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Removing Sail Numbers

Removing and Replacing Sail Numbers can be a tedious and time-consuming task.  With a few tips and tricks this can be made as painless as possible.

Technique for Removing Sail Numbers

I have recently finished a project removing my old sail numbers and putting new ones on. I found that (in my case anyway) the procedure the laser FAQ2 described did not work very well. I was putting Acetone on the number, letting it sit, peeling the number off, then rubbing the rest of the residue off. The residue was not smearing too much, but it did leave the sail a little sticky around where the number was.

After I had finished 8 of 10 numbers that way, I turned the sail over and put the Acetone on from the other side of the sail. Doing about 2 inch sections at a time, I put enough Acetone on the back of the sail to go through the sail and work at the number. After I put the Acetone on from the back, I flipped the sail over and peeled off the 2 inch section of the number. I then cut the 2 inch section off so that the residue on the section would not get on anything else. The section peeled up nice and cleanly (for the most part) and only required a once or twice over with an Acetone soaked cloth. 99% of the residue was removed.

This method worked much better than the way I was originally taking the numbers off with. It left very little residue and required much less elbow grease. Using a putty knife to get all the residue off was not needed. I also didn't need to use any talcum powder either. I don't think it matters what you use, whether Acetone or something else.


This is just what I have learned from my experience in removing sail numbers.  good luck.

Jon Deutsch

Changing Sail Numbers

You might be able to cleverly use the new number "blanks" in combination with the old numbers to make new numbers. You could turn a 3 into a 9 by selectively sticking parts of numbers on the top part of the 3, and by peeling off only the bottom part of the 3. When you are cutting off a portion of the old number, you need to use an exacto knife (or equivalent), and ensure that you only score through the number and don't damage the sail. Be very careful. This might keep the sticky mess to a minimum, since peeling the old numbers leaves a nasty residue behind. We did this with a used radial sail last summer with pretty good results.


Richard Oulton

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