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StellersJay

3-M Rock Guard Plastic Film Removal

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Our 2004 Airstream Land Yacht has (or had) a plastic coating that was applied to all the leading surfaces below the windshield. During the last couple of years, the film started cracking and looking ugly. I hope the photo I attempted to attach below comes through. It shows the extent of the cracking. Yesterday, I completed the task of scraping all the 3-M film from the front of our rig. I left the film on the dark blue paint that is below the grill on the front of the rig, since it did not show the cracks in the film like on the lighter blue paint. Removing the film is a time consuming job, but with the aid of a plastic scraper that uses orange, plastic, double edge blades that look like a razor blade, the job was completed without doing any damage to the paint job. The orange, plastic double edge blades are called Miniscraper and are at http://www.miniscraper.com/. I purchased the blade holder with 25 blades plus a box of 100 blades from Amazon. I probably used 30 to 40 blades on the project. A sharp blade works much better than a dull blade.

The paint finish, after cleaning and polishing, looked like the finish on the rest of the rig. Only damage was where the original installer "scratched" the paint as they trimmed the 3-M film around the edges. I parked the rig where the front would be in full sun. My thought was that the heat from the summer sun would make the film easier to remove. After a couple of sessions in the sun, I decided that it was easier to scrape the film while the rig, and the scrapper (me), was in the shade. Early in the process, I tried a heat gun, but was afraid I would apply too much heat and damage the paint. Using the cold scrape method, I can't see anywhere that I damaged the paint or clear coat. The process is slow. If I got too aggressive, the cracked film was even more difficult to remove. I took my time and let the sharp corner of the blade cut the adhesive layer between the 3-M film and the paint. If, after a number of strokes with the blade, I got a strip of plastic an inch wide I thought I was doing good. I worked on the film removal about one to one and one-half hour at a time. I probably took maybe 15 to 17 hours total to remove the film.

I purchased Turtle Wax Label & Sticker Remover at Walmart to remove the adhesive. It comes in a 10 oz. spray can. After removing the film, there was a lot of adhesive left on the paint. To clean the adhesive residue, I would spray the fluid on, let it set a couple of minutes, then use the plastic scraper to assist in removing the adhesive. Two or three applications left the surface clean and ready to polish.

Sam

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That sounds tremendously tedious. Our coach needs the same treatment, glad you posted this as it saves me trying to find some way to get this off. I guess the time and patience involved is why paint shops just grind it off and then repaint. I have never known anyone to remove it without damaging the paint. Thanks for the post.

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Tom, a friend is using an approx. $30 steam generator from Walmart to help loosen the adhesive. He says it helps and does not damage his paint.

The process was tedious, but I just worked at it an hour or so at a time and then stood back and admired my work. ;-)

Sam

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Just started removing the film, which had mold looking spots along all edges and any place that wasn't totally vertical. Spent 8 hours trying a steam gun to warm it up and a plastic squeegee. Have lost some paint. Appears to be where a stone got thru the 3M and chipped the paint. Will try to get the plastic scraper. Tried Goo Gone, lacquer thinner, and gasoline to remove the adhesive. Only the gas and Goo Gone seemed to work a little. I think it was mostly elbow grease. Got a very looooong way to go.

Fred

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I was well pleased with the performance of the Turtle Wax Label & Sticker Remover I purchased at Walmart. Earlier I had tried WD-40, but it didn't seem to work very well.

My technique for goo removal was to wait until I had removed the film from a complete section, spray the section until the total surface was damp, let the spray set for a couple of minutes, use an orange scraper blade to further loosen the goo, then wipe off with a paper towel. I then repeated the process with a little less spray. After the second application, there were typically just a few spots left that needed additional spray and scraping. When the surface looked clean, I lightly scrapped the total area with an orange, plasitc blade to feel for any areas that were not totally clean.

The final step was to apply a couple of coats of wax or polish. After this, the newly exposed paint looked no different than the paint on the sides of the coach.

Sam

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Try 3M citrus base cleaner and plastic razorblades. 3 cans will complete the task and leave the paint intact without glue residues.

Just remember to cover the headlites along with the foglites if they are plastic lens. start at the top and work downward.

It's about a 8 hour task to complete leaving a finish that looks like a brand new paint job.

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Good to know , I think! I have the mold growing on my 12 Georgetown. Have been talking w/Forest River about it . They say it's on Diamond Plate folks. But they happen to be right down the street. The person I talked w/there said he has never heard of anything like this and if it was on them they would fix it. Soooooo I go to Elkhart on the 7th of July for some work at FR then we will see about the mold.Yell at me after that & we will see what happens and how it's done. ( I hope)

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