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Where can I learn how to install channel signs?

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by WhatsYourSign?, Oct 25, 2018.

  1. WhatsYourSign?

    WhatsYourSign? Member

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    We want to be able to offer more complex signs like channel signs.

    Designing and manufacturing we have covered. I know for the electrical piece of things well will need to contract a licensed electrician which isn't an issue either. I'm just trying to figure out the actual install.

    I've considered hiring somebody away from a competitor to learn this but if there's other opportunities to learn how to do this, that would be ideal.


    Thanks in advance for any assistance!
     
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  2. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

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    best way is to sub out the install to a veteran sign dude and assist him on the install
     
    • Like Like x 3
  3. WhatsYourSign?

    WhatsYourSign? Member

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    We don't live in a large metro area so I'm not sure how many of those are around that aren't currently employed by our competition.
     
  4. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Easy, hang the sign with 2-4 bolts and connect electricity. DONE
     
  5. WhatsYourSign?

    WhatsYourSign? Member

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    Perhaps that's all there is to it but I know there's a ton of different variables.

    The best way to learn is by doing, I just want to shorten the learning curve and make sure we don't make any major errors in the process.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Your right, I forgot the "push your weight down on it a few times" test before calling it done.

    You need to apprentice with someone that has experience with these types of installs, or take down about 100 signs.
     
  7. signbrad

    signbrad Member

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    The way most people learn to build and install channel letters is by working at a shop that does this work. There are not any schools for it that I know of. I guess you can call it an 'apprenticeship,' working alongside someone, but most real apprentice programs are a thing of the past. Along with other benefits once typically provided by union membership, apprentice programs are dying along with the unions.

    People still speak of apprenticeships in sign shops, but these are usually not the type of training programs that existed in the past. To apprentice as an electrician these days still carries meaning. You will learn a lot, including theory. But an apprenticeship in a sign shop today often simply means you are working alongside someone who claims to be an expert and they are showing you how they personally do the job. But maybe they really aren't an expert, and you end up being trained by someone who may not be completely familiar with industry standards or code requirements. You may learn enough to install channel letters after a fashion, but not necessarily using best practices. The law is neither stringent nor consistent everywhere in the US for sign work. In many areas, a licensed electrician is NOT required for either manufacturing or installation. Standards for workers vary wildly. For example, many sign shop employees that service electric signs may know little more than how to replace lamps and ballasts. Troubleshooting is often not learned or practiced. If an underlying problem exists, they cannot figure it out.
    The result is that today we have in the sign industry a hodge-podge of abilities and levels of expertise in connection with electric signs. In some cases, calling a shop for channel letters is like rolling dice. You may, for instance, get a sign maker that can make and install a lighted sign that will function for many years or one that makes signs that tend to last only a couple years. Or one that makes signs that have constant problems. I knew a shop that told clients that neon signs typically last only about two years, urging the clients to always buy only LED-powered signs instead. Why did they say that? Because THEIR neon signs typically lasted no longer than two years. They did not fabricate the letters themselves, nor the tubing. So either they were buying poorly made letters or using faulty installation practices. Either way, they assumed that two years was a normal life for neon tubing. So they were in the habit of telling clients that LED lamps last longer than neon. This is misinformation. I have seen neon signs burn for dozens of years. And what is the best-projected life for LEDs? Ten years, at most?

    I am not taking sides in the neon versus LED debate here.
    My point is that working at a shop that builds and installs channel letters may not always give you expertise in this area. Hopefully it will.

    It may be the only thing you can do.

    Brad in Kansas City
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. kcollinsdesign

    kcollinsdesign Member

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    There is no trick to hanging LED channel letters. Just screw them onto the building and connect to electricity.

    That is, of course, assuming the sign conforms to local sign code requirements, the attachment method is properly engineered (the mechanical load needs to transfer to an adequately specified support), the electrical pass-throughs are water-tight and code compliant, and the electrical service is properly spec'd.

    Neon is a different matter.
     
  9. WhatsYourSign?

    WhatsYourSign? Member

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    All electrical work will be performed by a licensed electrician so I'm really just trying to figure out how to hang the signs themselves.

    I think I may be overthinking things.

    I'm going to order a channel sign for our own business from Gemini and we'll see how the install goes and take things from there.

    I appreciate the helpful response. Thank you.
     
  10. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    I'm seeing this a lot. A new mega giant, travel stop-gas station went up just outside of town and there are 5 boxes on top of a giant 150' pole. A large company out of Dallas did them and after 6 months, one box no longer lights up and half of another one blinks like crazy.

    I see this a lot, new signs who's light fail in less then a year. Are LEDs and their P/S really in that bad of shape or are people just making them wrong?
     
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