The nostalgic flap signs that once filled Penn Station and train stations around the world are now being brought back by a Philadelphia-based company, Oat Foundry. Specializing in “cool,” unique products for brands and businesses, the engineering design company is redesigning split flap signs for the 21st century.
“Penn station was home to one of the most famous Split Flap signs in the world, but as you know it’s gone forever,” says Jeff Nowak of Oat Foundry. “Very few people know that board was designed and manufactured by an Italian company called Solari.” Now in 2018, the designers and engineers at the company hope that travelers and spectators will feel a sense of nostalgia with their mechanical designs.
The boards are equipped with new functionalities, can be controlled from a mobile device, and run on a cloud based messaging system. However, the nostalgic flapping sound is still exactly the same. A standard display contains 48 modules with each module having 50 unique character flaps. To prevent miscommunication, the modules always track their home position.
Oat Foundry has received orders from around the world, and from places you might not expect would need a split flap board. Philly restaurant, honeygrow, was an early client that was looking for a new way to seamlessly run their business. “There’s people yelling out order numbers to our guests and sometimes its loud and hard to hear so we wanted to find a different way to convey people’s order numbers,” said honeygrow’s Chief Brand Officer Jen Denis.
Oat Foundry’s flap signs are also displayed in craft beer taproom, Lucky Dorr, inside Chicago’s iconic Wrigley Field.
Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of the Original Pennsylvania Station, and join us for our upcoming tour of the remnants of the original Penn station.