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Old 10-27-2011, 02:34 AM   This thread is in the EcoModder Project Library | #1 (permalink)
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Lightbulb Sign Vinyl - an EcoModder's good friend

I can't say best friend, It think coreplast is probably an ecomodder's best friend but i would like to introduce everyone to the wonderful world of sign vinyl.

Sign vinyl is basically the same stuff used for car pinstriping, all precut automotive window stickers, and you guessed it - sign lettering. It's also the same stuff used for vehicle wraps. It's great because it looks fantastic - just like paint, lasts 5 years in the sun, leaves no residue, is flexible enough to fit on compound curves, and it does not damage paint! It also is cheap and comes in a variety of colors.

You can pick it up on bay pretty cheap just search for "sign vinyl roll" and pick the color of your car. My geo is hunter green metallic so I purchased a roll of - you guessed it - hunter green metallic sign vinyl. In the sun they look almost identical although I found that in my case the color is not exactly the same because the sign vinyl is a bit more sparkly and so it looks lighter in most light. No worries, it's close enough and still better looking than the plastic alone. I think I paid $25 for a 30 yard roll that is 18 inches wide. For the purpose of this writeup I used it to recover my rear fenderskirt.

Here is a Before picture. You can see I had sloppily used some black sign vinyl to seal the edges of the skirt to the car (note I did this while at a rest stop on a road trip so quick and dirty was the goal not pretty - today the goal is pretty). Anyway before ->

I feel like it would be obvious but for this to work, it's important the surface is clean and free of dust and the like. Just make sure to wipe down whatever you're covering in vinyl before you begin.
I decided to remove the screws and then repierce the sign vinyl rather than cover the screw heads because I know from experience that removing the skirt is necessary in the case of a flat . So I cut a piece of the vinyl to be slightly bigger than the plastic skirt then, making sure it was straight I smoothed out the sticker down the center of the skirt vertically. Then holding the left side of the sticker away from the skirt I simply smoothed it down, moving left format he center. It'd flexible and forgiving so if you get a wrinkle just pull it up a bit and stretch it as you smooth it down. Here is a picture of the left side smoothed out, the right side is just lightly stuck in place ->

Next, I simply repeated the process working my way from the center to the right and it looked like this ->

Remember I cut the sticker out to be a little big? I did this because I wanted to wrap the sticker around all the edges. To do this I simply cut the overlap every 3 or 4 inches to help it handle the circular edge and wrapped each tab over like this ->

With all the edges wrapped it now looks like this ->

Now I always worry about air getting caught up on the leading edges of these things so sign vinyl makes a perfect smooth transition from skirt to car. I cut straight 1.5 inch strips and used them to straddle the gap between skirt and paint. Remember how I said it's flexible? Well if you have one thumb applying pressure to smooth it down while you use your other hand to stretch the free end the direction you want it to go, you get a nice smooth curve like this ->

I went all the way around the skirt and even added a strip to cover the bumper/quarterfender gap just for good measure. In the case of a flat I'll simply remove this little strip (again it comes off very clean and easy) and I won't have destroyed all my work smoothing the thing on there.
The final result looks like ->

Pretty cool right? Looks just like painted metal!

Don't judge the color match issues to harshly, it's a really specific color and I decided this was close enough. If you have a simple color like black, white, red, etc - matching the color would be much easier.

I plan on covering all my mods, including the kammback, with this stuff, and I'll have enough left over, I might even wrap some of the car where the paint isn't looking so good (like the top edge of the hatch). Think of how great it would be for gap filling.

*If you have access to a powersource (and don't have to ecomodd streetside like me) a heathen will go a long way. little heat really helps it flex for curves and also gives it a shrink-wrap like quality for compound curves and the like. I know that's how they do vehicle wraps with it.

**Also you can spray a mild soap/water mixture on the car before placing the sticker. This will allow you to move it around more easily and you simply squeegee the water out from under the sticker surface and it goes down smooth.

***If you get small bubbles you can also pierce them with a needle or pin then smooth them down.

"You too can get 50 Miles per Gallon, all it will cost is your self-respect."

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The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Geo Metropolis For This Useful Post:
brucepick (10-27-2011), euromodder (10-27-2011), jousai7 (05-10-2012), Rick Rae (10-27-2011), Tango Charlie (10-27-2011)
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Old 10-27-2011, 08:46 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Thanks very much for the writeup. I've been hanging out on this forum ever since it started, and this is the first time I've seen sign vinyl mentioned. I think you've added a new and useful material to our tool box.

Thanks again!
Coast long and prosper.
Driving '00 Honda Insight, acquired Feb 2016.

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Old 10-27-2011, 09:57 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Geo Metropolis View Post
Pretty cool right? Looks just like painted metal!
Very cool.
[I]So long and thanks for all the fish.[/I]
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Old 10-27-2011, 10:07 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Good way to clean up mods !

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