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Publication numberUS3404475 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 8, 1968
Filing dateDec 8, 1965
Priority dateDec 8, 1965
Publication numberUS 3404475 A, US 3404475A, US-A-3404475, US3404475 A, US3404475A
InventorsCoad Terrence M
Original AssigneeSnaplite Displays Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Display sign with illuminated characters
US 3404475 A
Abstract  available in
Images(2)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Oct. 8, 1968 T. M. coAD DISPLAY SIGN WITH ILLUMINATED CHARACTERS 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Dec. 8, 1965 [\JVEZNVOK Terren 1. CoacL q-n-cmsva/ T. M. COAD DISPLAY SIGN WITH ILLUMINATED CHARACTERS Oct. 8, 1968 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Dec. 8, 1965 United States Patent 3,404,475 DISPLAY SIGN WITH ILLUMINATED CHARACTERS Terrence M. Coad, Rockford, Ill., assignor to Snaplite Displays, Inc., Rockford, 111., a corporation of Illinois Filed Dec. 8, 1965, Ser. No. 512,354 10 Claims. (Cl. 40-130) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A lighted display sign includes individually illuminated and interchangeable letters detachably snapped on and energized through parallel current conducting rails mounted on a sign board. Each letter is formed by a metal frame designed in the shape of the particular letter and serving to conduct current from the rails to lamps mounted on the frame for illuminating the letter. A translucent cover is fastened removably to the frame and overlies the lamps to diffuse the light with a selected visual effect and to protect the interior of the letter. The rails on the sign board are protected from the weather by a protective cover overlying the display face of the board and sealing around the letters snapped onto the rails.

This invention relates to an illuminated display sign of the type in which interchangeable sign characters in the form of letters or numbers are mounted on a sign board to convey an advertising message and are lighted by lamps on the characters themselves energized through conductors in the sign board associated with the elements for supporting the characters on the board.

The general object of the invention is to provide a new and improved display sign of the foregoing character which is simpler in construction and more rugged, troublefree and versatile in service use than prior signs of the same general type.

A more detailed object is to employ the instructural elements of the display characters and the supporting elements of the sign board as the conductors of the energizing circuits for the lamps thereby eliminating all conventional wiring within the characters and minimizing the wiring needed in the sign board.

Another object is to make the sign board weathertight in service use by sealing the board around the characters thereon and also in the remaining areas of the board in a novel and relatively simple manner which permits quick and easy installation and removal of the characters.

A further object is to enclose each character with a protective and decorative cover that may be removed quickly and easily from the character for access to the lamps therein or for a change in the color of the character.

Still another object is to use the covers as reinforcements for the structural elements of the characters, thereby simplifying the construction of the structural elements.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will be come apparent from the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of a display sign embodying the novel features of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of the rear side of a representative character detached from the board.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-section taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a view of a portion of FIG. 3 showing elements of the character in .-a moved position.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary end view of the sign shown in FIG. 1 with parts broken away and shown in cross-section.

FIGS. 6 and 7 are enlarged fragmentary views of portions of FIG. 5.

As shown in the drawings for the purposes of illustration, the invention is embodied in an outdoor display sign of the type used by drive-in restaurants, theaters and other establishments for advertising purposes. Such signs comprise generally a display board 10 herein supported on two posts (FIG. 1) and having on at least one side a plurality of vertically spaced pairs of horizontal supports 12 and 13 (FIG. 5) for interchangeable sign characters 14 in the form of letters or numbers that are arranged on the supports to convey an advertising message. Each of the characters 14 is individually illuminated by one or more electric lamps 15 mounted on the character and energized through electrical conductors on the signboard 10 receiving power from a suitable source such as a transformer 16 adapted for connection to a domestic power supply. The transformer may be of the type having -115 V. AC. input and 6-12 v. output.

In this instance, the sign is of the double-faced variety wherein the characters 14 are displayed on opposite sides of the board 10. In such a sign, the board. 10 is hollow and comprises a pair of spaced rectangular walls 17 (FIG. 5) and a plurality of peripheral beams 18 formed of suitable non-conducting material such as wood. or plastic. The character supports 12 and 13 are in the form of rails extending parallel to each other along the outer surface or display side of each wall 17 and secured to the latter at various points by bolts 19.

Herein, each character or letter 14 includes a frame 20 (see FIGS. 2-4) having a plurality of lamp sockets 21 on its front side with an electric lamp bulb 15a threaded into each socket. Rigid with the rear side of the frame 20 are a pair of mounting clips 22 and 23 utilized for detachably securing the letter to the mounting rails 12 and 13 of the sign board.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, the frames of the characters not only support the lamps 15 but also serve as the conductors of the energizing circuits of the lamps thereby eliminating the need for conventional wiring in the characters. For this purpose, the frame 20 of each character comprises a pair of conducting plates or strips 28 and 29, both in the shape of the particular character, disposed in closely spaced side-byside relation and held together by a retaining band 30 which joins the plates into a unitary frame and also electrically insulates the plates from each other. Accordingly, the frame of each character is of extremely'simple and relatively inexpensive construction.

As shown in FIGS. 2 to 4, the rear or backing plate 29 of each character 14 carries the clips 22 and 23 which are composed of conducting material to coact with the conductors on the board 10 to complete the circuit from the board to the character, and 'the front plate 28 carries the sockets 21 of the lamps 15. Preferably, the retaining band 30 is an endless strip of insulating material such as relatively rigid but resiliently flexible plastic in the shape of the letter and formed with inwardly opening grooves 31 on opposite sides of an internal flange 33. The marginal edges of the frame plates are fitted into the grooves 31 with the flange 33 disposed between and separating the plates from each other.

Before the bulbs 15a are inserted in the sockets 21, the plates are disposed in spaced parallel planes as shown in FIG. 4. The sockets 21 are simply threaded sleeves secured to the front plate 28 around openings therein so that the contact ends 35 of the bulbs project through the front plate as shown in FIG. 3 and engage the backing plate 29. When the front plate is composed of thin-gage metal, it is capable of bowing away from the backing plate as the bulbs are installed and thereafter urges the contact ends into good conducting contact with the backing plate.

Herein, the mounting clips 22 and 23 are each constructed from a strip of thin resilient metal bent intermediate its ends (see FIGS. 6 and 7) to form a pair of legs 38 which first converge at 39 and then flare outwardly at 39a to define an open mouth 40. To secure the mounting clips 22 and 23 to the character, a pair of holes 42 and 43 are drilled through the backing plate 29 and are vertically spaced the same distance as the mounting rails 12 and 13. A rivet 44 (FIG. 6) passes through the hole 42 and the mounting clip 22 to secure the latter firmly to the backing plate. Inserted into the hole 43 is a plastic grommet 45 having a groove 46 formed around its exterior receiving the edges of the hole 43 as shown in FIG. 7. A second rivet 47 passes through the grommet and connects the mounting clip 23 to the backing plate with the grommet serving to insulate both the rivet 47 and the clip from the backing plate.

As stated above, the mounting clips 22 and 23 coact with conductors on the sign board to transfer power from the transformer 16 to the lamps to illuminate the latter. Accordingly, when the transformer is energized, current flows from the board to the mounting clip 22 through the backing plate 29 and into the terminals of the lamps. The current returns through the front socket plate 28, across a spring finger 50 (FIGS. 5 and 7) extending forwardly from the front plate and biased into contact with the head of the rivet 47, into the rivet 47 and the mounting clip 23 and finally, back to the board conductors thus completing the energizing circuit for the lamps. The spring finger 50 may be a separate piece suitably fastened to the front plate or may be a lug punched out of the plate and integrally joined thereto at one end.

Means are provided for protecting the lamps 15 and the circuit of each character 14 and also for enhancing the appearance of the sign. In this instance, these means comprise a cover molded of translucent, heat-resistant plastic having the same shape as the character and having an inwardly opening channel 56 of U-shaped cross-section formed around its periphery and resiliently snapped onto the complementary exterior surfaces of the insulating strip 30. The removable cover 55, although extremely simple in construction, allows ready access to the lamps for replacement purposes and reinforces the frame members 28 and 29 of the character. Additionally, the cover serves to diffuse the light emitted by the lamps and if desired, the covers can be made in different colors whereby the entire color effect of the sign can be varied merely by replacing one cover with another of a different color. Thus, a wide variety of color combinations are made possible without having to replace the entire character when a color change is desired.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, the sign board 10 is constructed in a novel manner to minimize the wiring required in the board and also to maintain a weather-tight seal around each character as well as over the unused area of the board. To these ends, the mounting rails 12 and 13 serve both as supports for the characters and as the conductors for transferring the electrical current from the transformer to the characters. To make the sign weather-tight, a protective cover 60 overlies the rails and has access openings 61 therethrough normally sealed closed by flexible gaskets 62. The gaskets yield to admit the clips 22 and 23 through the cover for engagement with the rails and thereafter seal against the clips to prevent rain, sleet and snow from shorting the electrical circuit. When a character 14 is removed from the board, the gaskets act to re-close the opening thus protecting the current conducting rails.

As shown in FIG. 5, the bolts 19 which secure the mounting rails 12 and 13 to the board wall 17 also serve to electrically connect the terminals 65 of a plurality of lead wires 72 and 73 to the mounting rails. The lead wires 72 and 73 are housed within the hollow interior of the board 10 and respectively extend to the feed and return terminals of the transformer 16 which is also located within the board. To be effective both as conductors and as supports for the characters 14, the mounting rails preferably are in the form of metal angle bars having outwardly projecting, horizontal flanges 75 for receiving the mounting clips 22 and 23 of the characters. The thickness of the flanges 75 is greater than the distance between the converging portions of the clip legs 38. Accordingly, the flared mouth 40 of each clip slips over a flange when a character is attached to the board and the flange forces the converging legs apart against the resiliency of the spring metal. The legs thereafter snap into engagement with the flange thus achieving a secure character mounting and good electrical contact between the clip and the rail. An electrical circuit from the transformer 16 to the lamps 15 is completed as an incident to attaching the character to the board with the lead wire 72 and the rail 12 feeding current to the mounting clip 22 while the current returns, after passing through the character frame 20, by means of the mounting clip 23, the rail 13 and the lead wire 73.

Weather-tight protection of the above described circuit is afforded by the covered 60 (FIG. 5) which is constructed of relatively rigid plastic and which is substantially the same length and height as the board wall 17. The cover is in the form of a rectangular dish having a rim 79 sealed to the board wall 17 by a plurality of screws 80 and having an exterior display face 82 spaced outwardly from the wall and the rail flanges 75. The cover is braced against inward deflection by spaced horizontal ribs 83 extending inwardly and abutting the wall 17. To provide access through the cover 60 to the rails 12 and 13, the openings 61 preferably are in the form of continuous, elongated slots cut in the display face 82 of the cover intermediate its length with each slot overlying and being alined with one of the rail flanges 75. When a letter is installed, the mounting clips 22 and 23 project through the slot 61 into engagement with the flanges 75, and the back surface of the character cover 55 lies against the display face 82 of the board cover 60.

In this instance, the weather-resistant gaskets 62 act both to seal around the clips 22 and 23 over the portions of the board 10 where characters are attached and to close the slots 61 over the remaining unused portions of the board. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 5, each gasket 62 includes a pair of rubber strips extending along the interior wall of the cover 60 and having abutting end portions 91 which serve to close the adjacent slot 61. As each character is attached, the mounting clips cam the end portions 91 of the strips 90 away from each other and the strips thereafter resiliently seal with the clips. The slots 61 are resealed automatically as an incident to removal of the character from the board since the end portions 91 of the strips, by virtue of their resiliency, return to their normal abutting position closing the slots when the clips 22 and 23 are withdrawn.

From the foregoing, it will be seen that the improved display sign is very simple in construction and yet versatile and trouble-free in use. Moreover, the board 10 is weathertight regardless of the absence of a character thereon and in spite of the relative spacing of the characters, thus making the sign especially suitable for outdoor display purposes.

I claim as my invention:

1. In an illuminated display sign, the combination of, a sign board having a display side, a pair of generally parallel rails on said display side composed of electrical conducting material, a protective cover overlying said display side and sealed to said board around its margins, said cover having openings therethrough overlying and alined with said rails, a flexible gasket supported on said cover adjacent each of said openings and extending across the opening to close the latter, a display character having front and rear metallic frame plates formed in the shape of the character and disposed in closely spaced side-byside planes, a retaining band extending around the edges of said plates and securing the latter together in spaced apart relation as a unitary frame, at least one lamp socket mounted on said front frame plate and adapted to support a lamp bulb in contact with said rear frame plate, and a pair of spring clips on said rear frame plate with each of said clips projecting past one of said gaskets and through one of said openings into engagement with one of said rails thereby supporting said character and conducting electrical current from said board to said character.

2. In an illuminated display character, the combination of, front and rear frame plates having the shape of the character disposed in closely spaced side-by-side planes and composed of electrical conducting material, a retaining band extending around the edges of said plates and securing the latter together in spaced-apart relation as a unitary frame, at least one lamp socket mounted on said front frame plate and adapted to support a lamp bulb in contact with said rear frame plate, and means on said rear frame plate for supporting the character on a display sign and conducting electrical current to one of said plates and from the other of the plates, said means comprising a pair of clips secured to said rear frame plate and composed of electrical conducting material, an insulator disposed between said rear frame plate and one of said clips, and a conductor extending from said one clip to said front frame plate.

3. A display character as defined in claim 2 in which said conductor is a spring finger.

4. A display character as defined in claim 2 in which said retaining band is a strip of non-conducting material having spaced peripheral grooves receiving the edges of said plates.

5. A display character as defined in claim 2 further including a translucent cover having the shape of the character spaced from said front frame plate and overlying the latter, and said cover including means for engaging said strip and detachably securing said cover to said character.

6. In a sign board for supporting illuminated display characters, the combination of, a frame having a display side, at least two rails on said display side composed of electrical conducting material and adapted to support said characters on said frame, a single protective cover overlying said display side and each of said rails and sealed to said frame around its margins, said cover having openings therethrough each overlying and alined with one of said rails, and weather-proofing gaskets supported on said cover adjacent said openings and extending across the openings to close the latter, said gaskets being yieldable to admit fasteners on the display characters through the cover for engagement with said rails.

7. A sign board as defined in claim 6 in which said rails are in form of angle irons each having one flange secured to said display side and having the other flange projecting outwardly from said display side toward said cover to engage the fasteners.

8. A display sign as defined in claim 6 in which said openings are in the form of elongated slots extending across the major portion of one dimension of said cover, and in which each of said gaskets includes a pair of elongated strips of yieldable material supported on said cover with each strip extending partially across one of said slots and cooperating with the other strip to close the slot.

9. In an illuminated display sign, a sign board having a frame, at least two substantially horizontal and generally parallel rails fastened to said frame in vertically spaced relation and composed of electrical conducting material, an upright display face fastened to said frame in overlying relation with said rails and defining at least two elongated horizontal slots alined with the rails, an illuminated display unit having a supporting element including a pair of electrical conductors insulated electrically from one another, two vertically spaced conducting fasteners on one side of said supporting element and each connected to one of said conductors and projecting through one of said slots into engagement with one of said rails to hold said display unit on the rails in front of the exposed side of said display face and to conduct electrical current between the rails and said conductors, at least one lamp on the other side of said supporting element and electrically connected across said conductors for energization through the conductors, a cover having a translucent wall portion in the shape of an intelligible character overlying said lamp to protect the interior of said unit and to diffuse light from the lamp with a selected visual effect when the lamp is energized, and means holding the cover on the supporting element and releasable to enable removal and replacement of the cover with another cover having a different translucent wall portion for producing a different visual effect.

10. In an illuminated display unit, the combination of, a supporting element including a pair of electrical conductors insulated electrically from one another, at least one lamp on one side of said supporting element and electrically connected across said conductors for energization through the conductors, two conducting fasteners on the other side of said supporting element and each connected to one of said conductors, a cover having a translucent wall portion in the shape of an intelligible character overlying said lamp to protect the interior of said unit and to diffuse light from said lamp with a selected visual effect when the lamp is energized, and means holding said cover on said supporting element and releasable to enable removal and replacement of the cover with another cover having a different translucent wall portion for producing a different visual effect.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,251,471 l/l9l8 Brooks. 2,175,245 10/1939 Brockman 339-21 3,221,432 12/1965 Gold.

FOREIGN PATENTS 25,393 11/1904 Great Britain. 725,694 2/1932 France.

LAWRENCE CHARLES, Primary Examiner.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1251471 *Aug 5, 1916Jan 1, 1918Jesse M BrooksElectric sign.
US2175245 *Jul 19, 1937Oct 10, 1939Brockman James RElectric socket
US3221432 *Feb 20, 1963Dec 7, 1965Gold Bert JIlluminated sign
FR725694A * Title not available
GB190425393A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3919798 *Sep 12, 1973Nov 18, 1975Mutzhas Maximilian FIlluminated advertising device
US3958344 *Nov 15, 1974May 25, 1976Lesiak Carole MTeaching aid for teaching numbers
US3965597 *Nov 6, 1974Jun 29, 1976Willey Sign CompanyAdvertising sign structure
US5003443 *Aug 1, 1990Mar 26, 1991Sabala Edwin KIlluminated display apparatus
US5621991 *Oct 31, 1995Apr 22, 1997Stan-TechLighted display with electroluminescent lamps
US5722760 *Jan 15, 1997Mar 3, 1998Chien; Tseng LuElectro-luminescent light assembly
US6860629 *Aug 16, 2002Mar 1, 2005Michael VelezSolid transparent acrylic letters
US8419253 *Apr 14, 2008Apr 16, 2013Mass & Ross AGLighting display system
US8959811 *Jul 6, 2007Feb 24, 2015Visual Graphic Systems Inc.Support device for electrified sign insert
US20030067789 *Aug 16, 2002Apr 10, 2003Velez Michael A.Channel letters
US20040041743 *Oct 18, 2002Mar 4, 2004Ownway Biotronics Inc.Display apparatus and method for distributed modules of light-emitting elements
US20090205232 *Jul 6, 2007Aug 20, 2009Visual Graphic Systems Inc.Support device for electrified sign insert
US20100110688 *Apr 14, 2008May 6, 2010Maas & Ross AgLighting display system
Classifications
U.S. Classification40/552
International ClassificationG09F7/02, G09F7/08, G09F13/04, G09F7/00
Cooperative ClassificationG09F7/08, G09F7/002, G09F13/0404
European ClassificationG09F13/04B, G09F7/08, G09F7/00B