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Separating helicopter tape from backing

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Separating helicopter tape from backing

Old 09-26-18, 12:42 PM
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Metaluna
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Separating helicopter tape from backing

I've got a roll of 14 mil helicopter tape (I believe the brand is "ISC Racer's Tape" but I'm sure it's probably some rebranded 3M stuff). It's a few years old, and it has always been really difficult to get the backing to come free (which is why I still have a lot left -- it's so hard to use that I rarely use it), but lately, as the roll ages it seems to be getting nearly impossible. Even if I manage to get it started, and go slow, the paper backing usually tears after an inch or so. Right now I'd like to use some to protect the downtube of a new carbon frame, but I'll have to cut at least two very long strips (it's only 1" wide) and I'm sure it's going to be nearly impossible to get the paper off cleanly

Does anyone know of any tricks to get this stuff to separate, or did I just get a bad roll? I experimented with heat without much luck. I didn't have a hair dryer handy, so I laid a small piece over a hot water pipe in my basement for a minute or so, but it didn't seem to unstick the paper at all. I guess I could try soaking it in water but that seems like it would make the paper backing even more delicate.

I'd like to order another roll (my current roll is 1" wide, but 2" would really work better for this oversized downtube), but given how much this stuff costs I'm reluctant to take the risk. Maybe the thinner grades (e.g. 8 mil) are easier to work with?
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Old 09-26-18, 12:57 PM
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Maybe try gentle warming (urethane melts at a relatively low temperature) or a compatible solvent.

Next time store rolls in a ziplock in the refrigerator.
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Old 09-26-18, 10:06 PM
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I've found that thinner tapes/decals and such can be harder to separate from their backing because they flex more. The stiffer (and generally thicker) the film the easier it is to get the backing to start peeling. Andy
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Old 09-27-18, 06:15 PM
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Try applying some clear packing tape on the backing, then pull the backing off. The packing tape will hold the backing together.
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Old 09-28-18, 09:57 AM
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Age and storage conditions, mostly irreversible, sorry for the bad news. I've used heat with some success when the adhesion became a problem.

Possibly though it's a QC issue with the product.
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Old 09-28-18, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
Age and storage conditions, mostly irreversible, sorry for the bad news. I've used heat with some success when the adhesion became a problem.

Possibly though it's a QC issue with the product.
Yeah, it seems like the problem now is that the paper backing itself is delaminating, so most of it peels off, leaving a thin layer of pulp. I'll try RGMN's trick on that, but I'm not optimistic.

Can anyone recommend a good supplier for this stuff (doesn't have to be ISC brand)? I think I got this roll off Amazon. The manufacturer itself (ISC RACERS TAPE) seems to be legit, but with Amazon it's really hard to evaluate whether the particular vendor that is selling through their storefront is reputable and has fresh stock that has been stored properly.
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Old 09-28-18, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Metaluna View Post
Can anyone recommend a good supplier for this stuff (doesn't have to be ISC brand)? . . .
Maybe try actual 3M brand. It's expensive but I have seen 20+ year old rolls that work fine. Or, buy strips only as needed.
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Old 09-28-18, 11:23 AM
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On similar hard to peel backings, like some reflective tape, I've used a sharp razor knife on the corner of the edges. Use scissors to trim the end of the tape a little if the edge is mangled. It takes a few tries to get the blade in between the backing and the tape. Next, hold the tape by pinching the tape between the blade and your finger, then peel off the backing.

But if the backing is so bad that it just rips, then this won't fix the problem.

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Old 09-28-18, 01:30 PM
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Go to Aircraftspruce.com. Put leading edge tape into the search box. The 3m 8674 is the best stuff, easy to use when applied using the wet method. They sell it by the foot in various widths. I use it as a keel strip on all my kayaks, and for chain stay and frame tube protection on all my bikes. Tim
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Old 09-28-18, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork View Post
Maybe try actual 3M brand. It's expensive but I have seen 20+ year old rolls that work fine. Or, buy strips only as needed.
It looks like the 3M stuff uses a plastic backing, so it should be much less likely to tear than paper. I just assumed that everyone was just buying 3M in bulk and relabeling it, but apparently not.

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Old 09-28-18, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by tkamd73 View Post
Go to Aircraftspruce.com. Put leading edge tape into the search box. The 3m 8674 is the best stuff, easy to use when applied using the wet method. They sell it by the foot in various widths. I use it as a keel strip on all my kayaks, and for chain stay and frame tube protection on all my bikes. Tim
Thanks! I just ordered some from them. The shipping charges for First Class Mail were really reasonable so it was painless to order a small amount (10 ft). The 8674 is only 8 mil thick (the stuff I have now is 14 mil) but should be plenty for downtube protection.
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Old 09-28-18, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Metaluna View Post
Thanks! I just ordered some from them. The shipping charges for First Class Mail were really reasonable so it was painless to order a small amount (10 ft). The 8674 is only 8 mil thick (the stuff I have now is 14 mil) but should be plenty for downtube protection.
Thatís plenty, the stuff is tough. If you install using the wet method it goes on like a decal, and peels off any time you want.
The bottom of my kayaks are all beat up, except where the tape is, if I peel it off, the parts of the hull under the tape look brand new. Aircraft Spruce includes the instructions for wet installation of the product.
Tim
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