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Question hanger bars for sign faces

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by aerial, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. aerial

    aerial QCB

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    Jul 11, 2012
    Schuylkill County PA
    Is there a standard way of making the hanger bars for polycarbonate sign faces going into cabinet boxes?
    Thickness, material used, adhesive used, favorite method, etc.
     
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  2. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    The ones I've dealt with were the same material as the face, a 1" wide strip cemented on the back with an appropriate cement for the material (Weld-On brand usually is what we use).
     
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  3. aerial

    aerial QCB

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    Thanks. I have seen much thicker, like 1/2". Wondered if that was necessary. We are installing replacement faces for a local printer who outsources the faces, and their vendor won't do the hangers.
     
  4. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

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    Wouldn't it be limited by the space in the track? I also have always used the same material as the face bonded with the appropriate adhesive
     
  5. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    If the sign somehow requires a thick hanger bar, you'd have to make it the same. But I've never done one that had anything but the same as the face material.
     
  6. aerial

    aerial QCB

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    Thanks guys. This is what I am dealing with. Don't know why the hanger is so thick. This photo is from the last panel that was replaced. It's a pita to get to the sign to look at the box, but it probably our best bet. Means an extra trip with the bucket truck, and dealing with school officials - it s going in a goalpost sign on the football field.
     

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  7. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Dumb question, but what does the hanger bar do? Is it to keep it from going back and forth in the retainer?
     
  8. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    I'm guessing they used extruded acrylic or polycarbonate bars to do that. 0.625"x1" or something like that. You can buy them at Amazon in 6' pieces.
     
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  9. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    Lets the face hang rather than sit in the bottom retainer. Keeps large faces from pooching or drooping.
     
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  10. signbrad

    signbrad Member

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    I almost always used hanger bar that I bought from a supplier. It was smooth and in the neighborhood of half-inch, as I recall. Not having a cut edge—I assume it was extruded—it allowed faces to slide easily.

    Most of the lighted signs built in the shops when I was coming up were scratch built by sheet metal guys—aluminum or Paint Lok skins on angle iron frames. No knock-down kits. The retainers were fabbed so that the top one supported the bar solidly from it's reversed lip. I have also made my own hanger bar before, as others mentioned, but I always doubled the plastic to yield at least a 3/8-inch thickness. A store-bought bar consistently performed better, however.
    On some large faces I have even seen hanger bars at both top and bottom. And one high-end shop I worked at put the bars on the backside of the plastic, rather than the face, and then fabbed the cabinet with a notch at the top front for the bar to ride on. Very sturdy design.

    Hanger bars have benefits.
    They are good insurance against blowouts for one thing. Especially when the plastic thickness is really too thin for the face size, which seems to be done too much these days. It's one thing to use eighth-inch plastic for a pan face—the pan form makes it much more resistant to sagging and flexing—but a large eighth-inch face without a hanger bar is asking for trouble. And I have seen 3/16" blow out without a hanger bar, too.

    A hanger bar makes a sign look better since the faces hang flat instead of bowing in, as has been mentioned. This is especially important when there is a field seam. Hanger bars help the seam stay closed. I have never understood the obsession some have with making very long faces in one piece. The sign becomes difficult—and sometimes dangerous—to service. I always tried to build signs that could be safely serviced by one man and one truck.
    Servicing a sign with heavy faces resting in a bottom retainer can often be a real chore. Anyone who has had to muscle a face through a debris-filled bottom retainer knows what I mean. A top-hanging face is far easier to slide, especially if you rub paraffin wax on the bottom side of the hanging bar like I used to do.

    Hanger bars have been an industry practice since way before my time, and I've been in 45 years. Sometimes "best practices" are indeed best practices. There is a guy here in Kansas City that could not figure out why a face kept blowing out. It was an unsupported flat face that was too thin and too big. He concluded that the "retainers were not big enough!" He had never even heard of a hanger bar. His solution? Run screws through the retainers and plastic into the cabinet!

    Brad in Kansas City
     
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  11. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

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    When I was at the CONSAC show a few years ago, there was a company selling premade hanging strips, I can't find them any longer, but it seemed like a good idea as I hate risking my fingers running half inch strips through the table saw.
     
  12. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Good to know.

    All the large 20' faces I'm doing now are pan so I guess this isn't an issue... they install easier and I can use a lighter material.

    I have, in a pinch fastened a face to the retainer.. guess that's not the best way, even though I picked it up from seeing other signs made the same way. Some people fasten it inside the retainer, so when I'm struggling to remove the face I get pissed to find it's screwed in.. Then I have to remove and break heads off rusted out screws from the bottom of the retainer, pull the retainer off and unbolt it from there. Makes removing a face a 1 hour chore VS 5 mins... Even better is the one I came across that was pop-riveted inside the retainer...and the retainer was pop-riveted shut too... oh, and the whole cabinet was sitting on top of an EMC so that made getting the rivets out really fun... spent 8 hours swapping two faces because I had to paint and replace the retainers I damaged from pop-rivets..:banghead:

    And as for those tough faces Sign Brad, I hook on two C clamps to the end of a face and do the shuffle. If it's tall and I'm worried about it falling in on itself then I tie a ratchet strap around the entire cabinet to keep the face from popping out.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
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