Shreveport & Bossier City, Louisiana

Shreveport Neon Signs, Inc.

In August 2010 I made a trip through Shreveport La. with my son on the way up to Arkansas to pick up a Thunderbolt 1003 siren. We had to stop at Shreveport Neon Signs to check out their Roto-Sphere after seeing photos of their Roto-Sphere on Debra Jane's site. We talked to Danny Nevels, one of the owners of the company, about their Roto-Sphere. Mr. Nevels was nice enough to show us some of the inner workings of some signs during the visit and he was nice enough to turn on the Roto-Sphere later in the evening. Although one half wasn't operational due to broken tubing it was still a really impressive sight. Just the movement of the thing alone is something to see. To see an info-packed page on Roto-Spheres check out this link. Debra Jane mentions on her Roto-Sphere page that Shreveport Neon has a Roto-Sphere in their shop so I asked Mr Nevels about that. He said that they did indeed have one in the shop in storage. Not knowing exactly how to ask him if I could look it over I asked him "if it was accessible or if it was buried under a bunch of stuff." He said "oh do you want to see it." I answred "yeah if it's not too much trouble." We went back into the shop and there was the disassembled Roto-Sphere sitting on a shelf in the back of their shop. See photos below.

Inside the Roto-Sphere
Above Left Photo. The Roto-Sphere inner workings are similar to an auto rear axle differential. Actually the two shafts that turn each sphere half of the Roto-Sphere appear to be rear axles. The axle tubes still have rear leaf spring mounts attached and the there are wheel lug nuts on studs where the sphere halves attach. Mr Nevels mentioned a Studebaker rear axle so I guess that's where the parts for the axles orginally came from. The center geared mechanism is similar to an auto differential but with an addtional shaft that goes through the top of the mechanism where the motor drive pulleys are located. I didn't get a look at the other side of the geared mechanism but I guess the motor attaches on the other side. I couldn't see any motor mounting brackets on the side I was looking at. The motor belt pulleys can be seen at the top of the geared mechanism. There is also an involved series of brushes to connect all the electrical components inside the Roto-Sphere. At the axle end you can see the set of collector rings and brushes which connect the neon transformers power supply at one half of the sphere. There is an identical set of rings and brushes for the other half of the sphere (not in photo). The neon transformers mount inside the shpere half and connect to the moving brushes at the axle flange. As the sphere rotates the brushes ride on the collector rings fixed to the axle housing tube. There is a similar set of brushes mounted to the pole(seen in above right photo) at the base of the whole mechanism. There are two separate sets of brushes at the base. I believe that threre are two sets so the motor and neon of the Roto-Sphere can be operated independently of each other.

Above Right Photo. Here you can see the two halves of the Roto-Sphere and the inner geared mechanism together. Guesstimating, I think the diameter of the sphere itself is about three feet. The spikes of the Roto-Sphere were stored up in another area of the shop so I didn't get photos of them. You can see the other set of collector rings and brushes at the base of the geared mechanism in this photo. Over all this Roto-Sphere appeared to be in very good condition. The inner workings reminded me very much of the rotator mechanisms I deal with on the Federal Thunderbolt Siren.

Holiday Lanes Bowling Alley, Bossier City, Louisiana

The Holiday Lanes Bowling Alley is located in Bossier City Louisiana at Old Minden and Industrial. This place is one of the best vintage googiesque bowling alleys I have seen. If you are in the area it's worth going by just to see the entry which consists of a giant bowling pin along with an amazing entry portico. The whole building is a gaint multi-arched roof bowling alley. The inside is pretty impressive as well but at the time we were there it was pretty busy and I didn't want to draw attention by taking photos inside the place. The Holiday Lanes sign is also pretty cool with a huge red flashing arrow. All the neon on the building was also in good operating condition at the time we visited.