RV Beautification -> Removing The Ugly 3M Shield From The Front Of Our Holiday Rambler
In the process of getting our RV in tip-top shape for sale, we’ve been addressing some of the smaller cosmetic issues that have been “on our list” to repair, but we just never got around to (you know how that goes, right?).
The very top of this list has been the 3M protective shield on the front of our coach. It actually looked fine until around a year ago, when it started deteriorating, and then it looked pretty awful. Lots of little cracks and dark spots (they look like mold) all over the front of our RV. It’s purely cosmetic and doesn’t affect the underlying paint, but it’s just not appealing. It made for poor curb appeal, if you will.
It’s a common problem too.
Many coaches have these sheilds. They are typically made by either 3M or Diamond Shield and their purpose is to add an extra of extra protection on the front of your coach. They serve their purpose OK, but they all eventually deteriorate and once they start, you can’t really stop them. You’ll find long discussions about 3M & Diamond Shield on RV forums, mostly related to folks looking for how to remove them permanently (those who remove them, rarely if ever replace them). It’s a VERY common problem.
Want to See This in Video?? We compiled a ~15 min video of our entire day here. Check it out:
Removing Them Takes Time, And Patience
Our original thought was actually to remove the shield ourselves. So we started Googling around, and searching YouTube which landed us on a set of detailed DIY Youtube videos from a company called Ugly Shield Removal. The videos were exactly what we were looking for. They offered a slew of “how to’s” on shield removal detailing exactly what equipment to use and how to do it yourself. Plus they had individual tips for different types of film (3M versus Diamond Shield). We were well impressed.
After watching the videos and seeing what a time-consuming project this was likely to be however (especially for us, given that we’re in a time crunch with our move), we decided just to give the guys a call to find out what it would take to get the shield removal done by them in Fort Myers. We were planning to drive up and check out some consignment guys up there anyway, so perhaps it would be an easy thing to get done while we were in the area?
One phone call was all it took to convince us. Wayne answered all our questions without hesitation, confirmed we would be able to stay on-site with the pets, and assured us that he could complete the work in one day. Done!
NOTE/ I have NO affiliation with these guys and did not receive any monetary compensation for this post. Those of you who’ve followed the blog over the years know that I only ever recommend service that has really impressed us (and simply don’t mention service that doesn’t). I think I’ve only ever recommended around 5 places in the 9 years we’ve been on the road. I’m happy to say, these guys definitely make the Wheelingit cut.
Our On-Site Experience
We arrived at Ugly Shield Removal the evening before our appointment. Wayne greeted us at the door, took us around the facility and set us up right outside the shop with a 50A cord (much appreciated due to the heat).
We got a good vibe about the business right away. It’s a family-run company (owner, his dad, and son) located just south of Fort Myers in a a spotlessly clean facility next to a pretty lake. They’ve got a very nice interior paw-friendly, full-service lounge, lots of outdoor greenery (another paw thumbs up), and they even offer an on-site dump & water too. The shop itself is at the end of a street inside a quiet industrial area, so it’s surprisingly quiet too.
We spent a very restful night outside the shop and woke up bright and early for our appointment the next day.
The Removal Process
The removal itself is a 2-step process. The first step involves scraping off the shield itself (removing the outer 3M film) while the second step involves scraping off & removing the left-over underlying adhesive.
Step 1 – Removing the Outer 3M Film
Wayne spent the first half of the day removing the outer layer of the shield. It’s a laborious process that involves warming up the film (in this case Wayne took advantage of the fact that we were parked facing the sun), then using a scraper to carefully scrape off the 3M little by little. The shield must be kept warm, and the scraper needs to be resharpened regularly with sand paper (Wayne uses 80 grit, followed by 320 grit) as you go. Plus of course care must be taken not to put any scrapes into the underlying paint. Wayne was meticulous and methodical, as you would expect from an expert.
Step 2 – Removing the Underlying Adhesive
For the second half of our removal process, Wayne took us into the service bay. He first gave us a complimentary wash with RO water (such an unexpected bonus) and then him and his son went to work on removing the underlying adhesive.
Once again this is a super laborious process done bit by bit that involves spraying some chemicals on the adhesive to loosen it up, and then carefully scraping off that adhesive to reveal the underlying surface. A final polish to remove the remains and it’s done. Once again, the plastic scraper must be kept in shape with sand paper along the way, and care must be taken not to damage the underlying clear-coat.
Could We Have Done This Ourselves?
All in all, having seen how it’s done I’d say that removing a 3M shield is a laborious, but fairly straightforward process. The steps themselves that are not all that complicated. It’s simply that it takes time and a bucket-load of patience. Wayne and Kevin worked all day on our coach, and they have the experience of having removed hundreds of these things before. So yes, we could have done it ourselves, but I am more than happy that we got the professionals to do it instead. It would have taken Paul and I at least a week of hard work to complete, plus I just don’t think we would have taken the same care or achieved the professional buffer-shine that Wayne did.
Oh and the price? Wayne charges $850 and up for shield removal, a total deal IMO!
What Did We Think?
The difference before and after was beyond our expectations. Before the removal I think it would be fair to say our coach had so-so curb appeal. I mean the front wasn’t terrible, but it was fairly obvious that it had deteriorated, especially when you looked up up close. The front is the first thing you see when you look at an RV, so I felt it was cheapening the rest of the coach.
After the removal however, our coach looked STUNNING!
Seriously, her front looked brand new and gleamed like the day she was born. The front finally matched the rest of the RV (which still looks great), and gave off that inviting curb appeal that we had been looking for. It made such a big difference that we kicked ourselves for not having done it before.
Ugly Shield Went Above And Beyond
This was such a great service visit! We were overjoyed, not only with our final result, but also with our overall experience at the shop itself. Wayne was welcoming, warm, professional and meticulous, all the qualities you look for in a professional who’s working on your coach. Plus he delivered everything he promised and more.
He promised to get our coach completed in a day and, despite the fact that it was a big job (our 3M shield wrapped around the sides of our coach as well as the front) he did. Wayne and his son toiled 12 hours (!!) on our coach from 9AM to 9PM, an incredibly long day of laborious bit-by-bit removal work. And yet they never skimped on details or quality.
Everything was completed with care, even down to the removal of the little bits of film around the inner edges of our generator bay, and underneath the bottom of the coach. Plus he went the extra mile to wash our coach, wax & buff the front, and polish up our dulled headlamps, three additional bonus services that were thrown in for free. The quality and results of the work were top-notch, and I would have no hesitation recommending this service to others. A solid Wheelingit 2 thumbs and 12 paws up!
After our 3M shield removal we spent a second night on the Ugly Shield property in Fort Myers (with 50A hookup), and now we are back south in S.Florida for our final few weeks before we move to Europe. We’ve got some minor RV stuff to take care of (e.g. replacing some burnt-out bulbs, deep-cleaning the carpets, oiling the cabinets etc.). Then we need to move all our stuff out, sell the RV (hopefully) or put her in consignment and finally board our flight to France. It’ll be a CRAZY busy few weeks….