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Old 07-12-2013, 02:12 PM   #1
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3M Plastic Coating (Rock chip guard)

Our 2004 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. I got the scraper from Amazon.com.

Sam


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Old 07-12-2013, 02:44 PM   #2
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Any pictures after the 3M paint protector was removed. Did you heat the material before scraping and how did you remove the adhesive residue. I am finishing up the same project now on the entire front of my 396 XL. Thanks
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Old 07-12-2013, 03:37 PM   #3
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I didn't take any after photos, but the 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. As stated earlier, 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. 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.

The orange, plastic double edge blades are called Miniscraper and are at 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.

Sam
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Old 07-12-2013, 04:34 PM   #4
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another 3-M removal project

Sam I am sure it looks great with it removed. I know mine does I had planned on starting a thread on my 3-M removal project but I hope its OK if add my experiences here on your thread. Maybe others who have done this project will as well and this may help others that have this same problem and are thiking about doing this job. The paint protector issue is not limited just to Airstream and 3-M and also includes the product called Diamond Shield which is found on a number of different manufacturer motor homes. The concept was great, a clear plastic film that would protect the front paint on a motor home. That part worked, but the product fails after a few years and cracks form under the top layer it and starts to discolor as well. On my 396 XL the cracks were not as visible but the plastic film had brown discoloration spots under the top layer and looked bad. I checked with a few local 3-M installers about removing the 3-M paint protector and no one had any interest in even talking about this. They all said it was a hard job and took to much time and they could not charge enough to make it profitable. So I decided that if I wanted this removed I would have to do it myself as you did. I was also afraid to use a heat gun and working in the sun was not going to work either. After doing some research and talking with my local RV repair shop (who did not want to take on the job either) they said a clothes type steamer was the best way to provide heat to the material and it would not burn the body of the coach. So that is what a used. Here is one similar to what I used.

Conair Compact Fabric Steamer: Appliances : Walmart.com

I didn't think about the plastic razor type blades but used a plastic paint scraper That I bought a Home Depot.

Economy 2-1/2 in. Paint Remover Tool-DSHHD at The Home Depot

Its strong enough to get under the top layer and when a small section was heated with the steamer I could peel off strips about 1/2" to 3/4" wide and it did not scratch the body.

Once the top section is removed you are left with the adhesive. I tried several different types of removers, goof off, goo be gone WD 40, and others but they would not do anything. The best product that I found was the 3-M general purpose adhesive remover.

On-line Product Catalog:*3M

But even with this you have to wet it down and then scrape it off and it takes a few applications to get it all off. As I said a lot of work and time consuming. I have probably put 20+ hours in on this and I still have 2 smaller sections to complete which will take about 3 hours. But in the end the results are amazing. Underneath this ugly film is the undamaged clear coated paint that looks like like new. Here is PDF file that includes pictures of when I started the project up through today. You should be able to zoom in to a picture once you open the pdf file. I plan on finishing up this coming Monday and will post pictures of the final results. The front of the coach looks so good that I have ordered new modern looking head lights top it all off.

Thanks
Attached Files
File Type: pdf 3-M Paint Protector Removal Project.pdf (4.55 MB, 141 views)
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Old 07-12-2013, 04:58 PM   #5
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Feel free to add your experience to this thread. I had the same intention as you. I wanted to put it out there in case anyone else was considering the project.

I had a couple of people recommend a steamer, but I didn't try one.

I couldn't find a link to your referenced PDF file.
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:03 PM   #6
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I did hear about a fellow in Florida that removes the 3-M film for people. They said he had done a number of rigs at the Paradise Airstream Park in western Florida. Didn't hear what he charges and I don't have contact information.
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Old 07-12-2013, 06:13 PM   #7
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Nice results Don on the front. Did the horizontal slot, above the headlamps, have the film in it also? That would be hard to work on.

Now you are going to just get stone chips on the paint like my CLIPPER.

That 396 is going to look sharp with the new lamp package.

Dave
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Old 07-12-2013, 06:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masseyfarm View Post
Nice results Don on the front. Did the horizontal slot, above the headlamps, have the film in it also? That would be hard to work on.

Now you are going to just get stone chips on the paint like my CLIPPER.

That 396 is going to look sharp with the new lamp package.

Dave
Yes the slot has the film as well. I just need to trim up a scraper to fit and it should come off OK. I will live with the stone chips it could not look any worse than the film. The headlamps came in today, they look awesome, I can't wait to see what they look like when installed. Thanks
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Old 07-12-2013, 06:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airstream12557 View Post
Feel free to add your experience to this thread. I had the same intention as you. I wanted to put it out there in case anyone else was considering the project.

I had a couple of people recommend a steamer, but I didn't try one.

I couldn't find a link to your referenced PDF file.
Thanks Sam, The PDF file should be there at the bottom unless something is blocking attachments. Let me know.
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Old 07-12-2013, 07:07 PM   #10
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Don, I couldn't find the PDF on my iPad, so I used my laptop and found it. Nice photos. My surfaces were all flat or gently curved. You had some sharp curves that had to make the job more difficult.

I like your rig!

A fellow in the park we use in the winter stripped the film off his DP Airstream a couple of years ago and ended up doing some minor damage to the paint. I think he used a heat gun and plastic paint scraper.

Sam
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Old 07-20-2013, 10:26 AM   #11
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Finished. I finally peeled off the last of the 3-M Paint Protector film and I would say I put 30+ hours in on this project. The only thing that kept me going was how good it looked as I was taking off sections of the film. If you are going to do this project I think the steamer is the route to go. Working in direct hot sun does not help loosening the film in my opinion. So work in the shade. You will need a bunch of the plastic scrapers since they get dull quickly. The ones noted in my previous post from Home depot worked the best for me. The only thing that I found that would actually remove the adhesive residue was the 3-M General Purpose adhesive cleaner mentioned in my previous post. Even with this it does not just wipe off. You squirt it on an scrape, then repeat that several times. Its about $14 a can, I used 10 cans.

New headlight assembly going on next week to top it off.

Here are the updated pictures of the project from beginning to end.

3-M Paint Protector Removal Project Finished.pdf
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Old 08-05-2013, 06:42 PM   #12
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I have the film on my moho and it still looks good.

I had applied it to my 2001 X5 when it was new and it ended up looking as bad as your photos. The body shop removed it when it was in after some other "idiot" had rear-ended me so I don't know how they removed it.

However, when I applied it we used a spray bottle that was a mixture of water and alcohol--isopropyl I think--to create a slippery surface for positioning, so a similar solution may help loosen it up for removal.

The X5 is gone, sold, so I can't try it on the remaining little pieces.
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Old 08-15-2013, 09:04 PM   #13
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I had researched this 3M film problem when I was looking to buy a M/H a couple of years ago. It had a bad case of the "star crazing". Someone from Montral saw my query and answered. Apparently his M/H was in for service and the bay next to his had a M/H with this problem. It tool 2 guys 8+ hours to do the job and they had done it before. They worked as a team, one applying the heat and the other using the plastic scrapper. So your time for the job wasn't bad. It is a real "bit*h of a job. And if you don't take your time you will damage the paint. If you read your owners manual you will find a CAUTION. Do not use a high pressure spayer in a car wash to clean the M/H if you have the 3M film on it. Apparently the heat of the water and the pressure will cause this starring. The M/H that I bought (2005 land yacht) has the film but appears to be like new. And I hand wash it to avoid any problems.
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Old 08-16-2013, 05:53 AM   #14
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I bought my rig used in 2009 and the film looked good. I assume it may have been parked under cover before I bought it. I have always parked it under cover during the summer, but it is a shed roof and the front is exposed to the morning sun. I assume the summer sun exposure is what led to the failure of my coating.
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