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How to lift a 4x20 Poly Face?

Texas_Signmaker

Very Active Signmaker
Just wondering how you all would lift a 4x20 poly face 30' into a cabinet.

We usually use two 50' buckets with "forks" that protrude from the front and rest the sign face on them...and "step up" each bucket little by little in tandem until we reach the height of the cabinet. We don't have a crane but interested in hearing how anyone else lifts these floppy panels. Not converting the cabinet to flex face.
 

visual800

Active Member
Ive never had two trucks BUT I have lifted long face with one truck and some forks on it and actually gorilla taped a 1x2 aluminum tubing to face and that really helped to keep it stout, those damn things are hard to play with
 

Texas_Signmaker

Very Active Signmaker
Yea, I've used one bucket before and it was extremely difficult... I've learned with large floppy poly faces it's much easier to have two buckets, so you can have a guy free to move around and assist where needed.

You reminded me about a trick of using some square tubing. I think I'm going to clamp it to the sign to keep it ridgid
 

Billct2

Active Member
I have spring clamped pieces of angle to it to hold it flat, several short pieces, so it can get slid in a few feet before the first angle gets removed.
Then remove other pieces as it's slid in.
 

2B

Active Member
We use a collapsible jig mounted to the bucket, think of it like the crates that pan faces are shipped in, just not as robust

slide the face into the jig, line the jig up with the cabinet and then side in the face.
 

ddarlak

Go Bills!
We roll the face and unroll it as we slide it into the cabinet.

If it would have let me I would have "liked" this 1,000 times.

It ain't fun, but it works, and I haven't done it like this in awhile, so if your young, give it a try...

I sold my lift 2 years ago, I'm done with this kind of work.....lol maybe because I used to try dumb chit like this!
 

Texas_Signmaker

Very Active Signmaker
We tape a towel to the edge to keep it from scratching the face.

Great idea! I don't think I'm going to try to unroll it out of the bucket, but this will really help with transporting it. In my mind I was thinking some packing felt taped to the edges or even duct tape.

If it would have let me I would have "liked" this 1,000 times.

It ain't fun, but it works, and I haven't done it like this in awhile, so if your young, give it a try...

I sold my lift 2 years ago, I'm done with this kind of work.....lol maybe because I used to try dumb chit like this!

I'm young, but the easier I can do it the better! I keep telling myself I don't need these large sign panel jobs, but somehow I keep bidding and accepting $$ on them....

We use a collapsible jig mounted to the bucket, think of it like the crates that pan faces are shipped in, just not as robust

slide the face into the jig, line the jig up with the cabinet and then side in the face.

I did something like this before and my issue was I couldn't get the "crate and sign" level enough to slide in without a major hassle. My bucket tilts forward and backward but not side to side... so when I would start sliding the sign in it would want to go up and get bunched up in the frame... my solution was to have a second bucket at the end to push up on the remaining poly to "level it out".
 

2B

Active Member
I did something like this before and my issue was I couldn't get the "crate and sign" level enough to slide in without a major hassle. My bucket tilts forward and backward but not side to side... so when I would start sliding the sign in it would want to go up and get bunched up in the frame... my solution was to have a second bucket at the end to push up on the remaining poly to "level it out".

in that case, you would remove the top guide bar, allowing the face to be tilted as needed to slide into the cabinet
or use the outriggers to level the unit to the cabinet

The lift we use has an Articulated Boom and a platform bucket, so we have room and level off the platform
 

signbrad

New Member
I have usually installed a sign this long with a field seam (non-glued). And always with hanging bars. Done properly, the faces will hang flat without sagging and the seam will not open up.

I worked for one large sign company (over 100 employees) that had a standing rule that no face over 12 feet in length was to be installed without a seam. They rarely installed signs with faces so unwieldy that they could not be serviced safely by one person. A flexible face attached to a top-hinged face frame was the only exception to this rule. This company was, and still is, known for producing high quality lighted signs. They even built cabinets that had ledges built into the tops of the cabinets just for hanging bars. They put the hanging bars on the back side of the plastic rather than the front, so that the bar rested solidly on the cabinet rather than the bent lip of a retainer. Sturdy.
This company made far more money on service contracts than they did on one-time installs. So they always planned ahead to make it easier for their people to safely service the signs they built.

If a 4x20 requires two trucks to put in the face, will it not also require two trucks to service (assuming vertical lamps)? Do you pull the face completely and lay it on the ground to get to the center lamps? Or have a man holding the end of a face extended ten feet in the air while his partner re-lamps? My helper back in the 90s was the man on the end once when a gust of wind caught the face and broke his arm.

I realize that this accident was kind of freakish. Still, after that, I decided to never obsess over the need to make long seamless faces. In over 40 years I don't recall ever having a client complain about a seam, even when a sign had two seams. Unless, of course, the graphics didn't line up. :(

Brad in Kansas City
 

Texas_Signmaker

Very Active Signmaker
Interesting. What kind of seam? Like just butting the two up against each other? How do you keep the seam together?


I get to put these lovely things up this morning... Got them coiled up for transport with a towel
 

signbrad

New Member
Interesting. What kind of seam? Like just butting the two up against each other? How do you keep the seam together?

A field seam has a lip of clear thin plastic glued to the back side of one of halves of the face. 1-1/2 inch x 1/16 inch clear is common. This is usually enough to keep the sides from gapping. Of course, the hanging bars are necessary so the plastic will hang straight and not sag or bow.

And I am assuming 3/16-inch plastic faces. Why use 1/8-inch? It will tend to sag inward and be a greater risk for a blowout. Plus the lack of rigidity makes sliding it more difficult, even with a hanging bar. Remember that if you need two, or even three people, to re-lamp in the future, the service calls will be more expensive, though this may not be a real issue, as many shops send two-man crews routinely. However, a 4x20 with hanging bars and a middle seam should, theoretically, be an easy service call for a single worker.

The plastic seam strip on the back sometimes needs to be cut short of the retainer at the top and bottom. The retainer may not allow for the extra thickness. Often a thin strip of translucent vinyl applied to the face of the scab piece just behind the seam helps hide the crack, especially where a letter crosses the seam.
I realize that a full coverage print may present a problem that we never had back in the day.

Seams are not always perfect. Occasionally there will be a light leak. I always tried to avoid positioning a vertical lamp directly behind a seam for this reason, though I don't know if it really made a difference. A leak can be more likely on a long sign that is center pole mounted. The ends of the cabinet can sag. If the ends of the cabinet do not remain level with the middle, a clean seam may not be possible. But in that case, installing a single large face will be a problem, too.
Long cabinets that are center pole mounted should always have diagonal bracing running from top center to the lower corners at the ends. Not doing so can create a problem not only with re-facing but re-lamping as well.

I am not saying I have never installed single-piece oversized faces. I have, but sometimes lived to regret it.
I once installed a pair of 6x8 pans in an existing double-sided pole sign. They were heavy, to be sure, but I man-handled the first one in place. I took the precaution of first thoroughly cleaning the inside lip of the top retainer that was to receive the hanging bar. I even waxed it with a piece of paraffin and then waxed the bottom of the hanging bar as well. The challenge, of course, was hanging onto the face with one hand while controlling the bucket lift with the other. So I attached a rope to the top edge of the plastic using machinist-type center-pull clamps (center-pull clamps don't try to bend the plastic like a regular C-clamp can). I put a rope through the clamps and hooked it over the end of the boom and held it there with one hand while I worked the lift. Once I got a top corner with its hanging bar started, I slid the face in, removing the clamps from the top as I slid the face. Ha, ha, I was invincible!

Unfortunately, the other side did not want to fit at all. The bottom of the cabinet appeared to be a little cantilevered, making the opening on the open side shorter in height. And I think there may have been some sag at the ends, too. In hindsight, perhaps I should have immediately trimmed the bottom edge of the second face, even if it meant going back to the shop, but I didn't. It took the rest of the day to install the face, and I no longer felt invincible.

To get the face into the opening, I put a ratchet strap on the other side of the cabinet to try and pinch the top and bottom together a little on that side, hoping that would spread the open side a little. I don't know if that helped or not, but it wasn't till I loosened the bottom retainer considerably that I was able to get the face started and hanging securely on its hanging bar. I slid the face a ways into the cabinet till it stuck and would go no further. So to get it to slide the rest of the way, I clamped a rope to the leading edge of the face and, leaving a large length of the face extended precariously in the air, positioned myself beyond the opposite end of the sign and used the rotation function of the boom to gently tug the face sideways into the cabinet with the rope attached to the boom. I was then able to button up the retainers and I quit for the day, exhausted, and went home to sit on the porch.
When I eventually got a call to service the same sign, I told them I would "have a hard time getting to it" and suggested they call one of the big shops.

Brad

Center pull C-clamp picture attached. Probably not the correct name for the clamp
 

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Johnny Best

Active Member
Your smarter than me signbrad but I always called them Twist Clamps but I like the sound of Center pull C clamp better.
 

TimToad

Active Member
A field seam has a lip of clear thin plastic glued to the back side of one of halves of the face. 1-1/2 inch x 1/16 inch clear is common. This is usually enough to keep the sides from gapping. Of course, the hanging bars are necessary so the plastic will hang straight and not sag or bow.

And I am assuming 3/16-inch plastic faces. Why use 1/8-inch? It will tend to sag inward and be a greater risk for a blowout. Plus the lack of rigidity makes sliding it more difficult, even with a hanging bar. Remember that if you need two, or even three people, to re-lamp in the future, the service calls will be more expensive, though this may not be a real issue, as many shops send two-man crews routinely. However, a 4x20 with hanging bars and a middle seam should, theoretically, be an easy service call for a single worker.

The plastic seam strip on the back sometimes needs to be cut short of the retainer at the top and bottom. The retainer may not allow for the extra thickness. Often a thin strip of translucent vinyl applied to the face of the scab piece just behind the seam helps hide the crack, especially where a letter crosses the seam.
I realize that a full coverage print may present a problem that we never had back in the day.

Seams are not always perfect. Occasionally there will be a light leak. I always tried to avoid positioning a vertical lamp directly behind a seam for this reason, though I don't know if it really made a difference. A leak can be more likely on a long sign that is center pole mounted. The ends of the cabinet can sag. If the ends of the cabinet do not remain level with the middle, a clean seam may not be possible. But in that case, installing a single large face will be a problem, too.
Long cabinets that are center pole mounted should always have diagonal bracing running from top center to the lower corners at the ends. Not doing so can create a problem not only with re-facing but re-lamping as well.

I am not saying I have never installed single-piece oversized faces. I have, but sometimes lived to regret it.
I once installed a pair of 6x8 pans in an existing double-sided pole sign. They were heavy, to be sure, but I man-handled the first one in place. I took the precaution of first thoroughly cleaning the inside lip of the top retainer that was to receive the hanging bar. I even waxed it with a piece of paraffin and then waxed the bottom of the hanging bar as well. The challenge, of course, was hanging onto the face with one hand while controlling the bucket lift with the other. So I attached a rope to the top edge of the plastic using machinist-type center-pull clamps (center-pull clamps don't try to bend the plastic like a regular C-clamp can). I put a rope through the clamps and hooked it over the end of the boom and held it there with one hand while I worked the lift. Once I got a top corner with its hanging bar started, I slid the face in, removing the clamps from the top as I slid the face. Ha, ha, I was invincible!

Unfortunately, the other side did not want to fit at all. The bottom of the cabinet appeared to be a little cantilevered, making the opening on the open side shorter in height. And I think there may have been some sag at the ends, too. In hindsight, perhaps I should have immediately trimmed the bottom edge of the second face, even if it meant going back to the shop, but I didn't. It took the rest of the day to install the face, and I no longer felt invincible.

To get the face into the opening, I put a ratchet strap on the other side of the cabinet to try and pinch the top and bottom together a little on that side, hoping that would spread the open side a little. I don't know if that helped or not, but it wasn't till I loosened the bottom retainer considerably that I was able to get the face started and hanging securely on its hanging bar. I slid the face a ways into the cabinet till it stuck and would go no further. So to get it to slide the rest of the way, I clamped a rope to the leading edge of the face and, leaving a large length of the face extended precariously in the air, positioned myself beyond the opposite end of the sign and used the rotation function of the boom to gently tug the face sideways into the cabinet with the rope attached to the boom. I was then able to button up the retainers and I quit for the day, exhausted, and went home to sit on the porch.
When I eventually got a call to service the same sign, I told them I would "have a hard time getting to it" and suggested they call one of the big shops.

Brad

Center pull C-clamp picture attached. Probably not the correct name for the clamp

If there was ever a member who deserved to be paid for his or her advice, its you. Time for a Signs101-GoFundMe Brad retirement fund.
 
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