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Tires_Raised Lettering Removal & Clear Coating

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Have a pair of tires (I not sure if they are TRUE rubber but they are AMT kit tires) that have raised lettering on both sides. I wish to remove the molded in lettering and replace it with a water slide decal of another manufacturer.

1) Is sanding it off the best method and if so what grit.

2) I wish to give the tires a coat of flat or semigloss clear to smooth out any irregularities which may cause the transfers not to stick. I believe I should use acrylic instead of lacquer/ enamel...just confirming that I`m going about this correctly.

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It's really tricky to do any remedial work on just about ANY flexible materials. Sandpaper has a tendency to leave the surface kinda 'fuzzy' in general.

Since you have lettering on both sides of the tires you want to modify, you can do some experimentation...but this procedure has worked for me...but it really depends a lot on exactly what material your tires are made from.

I use either an X-acto chisel tip blade or a very sharp file first, to shave the majority of the lettering off without sanding the adjacent surfaces and getting them fuzzy too. Trying to do the first cut with unsupported sandpaper isn't the way to go.

Once you have the majority of the raised material removed, try 180 grit WET, stuck to a semi-rigid backer, like a strip of old credit card. Work CAREFULLY, checking your work frequently. Use plenty of water to ease the cut and reduce fuzzing. A drop of dish soap in the water slicks it up even more.

As soon as the surface is flat, go to 400 grit WET, to remove the 180 scratches. Again, careful, checking frequently, and plenty of water.

You'll probably have to go as high as 1500 grit WET to remove all the visible scratches and fuzz, and the letters may very well remain as ghost images in the flexible tire material.

I've had good luck using black vinyl color spray made for car interiors to put a surface back on the tire. Again, you really have to be patient and allow the stuff to dry completely, and then sometimes sand it again with 1500, re-spray, resand, respray, etc.

Acrylic clear is another option, though I've never used it. I'm sure someone here knows the details, though.

 Enamel paints like Testors bottle stuff will never dry on a vinyl tire, and I've had very good results using artist's acrylic gesso to do custom whitewalls.

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Acrylic clear is another option, though I've never used it. I'm sure someone here knows the details, though.

 Enamel paints like Testors bottle stuff will never dry on a vinyl tire, and I've had very good results using artist's acrylic gesso to do custom whitewalls.

I have a project of which 2 of the tires were pretty banged up right inside the box. I started by sanding them using 600 grit, and then didn't like the really flat look they left me with. So, I tried Future, and it worked pretty good - just restored enough shine and seemed to eliminate the "fuzzies"...

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I had good success with Bill's method to clean up a set of Monogram slicks to prepare them for lettering with some old Shabo tranfers  - the knife has to be very sharp to cut the letters off the rubber - used some white (very fine abrasive) Scotch brite for the final clean-up on the side walls.  Used an acrylic semi-gloss clear to seal and protect the lettering on the tires.

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