Barbados Plantation Bell
April 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm #11763
I have just joined this forum as I have bought at auction in Barbados in the Caribbean, a bronze bell which is reputed to come from a plantation in St Lucy, at the north of the island. The bell is 16 ¼” diameter by 12 ¾” height to the top of the shoulder on top of the bell. I guess it is most likely to have been made either in Britain or the USA as there was trade with both. There do not seem to be any cast in markings etc., just some faint chalk marks inside the bell, the only one of which I can make out says “14 Lbs”.
I would be very grateful if anyone could cast any light on its type, history etc., particularly the yoke, and the connector rod from top to side which does not look like anything I have come across yet.
I want to put in a new clapper and rehang it but can’t make out how it should hang. What does the rusted bracket on the projecting side of the yoke do?
Pictures of a similar bell in place would be very useful.
April 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm #16380
Two more pictures of the inside of the bell.
April 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm #16381
I could be wrong but it looks a lot like a locomotive bell that is missing it’s original cradle, clapper, and nut and bolt to fasten the yoke. As I mentioned in an earlier post (4/13/11) these bells often ended up in churches, schools, or private ownership such as a plantation. A good machine shop can fashion the missing parts. The clapper ball should be about 3 to 3.5 inches in diameter and strike the thickest part of the lip. There are probably already indentations from the original.
April 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm #16382
If it is a railroad bell and it came from Barbados, there is some history on the locomotives on the short-lived train line here, and there were not many. The line opened in 1881 and closed in 1937.
The early locomotives did not appear to have bells in the published pictures. There were four later locomotives from 1898 built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia which did have bells.
This link has a photo of No 3 Baldwin 16331 1898 0-6-0T Catherine in which it is possible to see the bell:
It could well be the one I have, by the looks of it.
Is there anything that would distinguish a Baldwin bell? I cannot see any markings or numbers on the bell or yoke.
Lastly, can anyone tell me what the bent link rod is on the yoke in my photo 997? What did it do?
April 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm #16383
I don’t think that rod did a thing but replace the bolt and nut that originally held the yoke to the tang of the bell and was probably lost. It’s just a piece of junk that should be removed and replaced with a nut and bolt. You probably own a piece of Barbados RR history. It will be beautiful polished and mounted in a new cradle. One can easily be fashioned from steel. Perhaps someone knowledgeable of Baldwin locomotives can help you further.
May 2, 2011 at 10:00 pm #16384Carl Scott ZimmermanParticipant
Must disagree with jackbell. What goes into the side of the center of the yoke (photo id=1164) is a steam pipe, which provided pressure to operate the horizontal cylinder inside the bell (photo id=1166), which moved the clapper back and forth to make it ring. This arrangement was fairly common in later steam engines, perhaps because it relieved the engineer of having to pull a bell cord repeatedly. Instead, he just opened the valve of the steam line to the bell, and it would ring continuously. At the National Museum of Transport, not far from where I live in St.Louis County (MO), there are several steam engines with steam-powered ringing mechanisms of this type.
May 3, 2011 at 12:01 am #16385
Thanks Carl for setting me straight. I know next to nothing about locomotive bells except how to spot one by design and size. It will still display better without the steam pipe.
May 3, 2011 at 4:18 am #16386Carl Scott ZimmermanParticipant
In another thread, someone else referred to locomotive bells of this type as being operated by compressed air rather than steam. That could certainly be true; I’ll have to ask the experts at the Museum of Transport.
May 8, 2011 at 8:48 pm #16387PRRcollectorParticipant
This looks a lot like a Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive bell. They used the large flat nut on top and the bells measured 16 1/4″ diameter. It looks like it may have had two arms to ring it but one is broken off. I have a PRR bell with the two rope pulls and there is a casting number X3992 on the side of the yoke. The pipe was used to feed air to the air ringer. There was a swivel fitting at the side so you could ring it manually or with the air. Look for a JN or AMS stamped into the top of the bell for Juniata Shop or Altoona Machine Shop. If it’s a Baldwin bell you should find numbers stamped into the top of the neck of the bell if you remove the nut. From the Baldwin code numbers you can tell what locomotive the bell was used on.
May 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm #16388
Thanks for the info.
It does look as though there was another arm which has broken off. The end of the yoke on the side with no arm is odd shaped, so that theory looks correct.
There is possibly the remains of a casting number on the side of the yoke but it is so corroded that I cannot tell what it says, let alone be sure it is a casting number.
I cannot make out a JN or AMS on the top of the bell but there is quite a lot of patina on it ans some cement drops. How big would this lettering be?
Confirmation or otherwise of any bell number will have to follow when I get the thing to bits.
If it is Pennsylvania railroad, did Baldwin make trains for that?
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