Since our fleet has had many skippers new to sailing, used boats and older sails have been the predominate type used in the fleet. Most of these skippers like to display their own numbers and fleet designators. The removal of the old sail numbers/letters has become a major project for these skippers. The sail numbers are made from adhesive- backed polyester cloth.
Some of the newer sails 1996 and after, you can remove the letters first and then clean off the minor glue residue. The only way you will know is to try and remove the numbers first and see how easily they come off. Some of the older sails the numbers and adhesive are hard to remove. These are usually the pre 1994 sails or older though we have now seen some 96-99 sails that require the extensive method using solvent to remove the letters/numbers. The peeling of the numbers off the older sails will leave a sticky residue of adhesive on the sail. This residue should be removed since it will pick up any dirt and other substances and leave the sail looking worn and dirty.
You should work on the removal of the numbers/letters in a well-ventilated area. Choose an area that is a flat clean surface. Use a plastic sheet at least 3' x 3' making sure the surface will not scratch the sail. Materials Needed Trash can/plastic trash bag The trash will be sticky. Working area - plastic sheet at least 3'x 3' or plain unmarked cardboard. Solvent MEK, lacquer thinner, mineral turpentine, 3M "Adhesive Cleaner, solvents containing Toluene or containing Xylene. Acetone can be used but is not recommended on Dacron.
The solvent will not adversely affect the sailcloth as long as you do not scrape too long or too hard. Paper towels/wiping cloths You will need allot. Scrappers Use plastic or wood. The scraper should be free of sharp edges. Procedure Note location of current numbers/lettering. - Use a pencil to mark a line under the existing numbers/letters. Mark the distance of the last number/letter from the leech. Make sure as you work that you do not remove the marks and lose your reference points.
Peeling - Only work on one side of the sail at a time. Peel off all the numbers/letters first if you can. On many of the newer sails the numbers/letters will easily peel off. Then remove adhesive before proceeding to the other side. Some areas (mostly on older sails) will be difficult to remove so wipe some solvent on the sail numbers/letters. Be sure to leave the solvent to work in for a few minutes to work. Some numbers/letters will be hard to remove. Use a scrapper and remove any number/letter off with gentle scrapping.
Adhesive removal - Be sure to remove adhesive be fore proceeding to the other side of the sail. If the adhesive residue is hard to remove soak for 20-30 seconds with solvent and then use the scrapper. Group the adhesive residue into an area on the sail and take a paper towel or cloth to pick up the adhesive residue. Repeat this until all of the adhesive residue is removed from the sail. Soaking a paper t owel with solvent will remove any remaining adhesive residue. Use this on small areas and try not to smear adhesive over the sail. When you are done there still may be a slight stickiness on the sail.
Wash - Use a mild soapy solution and rinse thoroughly.
Apply new numbers - Put the new numbers on using the marks you made as a reference point. Be sure to apply according to the direction supplied by the sail makers. C Scow sail makers should be able to provide sail numbers/letters. Eliminating any remaining stickiness - Use baby powder or talcum powder on any sticky areas. This will eliminate the stickiness. Only make this apply this after you have completed all number/letter applications. The baby powder or talcum powder will keep number/letter from sticking to the sail.
The basic requirements for C Scow numbers/letters are that they must be on both sides of the mainsail. Letters can be back to back where letters and numbers show identically the same on both sides of the sail. Letters and numbers when not back to back are to be higher on the starboard side of the sail. Letters are to be placed between the top and first lower battens and numbers between the first lower and second lower battens, with approximately even space vertically between them and according to the following specifications: Height of letters and numbers, 18-20" Centerline of letters and numbers will be located aft the leading edge of the first lower batten as follows, plus or minus 2": 36" Vertical spacing between letters and numbers will be no less than: 10".