Channel Letters: Creating the key to celebrate Lock’s heritage

For many years, Lock Drugs, as it was known at the time, had a freestanding neon sign installed in front of the store—a stylized prescription bottle that made the store instantly recognizable.

For many years, Lock Drugs, as it was known at the time, had a free-standing neon sign installed in front of the store—a stylized prescription bottle that made the store instantly recognizable.

Overcoming one challenge at a time

Building a structurally sound sign full of neon, mounted on a single 203- x 203-mm (8- x 8-in.) wide post, was definitely not an easy task.

The team started by creating the frame from a 51- x 51-mm (2- x 2-in.) steel angle to provide a rigid structure, with added cross bracing. Central to the build was a slip-tube system to support the sign—a steel tube centred inside the structure that also matched the post to which it would be mounted. Further, a steel plate was welded to the post, which ensured the sign could be installed on-site at the correct height.

Next, a work platform was constructed inside the sign to stand on should a repair to internal components ever be required. Individual shelves were also built for each of the seven neon transformers to keep the wiring organized.
TDH’s lead fabricators patiently worked through the layout, one item at a time, until the wiring and attachments were secure, and the internal elements were concealed.

For the sign faces, 72-mm (3-in.) deep open channel logo squares were painted red and installed with matching trim cap retainers and clear acrylic faces to protect against any vandalism. The letters in the logo squares were hand painted white with a black keyline for additional contrast against the red. The keyline and paint together provided increased definition to the letters against the 12-mm (0.5-in.) designer white neon tubes. The look was completed with similar-sized ruby red neon borders to mimic Lock’s logo.

The lettering for ‘Pharmacy’ was created with hand-bent 76.2-mm (3-in.) deep open channel letters, each 254 mm (10 in.) tall. The letters—this time painted white and installed with matching trim caps and clear acrylic faces—were contrasted with 12-mm (0.5-in.) horizon blue neon.

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For the last set of letters, which read ‘since 1949,’ 72-mm (3-in.) deep open channel letters were hand painted yellow and finished with 10-mm (0.4-in.) gold neon.

Fits like a glove

The finished sign was installed on a custom-engineered concrete base with an internal rebar support cage. Next, the steel tube support post was installed, with the baseplate anchored to the concrete. Finally, the triangular sign was lifted into place with a crane truck. The whole process took more than an hour. Once all the elements slid into their proper place, the power was connected and the neon came to life, displaying ‘Lock’s Pharmacy since 1949.’

Despite several challenges, including four months of design, securing permits, fabrication, and installation, the TDH team was successful in crafting an eye-catching sign that represents the long history of a business with a bright future in Chilliwack.

 

Tristan Allan is the owner of TDH Experiential Fabricators, an architectural signage, display, and industrial art fabrication company based in Surrey, B.C. Allan leads a talented team of designers and fabricators to create stunning signs, displays, and industrial art. He can be reached via email at tristan@tdhsigns.com. For more information on TDH, follow the company on Instagram @tdhxfab.

Matt Rempel has been with TDH Experiential Fabricators since 2015. Starting as an install assistant before transitioning to sales lead in 2016, Rempel enjoys the diversity in custom signs, and values the contribution a great sign can make to his clients’ projects. He can be reached via email at matt@tdhsigns.com. For more information on TDH, visit www.tdhsigns.com.

 

 

 

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