American Bell Foundry 36" bell
Tagged: large 36 church bell
August 4, 2016 at 10:55 am #24722
Hello all you bell connoisseurs! I am with a group that has ownership of a large church bell and we are considering trying to sell it. However, we really would like to know what it’s value is and I’m hoping you folks can chime in and give us some educated information as to what range it should be. Also, the rope wheel pulley thing is broke and we aren’t sure if we should have someone weld it back together or if that action would devalue it further. The only words on it that I saw says American Bell Foundry Co on one side and Northville Michigan on the other. Oh and 36 in the center which seems to be its size. I’m posting pictures so I hope it shows what you would need to give us some estimated information as to what the bell is worth. I definitely appreciate that there is a forum for this and that you members are willing to share your knowledge. Thank you in advance.
August 4, 2016 at 10:56 am #24727
August 4, 2016 at 10:57 am #24732
August 6, 2016 at 11:42 am #24735kcoonenParticipant
Welcome to the ABA Forums.
We have that exact bell in our collection.
Ours has the 38″ wheel intact, but bearing replaced with modern.
The more original, the better, more valuable.
At the same time, the more intact and operable, the better.
I would get the wheel repaired by someone who REALLY knows how to weld cast iron, not the well-meaing neighbor with a stick welder! There are techniques to counter the stresses caused by the heat of welding which lead to more cracks of adjacent metal… Get it done correctly and STRAIGHT so it will turn without interference. Be prepared to pay for proper repair! Original replacements are nearly impossible to find. A similar modern industrial pulley can be found and adapted, as I did with a different large bell.
Then, while the bell is disassembled, restore or replace the bearings, keeping the original bearing housing if possible. Ours came without any, so modern bearings were adapted, and the bell will swing with one hand pulling and continue swinging for a half hour unless stopped!
Value is the more difficult question.
It’s worth what someone will pay for it at any given time, any given place. (moving such a large… 900 lb complete…. bell is no simple matter, and could be expensive without owning equipment to handle such a load.
A dealer might offer $1000 AS IS, where is. Retail in restored condition, that same dealer might sell it for $4500.
As a collector with a simple chain fall and A-frame to lift and little pickup truck to haul, I would not offer that much knowing the difficulty in replacing or repairing the wheel.
You can research your definition of value by tracking sale listings here, and watching ebay SOLD listings.
As noted, the value question is the toughest to answer.
Good Luck, they are beauties, and sound so much better than CS BELL bells having collected both.
Our ABF 36 (shown with temp. wooden bushings which, with oil, worked great.)
We would not sell ours for less than $4000.00 as is where is…. if it were for sale…..
August 9, 2016 at 5:24 pm #24750
kcoonen, we really appreciate your time and knowledge you have provided us. Thank you very much.
November 27, 2016 at 7:18 am #25000nightflier51Participant
My Goulds no 33 does not have bearings It just rests in the slots in the stands. If bells are not rung much there is not much need for bearings. I know of a bell large like this that has been in steeple since 1870 and it has never worn the A stands slots. As for the wheel, I would definatly get it welded. You would want all original parts. There are good welders and its worth the cost.
November 28, 2016 at 9:09 am #25001
Thank you nightflier51. We do have a professional welder who will be welding the wheel back together for us. We are waiting on his time. I will try to remember to post a picture when it is back together.
December 12, 2016 at 8:22 pm #25030kcoonenParticipant
The point of replacing bearings is that the 36″ came with belfry stands cast to accommodate bearing boxes much larger than the yoke’s axle, whereas the 34″ and smaller ABF bells’ stands are cast with a pocket the same size as the yoke axles. The 36″ is likely to “wander” when the smaller axles are swung in the larger pocket designed for bearings. Our Oak bushings take up that extra space keeping the axles turning in a similar size pocket, eliminating “wander” or “hop”, neither safe for bell or ringer. Of course now, the modern pillow block bearings bolted atop the stands are sized to fit the axles.
Looking forward to photos!
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