tapping and working a small section at a time.
The idea behind the tapping is to remove the clearcoat and to pull the decal's vinyl off the gum or glue
that's holding it on the frame without taking off the paint.
When done correctly you'll see the vinyl decal being pulled off in pieces and leaving the decal's gum/glue behind.
After the vinyl is removed remove the gum residue with Oops.

Also. it's important to keep an eye on the Felt Polishing Pad.
When it starts to lose its shape or gets some build up on it, replace it with a new pad.
I used 4 pads to remove 10 decals.

After removing all the decals I used a rubbing compound and then waxed and polished the bike.

Worked for me! ;)
 

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Girt by sea.
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463 Posts
A few questions:
What are you tapping the decal with? Do you tap it with a small hammer just as the last "layer" of the clear coat is removed? Just before?
Do you remove the clear coat completely from the decal? Or are you aiming to break it up by tapping it? Does the coat need to heat up before tapping it?
Would a variable speed cordless drill be fast enough to do the job of the Dremel, given you said make it as slow as possible?

Cheers,
Graeme
 

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Never worng!
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622 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Kalgrm said:
A few questions:
What are you tapping the decal with? Do you tap it with a small hammer just as the last "layer" of the clear coat is removed? Just before?
Tapping it with a Dremel # 414 Felt Polishing Wheelsl.
If you rub the Dremel on the decal it will run across the decal and take off the paint beneath the decal.
It's really hard to control the Dremel at high speeds especially if you run the wheel directly on the decal.
By tapping the felt wheel lightly it pulls the clearcoat then the decal off and leaves a
gummy residue on the painted aluminum.

When I was done I resprayed the area where the decal was with clearcoat.
Kalgrm said:
Do you remove the clear coat completely from the decal? Or are you aiming to break it up by tapping it? Does the coat need to heat up before tapping it?
Yes I'm removing the clearcoat on the decal. And yes the tapping breaks up the clearcoat
on top the decal and pulls the decal and glue backing up.
No you don't have to heat anything up.
Kalgrm said:
Would a variable speed cordless drill be fast enough to do the job of the Dremel, given you said make it as slow as possible?
Don't know if a drill would work??
It might. You could probably attach the Dremel felt wheel and give it a try.

Find any area on the bike where if you mess up it won't be noticed.
It's important to start at the slowest speed and work your way up speed wise.
Like I posted above - I had the Dremel on the fastest speed and rubbed it across the decal.
Big mistake as it stripped everything off down to the metal.
That's when I found that if you lightly tap the decal with the felt wheel you have better
control on how much you want to remove.

Also a good idea to have some touch-up paint on hand to fix mistakes.
 

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Never worng!
Joined
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622 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
damion said:
I am all for doing what you want to your bike. However, it is important to remember that you will void any warranty that the frame has/had if you are the original owner.
You're correct. It will void the warranty.
I weighed that into the decision before removing the decals.
Then I bought a SJ FSR and figured what the heck.

When I was done the bike looked too naked so I added a decal:

Reposado Man said:
Dude, youre riding a Yavapai -- fly the colors proudly
Hence the reason for removing the decals from the rebadged Iron Horse.
 
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