31 Jul The production of the Panneaux Michelin
After many and long tryouts, the industrial production of the Panneaux Michelin started in 1928.
The plates were built out of very strong lava rocks from the lava flows of the Mont Dore.
The rocks were carved into blocks of 1,5 m3 (4.000 kg) and transported to the Michelin factory in Cartroux. In the factory, the blocks were cut into plates of 15 mm. In this process, water and sand were added. In order to cut multiple plates at the same time, multiple sawblades were used. The cutting depth was 5 mm per hour and therefore this process took several weeks!
After this, the plates were given a flat and even surface and then they got glazed with enamel powder that was made out of clay. The clay was made from the sawdust of the plates, iron oxides and dye. Then the plates were baked at a temperature of 900 C.
After the cooling down process, the plates got lettered. On the white base layer a stencil was placed. In this stencil, the letters and symbols were engraved. This space in the stencils were dusted with blue and/or red glaze powder. After removing the stencil, the plates got marked with the date and a kind of order/production number. After this, the plates were baked one more time.
Often, two town names were placed on one Panneau. In most cases, the Panneau was built out of two or four plates. The letters and symbols in the stencil were evenly ditributed to the size of the plates. Next to this, a letter should “fall” as less as possible over the seams of two plates. Because of this, sometimes, strange distributions were created. An original font does not exist anymore,
BUT THIS IS WHAT THE PANNEAUX MICHELIN GAVE THEIR AUTHENTIC APPEARENCE!
The finished Panneaux got placed into the previously prepaired concrete edge, back and or/and pole.
There were several versions:
Poteau Michelin = Panneau on a pole out of concrete
Borne d’angle Michelin = “mushroom” out of concrete with a panneau on four sides
Plaque murale Michelin = Panneau on a wall
During transportation of the panneaux they were protected by mussels!
Two teams were responsible for the placement of the Panneaux Michelin. One team did all the preparations and the other team was responsible for the actual placement of the panneaux. Through this method, a whole city got provided with Michelin signage in two or three days.
Today, there are only a several hundred of Panneaux Michelin left in France. The production was terminated in 1971 but because of the special laze they are not discolored and because of the hardness of the stone, they can last for centuries.
The Panneaux Michelin are very impressive works of art and because of our very exact reproduction, VinSign keeps this panneaux alive!
VinSign has a collection of more than 2.000 examples of Panneaux Michelin from 1928 to the end of the 1960’s, and is able to reproduce these according to your wishes.