Sign repair for a bar in California

RobA

Member
Location
San Diego, CA
Sign repair for a bar in California

6 letter old looking neon sign. The letters are ~30’ tall.

The H is off 100% of the time.

The G is off 95% off then 100% on, intermittently.

Can anyone point me to a good thread on old neon signs?

Much appreciated,

Rob
robertnathanalm@gmail.com
 

brantmacga

Senior Member
Location
Georgia
Occupation
Electrical contractor
How many transformers and how are they grouped?

If the H is sharing with another letter, I’d guess it probably needs to be re-gassed. Probably the case with your other letter but you can get a neon wand tester to be sure. You can check the wiring connections on the flashing letter and make sure they’re not broken.

I quit working on them a few years ago when the last neon shop here closed up.


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oldsparky52

Senior Member
I used to see external to the sign transformers in the 70's. Then in the 90's I ran into gas station canopy lettering that had the transformer inside of each letter.

I think the 1st thing is to figure out how to remove a 30' tall letter face. How far off the ground is the bottom of that 30' letter? Or are you saying the letters are up in the air 30' (top or bottom)?

Anyway, if you don't have the equipment and experience, this could be a costly education. Personally, I'd leave it to the sign company.
 

MAC702

Senior Member
Location
Clark County, NV
A bar with a sign with 30' letters? That's a big bar.

Makes me think there are more than one transformer per letter, and maybe the common issue is something else. That would be a large/long tube to do an entire letter by itself.
 

oldsparky52

Senior Member
Most likely. I worked on a sign or two before I said ‘No, thank you.”
I did a few months with a sign company as a helper before I found an EC to hire me and I was exposed to some real cowboys. I was a quick study and thought I learned a lot. Well years later I'm trying a one man show gig, and a service call came up on a neon sign mounted on top of a roof. I don't remember whether I fixed it or not, I do remember that 15,000 volt secondary hurts.

I understand neon work came a long way from the '70s.
 

brantmacga

Senior Member
Location
Georgia
Occupation
Electrical contractor
I don't remember whether I fixed it or not, I do remember that 15,000 volt secondary hurts.

I understand neon work came a long way from the '70s.
Went on a call to fix an interior neon years ago (a salon I think). I lifted the ceiling tile directly above it looking for the transformer; it was sitting on top of the wall and as soon as I lifted the tile my fingers hit the output terminals. GF tripped almost immediately but that split second did sting a bit.


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Fulthrotl

~~Please excuse the mess. Sig under construction~~
Sign repair for a bar in California

6 letter old looking neon sign. The letters are ~30’ tall.

The H is off 100% of the time.

The G is off 95% off then 100% on, intermittently.

Can anyone point me to a good thread on old neon signs?

Much appreciated,

Rob
robertnathanalm@gmail.com
well, you are gonna need a glass shop if it's not the
transformers. are they channel letters with neon inside,
or bare tubes? if you have leaky tubes, you are gonna
have to put new ends on them, pull vacuum, and backfill.

send me a PM, i have two or three sign shops i can point you at.

you will need to bring money. anyone who can still do neon glass
is a unicorn.
 

synchro

Senior Member
Location
Chicago, IL
Occupation
EE
Went on a call to fix an interior neon years ago (a salon I think). I lifted the ceiling tile directly above it looking for the transformer; it was sitting on top of the wall and as soon as I lifted the tile my fingers hit the output terminals. GF tripped almost immediately but that split second did sting a bit.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
When I was in 8th grade I found a discarded 15,000V 30 mA neon sign transformer and made a Jacob's ladder with it. I even brought it to school to demonstrate it. I imagine nowadays they would freak out about it but no one seemed to mind back then. I remember showing how you could blow the arc around with your breath and catch paper on fire with it. Somehow, I did have the presence of mind to grab a piece of carbon paper away from one kid before he stuck it in the arc. :eek:hmy:
 

oldsparky52

Senior Member
When I was in 8th grade I found a discarded 15,000V 30 mA neon sign transformer and made a Jacob's ladder with it. I even brought it to school to demonstrate it. I imagine nowadays they would freak out about it but no one seemed to mind back then. I remember showing how you could blow the arc around with your breath and catch paper on fire with it. Somehow, I did have the presence of mind to grab a piece of carbon paper away from one kid before he stuck it in the arc. :eek:hmy:
IDK, but that sounds pretty sharp for an 8th grader. I bet the class was amazed.
 

synchro

Senior Member
Location
Chicago, IL
Occupation
EE
IDK, but that sounds pretty sharp for an 8th grader.
I guess so. Thinking back, my surviving childhood probably wasn't all just "dumb" luck, so to speak. I just wonder what happened that I'm not as sharp nowadays :blink:

I bet the class was amazed.
Yeah the kids really liked it. I don't think the teacher really knew what it was that I had there, and she just smiled ;)
 
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PaulMmn

Senior Member
Location
Union, KY, USA
See http://www.neonworksusa.com/ in Cincinnati. They're associated with the American Sign Museum https://www.americansignmuseum.org/ (also in Cincinnati). NeonWorks does neon lamp building and repairs.

From an amateur's perspective, I'd check
(1) power - is it getting its share of the 15,000 volts
(2) wires into the tubes
(3) Tubes- any obvious breaks
(4) Wires joining tube sections together (the top and bottom of the H are separate tubes) The sections of the letters are sometimes wired in series-- if one goes out, they all go out!

Someone suggested a neon checker. I searched for >neon tube checker< and got several hits-- and the prices were below $20.
 

oldsparky52

Senior Member
Do you know of a good thread that discusses or lists possible causes of why this signs' "H" is not lighting up?

- Rob Alm

robertnathanalm@gmail.com
The way neon works is it puts a high voltage on the gas in the glass, and the gas glows. So, if there is no gas in the glass, it won't light. If there is no power to the glass, it won't light. That's about it. Either the transformer is bad, or the power is not going to the transformer, or the secondary power is not getting to the neon, or there is no gas in the glass.

What else would you like to know?
 
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