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Re: Beer signs arcing???

Posted By: SVP Neon Equipment
Date: Tuesday, 28 January 2014, at 7:06 a.m.

In Response To: Beer signs arcing??? (Neon Creations)

> I've had this happen a few times now and it
> drives me absolutely insane!!!

> After repairing a beer sign for a customer,
> a tube arcs to another tube, putting a pin
> hole in both tubes. You guys know what I'm
> talking about... like what happens when
> bombarding. All while the sign is on and
> seemingly working fine.

> I think it usually happens with cheap
> chinese signs with crappy transformers but
> this time it was a Hongba which is really
> just a relabeled NeonPro, right? And I
> usually have good luck with NeonPro's

> Please help!

One of the problems with mass produced signs (and I'm assuming this is a mass produced sign) is you never know what you're going to be dealing with. These signs are made with the intent on never repairing them. Therefore they are made as cheaply as possible. And this approach is/was not limited to "Chinese signs". U.S. made "beer signs" started this years ago.

With the old style core & coil transformers it was easy: Under pressure the tubes and you can run a lot more footage from a given size transformer. It was not uncommon to under pressure the tubes by more than half: If normal fill pressure called for 10mm (Torr) they might put 3 or 4mm in. So instead of the sign needing a 9,000, they could get away with a 4,000 or 5,000. The down side is, the tubes may only last a few years. But that was not an issue for the beer companies because the local distributors typically pay for the signs (they buy them from the beer companies) unless a distributor sold a high volume of product. So if the sign went out in 3 years the distributor would have to buy a new one for their customer.

The problem with the newer electronic transformers is, many of them don't like under pressured tubes. It has something to do with the mean free path of the gas molecules in the tube. So sign manufacturers started having transformers made for a specific sign. Again, these signs were never meant to be repaired. On the repair end of things, you never know what you are dealing with. Most likely the tubes are way under pressured and there are no replacement transformers because they were made specifically for that sign, filled to a certain pressure. In that regard, the only thing you can hope for is to find an identical sign that has a broken tube and take the transformer from it. Or vice-versa if you need one of the neon units: Find an identical sign with a bad transformer and take the neon unit you need for the repair.

When you have two tubes side-by-side that are the same diameter, but filled to dramatically different pressures (an original tube and a repaired tube), an interference (for lack of a better word at 7:00 AM) is set up between the tubes, thereby causing the arc.

Unfortunately there is no good answer to your problem. The mass produced neon sign industry, both in this country and abroad, has bastardized everything in the name of lower manufacturing costs and more profit.

Oh, and you are correct that Hongba is NeonPro. These transformers, which I think are currently the best on the market and why I am a distributor them, are designed to work with standard pressure tubes, not under filled tubes. So using them on a mass produced beer sign may cause problems.


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