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After 25 years I changed states. Peeled off the old registration numbers, but the adhesive remained. MEK, brake cleaner, brushing thinner, citrus adhesive remover...non of it worked. Light abrasive pads and sandpaper did little good. Any suggestions? Before I go 120 grit on a nice enamel job.

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You try one of those rubber eraser wheels? They often work even under seemingly hopeless circumstances. Spend the money on the 3M version, you get what you pay for with these things. 

https://www.amazon.com/Stripe-Wheel-07498-Diameter-Mandrel/dp/B00063VT0G/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=3m+rubber+wheel&qid=1583602274&sr=8-2

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Judicious heat can help soften the glue. But none of the solvents you list would be my first choice. I've had very good luck with WD40, which is mineral spirits, stoddard solvent, and mineral oil. It evaporates slowly enuf to soften the adhesive. Covering the moistened area with plastic wrap or a taped-down scrap of garbage bag will also help. Goo Gonetm has a good reputation. Some people swear by lighter fluid. I like WD40 and time.

There are also water-based and alcohol-based glues that won't respond to petrochemical cleaners, tho the former seems an unlikely choice for boat registration numerals. If none of the above solvents works, try a little denatured or isoapropyl alcohol, or a rag saturated with xylol.

 

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a description of the glue remains and a pic of the area can make it a lot easier to give a more definitive answer

 

as well as the above a hair dryer and brown paper can also be tried

 

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5 hours ago, IStream said:

You try one of those rubber eraser wheels? They often work even under seemingly hopeless circumstances. Spend the money on the 3M version, you get what you pay for with these things. 

https://www.amazon.com/Stripe-Wheel-07498-Diameter-Mandrel/dp/B00063VT0G/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=3m+rubber+wheel&qid=1583602274&sr=8-2

+1. This is what these things were made for. Just don't use on single pack substrates! They're called "caramel wheels". You'll learn why quick enough once you start using one.

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Give lacquer thinner a try. This worked much better for me than any of the solvents you listed. I also have used a 3M spray adhesive remover (I forget the specific product number) but it didn’t work much better than lacquer thinner and was much more expensive. I tried WD-40, Goof-Off, acetone, etc., to no avail. Lacquer thinner was the first thing that actually helped.

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WD40 is great for removing "fresh" adhesives - nothing better for getting labels off bottles, prices tags off etc. but I've never had any success with it on old dead adhesive.

I concur with lacquer thinner - if neither it nor MEK work then I'd say abrasives are your only option.

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As suggested, I kept the adhesive wet for an hour, with the Goo Gone. Takes some rubbing, but eventually the old adhesive balls up and rubs off. Thanks for all the advice and good ideas. 

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I managed to remove the adhesive from some 30 year old velcro pads on my bunk backs.
Acetone wouldn't touch it, but I found that a scraper & WD40 got it off pretty quickly.

Normally the adhesive would stick to the scraper and it wouldn't work but the WD40 stopped it from sticking & also reduced the chance of the scraper binding, I've no idea if it had any dissolving effect, but it let me get it off mechanically.

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The wife spent Saturday taking the old hailing port off of our stern with Goof Off (mentioned above) and a magic eraser. You can find knock-off "melanine foam" blocks for very cheap, though they don't last as long as the real thing.

After that, we polished using the MaineSail methodology: 3M heavy, then perfect-it. Looks brand new, ish. Even made the original hailing port shadows nearly disappear.

 

 

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Hands down the best solvent for this is lighter fluid... the stuff in the yellow container with the blue cap.  Beats Goof off by a large stretch.  Once you apply to the area in question, the nasty sticky glue will just start melting away with minimal rubbing.

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