Installing the Name, Part 2

This weekend, the weather was just warm enough to get the vinyl letters installed on the boat. Just in time, too, as we’re planning on having the boat in the water next weekend.

For the lettering, we went to US Boat. As members, we get 10% off and they typically do a good job. When the lettering arrived, I noticed that we had only received one set of registration numbers, not the pair advertised. A quick call to customer service, and another pair, plus the missing one, was delivered 48 hours later. So, if nothing else, we had a spare pair of registration numbers if we screwed up the install.

On Thursday evening, when it was a beautiful 70 degrees (with 20kts winds), I went down to the boat. After temporarily hanging the lettering, I taped off a work area about 15% larger, and rolled the letters back up. I attached the wax with a bottle of xylene and a rag. As I was working on the transom, the twilight was just right that I could see the ‘before’ and the ‘after’ with the xylene was essentially the same. After I finished up, I grabbed a hose and sprayed the transom…and watched water sheet up across the whole surface. Not a ton of wax is left on much of anywhere.

Registration numbers temporarily attached.

On Saturday, we headed back to the boat. The weather was less windy, but down in the 60s. After a quick review of the directions, I opted for the “wet” method. I luckily had a spare spray bottle.

The process is straightforward: clean the area with glass cleaner. Line up the entire decal where you want it. For the registration stickers, I centered them on the tip of the boot-stripe. For the name and hailing port, I centered them on the back stay. Measure to a constant line (rail, the row of scupper vents, etc) to make sure it’s level relative to the rest of the boat. Mark where the corners of the paper the vinyl is mounted on comes to with painters’ tape.

Once it’s in place, take the decal away for a second. Spray the area you are mounting it to with a generous amount of water with a couple drops of soup added to it. Then, on the decal, slowly peel back the wax paper under the letters, spraying the vinyl letters with more water as you go. Once the vinyl is good and wet, and the paper is off, align the decals back up on the boat, and use the spatula they included to smooth the letters down. Press hard. Don’t worry about getting the bubbles out of the paper. Just focus on the vinyl. Try to run the spatula the length of each letter, starting from the middle (so middle up, and then middle down to the edge). That will keep from moving the letter or lifting a corner.

Once all the water is squeezed out, step back, and let it sit for an hour (longer if it’s cold, I discovered).

The transom with the name fully installed, and the hailing port curing. Notice the cover paper is still attached, and has a ton of bubbles.

When you feel it’s sat long enough, find a corner of the paper, and slowly pull it off, at a 45 degree angle to the transom. Keep the spatula handy, to press down edges that might not have stuck fully (more of a problem when it’s cold.). Once the paper is fully off, run the spatula over the letters again. And then, you’re done!

For the hailing port, since the paper would have covered the letters of the name, we ended up doing them as two steps, a day apart. On Sunday, it was down in the 50s and 1 hours wasn’t quite long enough for the letters to stick, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed they will cure.

I’m going to go back and wax over the letters once I think they have fully cured.

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