Saturday, 30 January 2016

Oil Droppers VW Repair Shop 'A' Frame Sign.

As I write this weeks blog my 1969 VW microbus is in the 'Oil Droppers' workshop being prepped for a new coat of paint. Oil Droppers is a primarily an air cooled Volkswagen repair shop located just outside my hometown of Aylesbury, in Bucks. They offer a vast array of services for your air cooled ride including servicing, welding, restorations, M.O.T.s, and fabrication. I have known the owner Stuart, for over 35 years so when I mentioned to him about having my bus painted he said he could get my bus into the workshop and although it may take longer than normal, he said he could prep and paint it in between his other jobs to help keep the cost down for me. This was a nice gesture from him and so in return, as a way of saying thanks, I the owner of Stinky Pete's Signwriting decided to make him an 'A' frame sign so customers can see where his workshop is on the trading estate, because at present there is nothing showing where the workshop is located amongst the numerous other similar looking units on the trading estate.
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This is the Oil Droppers workshop. As you can
see there isn't any signage 
to let customers 
know which unit is theirs. (apart from another 
of our signs that Stuart has put up on the right
of the small entrance door, but that isn't really
visible from a distance).

The is the Oil Droppers company logo that I
pinched off their web page:
I was looking at reproducing this logo on
a hand made wooden A frame sign.

Stinky Pete's have made numerous
wooden signs but I have never made an 
A frame sign before so I wasn't sure
 how big it should be or how it should be 
constructed so I decided to just make a
 start make and it up as I go along... I mean 
how hard can it be? I thought that the sign 
sounded about right at 3 feet x 2 feet so I went 
to B&Q and bought an 8 feet x 4 feet sheet of 
5mm exterior ply, and got them to cut the
 board down to size. I also purchased so baton 
to use as the frame and some chrome 
hinges and a length of chain.

The first thing to decide is which side of the
'cut to size' board I was going to use as the
 face of the sign. This one had a knot on one 
side so this side will be hidden on the inside.

The 2 3/4in x 3/4in baton (70mm x 15mm in 
modern terms!) is glued and screwed to the 
board. This will make the frame really strong 
and If this sign is looked after it should 
easily last for at least 10 - 15 years.

I didn't scrimp with the wood glue. This sign
needs to be solid and once the glue has dried

and the screws are inserted this should 
be a really solid structure.

I thought it would look good if the sign had
 rounded corners at the top of the sign, just for 
aesthetics really, so out came my trusty jigsaw 
and a few moments later and after a little sanding 
with some medium grade sandpaper the sign 
had lovely rounded corners.

The first side of the A frame is done and waiting
a rub down ready for a coat of primer.

With the second side made I put the two sides 
together so I could get an idea of how the 
sign will look once completed and how big 
it will be. I'm pleased with the size, which is
just about right, not bad for total guesswork!

A look at how the frame was constructed. A
simple design, but with the baton being glued
and screwed to the board it should be really
sturdy and hopefully last for years.

The two boards are hinged at the top by a pair
of chrome hinges. I used chrome hinges for 2
reasons, firstly to add a bit of bling to the sign,
and secondly because as this sign will spend
most of the time outside, I thought chrome
hinges may last longer that normal steel ones.

Once the hinges were in the correct position,
and the 2 boards closed properly I removed
them as the next job was to prime both sides 
of the whole frame. Normal wood primer 
was used for this.

With all four sides of the sign primed and
allowed to dry, I again stood them together

to get a better look of how the sign will look
when finished and I have to say it's starting 
to look good

After rubbing the whole sign down using a
medium grade sandpaper, the whole sign
was undercoated. Once dry any imperfections
were filled, rubbed down and undercoated

Time for the gloss top coat to be put on. I put
the gloss on quick thickly and let it dry for 2 days.
By putting the paint on thickly, and by keeping
the board laid flat most of the brush marks
should disappear as the paint settles thus
 giving a lovely smooth finish.

This is the time consuming part as the paint
has to dry properly. Each side needs to dry
for 2 days, and as I'm restricted for space
each side of the sign was done separately.

The second side of the sign is glossed. The
paint is still wet when I took this photo but most
of the brush stokes will disappear once the paint
has settled and dried.

Once the gloss was dry the sign was 
ready for the design to go on, I thought 
the sign would look good with a old skool 
pinstripe around the edge. I decided that
a thick stripe on the outer edge with a 

thinner stripe on the inside would give the
sign a cool retro look.

Striping wood is completely different from
striping a vehicle where the body work is 
perfectly smooth as no matter much sanding
you do wood is never totally smooth, therefore
much harder to get nice neat stripes. It's been 
a while since I've done any striping but I think 
the end result looks acceptable.

Once the stripes were done I once again
stood the boards up to see what it would look like,
 and noticed you could see the inside of the back 
board, and that it looked bare. So I striped the
 insides too which I thinks finishes it off nicely.

Time to start designing the artwork. To be honest
I hadn't printed out the Oil Droppers logo so I just
drew a circular Maltese cross as this was what I

thought from memory the Oil Droppers logo had.

The Maltese cross and the word Open have
been drawn onto the board using my Stabilo
pencil. I thought it looked OK, but we had a
 visitor come to us and before the design
 was even finished they gave what can only 
be described as "constructive criticism" (!) 
and after looking at the design I had drawn 
and by looking at the Oil Droppers logo on 
their web page to refresh my memory I 
decided to get the eraser out and start all 
over again. That's the beauty of using a 
Stabilo pencil, not only will they draw on
virtually any surface it you don't like what
you have drawn you simply get a regular 
eraser and rub it out and start again.

This time I did printed out the logo to
refer to so I could ensure the design was
 as close to the Oil Droppers logo as
 possible. The logo is actually quite difficult 
to draw as it's not only a curved design but it's 
symmetrical as well, which always proves 
tricky. This photo was taken with the flash
on the camera which shows how smooth the 
board is from applying the gloss thickly and 
leaving to dry for 2 days.

Once I was happy with the design of the logo,
it was time to start painting so
 out came the
 'One Shot' signwriters paint and I started adding 
some colour. The drawn lines are basically 
used a guide, as you start painting you can see 
much more clearly of any minor adjustments 
to the line thickness that may be required.

The logo is starting to take shape...

So far so good, although the red isn't finished
I started to apply the black so I could ensure
equal thickness of the lines. This is just my
preferred method of signwriting. At this point
I was looking at the sign and started to think
that the word 'Open' didn't look quite right, so
out came the eraser once again, and time for
another redesign to be added as the whole point 

of this sign is for customers to be able to easily
 identify the Oil Droppers workshop.

After deciding what I was going to put in place
of the word Open, I drew the wording using
a similar font to Showcard Gothic, and as I
already had the black One Shot paint out I
started to paint the wording. I think this font

suits the sign with the retro pinstriping around
the outer edge.

After a few more hours the main side of
the sign was finished. Visitors should easily
be able to find the workshop as the sign looks
quite striking. I decided to put the opening

hours on the sign as the old sign I made for
 them a few years ago still had the old 
opening hours of 08.00 - 6.00 on it. You can
see from this photo how vibrant the sign is in
natural light as opposed to the photo above
which taken in indoors with artificial light.

One side of the A frame is finished, just the other
side to do now.

I thought on this side, I would list just some
of the services that Oil Droppers offer. I also
thought I'd use the wording from the company
logo but without the Maltese cross as I thought
 it would look OK.

Once I was happy with the design I started
to paint with the red One Shot paint. 
I have
 printed off the logo and taped it to the board
to refer to and use as a guide.

The logo is painted as per the printed off version,
but it doesn't look quite right. It looks too dark. 

I wasn't happy with the Oil Droppers logo, as
I thought there was too much black, but I decided
to carry on and list some of the services that they
offer and see if the logo grows on me...

The second side of the sign finished. I kept
looking at the second board and I still wasn't
happy with it. It looked too dark, it didn't have
the same striking appearance as the first side.

So I decided to change the colour of the inside
of the 'O' and above the word 'Droppers' and also
on top of the 'I'. This helped to make it a bit brighter
but it still wasn't very bright. After some more
thought and several cups of tea, I decided to
use the Oil Dropper red and add some wording
across the bottom and add a pinstripe in between
the services offered.

This looks much better now. The idea is to
have the logo side facing away from the workshop
so customers can see where the workshop is, and
so they can see a few of the services Oil Droppers
offer as they exit the workshop, but of course it's
up to Stuart where he puts the sign.

Once the sign was touched up, and everything
checked, and before loading it into my T4 to take
to Oil Droppers I decided to take some photos
in natural light. I think the sign stands out,
especially against my monochrome T4.

The reverse side of the sign also looks good
now. It's not as bright as the front but then it's
not supposed to be.

On the bottom of the inside of the sign I added
a signature with our contact details. You never

know it may hopefully generate more work...? 

The top of the A frame is held together with
2 chrome hinges at the top and a chain at the
bottom. The chain is held by chrome eyelets
screwed into the framework. Once in position
the eyelets protruded about 3/4 inch so I decided
to put them in the vice and bend them over to
stop anyone catching their shins on them as
they walked past.

The A frame in the closed position show how
the bent eyelets work to keep them almost flush
with the sign.

This photo was taken from about 30 feet and
the sign really stands out. This should help
potential customers find the workshop.

The sign outside the Oil Droppers workshop.
At least customers will be able to identify which
unit belongs to Oil Droppers.
A better photo of the A frame sign in all it's glory.
The sign certainly stands out.
That was how we, here at Stinky Pete's Signwriting
produced the A frame sign for the Oil Droppers 
VW repair shop. Look out for my blog write up on
how they re-painted my 1969 microbus in the very
near future. The Volkswagen show season here 
in the U.K is almost with us again for another year, 
starting with Camper Mart 2016 tomorrow (Sunday 
31st January) so I'll write a blog review about that
 show and publish it for next Saturday, then hopefully 
soon I'll be able to start posting blog reviews on a 
regular weekly basis as normal. My blog reviews 
are posted on Saturday mornings. You can check 
out the Oil Droppers web page here:
(you may need to copy and paste the link)

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