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I split these posts off to create it's own topic because it's far too interesting to get lost in the shuffle in a LED discussion.
Those are some awesome pics Frank, thanks for sharing those....oh and by all means I don't think anyone here can get tired from hearing about Neon!
Sure, I'm on the wrong computer but I have some of Fallon Shanghai...
This is an order for 3500 Miller Lite (Old Logo), we are waiting (too long) for Ventex transformers coming in from the states so all these are minus them - this was a typical month's production - we could do more but it was waiting for materials which always screwed with the schedule. All the masterpack boxes behind are with the power supplies. We only did pattern bending, no jigs or fixtures, with 25 benders. Each table had a QC girl who checked every bit of glass made by the benders by slotting them into a jig.
We used all EGL glass and electrodes and when we ran out of clear I did source Chinese clear that was made for lamp manufacture (I kept this a secret that we're using Chinese glass lol). On a side line I wanted to do our own coating, its not rocket science once you have the right phosphor / binder and kiln. I've coated before in Australia ( tes I was there too! ol). Where people sourcing glass come undone - the glass formula needed to be for lamp manufacture and the tubes are acid washed and dried before packing. If you just buy any clear glass its ok for small units ~4 feet. Anything more than 5 feet you're pushing it and 7~8 feet fuhgeddaboudit! Yes it will pump and age ok, neon looks good bright red but then after about a day or two the electrodes cannot keep up with the outgassing and the tube fails.
This is the pump I designed- 12 ports three bombarders (custom made with the secondary center tapped like a neon transformer for safety) at the far end was another pump. Each port could be isolated if there was a problem with a unit. We had three of these running continuously with two pumpers at each one. One was the operator while the other one tipped off units on one end and connected six more on the other end. So when one side was doing the final pumping down the other side was ready to go when the GTO was switched over. My original plans had a bombarder GTO switch so it was just a flick of a switch to do the other side. Our standard was the electrodes would be heated to a bright orange and we did a helium flush
The neon aged for 4 hours with the Hg in the trap, any unit not dull was rejected. The ones that passed the first aging were aged for 7 more hours when the Hg was admitted. We had a lot of aging tables with three layers. We could switch between 30 and 60mA, usually it was 60mA for 8mm we would use 30mA. Aging neon with 30mA is too slow.
PS Don't get me talking about neon...I'll bend your ear off!