Too much damage to be recovered
Now, let’s get down to business. It’s time to tackle the cabin refurbishment. Unfortunately, the one on the snowmobile is cracked at the front, has several deep scratches and spider web type cracks from one end to the other. Not to mention the stickers that are partially torn off and faded in the sun in some places.
I was able to find a donor for the cabin, but it’s from a 1993 Mach 1. So, I will have to find a set of replacement graphics to respect the colours of my 1994 Mach 1. In this case, we dealt with DooDecals, a company that specializes in the reproduction of snowmobile stickers for several major brands such as Ski-Doo, but also Polaris, Arctic Cat, Yamaha, John Deere, Moto-Ski, Scorpion and Mercury.
The first step will be to remove the stickers from the cabin of the 1993 Mach 1. This task seems easy at first glance, but after several years of drying and leathering in the sun, they are welded together and trying to remove them is practically impossible. At first, I tried to remove them by hand by pulling on the corners hoping that the rest would follow, but everything broke instantly. A monk’s job for one square inch an hour. The second technique used was to try to remove them with a razor blade, but it was too risky to damage the paint. Afterwards, I tried the lighter gas technique and even left rags soaked in gasoline or grease for several days in the hope of softening the whole thing and being able to remove them easily, but there was nothing I could do about it. I thought at one point I would sandblast the cabin completely and start anew and repaint it, but this would incur significant additional costs.
Then, a miracle happened while searching the Web. I found a technique used by auto detailing people to remove stickers on motorized camping vehicles. They use a rubber disc with a very low durometer at the end of a drill. They use the disc like a grinding wheel, but since the rubber is very soft, it allows them to remove the stickers very easily without damaging the paint. An hour’s work to remove one square inch was reduced to 30 minutes to remove the stickers all over the cabin completely! Alleluia!!! The only place the rubber wheel cannot remove the stickers is where the dials are located. The good news is that they are very thick and can be removed by pulling on them. Once everything is removed and after a good polishing, the cabin is practically as good as new and ready for the new graphics.
Spider web in the paint
Test and trial to remove the original sticker. Only a few small pieces were removed
Donor’s cabin from a 1993 Mach 1
Rubber disc for removing stickers
Stickers completely removed after 30 minutes of working with the rubber disc
Original sticker of the dials of the 1993 Mach 1
Dial stickers must be removed by hand
Original sticker removed. Only the glue remains to be removed
Stickers and glue removed. New graphic ready to be installed
DooDecals sticker from the dials of the 1994 Mach 1
DooDecals sticker on the 1994 Mach 1 installed
The replacement and application of the sticker on the dials is very easy. All you must do is align the holes with those in the cabin and you’re done. A small adjustment to the low oil level warning lights and the high position headlight was necessary; otherwise the precision of the cut is perfect. The satin finish of this sticker is different from the rest and DooDecals were able to reproduce the colours, finishes and textures perfectly. Bravo!
The dials will also be given a rejuvenation treatment. They will be cleaned, sanded and repainted. Hinges and other parts will be sent to be zinced before being reinstalled. Some advice, when zinc plating, whether for a few bolts or for the whole snowmobile, the price will be the same since the price is determined by the lot and not by the piece.
One of the cabin’s support cables was broken, so we had to replace it. Originally there are two to secure the hinges more adequately and to recreate the assembly as the cabin was when it left the factory. A small additional detail will be to rework the headlight. Over time, these plastic lights tend to scratch and tarnish. Several rejuvenation kits are sold in big-box stores at an affordable price. It must be sanded with very fine grit and then polished. The process takes about 30 minutes to bring back the original shine.
Dials removed from cabin awaiting refreshment
Dial and paint support
Dials, bracket and indicator light in preparation before installation
Dials, bracket and indicator light installed
Final result, dials and sticker reinstalled
Zinc replaced hinge
Headlight once polished
Cable to hold the cut cabin
The cabin before receiving the new graphics of the 1994 Mach 1
Now that the cabin is back in place, the surfaces must be well prepared before applying the new graphics.
First, we must make sure that the ambient temperature is adequate. If it is too cold, around 0 degrees, it is advisable to use an external heat source, which will help the drying time. A degreaser must be applied, first of all, so that the stickers adhere to the cabin.
Two techniques are used. The first is a so-called dry method by applying the stickers directly to the surface. It’s faster, but it’s unforgiving. If the stickers are not perfectly positioned and if air bubbles are trapped, it is much more difficult and practically impossible to correct these defects. The second technique is the one I use. This technique is called wet with the use of a liquid that allows the stickers to be moved and relocated to the right places if necessary. In addition, it is easy to push the air bubbles outwards. I used Windex for the windows, and this technique worked wonderfully, although it takes more time.
First, I used the old cabin to measure the position of each sticker to recreate the original location as accurately as possible. It is necessary to create points of reference and to note the height, the beginning and the end of each sticker before the application. With the wet method, the initial position is less important since it is possible to move them after the initial application. The more liquid there is, the more work it will take to remove and dry it. The less liquid, the less flexible it will be to work the positioning.
It is advised by DooDecals not to install the graphics after surfaces are freshly painted. You must wait at least one week until all the solvents in the paint have dried. In our case, it won’t be a problem since we have reused an existing cabin.
DooDecals sends the stickers sandwiched between two waxed papers. Before application, only the bottom part must be removed so that the alignment between the letters is maintained. Apply the sticker directly on the Windex, positioning it according to your reference points. Now you must start removing the liquid from under the sticker. Keep the paper on top for now. Use a credit card or another plastic scraper to remove water and bubbles. Start at the centre and scrape in all directions outwards. It is very important to take your time at this stage. If you squeeze the scraper too hard, the sticker will probably move. Begin gently and gradually build up more vigour. You will feel the sticker starting to get drier and drier and will have a greater tendency to move. Once it is firmly in place, the next step is to remove the protective paper from the sticker. Again, take your time, as the adhesive underneath is not yet completely dry. Peel off one small corner at a time and use your fingers to put pressure on the sticker while with the other hand, you slowly pull off the protective paper. Don’t hesitate to take breaks to remove excess water when necessary. Once the protective paper is removed, the work is not yet complete. The water under the sticker should continue to be removed. Again, from the centre outwards. Use a lamp to reflect any air bubbles remaining under the sticker. Sometimes it will take several minutes for the toughest ones to disappear.
Now a little comparison between the original stickers and the new ones from DooDecals
To fully understand the quality of the DooDecals stickers, I have in my possession the nine original NOS company stickers as a comparison as well as the 1994 cabin to be able to compare dimensions, colour, logo and lettering accuracy. What I can say is that you won’t be disappointed on any level. Moreover, the disadvantage with original stickers, if by chance you manage to find some, is that most of the time, they have not been well stored, and folds have formed over time. The tests I did on some of them were positive while for others, I couldn’t apply them well because of these stubborn folds. So be careful when buying vintage stickers… (DooDecals stickers are new and made to order).
You can judge for yourself by looking at the pictures below of my 1994 Mach 1. As I said, the dimensions are right, the finish is the same for both the glossy and matte parts, and the textures are right. The only point where it is difficult for me to judge is in the colours since the original ones have faded. While looking at the new NOS Ski-Doo I found, it seems that the people at DooDecals have done a phenomenal job to recreate the original Ski-Doo as faithfully as possible. Thank you to DooDecals for offering this service because without them, without these enthusiasts, our old snowmobiles would no longer be able to receive this much-desired rejuvenation treatment!