My vintage neon sign fell off its mounting plate. The supports that connected the black acrylic back plate to the neon tubes became brittle and broke in many places. This guide follows the steps I took to restore the sign to its original condition.
For this project you will need:
- Neon sign
- Neon tube supports/standoffs
- Black acrylic sheet (1/4″ thickness) in the dimensions of your sign
- Scoring knife, if cutting your own sheet
- Cleaning solution
- Paper towels
- Old toothbrush
- Adhesive such as Duco Cement (or E6000, or slow epoxy)
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Remove Old Clips and Clean Sign
I started out by removing the brittle clips from the mounting plate, which I could easily do with my hands. The supports didn’t come away completely, however. There were still stumps leftover, but I was happy to leave them alone because you can’t see them from a distance.
If you don’t have a backplate to begin with, or yours is broken, use a plastic scoring knife to cut down a sheet of black (or clear) acrylic to just larger than the dimensions of your sign. If you need to cut holes in the plastic for routing wires, do so slowly and with pilot holes so as to not crack the plastic. Here are some tips about working with sheet acrylic.
Clean the sign! Gently wipe and/or brush the sign tubing with cleaner and paper towels and/or an old toothbrush. This is a good opportunity to get into all the spots you can’t normally access when the sign is mounted.
Glue New Clips
Choose a glue that bonds to both acrylic and ABS, which is the standoff/support material. E6000 would work fine, or epoxy with a bit of a longer work time. I used Duco Cement because it’s what I had on-hand. Just don’t use hot glue. =D
I set the mounting plate on the table and held the neon above it to see where the supports should go. For the most part, I placed them right next to the stubs or on top of the glue spots leftover from the previous supports. Once they were all glued down, I double-checked that they’d all line up with the neon before leaving the whole thing to dry.
Clip Sign Into Place
After the glue fully dried, I carefully fastened all the clips to their corresponding section of sign tube.
I used lamp chain to hang the sign from the holes on each end of the mounting plate.
You could optionally affix the sign power transformer to the back of the mounting plate with epoxy, but be sure to mount it close to the center of the sign so as not to throw it off balance. The benefit of the opaque acrylic is that it can hide the electrical components.
Mount Sign & Enjoy!
I had my lovely assistant help me hang the sign from the ceiling above the kitchen cabinets. The power supply can rest on the top of the cabinets, so we didn’t see a need to attach it to the back of the sign. The power cable runs down the left edge of the cabinets to a plug on the wall, where I added a switch adapter so I can turn the sign on and off from the location of the outlet.
We love our neon sign! And now it looks as good as new. Thanks for following along!
If you like this project, you may be interested in some of my others:
- Leather Wallet With Etched Detail
- GH5 Foot Pedal Shutter Remote
- Tips for Moving in New York City
- Vintage Motorcycle Seat Restoration – CB200