With the truck on the road and the project nearly complete, the truck was finally ready for it's graphics. We contacted several companies in the St. Louis area to find a vinyl graphics company that would meet our needs. Ultimately we decided to go with a Fenton based vinyl graphics company called Vinyl Images. They are one of a handful of vinyl graphics firms with a color vinyl printer large enough to print the images in a single pass on a single sheet of vinyl rather than printing on several smaller pieces and putting them together on the truck. Vinyl Images has quite a reputation for the quality of their work. In fact, several monster truck organizations are bringing their trucks in from all over the country to have Vinyl Images create and install their graphics.
The process began with our own graphics artist taking all of the logos from all of our sponsors and getting them resized based on the amount of support each firm provided and then getting them laid out so that they would all fit within the door panels of the Stahl Grand Challenger service body. That was quite a challenge in and of itself. It took Randy several weeks, working on and off, to get everyone accounted for and sized accordingly. Once this process was completed, the file was saved in vector format on CD and delivered to Vinyl Images. Chris, the resident graphics master at Vinyl Images then took our files, touched up here and there where necessary and converted them to their own format for printing on their vinyl graphics plotter. In the first image, you can see the 3M vinyl being printed and cut. The plotter is a two stage process that first prints the images to the vinyl. Then the roll of vinyl is sent back through so the plotter can then cut around the images so they can be extracted from the sheet. Next, the sheets are cut according to where on the truck the images are to be applied. Each door is made up of three or more sheets of vinyl graphics. The trick now is to get each sheet lined up perfectly with the truck and with the other vinyl images being applied.
For the length of the truck, we wanted some sort of reflective stripe and so it was decided to run a stripe along the bottom of the cab along the body lines and then to carry the stripe down the service body just underneath the doors so as not to take up space needed for all of our sponsor's logos. Then it was time to apply the Maltese Cross and Fire / Rescue graphics to the doors and tailgate. The folks over at Vinyl Images probably could have done this in their sleep as professional as they were in applying the vinyl graphics on Project Responder. All that remained is the hood and some 'flames' around the hood image and the front fenders. It was late when the logos and the Fire / Rescue vinyl graphics were completed so we decided that we could come back later to get the rest of the vinyl images finished and applied.
As you can see from the photos, it was a lot of work to get the vinyl graphics created and applied to Project Responder. The staff of Vinyl Images did a most excellent job in taking care of us and our truck. When we get the truck back in their shop to finish off the graphics, the updates will be posted here shortly thereafter.