Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Servicing Your Neon Sign

You finally got the neon sign you have always wanted. It is of your favorite sports team, beer purveyor, whatever and you now possess it. The problem is that all good things can come to an end if they are not properly maintained. So, you seek some advice on properly maintaining your cherished memorabilia.

Well it is as easy as it sounds. Of course there are options to sign maintenance depending on the size, expense and what you want to spend. So, following are some tips on how to service the clock, sign you have purchased and turn it into an heirloom your children’s children can enjoy when you are long gone.
Protect It From Breakage
Some bar and pool room signs are large and expensive. By putting the neon signs behind plastic or away from guests who could imbibe too heavily, you further ensure the safety of the neon and the guest.
Leave It Turned On
Everything has a shelf life whether it is food or a neon sign. Though it is not as perishable as a food item, The transformers that power the neon signs can go bad after time. To properly maintain the sign, it is best to allow it to remain on all of the time. The reason for this is that more energy is required to warm up the glass and cause the reaction that allows the gas to glow. You won’t lose any of the glow, but you could cause damage to the power supply. Just leave it on and you avoid this issue. If this is a business neon sign will also be working for your 24/7 to advertise your company and make passerby's aware of your location.
Clean Your Sign
Keeping you neon sign clean and free of dust and dirt will ensure is shines brightly year after year. Be sure to always unplug your neon sign when handling. Next, use a feather duster or a very soft cloth to dust off your sign. Never use a cleaning solvent or water to clean your neon sign. In outdoor neon signs, remove any debris that may conductive power between high voltage connections and grounded metal. Ensure drain wholes are not blocked to allow moisture to flow away. Take this time to check all the wire connections to make sure nothing has come loose and that the end caps are in place.  Loose connections or exposed GTO wires can cause the electricity to arc across sign mounting surface, not to mention creating a safety hazard. Wiring connections in electrical panel or branch circuit can become corroded if moisture builds up. These conditions can exist particularly in an older outdoor installations.
Buy a Service Plan
Many larger cities have companies that will build stock and supply a fish tank. They place it in your location and then they sign a service contract with the owner that guarantees the tanks continued safety and maintenance. There are sign companies that design large neon installs in the same way. Whether the sign company is coming to your business to build your sign or you purchase it from them, think about signing a service agreement so that they are responsible for maintaining it. This can be particularly useful when the sign large or high out of reach.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Job Outlook Up for Neon Sign Benders

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies neon glass benders under the broader career category of Molders, Shapers, and Casters, except Metal and Plastic workers. In 2012, workers in these occupations, including neon glass benders, has a salary range of $20,870 to $54,600 and a median annual income of $29,300. Those working in the Seattle area earned the most with an average 2010 salary of $46,070 while those working in Lawrence, Kansas, earned the least with an average annual salary of $18,480.
The BLS predicts that the demand for Molders, Shapers, and Casters occupations, including neon glass benders, will increase by 7.5 percent between 2012 and 2022, Neon sign-makers with experience will have more opportunities than entry level sign-makers. Those entering the profession are mainly by long term on the job training. Neon glass bending is not new, but once again the occupation is emerging as consumer preferences change. The cultural resurgence of neon signs is once again creating the need for neon glass benders.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Buying A Vintage Neon Sign?

Nostalgia is always en vogue and what is more reminiscent of a better time than neon signs. The word “better” may be improperly used here, but the thought is valid. People want to remember the past because it has more interest, usually, then the present. It can be romanticized and remembered not for what it really was, but for the best parts. Again, one of those best parts was an era when neon signs were everywhere flashing the way to entertainment and fun.
The problem with nostalgia is that it can be pricey and broken down. If you want something that is truly from a certain era, that was constructed of gas filled glass tubes, it may be difficult to find it in good condition. Of course, a neon bender can make something that mimics the time and the style of yesteryear, with the efficiency and safety of modern times.
So what are the issues you will face if you must have the original?  
First, is the sign original or is it a reproduction? It is not easy for the uninitiated to tell the difference. Second, are there problems that need to be addressed? What does a properly operating neon sign look and sound like? And finally, what is a fair price to pay for an original sign? Take the Hamm’s bear for example. If you find an original sign somebody is selling on eBay, what should you pay?
Original or Reproduction
It is difficult sometimes to tell the difference, but a professional can. The product should be marked as authentic if it is. If it not certified, you may want to look for another seller.
How to Notice Problems
Look for cracked tubes (that can be replaced), faulty electrical connections (that can cause a fire), and outdated power supplies (not UL2161 listed). Vintage signs often come with old heavy coil and core power supplies, While they may still work to power the sign, they lack the safety features of modern electronic power supplies. Modern power supplies have a mandatory secondary ground fault, which is a beneficial safety protection feature that causes the power supply to automatically shut down when it senses a fault. The introduction of UL2161 in 1996 requiring all new neon signs to have a power supply with a secondary ground fault has improved sign safety tremendously and virtually eliminated neon sign fire hazards. If you vintage sign still carries the old style power supply, you may want to have it replaced for the safety of your family. Also, when you are purchasing a product make sure that it works in your presence. It is always better if the buyer is wary.
What is a Good Price?
This of course varies widely, but its worth what you are willing to pay. Some large vintage neon sign can go for up to $20,000. A sign listed as vintage always seems to cost more. Do not be fooled by reproduction products though. Have an expert verify what you have.