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install question on long lettering

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by spudcity, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. spudcity

    spudcity Member

    Nov 23, 2007
    Watertown, WI
    I did a semi-trailer for a customer and got 99% of it lined up great. However, I had one graphic that ran down as it went along (so it isn't level). Is there anyway to prevent this? The graphic was 6" high by about 80" long and was lettering. I usually use the center hinge method. I have to peel it and redo it later today and was hoping for some insight.
  2. TheSnowman

    TheSnowman Major Contributor

    Aug 28, 2007
    Was it cut letters, or one solid graphic? If it's cut, I'd just hinge it from the top. Even if it's a solid graphic, I'd probably just hinge it from the top and do it wet (unless it's control tac) and then just squeegee and roll away at it till' I got it right.
  3. insignia

    insignia Very Active Member

    Centerhinge makes things easier sometimes, but you also run the risk of things going up or down hill by the end. If you can top or bototm hinge and cut the letters apart into smaller sections that's a more accurate way. If it was a solid stripe or box, center hinge is about your only option short of wet install which isn't ideal either.
  4. Mike Paul

    Mike Paul Major Contributor

    Dec 30, 2003
    Try a top hinge for lettering, cut it in a few pieces between the letters for an easy install.
    If it's a one piece graphic, you could top hinge 1/3 on right side to get you going straight or do a center hinge but make some stabilo tick marks on the decal and aluminum so it goes down in the right spot.
  5. Jillbeans

    Jillbeans Major Contributor

    Dec 24, 2003
    Butler, PA
    I would also cut the lettering into smaller sections.
    Another thing you could try is to snap a chalk line as a registration guide, underneath where the lettering would go so there are no crumbs falling.
    I also sometimes put up a plain line of masking tape as a guide to keep me on track.
  6. spudcity

    spudcity Member

    Nov 23, 2007
    Watertown, WI
    thanks, I think I am going to try top hinging and cutting it up and see how that flies. That's the tough part about getting going in this job, it seems like I always screw one thing up and do the other 99% perfect.
  7. skyhigh

    skyhigh Major Contributor

    Jun 16, 2005
    Pretty much like everyone else, so hang in there.

    Once you get this mastered, then off to bigger and better projects to screw up. :thumb:

    The top hindge, where you cut into smaller pieces, is foolproof (and time consuming). I usually do something like Jill does. I put a couple small pieces of tape across the top edge to keep me on track.
  8. The Big Squeegee

    The Big Squeegee Major Contributor

    Oct 10, 2005
    Lawton, OK, USA
    You could double mask or use a stiff plastic mask such as Clear Choice. The stiffness will help keep the graphic from wandering. Center hinge.
  9. Si Allen

    Si Allen Very Active Member

    Jul 17, 2004
    It is so much asier to lay some blue masking tape along the top edge of the lettering...before you start! As long as you are just touching the tape, you are level!
  10. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

    Mar 12, 2005
    New England
    I prefer the bottom hinge, no chance of dropping a piece before you're ready to squeege.
    Whne center hinging you can mark the edge with tape or a stabilo to aid lining up.
  11. Replicator

    Replicator Major Contributor

    Nov 19, 2006
    Sun City, AZ
    I tape the whole length to the vehicle (straight) making multiple hinges . . .

    Then cut between the letters at different manageable hinged lengths !

    I also add stabilo lines along the top of the masking to realign the lengths of lettering.
  12. trakers

    trakers Very Active Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    When I have the space to do so, top hinge and cut between the letters. When I first started, not that long ago, I would cut into very small sections when possible. That way I could apply each section with one downward squeegee stroke. This method worked great but is sllooowww as heck.

    As I became more experienced I lengthen the sections more and more. Now I like to do sections that are, oh, say 12-18” or so wide. I find by curling back the liner but leaving it attached I can keep the vinyl taut and apply with virtually perfect results.

    I just completed a job with half dozen 4x8 signs with full length lettering by myself. Not a bubble or wrinkle to be found. I give a lot of credit to the Rob Ivers instructional tapes (and this forum, of course) as I have no formal sign shop training.

    Now when I have the luxury of having a helper nearby I'll use the end hinge method. Last week we did a semi with some long 12"x60" graphics. After we lined it up and used some pieces of tape at the far end for alignment reference my helper kept the graphic just barely off the surface and one swipe with the Big Squeegee had it applied, literally, within 10 seconds, bubble and crease free.

    If I’m doing a long solid graphic by myself I’ll typically use a center hinge. Probably not the right way, and you must be very careful to avoid a telltale ghost line where the hinge was, but I find it works well for me. And, again, the Big Squeegee really raised my confidence level on these installs. Enough so that I just ordered 2 more yesterday.
  13. coyote

    coyote Active Member

    Nov 13, 2007
    Baltimore MD
    Try snapping or drawing your bottom layout line with a Stabilo pencil on the vehicle. Also, draw a bottom line on your mask-mark your centering and left and right, peel manageable sections of lettering off the backing, spray it and the vehicle with whatever liquid you prefer, and lay the type right on the line (unless it's semi transparent and will allow the line to show through). This works great. If the type is somewhat crooked, you can move it. Step back and take a look before you commit to squeegeeing (is that a word?)

    When you lay out dry, you're committed. Until you're really confident and have more skill, opt for the wet method which takes a bit longer but is more forgiving.

    This takes much less time that taping and hinging. Do all your layout lines first, then slap the type on. Also, when it's windy I find that all the hinged pieces blow off before I can get to them.

    For dry application, I do tape and hinge as mentioned previously.
  14. The Big Squeegee

    The Big Squeegee Major Contributor

    Oct 10, 2005
    Lawton, OK, USA
    Thanks for the good words.

    I have heard quite often that the Big Squeegee had raised the confidence level of people who were new to the sign business. It has helped a good many new businesses grow and do things that they would not even consider before getting a Big Squeegee.

    You should not let the customer see you using the Big Squeegee though. It makes the job look so easy that they may think you overcharged them.

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