Systems and Maintenance

How To Remove Your Camper’s Decals

In this article we show you how we removed our camper’s decals and then deoxidized our eleven year old truck camper to make it look like new again.  Is that a ghost?

Remove The Ghosting Decal On Camper

Above: This article tells you how to remove the decals and then get rid of the ghosting on your camper

Removing Your Camper’s Decals

We started by loosened the decals.  3M rubbing compound was recommended for the task by Truck Camper Warehouse.  Once this was completed, we used a safety razor blade almost flat to the camper to carefully scrape off the decals.  This process was similar to using a safety razor to remove paint from a glass window.  It was slow going, but it worked well.

Do Not Cut Into The Filon With The Safety Razor Blade

TIP: Be very careful not to cut into the filon with the safety razor blade when removing your camper’s decals.  This is intricate work that requires focus and patience.

After eleven years of sun, the brand decal on the front nose of our camper required a different approach.  The 3M rubbing compound made little to no difference, and the decal wasn’t coming up with the razor blade either.

That’s when Bill Penney, Owner of Truck Camper Warehouse, recommended a 3M stripe-off wheel powered by a DeWalt cordless drill.  In most instances, this is the tool Truck Camper Warehouse uses to remove RV decals.

Bill handed us a drill with the stripe-off wheel, and two extra drill batteries.

VERY IMPORTANT: Go slow and be careful not to remove the filon gel-coat surface, or burn the filon surface with the friction.  Heat will cause the glue underneath to separate from the filon, which causes delamination.

Stripe Off Wheel To Get Decals Off

It took a minute to get used to the drill with the stripe-off wheel, and how much pressure to apply, but then it was smooth sailing.  Essentially, you just touch the decal with minimal pressure, and keep the wheel moving over the decal as to not overheat and possibly burn any specific point.

In about a half-hour the front brand decal was removed.  In fact, we went back to the other decals and touched up those areas with the stripe-off wheel.  It was surprisingly fun.

With an evil grin, the thought occurred that there was about seventy truck campers with decals at Truck Camper Warehouse, and Bill had gone home for the evening.  Maybe he wouldn’t notice that he had a yard full of generic campers in the morning, and one thoroughly used stripe-off wheel?

TIP: The heat and vibration from a stripe-off wheel can cause the adhesives in sidewall and front nose laminations to separate.  We have read reports of people using hair dryers to loosen and remove decals.  This is another heat source that could cause underlying adhesive laminations to separate.

Who You Gonna Call?

After removing the camper’s decals, there was a reverse image where the decals had been.  This “ghosting” effect made it so we could still see the brand logos, even with the decals removed.  Where there had been decals, there were now whiter and brighter “ghosts” spelling out the brand name.

Alpenlite Front Decals Removed

Above: You can see the ghosting on the front nose of our rig (before picture)

After Meguiars Oxidation Remover

Above: After using Meguiar’s Oxidation remover took away the ghosting

After some research, we determined that the best solution for this ghosting was a heavy-duty oxidation remover for marine and RV applications by Meguiar’s.

The theory was to remove the oxidized yellow haze from the surrounding filon so it would essentially match the whiter and brighter ghosting areas.  After all, the ghosting showed us not only how white our camper filon had once been, but also how faded and yellow our camper had become from eleven years of exposure to the sun and elements.

Filon is a composite material consisting of a thermoset polyester resin and chopped fiberglass strands.  The surface of filon features a gel-coat designed to be resistant to dents, tears, scratches, and corrosion.  It’s this gel-coat exterior that fades and oxidizes over time.  Oxidation is a deposit that forms on the filon as the surface chemically reacts to oxygen.  Our filon had become cloudy and foggy due to this natural oxidation process.

Wax On, Wax Off, Daniel Son!

As many of you know, we live in a HOA community and are not allowed to work on our camper at home.  For the deoxidizing, we visited friends, John and Marylou Wells, at their Pennsylvania farm.  They’re HOA free and provided a beautiful setting, not to mention excellent weather.

For an entire day, we used the scour side of about a dozen blue kitchen sponges and an entire bottle of Meguiar’s oxidization remover to deoxidize the camper filon.  Right before our eyes the sponges, the Meguiar’s, and circle after circle of elbow grease transformed our camper.  Karate Kid’s Mr. Miyagi would have been so proud.

Scrubbing With Meguiar's Oxidization Remover

Above and below: Deoxidizing with Meguiar’s oxidization remover at John and Marylou’s farm

Deoxidizing The Camper

The trick was to pour a line of Meguiar’s oxidization remover onto the rough side of the scrubbing sponge and gently scrub the filon in circles.  The yellow oxidation haze came right up as did any remnants of the brand decals.  It was great to see the yellow color give way to a whiter and brighter filon exterior.

Clean New Wall After Meguiar’s Oxidization Remover

Another important trick was to wipe off the Meguair’s oxidation remover with a cloth before it dried.  For this purpose, we had two packs of microfiber cleaning cloths and made sure to use fresh cloths when they got caked with the oxidation remover.

Once we were done, the ghosting was about 99% removed by our Karate Kid cleaning.  The ghosting is still there, but only if you look at our camper from a certain angle, in the right light.  Most of the time, all you see is a nice white camper.  The Meguair’s worked like a charm, and we are very pleased with the results after removing our camper’s decals.

With the decals removed, the next step was caulking and sealing our project camper.  Click here to read “How To Inspect and Repair Camper Seals“.  Are you taking a look over your seals a few times a year?  You should be.


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