New clock ticks toward Opening Day


It was just another day at Triangle Sign and Service, which is to say the workroom was strewn with some pretty weird projects.

Over there, workers busily were bending aluminum sheets into shapes that closely resembled giant elbow macaroni. After the metal frame has been assembled, they will plug in a selection of watch parts, install hour and minute hands and -- presto! -- will have created the 14-foot scoreboard clock for Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

On to Workbench No. 2, if you can find it. The table was crowded with aluminum letters that, last week, spelled out "O-R-I-L-S."

By Opening Day, Triangle hopes to have completed "E" and another "O." The 3-foot high letters will be outlined with tubes of orange neon and attached to the top of the clock, which will be attached to the top of the scoreboard.

There was another project of note going on at Triangle last week, one that should be a particular favorite of local meteorologists. Among the custom items the sign company is making for the new ballpark are a pair of 8-foot bird weather vanes that will flank the main scoreboard.

The birds, though barely recognizable, are on schedule for Opening Day. Both have been cut from aluminum sheets. Both are almost fully shaped, from beak to tail feathers. One of the bird vanes even has been painted with two coats of a mustard-colored primer.

Soon, a Triangle artist will begin adding the last touch -- shades of orange, black and white that will transform the metal bird into the ornithologically correct weather vane.

If all goes well, the birds, which are expected to go on the scoreboard in late March, will turn toward the wind and stop, thereby offering generations of outfielders vital wind-current data.

This is not the first time Triangle has made a sign, or even a strange one. The Baltimore company makes lighted and neon signs for clients ranging from retail stores to synagogues. Two years ago, the company provided many signs for a renovation of a Houston airport, according to Robert Kaye, Triangle executive vice president.

At the new ballpark, the company is providing all items contained in a roughly $230,000 contract for signature signage. In addition to the two weather vanes (total cost: $97,060) and the old-fashioned clock ($84,760), Triangle is providing 53 advertising billboards that will be scattered throughout concourses and ramps. Even these are not standard. The signboards are patterned after panels common in ballparks years ago. They will be lighted by gooseneck lamps that will hang in front of the billboards and will be set into frames decorated with lattice work.

The big challenge for his company is not making the unusual items, Kaye said. It's making all of them in time for Opening Day.

"Everyone assumed [choosing the final designs] would take a lot less time and involve a lot less controversy," he said. "But that won't deter us. We'll make Opening Day, no problem. All it means is that there is less time."

As work proceeds on the weather vanes, other projects are moving ahead. A large hole in the main scoreboard should be filled soon. The matrix (or dot) panel is scheduled to arrive at the ballpark this week, followed in about three weeks by the Sony Jumbotron TV screen, said Maryland Stadium Authority executive director Bruce Hoffman.

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