Howard Johnson's "Simple Simon & The Pie Man" Logo Weathervanes
The Three Types of Howard Johnson's "Simple Simon & The Pie Man" Logo Weathervanes Below Date From the 1960's expansion of the chain with the Rufus Nims designed Restaurants  And Were Installed On Six Foot Green narrow Cupolas Until Many Were Replaced By The Electric Beacons That Were Installed During The Environmental-ization Process that many Restaurants and Lodges were put through in the mid 1970's.

These Original Weathervanes Are Very Popular And Bring High Prices At Auction. But A Few Still Continue to Grace the Sky, or Enjoy life in a Private Collection.

 

Restaurant Design for Those Located in or around a Ho-Jo's Lodge Complex Ho-Jo's Lodge Gate House Lamp Lighter Design

 

Restaurant Design For A Stand-alone Location

History:

I do not know who manufactured the weathervanes as I have never seen any documentation about them,  Nor do I know who came up with the three designs, They were based upon the original John Alcott 1930's logo design. In the 50's expansion of the chain many of the trapezoid restaurant signs out front had a neon Simon and the Pieman scene on top with the restaurants topped with a squat cupola topped with Simon, lamppost, Pieman and dog weathervane.  When the Motels turned to the new A frame Gate House design, the new cupola design and weathervane scheme was designed. Tall thin cupolas topped by the three designs above were the norm.

The original 50's design of Simon, Lamppost and Pieman was continued for Restaurants in Motel / hotel complexes. New designs for stand alone Restaurant locations and the Lamplighter design for the gate house were introduced.

I have been told that they were fabricated in-house at Ho-Jo's Corporate Head-Quarters in Mass.  Others say they were custom built by the company owned Landmark Fixture Corporation.  In any event they are very simple in their construction. The weathervanes are made from sheet steel. In the first example the shapes are either stamped-out or cut with a torch in the shapes of the Arrow Point,, Simple Simon, the Dogs Tail, Lamp (at the top including the sign hangers left and right but not the post), The Dog,, The pie man, and the Arrow Tail, then welded on to the Arrow stem. The Lamp Post is part of the shaft and the Light is welded onto a flattened top of the shaft, Spot welds hold Simons finger and the Pie Mans tray tot he post.  In the Lamp Lighter Design in the middle Simons finger and the lamp lighters rod are spot welded to the post and again to the sign hanger on the right.  In the final example there is no pole to stabilize the characters so Simons finger is welded to the Pie Man's tray. The Stand Alone Restaurant design had different Simons, Dog, and Pie man then the Lodge Restaurants did. In all cases the spot welds are ground down smooth. ,Never the less these guys are durable, as evident by the fact that the weathervanes in some locations have lived longer then the restaurant it watched over, And all this without any maintenance.  All 3 styles shared common mounting elements. The six foot tall thin cupola was capped with a square copper plug. The 10 foot mounting rod that was affixed to the roof below protruded through the cap and allowed the Saturn,, cardinals and vane to be mounted.  

Two earlier versions existed with a different Simon and The Pie Man, Both of these designs featured a 3-d Lamp Post. These Weathervanes Were Cast Iron, Black, With a Gold Painted Steel Cut-Out of Simon, The Pie Man And The Dog.   A Second Version of this Design Just After WWII Was Identical To the Earlier Versions Only The Cut-Out was  Made From Cast Aluminum.

 

 

My Personal Goal Is To Own One of Each OF The 1960's Three Styles. I own one of the Restaurant versions from a Lodge Complex, I Am Looking For One Of The Second And Third Styles.

 

My Weathervane Restoration Project.

In August 2006 I purchased my weathervane after finding that no one met the reserve while it was on eBay in June. I contacted the owner, Jim in Florida and we began a dialog in which I decided very early on that I wanted to make an offer on his weathervane. The history of this vane is rich and I was very happy Jim was so open with the details. In the mid Seventies his Father worked for an construction firm based here in Connecticut that had been hired by HJ corporate to Enviromentalize Ho-Jo's locations in Connecticut, Mass and the Albany/Troy NY area.  Part of that process at many locations was to remove the 1960's copulas, weathervanes and fiberglass pie men at the door, and replace them with electric "Beacon" copulas without weathervanes, and cover the front facade with brown wood paneling, and place a stamped sheet metal pie man at the door. Many of the weathervanes were pitched in the dumpster. Jim's Father brought a few home, including the ten foot mounting pole. Later in the process his Father reports that the word came down from Corporate to send all weathervanes to Ho-Jo's HQ. When Jim moved out of the house to Boston he took the pie Man and lamp post version - without the ten foot pole. He thought he would get a display pole and set it up in his living room. He moved to Florida and sadly Simple Simon and the pie man did not fit with the modern style home he was living in.  Simon was sent to the storage facility for safe keeping.

Sometime in the summer of 2005 Jim decided that he would sell his weathervane. He went and looked at it in the storage shed, and almost brought it home with him. A few days later Hurricane Katrina wandered toward Florida and the storage facility had a power issue that resulted in a full blown fire. Everything Jim had in storage was lost, except Simon. The weathervane had lost all its paint, and had started to rust after being exposed to the water and allowed to sit in the wet debris for a few days before Jim was allowed to enter the shed. The only real casualty was the rings on the Saturn. The heat of the fire melted the solder holding them on to the copper globe. Other then that a good scrub with a wire brush and a date with some steel wool and it should be ready for paint.   

Technical Details:    
Pictures Before Restoration Saturn  

  Made from a hollow copper ball that is 8 3/4 inches in diameter with a 1 1/4 inch diameter hole in the center,  Some locations the ball was formed by two halves joined at the equator. 

The bottom hole has a 1 inch sleeve. The Rings of Saturn are 3 inches wide and are offset from the equator by 4 inches.

Most locations the rings top was located between North and East.

The rings were painted silver, and the globe was gold. In some locations if the globe was made of two halves, the top half of the globe was painted silver, the bottom was gold.

The Cardboard template of the three inch ring. The damaged rings are in the background. Cardinals

A.K.A.

Ordinals 

North South East and West

 

  Sheet steel letters welded on to 3/8th of an inch rods connected to a center ring one inch in diameter that is 1 1/2 inches high.

Two set screws are located in the ring between North and West and South and East.

Distance across to the start of each letter: N to S 24 1/4 inches, W to E 24 1/2 inches. The Letters height and width in inches: N -5 by 4 3/4, S 5 1/8 by 4, E-5 by 4 1/2, W- 5 by 6 1/4.

The Cardinals were painted Silver.

The Cardinals are in good shape. Very nicely cut out of sheet metal. The Mounting Rod  
    Black steel 10 feet long one inch diameter, last 4 3/4 inches diameter is 3/4 of an inch.

Exposed portion was painted gold.

  The Ornament  

 

  One quarter of an inch thick sheet metal, 40 inches tall, 35 inches wide.

Pie Man is 21 1/2 inches tall, 16 1/2 inches wide. The Dog is 7 1/4 inches tall 4 1/4 inches wide, and his tail is 4 1/4 inches high. Simple Simon is 17 inches tall and 9 1/4 inches wide, and the lamp post is 30 1/2 inches tall and 7 1/2 wide.

The mounting socket is 8 inches deep and was packed with grease.

The vanes were brush painted gold. 

The Ornament or so called Vane    
The Process    
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spent four days restoring the weathervane.

The ordinals were in the worse shape.

The vane itself was still painted in some places so the rust had been slower to take hold.

And Saturn needs to be replaced.

  Day one  
    I used a wire brush and removed all the loose rust and scaled metal. on both the ordinals and the vane.
  Day two  
 

I worked on the ordinals all day. I took an electric drill and mounted a series of wire brushes and disks and went down to bare metal where I could. There was a bit of the old primer stuck in the pits. I used 100 grit sandpaper on the arms to knock off the rust bubbles best I could. I then scrubbed with s.o.s. pads and lots of water until all the rust, and the lead based primer was gone. Then I gave it a coat of rust-oleum silver. 100% improvement.
  Day Three  

 

I worked on the vane all day. Same process as I used with the ordinals was employed.  The gold paint had faded to a pale yellow mustard color.

Where it still clung to the vane was where the reddish lead based primer was.  The lead based primer had to be removed in order for the new paint to stick right. The primer was tough to remove.

I found the wire wheel ground off most of the primer and then used s.o.s. pads to take the primer off.  A good rinse with the hose and on to the temp stand for painting. A coat of gold rust-oleum made for a nice look as sunset caught the vane.

 

  Day Four  
  Worked on Saturn and was surprised how much it cleaned up with just steel wool. Jim emailed today that he had found the missing section of the ring and a tube section connecting the Saturn at the top to the pole. so I may hold off having a replacement Saturn made.