|How the boat name looked when I arrived.|
I decided to contact the supplier of the vinyl lettering and ask them if this could have been the case. When they responded, they explained to me that, since my boat name lettering had a drop shadow of a different color, it was made differently than the single color hailing port lettering. The former is created by printing the colors onto a white vinyl substrate while the latter is made from a solid color vinyl. The printed vinyl seems to only have a 3 to 5 year lifespan in outdoor applications (even when the UV protection is applied) while the solid color vinyl can last much longer. So, if you are ever in the need of vinyl lettering for long-term outdoor use, this is something to keep in mind...less you experience the same result as I did.
As an effort to make up for the confusion and my disappointment in the name lettering, they offered to send replacement lettering to me for half-off their normal price. When I told them that I didn't want a repeat experience, they said they could send me letters made from the solid color vinyl in both the primary and drop shadow colors. That way I could apply the drop shadow color letters and then apply the main color letters at an offset to get the same effect. For an additional fee they offered to align the two sets of letters onto a single application sheet to ease the complexity of the installation. Since the boat needs a readable name to be a legally documented US vessel, I decided to go ahead and order the two sets of lettering in hopes that their explanation was correct and the new lettering will last. I did not have them do the alignment.
It only took a few days for the letters to arrive. While waiting, I removed the faded vinyl lettering using a plastic scraper and heat gun and then cleaned up the glue residue with Goo Gone and denatured alcohol. I made sure to protect the hailing port lettering as I didn't want to cause any problems with it.
In order to get the alignment correct on the boat, I started by attempting to align the two sheets of lettering, using a flashlight to shine through the lettering and backing paper and used a ruler to measure the offset for the drop shadow. Once I got the alignment the way I wanted it, I used painters tape to hold the two sheets together. Then I used a variation of a sewing trick I learned and cut two V shaped indexing notches at the upper edge of the application sheets making sure the V was cut into both sheets but did not cut into the actual vinyl letters. By doing this, any time the two V's in the two sheets were aligned the letters would be properly aligned. At this point I could remove the painters tape knowing that I can easily realign the sheets of letters.
From there, I took the yellow letters out and taped them up to the boat, positioning as needed to center over the hailing port sticker while allowing for the slight shift to the lower right for the drop shadow effect. When I had the letters where I wanted them, I applied two small pieces of tape to the boat directly under the location of the V notches and traced the V into the tape. I then ran a strip of tape along the upper edge of the sheet of letters and applied them to the boat just as I did the last time. Once I smoothed out the letters as best I could, I removed the application sheet and the large strip of tape so only the yellow letters and the two marked V's remained. I then retrieved the set of blue letters, lined up the V notch with the ones traced onto the tape, and applied the blue letters over the yellow ones. Again I smoothed out the lettering with a squeegee and removed the application sheet and all the tape.
|The new lettering, using the two solid color sets of letters.|
|For reference: Here is what the original looked|
like the day it was applied 4 years ago