One of the contractors who employed me had a contract with the sign company in Great Falls, Montana to maintain a large number of neon signs in Havre, Montana.  At one point we had a real vicious hail storm in Havre.

The day of the hail storm I was driving home into the teeth of the storm.  I pulled over to the side of the road.  I was sure it was going to break out my windshield.  It held.

The windows in our neighbor’s house were broken and the rain blew in damaging their sofa.  The side of our mobile home located toward the storm didn’t have any windows, but it made dents in the aluminum siding.

The storm occurred in August and our garden was demolished, except for the vine plants.  The wind had “rolled up” the vine plants (cukes, squash, and pumpkins) like a rug.  When I unrolled them they had protected themselves.  We had a good crop of vine vegetables a month later in September.

I have heard where hail storms have damaged 100% of cars on a car sales lot; a total loss on the vehicles there.

The hailstorm that month and year required that we go around to most of the signs in town to determine which ones needed repair.  It was nearly every sign in town.

The next day the company in Great Falls sent up a flat bed truck loaded with neon tubing.  Apparently the contract did not allow much down time on these signs.  We worked day and night to replace all that tubing that had been broken.

I learned quite a bit about neon signs on that occasion.

Sometimes in the bright light you could not see if the sign was lighting or not.  I discovered that by running my finger and thumb along a tubing, I could tell if it was working or not.

The work came at a good time as the shop was low on work.  It gave everyone a bit of income.  Later on another electrician and I were talking about the neon tubing being thoroughly broken and he told me what he had heard from another electrician.

This third party individual would go out at night, when work was slow, and throw old fan belts up into the sign tubing, breaking it.  He called it “making work.”

This practice is more widespread and widely used than most would imagine; and it isn’t limited to electrical signage.

But that’s another storm.