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Re: Mercury silence

Posted By: John Anderson
Date: Monday, 26 April 2010, at 12:00 a.m.

In Response To: Mercury silence (midwestfire)


Hg repairs are the biggest "fools gold" in our industry. First of all, the economics:

Every shop I've seen has a minimum unit price they are going to charge for a unit. So let's assume an Hg repair is something more complicated the bender or shop owner hopes to save money on. Rarely have I seen an Hg repair not stain badly later down the road. Add the cost of cleaning it out, disposing of the Hg, stains that won't go away, hunting leaks and unknown thermal stresses in someone else's glasswork, Hg contaminating your manifold... the list goes on and on.

But the biggest: charge your customer for the new unit!!!! Most end-users actually want a new fresh neon unit. Honestly, I'm not sure most clear-red repairs are worth the headache. As above, most end-users are happy to pay a normal price for a new unit.

I've worked in several shops the past 20 years. I can honestly say I've NEVER seen Hg repairs as anything but a poor financial decision.

Of course there is the entire health question as well (which the original post was about). If you're heating up an old tube (to seal on electrodes, splice, etc.), you're vaporizing a lot of mercury right next to your face and/or sending it up your blowhose. Why on Earth would anyone want to do that?

My advice? Grab a new stick of glass, make a quick pattern and new unit. Then be done with it and move on to the next job. You'll make more money, and (probably) be healthier. Mercury use in neon isn't something that's going to suddenly poison you. It's more a question of minimizing your exposure as Hg accumulates in your body. Eventually, yes - you could accumulate enough to develop toxicity.


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