Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Repair, Restoration, Parts, Cleaning 3 vanduzen and tift bells in Chicago, need restoration

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    • #11521

      Hello everyone, I am a bit new to the site and looked through the restoration part of the forum for some information I was looking for, but haven’t found what I was looking for. Heres the story:

      St. Michael the Archangel church located on the Southside of Chicago has 3 vanduzen and tift bells in the tower. They have long since been silenced, however we are pondering the idea of restoring them. They are all in EXCELLENT condition (the actual bells, at least). That’s the good.

      The bad – The bells most likely have never been kept up or maintained, because the largest of the bell has (what looks to be) the original WOODEN round pulley system attached to it. The actual wheel is long gone, but the spokes are there. The other 2 bells have no pulley system on them left.

      I am a bit new to the bell world but all three have the yolks, stands, and hammer things, though 2 have been removed so the bell could sit directly on the floor, when the wooden stand rotted.

      All 3 are located in a bell tower at least 75 feet up. They once were used with a rope pulley system, as there are little shoots in the ceiling for the ropes to go.

      What I don’t know and would like help with, is could anyone roughly estimate how much $$ it would take to get these going again? Just a rough estimate so we can begin a campaign to save them?

      Also, does anyone know of a bell restoration company located in or around the Chicago land area? This would help wiht the estimations also I assume.

      I will attach pics, any information welcome and appreciated!

      Thanks in advance, Andrew

      Heres a link to the pictures and a video that I uploaded to photobucket.
      (The video’s purpose was for a parishioner, whos father helped donate the largest bell, so I go through the names on all the bells.) Also, the bells also have the “buckeye foundry” stamped on them…I dont know what this means either.


    • #15926

      Todd Lower of Lowerbells.com is very helpful concerning parts for bells… his phone number is on his website. Don’t dare ask brosamersbells.com about parts.

    • #15927
      Neil Goeppinger

      Try the man who goes by Towerguy in this forum. He may do that type of work, or know of someone who does. If not, get back to me and I will give you two other people who I know do. If your main problem is wooden wheels, having replacements made is not a hard project, although it can be a little expensive, still not as expensive as if you needed iron parts for your bells. I’ve had wheels made before.

      The term Buckeye Bell Foundry was just another name used by Vanduzen. Prior to the foundry being run by the Vanduzen family, it was run by the Coffin family and was also known as the Buckeye Bell Foundry (Ohio being the buckeye state).

      If you move the bells, protect them by removing the wheels (or hubs of the wheels) first, and by removing the clappers from inside the bells. Many bells have been broken by setting then down on a flat surface with the clapper in the bell, and since the clapper extends below the bell, it breaks the top out of the bell. This often happens when the bell is lowered to the ground with a crane and set down a little hard. Again, if Towerguy can’t help you, let me know and I’ll give you a firm which can do your work, but is a distance from you. — Neil

    • #15928

      Sure do, we are in the chicago area often also. It sounds like the project could be as easy as just fixing the rotted wood they sat on and putting the bells back up. Or it could be way more involved. If the wood they were sitting on rotted bad enough to dismantle the bells you may want to have a structural engineer look at the tower and see if it can support the weight of the bells all swinging at the same time. Green Grass may correct me here but I think the lateral force of a bell when it is swinging is somewhere around 160% of its weight. If you would like I can give you my contact info through PM and you can give me a call.

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