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The Stoner Graphix Turkey Hill Experience

Watertower signage creates powerful branding.



Kurt Stoner is the founder of Stoner Graphix (Hummelstown, PA).

The Turkey Hill Experience, a 26,000-sq.-ft. attraction in Columbia, PA, pays homage to Turkey Hill’s history while highlighting its ice cream and iced-tea-making processes. The Experience includes interactive exhibits, such as a make-your-own ice cream creation and star in a Turkey Hill TV commercial, as well as a café, gift shop, and lots of other fun things for the entire family.

The property, where a silk factory had previously operated, features a 130-ft.-tall water tower, which was an obvious choice to create great impact for the visitor center. The water tower is situated alongside the building and adjacent to the main highway, State Rt. 30, which visitors use to enter Lancaster and Hershey, PA.

Turkey Hill’s representatives quickly saw how the landmark could perform double duty as a sign. Many designs and diverse approaches were proposed, but a 3-D, multi-layered sign using the company’s “Experience” logo offered the most impact for the budget.

Hardware solutions
The client provided Adobe® Illustrator® vector files. To make the images ready for sign production, we manipulated and dissected them heavily using Illustrator and Gerber Omega Composer.

After we’d reached a consensus on imagery, we addressed engineering the fabrication. Eight “C” channel legs and flat-steel braces were combined to construct the four main legs, which support the tower. They were mounted at 45° angles to the tank and tapered in toward the tank as they ascended.


This created a significant design headache. To solve the problem and keep the faces “plumb,” we built mounting brackets that secure the sign at varying lengths. Each of the 12 main brackets on each side had to be measured and built according to their location and distance apart on the tower legs. We built them based on the legs’ 3° slant.

We MIG-welded a combination of 3- and 4-in.-diameter, steel-box tubing and steel angle to create a 216-linear-ft. framework that could be attached to the legs of the tower with adequate support and be adjusted to ensure a level product. We chose Grade 8 fasteners to ensure a long and secure life because they offer significantly greater tensile strength than Grade 5 hardware.

The tower structure was first surveyed by an engineer, and the footings were reinforced by a professional engineering firm to ensure the signs’ additional wind load would be easily supported.

Transporting and maneuvering the structures and sign components for a project of this magnitude have a way of becoming a job inside the job. Stoner Graphix built a wood structure for our trailer that allowed us to safely and efficiently transport the sign frames to the site, and a small crane was used onsite just to maneuver components.

A big production
We produced digital graphics with our HP DesignJet 10000s solvent-ink printer. To print the 2,200 sq. ft. of graphics, we used MACtac’s Imagin® B-Free® Gruv™ GV729BFD repo-sitionable, high-performance vinyl. We printed the graphics in standard, 720 x 720-dpi, eight-pass mode.

We applied the prints, which measure up to 4 x 12 ft., to e-panel™ and Alumacorr™ polyethylene-core, aluminum sheets by hand on our RollsRoller laminating table. Prior to covering the backers with the prints, we cut the panels on our Gerber Sabre 408 CNC router with Onsrud solid-carbide and fluted bits. We coated the digital prints with MACtac’s 3638 satin-finish laminate on a GBC Arctic Titan 61-in.-wide, pressure laminator.


The main “TH” sign measures 12 x 27 ft. First, we constructed its steel skeleton, and then bolted on the Alumacorr panels with stainless-steel bolts. To emphasize the panels’ 3-D attributes, we cut out all graphic elements individually, and then mounted them at different levels on the actual tank and the railing around its catwalk. We took painstaking measurements of the tower to ensure alignment of brackets that were 20 ft. apart, but had to be level to create an accurate fit.

The installation required two weeks. Most of the time, two workers assembled the signage, but, at some key junctures, we had as many as five staffers onsite for several days. For three and a half of our days on the jobsite, we rented a 60-ton crane to handle the heftier components. Throughout the installation, we used a JLG 135-ft., articulating lift, which we obtained from United Rentals.

The successful project reminded us how much planning is necessary to execute large, high-profile jobs.
No detail, from creating accurate design renderings, to the fabrication process, to safe transportation practices, proper installation equipment and hands-on management, can be neglected. Any missed detail could create an unplanned expense or scheduling hassle.

More About Stoner Graphix
Stoner Graphix
, Inc. was founded by Kurt Stoner in 1988, and it’s served the Central Pennsylvania area since then with award-winning graphics and signage. The company has grown to include customers all over the U.S. and Canada. Stoner Graphix manufactures all of its products in a 12,000-sq.-ft. facility with state-of-the-art tools and machinery. Some of its services and solutions include: dimensional signage, exterior signage, themed décor, logo design, retail graphics, restaurant décor, themed retail graphics, interactive themes, corporate identity, specialty fabrication and vehicle lettering and wraps.

In 2010, the company earned three awards in the International Sign Contest (see ST, April
2010, page 75), and has created 3-D store signage for Cabela’s Sporting Goods, and various applications for the Hershey Co.For more information about the company, visit

Equipment and Materials
Sixty-ton crane, from Crane Rentals Inc. (Manheim, PA), (717) 664-3536 or; 135-ft. articulating lift, from JLG (McConnellsburg, PA), (877) 554-5438 or, rented from United Rentals’ Middletown, PA location


Hardware: Grade 8 fasteners, available from industrial-equipment and building-supply stores

Lamination: Satin-finish 3638 laminate, from MACtac (Stow, OH), (866) 262-2822 or; Arctic Titan 165 61-in. laminator, from GBC (Lincolnshire, IL), (800) 723-4000 or; RollsRoller lamination table, from Reklamidé AB (Karlstad, Sweden), 46-54-770-7000 or

Printer: DesignJet 10000s solvent-ink printer, from HP (Palo Alto, CA), (866) 229-7313 or

Router: Sabre 408 CNC router, from Gerber Scientific Products (Tolland, CT), (800) 222-7446 or; Solid-carbide router bits, from LMT Onsrud (Waukegan, IL), (847) 362-1560 or

Software: Illustrator®, from Adobe Corp. (San Jose, CA), (408) 536-6000 or; Gerber Omega™ Composer, from Gerber Scientific Products

Substrates: e-panel™ polyethylene-core, aluminum-composite material, from 3A Composites USA (Statesville, NC), (800) 626-3365 or; AlumaCorr™ polyethylene-core, aluminum-composite material, from Nudo Products Inc. (Springfield, IL), (800) 826-4132 or

Vinyl: Imagin® B-Free® Gruv™ GV729BFD high-performance, air-release media, from MACtac

Welding: MIG welder and 3-in.-diamater, steel-box tubing, available from building-supply stores



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