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Obsessing over slightly misaligned decals

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Obsessing over slightly misaligned decals

Old 02-27-17, 11:15 PM
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Obsessing over slightly misaligned decals

About a year ago, I had my bike repainted. Vinyl decals from velocals were applied over the top of the automotive paint (and clearcoat) by the painter. I was told the freshly painted bike was put in a "hot box" to cure before the decals were applied.

All in all the painter did a fantastic job....except the downtube decals are ever so slightly misaligned. The panels are painted so it is individual letters applied over the blue paint.

You can't really tell that much from the side of the bike.

Drive-side:




Non-drive side:



However when I'm riding, every damn time I look down this is what I see:



And it still bugs me one year later!

I'm so tempted to re-purchase one set of decals from velocals and attempt to reapply myself. However velocals indicated to me that there is a risk of pulling up the clearcoat if it adhered to the decal before fulling curing :-/

What would you do? I'm tempted to try the heatgun and go slowly to see what happens. If it looks like it is pulling the clearcoat, I abort and glue it down.

Or I can just live with it and hopefully not obsess over it...
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Old 02-27-17, 11:50 PM
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Let it go. This bike is hot. The decals just give it personality.
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Old 02-27-17, 11:52 PM
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I see what you mean that would bother me also.
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Old 02-27-17, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by ppg677 View Post
About a year ago, I had my bike repainted. Vinyl decals from velocals were applied over the top of the automotive paint (and clearcoat) by the painter. I was told the freshly painted bike was put in a "hot box" to cure before the decals were applied.

All in all the painter did a fantastic job....except the downtube decals are ever so slightly misaligned. The panels are painted so it is individual letters applied over the blue paint.

You can't really tell that much from the side of the bike.



However when I'm riding, every damn time I look down this is what I see:



And it still bugs me one year later!

I'm so tempted to re-purchase one set of decals from velocals and attempt to reapply myself. However velocals indicated to me that there is a risk of pulling up the clearcoat if it adhered to the decal before fulling curing :-/

What would you do? I'm tempted to try the heatgun and go slowly to see what happens. If it looks like it is pulling the clearcoat, I abort and glue it down.

Or I can just live with it and hopefully not obsess over it...


Hydrate!!!

Get a very tall stainless or opaque vessel for that crookedly mounted water bottle cage.

Even if you attempt to "fix it", you will always know that it was there. Nothing is "perfect". Are you certain the original was not "misaligned"?

Accept it as it is, but put it out of sight, for your peace of mind.

Hydrate.

Last edited by machinist42; 02-27-17 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 02-27-17, 11:53 PM
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Time to listen to What Do You Want From Life by The Tubes.
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Old 02-27-17, 11:55 PM
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It's a little late to do anything about it now. That being said, that would bug the hell out of me.
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Old 02-28-17, 12:05 AM
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I remember in 92 when I paid full retail for a Bridgestone MB-2. I think the LBS built it up from factory and put the decals on. The decals we're off(more than yours) and when my eye went to it, I would notice it. I still liked the bike fine, road it and everything, but thought the LBS could of done a better job on the decals.
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Old 02-28-17, 04:23 AM
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You can't make it better, so don't even try.

The same thing happened to me; a painter (not me) applied my decals a little askew. No one else sees the asymmetry, though, and I don't bother to point it out. It's an old bike. It's been repainted.
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Old 02-28-17, 04:25 AM
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I would lean a little to the left every time I reached down for the water bottle. A little easier than a re-do.

My '96 Colnago has painted decals and the clover leaf on the top tube is ever so slightly misaligned. I view that as a sign of a human touch and proof that the bike was built by human hands and not a factory robot.
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Old 02-28-17, 04:43 AM
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There are two types of people. You are like me. It bothers us.
We have to talk ourselves into it being ok. Whatever you have to tell yourself to make it ok - that's what you say every time you notice it.
I rebuilt a camper top to bottom for my daughter and I. It turned out awesome because I reminded myself, "its a camper, not a Cadillac."
It's a bike, not a Bugatti. No one else notices it. Pedal harder.
The alternative is let it eat you up and I'm sure you'll agree, life's too short for that.
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Old 02-28-17, 09:01 AM
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The problem I see is using a seat tube decal pattern for the down tube. I strongly question whether the decal(s) are as described. That is separate letters positioned on a painted backround/panel. That each letter is so evenly off center and not a hint of being crooked/rotated in place, that this pattern has been available as one large wrap around the tube decal (with the blue "panel" being on the decal) collectively suggest this was a seat tube decal.


So the questions that would bother me are- Is this actually a single decal? And what did I actually pay for?


A single color paint job with a single decal application should be far less cost then a paneled paint job with 8 individual decals.


Here's a link to a source for this decal as I've described T - Trek - Page 1 - VeloCals Note that it comes with a similar down tube decal. So the last question I would ask is why did the painter use the vertical decal on the down tube and not the typically used horizontal one? (Of course I know one reason why... He messed up that decal and continued with what he had on hand instead of stopping and talking with the customer).


At best the OP needs to move on. At worst he and the painter need to talk about what was actually done and what was paid for. The truth might lay in the middle too. But at face value somethings not matching up, and it's not the alignment of the letters. Andy.
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Old 02-28-17, 09:45 AM
  #12  
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In this case and if you've invested thus far in a project, fix it. Skillfully take a razor to the perimeter of the decal. Use whatever means including a heat gun to help lift it and remove. Apply new decal and blend with a fresh coat of clear.

If still not satisfied, do it all over again but ONLY the complete down tube. And yes, you'll likely curse during the process but its not really that bad of an ordeal. Wishing you good luck-
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Old 02-28-17, 10:01 AM
  #13  
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The vinyl decals are definitely individual letters applied over the painted panels. I know because I sourced everything myself and specced out the paint job.

The clearcoat was *not* applied over the decals. These are vinyl decals on top of clearcoat. The reason why we did that is because the "United States of America" yellow bands are original decals and they did not pass the "melt test" of applying clearcoat over top. Therefore we applied all the decals on top of the clear.

One thing I may do is "test" the removal of these decals by trying to carefully remove one of the Columbus tubing decals. Which were also sourced from velocals and applied at the same time. One corner never adhered properly anyways.

I think chances are very good that a heat gun would lift the decal no problem and that naptha would clean up the adhesive residue. There seems to be a small chance that the decal adhered to the clearcoat.

Yes, I sunk $600 into the repaint and replacement decals. In retrospect I wished I would have applied the decals myself. Humans make errors.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:01 AM
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If I were going to attempt to a change, I would not remove the decal but simply apply a new one on top of the old one. I think you can purchase decals that single sheets and not individual letters.
There will be a little lip at the edges but similar to what all decals have....I would not risk fouling up the paint with a heat gun or razor to make a minor correction.
It has been my experience that many of the decals are stronger than the supplier suggests and you might not need to clear coat it....not all factory decals were coated anyway.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:20 AM
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OK then ppg677, I get what you're describing. Thats even a better situation from what I first thought.

First trial would be using a heat gun and without any pick tool, use only your fingernail and lift them. With hoping they lift off and be very easy with solutions to clean residue on recent paint / clears. Now if the letter outline is in the clear, then take a 1500 grit and lightly sand any elevation difference out. Re-install new letters.

If its really screwed up, mask off the frame and just re-shoot the panel + new letters.

Re-do's are not fun, but take a deep breath, turn up your fave music and git' er done. Totally get where you've gone that far and YOU want it right.
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Old 02-28-17, 01:56 PM
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an "upside-down" misprint of the 24-cent airmail stamp ("Inverted Jenny") is worth over $1 miliion USD...how much is a "perfectly fine" 24-cent "jenny" stamp worth? About $40.
Enjoy your "mistakes"
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Old 02-28-17, 02:15 PM
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Just pretend your bike is French.


Mine is, and the head tube decal is off-center. So I compensated by having the front brake cable stop slightly off to the other side. It all adds to the character, you know.

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Old 02-28-17, 02:21 PM
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Buy a tall water bottle and keep it in the cage at all times. That should hide the down tube decal and solve the OCD problem.

BTW - Be sure not to look at the bike while drinking.
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Old 02-28-17, 02:51 PM
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If it was an Italian bike then an off center decal would be the way it came from the factory.
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Old 02-28-17, 03:13 PM
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My first vintage bike was a Colango Super. I stripped the frame, painted it and applied new velocal decals then clear coated. I was so happy with the finished results until I posted it here. Someone pointed out that my down tube decals were to low on the tube. I centered them by kneeling down and centered them from top to bottom. They mentioned it should be up a little so when your looking down at the bike you can see the name. It bothered me for awhile but I got over it. I ended up selling it to a very cool and happy BF member, and he seems ok with it. Id just leave it you may end up making it worse.
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Old 02-28-17, 03:25 PM
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Having you considered talking to the original painter to fix them? Maybe they have some suggestions on how to do it, or maybe they'll offer to do it themselves...
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Old 02-28-17, 03:33 PM
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It's probably more common than some would think, if you started to actually go around checking everyone's bikes. I had a Pinarello years ago and after having it for some time, once realized one of the "P" letters was noticeably crooked. Even worse, I bought Miele decals from that guy on eBay that got all the originals when they closed. Beautiful decal set and I was super careful applying them. Then realized the seattube "MIELE" letters were uneven. I couldn't figure out why and went back to the peel away sheet that came on top of the decals, and realized that the "crosshairs" printed on the sheet to help you line them up, were themselves misprinted.
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Old 02-28-17, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by sdn40 View Post
There are two types of people.
There are two types of people: those who divide the world into two types of people and those who don't.
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Old 02-28-17, 03:36 PM
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Sorry, unlike most have posted here, this would drive me absolutely bat crazy. I would have noticed it immediately when picking the bike up from paint and would have handed the frame right back to the painter and said "fix this".


That said, only YOU can make your mind up whether to correct it or not. For me, it would be no question. I've often gone down this road with similar irritations and I must admit it's often a bigger pain in the end after deciding to correct the error. But to me, it was either fix it or let it bug the crap out of me for the next "forever".


I have this affinity for straight, square, and plumb, having done carpentry for years. I recently visited a friend's new home and my critical eye started picking out all of the stupid mistakes the builder's sub-contractors made. All you have to do is line up with one doorway opening with another and BOOM! there it is; a door or window that is not square. One of my biggest pet peeves is uneven runs of asphalt shingles on a roof. Most people don't even see it until I point it out (I didn't tell my friend, though, for hurting his feelings).
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Old 02-28-17, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by davester View Post
If it was an Italian bike then an off center decal would be the way it came from the factory.
Yes, it can be a question of outlook.

What some would consider a flaw, others would call "character". This is especially true of high end hand made goods because perfection smacks of "production".

Note also, that some cultures frown on perfection, so minor, relatively insignificant flaws are desirable.
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