Cleaning brass bells
- This topic has 1 reply, 2 voices, and was last updated 12 years, 2 months ago by Anonymous.
January 26, 2008 at 9:04 pm #10764AnonymousInactive
I am currently a student, and I am allowed to play the bells in the church on campus. I love my babies, and want to keep them in tip-top shape. However, I’ve found that the bells are absolutely covered in pidgeon poop. I know that it is acidic when water is used to clean, so I was wondering if anyone here had some ideas as to what I can do.
I was thinking taking a bristle brush and brushing if off that way, but for the actual cleaning part, I’m not too sure.
Also, I was wondering how long should bells be going between being rotated?
February 2, 2008 at 2:49 pm #13467AnonymousInactive
John Eachus has asked me to post the following:
The student that wants to clean the bells: “STOP”, understand, then proceed with great care.”
Pigeon dung is the carrier for 43 diseases & viruses … one virsus will cause you to go blind.
Pigeon dung is highly corosive to bronze bell metal. The acidic nature of the dung causes pitting of bell metal, changing the bell tone.
Cleaning the bell will remove bell metal, and done over time will change the tone of the bell sound!
Normally, bronze will form a microscopic thin layer of corosion then the chemical process stops. The corosion layer will actual protect the bell, except pigeon dung, which continues to eat the metal.
Every precaution for personal health must be taken… space suit.
The best way to proceed:
(1) Stop the birds from getting into the bell tower by installing / repairing bird screen.
(2) Then, clean the bells with a water solution of trisodium phosphate and a brush. (Turn off any electrical power.) This solution will dislove the pigeon dung, but not remove the microscopic thin corosion layer protecting bell metal, thus preserving bell metal.
(3) The bells should not be coated with anything (wax, etc.) as any coating will fill in the bell metal pores, and hinder bell vibrations, thus bell tone.
Bell rotation should be done about every five years, depending on how frequently the bells are played. The striker hitting the same bell spot, actually hammers the bell metal making it thinner at that spot. By rotating the bell, the bell metal perimeter is kept uniform. The clapper will wear, flatten, to match the curvature of the bell metal inside. By rotating the bell, there will be a “break in” period for bell tone. Some foundry bells have a perfered strike point, i.e. a certain spot when struck, sounds better. Rotation will change the sound of that bell.
Bell rotation is very dangerous, and should only be done by experienced, insured technicians.
This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.
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