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TOPIC: Marquee Restoration

Marquee Restoration 29 May 2002 18:43 #27817

Can anyone recommend names of companies
or individual craftsmen who specialize in
restoring old theatre marquees?
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Re: Marquee Restoration 29 May 2002 22:24 #27818

  • Ken Layton
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Arrow Sign Company (www.arrowsigncompany.com) is a nationwide sign manufacturer (especially theater marquees).

Always check your local Yellow Pages under "Signs" and look for a company that specializes in neon signs and chances are they do theater marquees (neon, wiring, sheet metal, and painting).

NEVER, EVER paint a theater marquee with house paint---it looks like crap and the sheet metal will rust out faster. Many sign companies use a special paint called Wagner 'Duranamel' which has a primer, UV inhibitor, and moss inhibitor built-in.
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Re: Marquee Restoration 16 Jun 2002 14:30 #27819

  • Mike
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We did ours and had the local neon outfit do the neon, we had the local sheet metal guys do the sheet metal repaids, local roofer redid the interior dranage and then it was painted. We do it over and over. Every two years!

Michael Hurley
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Re: Marquee Restoration 02 Jul 2002 16:31 #27820

  • LiteGal
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An alternative to Neon is led's. They are low voltage, can run 50' on a single run, easy to maintain and come in a variety of colors. There are a few companies making these neon alternatives, ours is called Neo-Led.
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Re: Marquee Restoration 02 Jul 2002 18:15 #27821

  • wimovieman
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Litegal--could you send me more information??--I have a 1949 Marquee that I am planning on restoring--your alternative to neon (escpecially if cheaper) is interesting.

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thank you
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Re: Marquee Restoration 03 Jul 2002 08:32 #27822

  • Mike
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If you can restore it the neon is pretty amazing stuff. We restored ours and it is the queen of the night. Cost for big huge letters that say COLONIAL with a couple of underlinings was 2500.00. Good signs, signs that zing, signs that attract... are not cheap no matter what the style.

Michael Hurley
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Re: Marquee Restoration 03 Jul 2002 09:44 #27823

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Nothing beats neon for a colorful and interesting sign as it can be made into any size or shape, be any color or combination of colors you want. However, it is expensive and subject to weather and vandalism. Repairs can be very expensive as well, but don't have to be.

As the question here was about restoration, I will assume that the marquee already exists, and only the surface needs painting, possible sheet metal repair and bulbs and neon replaced.

A good sheet metal repair man can probably repair or replace rusted out or damaged sections of the surface, unless it was a pressed design in the metal, which would then require a professional restorer to remake those designs. That would be very expensive. Just replacing flat sheet metal should not be too bad on the pocketbook.

Replacing bulbs is easy, something anyone can do unless you have an upright sign that goes up several stories. I have two uprights built into the ends of my marquee. The city allows me to borrow their cherry picker truck for bulb replacement and repainting of the sign. The fire department will also bring the ladder truck for just bulb or neon replacement. This is where a good relationship with your town fathers is important. I have over the years promoted my theatre to the point that it is the number one attraction in the community. Not just as a theatre, but as a tourist attraction, a destination point, an architectural treasure, the reference point for finding anything else in town. No news story, TV program, brochure about the community or any mention about our town is produced or published that doesn't include the theatre. The town does not want to lose the theatre, and therefore bends over backwards to help in any way it can. It is extremely important that you establish your theatre the same way in your community. It will save you many thousands of dollars in trade offs for things that you might not otherwise been able to afford.

Getting back to the neon. My neon sign man, who was getting up in years, showed me many years ago how to maintain and replace neon so that he wouldn't have to come out and climb over our huge marquee. It is extremely simple. The first and foremost rule to remember is that it is powered by high voltage. ALWAYS TURN OFF THE POWER WHEN WORKING ON NEON! After that it is very safe. Neon signs consist of transformers, wiring, glass insulators, glass mounting posts and the neon tubes themselves. Remember it's breakable stuff, so be careful with it. All that is needed is to know how to hook everything together... all which is very simple. If you do all the installation or replacement work yourself you can save 3/4 of the cost. I take my broken or burned out tubes to the neon shop and pick them up again when they are finished. This costs me about $35.00 per tube compared to $250.00 per tube if he had to come to get the tube and then come again a 2nd time to reinstall it. If the tube is broken, it is important to get an exact measurement between the holes that the tubes go into. Making a paper pattern over your sign to the exact size is allows a good practice.

A very important thing to remember is that when a tube goes bad or is broken, always remove it as quickly as possible, and replace it with a jumper wire. This will keep the rest of that circuit lit, and will protect the rest of the tubes in that circuit from burning out. When a tube is flickering, or dead it puts an overload on the others and will burn off the connector wires thus damageing those tubes as well.

Painting of course is something that just about anyone can do. If the paint is peeling, and the metal is exposed then it must be primed so that the new paint will stick. It will also have to be sanded so that a layered look doesn't result.

Marquee letters are also an important part of any restoration. Make sure you have enough so that you don't have to skip letters in the middle of a word. All the letters in any word should be the same size style, and color. The title can be larger or a different color. Star names can be done so that the last name is larger then the first. But never should they be different in the same word. The lighting behind the white glass (or plastic) should be kept lamped. Nothing looks worse then marquee copy with dark sections in the background.

The marquee is one of the most important parts of a theatre. A little extra money spent there will add a lot more appeal to your theatre. The impression made outside will determine whether many people will ever come in or not. Make it colorful, exciting, and alluring. Make it standout above everything else on your street.



[This message has been edited by RoxyVaudeville (edited July 05, 2002).]
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Re: Marquee Restoration 12 Jul 2002 09:31 #27824

  • Mike
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I worship at the feet of Roxy!!!!!!!!!!!!


Michael Hurley
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