CS Bell cleanup
Tagged: Preservation. History
July 31, 2015 at 1:11 am #12391
I now have my Great-Grandparents CS Bell #2 Farm Bell I believe it to made around 1889 as it says so on the yoke and has C. S. Bell & Co. on it. My grandma says it was in a Elm tree to call the guys in from the field.
It had a broken crank, and I have been able to remove it and PrindleStation says they have a replacement. Otherwise it is complete even with the other broken piece of the crank.
Now my next question is do I try to take it completely apart to paint or least protect it? The nut on top seems totally rusted tight and I am unsure of how far I want to press my luck, especially with the square nut on top. I cant get a good hold of the eye to apply much force to break the rust.
I am undecided if I just coat it with WD-40 or paint it. Lastly I want to mount it again outside, and try to silence it a bit so the kids to drive the neighborhood nuts.
I welcome any ideas or suggestions.
August 3, 2015 at 4:20 am #17732nightflier51Participant
If the rust weld is on the nut and screw part, I would not try to break it free. I would never apply heat to it to get it loose either. The heat could crack the yoke. WD would work for awhile but it dries up and it would be rust again. I would sand it with a drill and brass brush then get a good quality spray paint and paint it all.
August 10, 2015 at 1:59 am #17729
You ask an interesting question, one we deal with at the museum I volunteer at constantly. When do you “preserve” vs when do you “protect”. One involves keeping it as original as possible, the other for keeping it as long as possible.
Personally I lean towards the preserve side, but do believe in protection as much as possible within that constraint. As Nighflier, I also would NOT use WD40. It is a product that works by displacing water, but in itself (as Nightflier mentions) it eventually forms a gum that is very hard to remove.
[aside:For example; I come across clocks all the time that someone has ‘fixed’ with WD40 – it ruins them, as it’s too costly to dismantle to individual components and clean them all, then reassemble back to a working unit. ] WD40 is great to lubricate and protect industrial components, but not for display or antique things where the discoloration and gumming becomes a factor.
The farm bells were/are iron, some were left ‘au natural’ others were painted (usually black). I have seen both. If you check out artist sites, you will see that they have methods for protecting iron work art that might be of interest. (If I had a cheap bell to try it out on first, I might consider testing something like penetrol, for example, which is used in the base for oil paints.)
Otherwise, personally, I’d try the following:
1) definitely clean it as nightflier suggests.
2) periodically clean and WAX it, inside and out with a light layer of car wax.
3) display it in a protected shelter (if outdoors, something like a gazebo would work).
4) consider a thin neoprene or leather sheath around the clapper to do two things: 1) muffle the sound -as you said you wanted, and 2) prevent the harsh metal on metal scraping that causes more potential rust locations.
5) protect it from moisture as much as possible. (bring it in for seasons it is unlikely to be used, for example. When stored, use some descants around it (but not against it!) to absorb moisture in the air. Perhaps the ability to close the gazebo in rainy weather if possible, or a smaller one on wheels to easily move it to shelter.
If it was painted before, you might want to keep that look too. But that’s more of a personal choice. It is an easier way to protect it and was often used. But use a good quality metal paint in that case. (and not enamels which could chip and would probably alter the tone too much.
Depending upon how ‘original’ you want to keep it, and the depth of your pocket book, as far as I know the only other option would be to ‘powder’ or ‘zinc’ coat the components for protection. ( I am not sure how that will affect the sound though.) Not something I would do, but it is an option of sorts.
I will warn you that I display all my bells inside, so I don’t have a lot of experience on outdoor displays. I am just giving you some of my thoughts on the matter. I just have to clean and keep dry (with maybe a very light wax coating in a very few cases). Just so you know!
Give us a photo of before and after when you are done, whatever your decision! We would enjoy seeing your project.
August 11, 2015 at 3:11 am #17730Carl Scott ZimmermanParticipant
1889 is almost certainly not the year the bell was made, because bells like this were produced over the course of more than half a century, and no other date except 1886 is ever seen. 1886 is much more common than 1889, so I believe 1889 to be a “typo” for 1886, which was probably the year the molds were redesigned.
August 16, 2015 at 12:32 am #17733
The flash, WD40 and PB blaster makes it look shinier than it really is.
August 16, 2015 at 12:46 am #17734
I would say I am trying protect it currently. I want to some how be able to clean up the inside and paint or otherwise protect that surface. I figured if I could get it completely apart it would be easier to work on the inside. On the outside I have not decided what to do yet. I have not seen any spots of paint on it.
I am trying PB blaster on the nut to get it loose right now. Just spraying and forgetting for a day or two. If I can’t get it loose, then it will be plan B to clean up the rust on the inside.
I do want to mount it outside. I think once protected with paint or something and taken care of, it should last for another 100 years. Until I can get it outside, I am trying to control the humidity around the bell.
Talking with my Grandma further about it, I am guessing the bell has been inside for the last 50+ years, which has helped it be in such great shape. Last time it was outside it was hung in the Elm tree with a chain and rung with twine string tied to the clapper.
I have the upright as well, I really want to find an old wooden fence post or barn beam to mount it on. Nearly anything but new pressure treated lumber.
I don’t know how I would build a roof for it as it designed to be mounted on a post. It would need a separate structure to cover it. I am not against the idea, I just don’t have an idea how it would look and be able to enjoy the bell.
August 20, 2015 at 2:29 am #17735
Humm, I tried to access the photos, but the links return the message that the item does not exist there anymore.
The only other way I have heard people protecting the items is to have it professionally sand blasted and then clear coat it or paint it.
You might want to try attaching a sacrificial anion (like they do on ships) or an anion trickle charger like they have on cars to stop rusting, if you want to really get fancy!
I assume it’s a hanging bell from your description and not on a yoke. There are a number of ways to protect it, but it will take imagination and some building skills.
The first is a quick and dirty set of 4 sketches of ideas to help you get started.
The second photo is a fancy one that someone built for a yoked bell (as you noted, a smaller version would work for yours).
August 20, 2015 at 12:14 pm #17736Carl Scott ZimmermanParticipant
“Yoke” and “yoked,” please! Bells are not eggs.
August 20, 2015 at 11:18 pm #17737
Chuckle, oops! Teaches me to type a reply when I am dog tired and relying on spell check! 😳
You are right, wrong word spelling was used, I missed that! Thanks for correcting Carl! I am fixing it now.
August 21, 2015 at 11:27 pm #17738
please google CS Bell farm bell, it is a #2. I am trying to loosen the nut on top of the yoke.
I can see the pictures I posted fine, but can’t see yours.
I am not going to do anything like fancy to remove the rust, I just want to be able to do decent job with a wire brush. Then I can give the inside a coat of paint. Outside I might leave alone or use WD40 as I would expect rain to wash any WD40 off and it would need to be re-applied regularly.
August 22, 2015 at 3:53 am #17739
Odd you can’t see the images I dropped in. They are simply imbedded Jpgs. I think yours are linked to a local drive or something that isn’t published to the world at large – so only you can see them. Or something like that.
Personally, I would be reluctant to use a lot of heat to loosen the nut, as it might change the tone of the bell if it gets too hot. It might also weaken the bolt holding the bell so that metal fatigue could become a factor.
I would tend to try soaking it in warmed penetrating oil for a period of time though. But give it time to work through the rust, with gentle tapping all around the nut itself from time to time (or on a vibrator of some sort) to help vibrate the rusted parts for better penetration of the oil. It will likely take days -if not weeks – so patience is a must! (and yes, it would have to be upside down in a bucket some how, unless you have a lot of oil and a really big pail to put it in!
I truly am not a fan of WD40 as a preservative in this case. Yes, the higher more volatile components will evaporate, and some of the rest will wash off, but the gummy parts will harden and discolor etc. I don’t think you will be happy after a while.
If I was treating it for preservation, I would look closely at a product called penetrol and see if that might work for you. Some like it others don’t. Look for “penetrol for rust” and similar searches. But be VERY careful and follow all it’s instructions, as it is certainly not the most user friendly material to be working with, the warnings on it are real so don’t ignore them. (It’s a paint additive so look for it in the paints area.) However I have had excellent results using it myself. It does tend to make things a bit darker in color, but that is only noticeable if you place it beside an untreated one. You may wish to add a clear coat when done because it’s outside. I suggest a UV protected one.
For example, I just finished doing a badly rusted painted metal box for a railway museum and it turned out great. They are very pleased and want me to do another. (I used double boiled linseed oil for cleaning first, with 250 and 400 grit emery cloth to get rid of the major rust. The oil causes the rust to lift and also reduces scratches.) Again it takes time, the process is not fast.
I’d still put it in or under some sort of cover when done, even if it’s only a pole beside the bell that holds an ‘umbrella’ type roof over it.
Please remember this is at your risk, I’m just offering possibilities, so read up on these ideas and see if it’s what you want to try. Hope this helps!
August 26, 2015 at 2:41 am #17731BoomParticipant
I have #4 Montgomery ward bell with the date of 1886 forged on the yoke. I have also tried for sometime to remove the top square nut. I finally succeeded today. The way I did was to tip bell upside down and soak it for 24 hours in a product called evapo rust. You can buy this at Harbor freight for about $25.00 a gallon. Although I am not a big fan of Harbor Freight this stuff really works. I am thinking of having the bell sand blasted. Or should I just power wire brush it? It is missing the bottom cradle r what ever it is called. I have seen some bells of this size mounted on a frame type brackets. Might have to resort to that. Anyway good luck with your bell and hope this helps get square nut off. Oh by the way do not under any circumstance heat the bolt. I did that on some farm machinery I was restoring and the results were not good
September 2, 2015 at 10:45 pm #23296
Good Tip “Boom”!
I will look at that product too.
I assume the Montgomery Ward Bell is Iron (I believe most were!). If you have a good sandblaster (one who knows what they are doing!) That is the way I would go. You get a much nicer and even matt finish that way. Wire brushes tend to leave a lot of scratch marks and uneven wear patterns. You should be able to get a bottom to your bell yoke, just do a search for bell restoration sites.
I am glad you can confirm my suspicions regarding heating a nut to loosen it, Hopefully the owner of this thread catches your comments too.
September 14, 2015 at 2:14 am #23534
Well, sorry to disagree with everyone, but I’ve taken a lot of bells apart by using a torch with a rosebud tip to loosen up the top nut. Remember, you are not heating the bell, you are heating the nut and bolt. I worked on one large bronze bell for a week and finally rigged up a hydraulic puller. It was a cone type of fitting between the yoke and bell. I had tried different penetrating oils and heat, but the 100 ton jack took it apart after about two days of adding just a little more pressure about every 12 hours. It made quite a pop when it finally came apart. I think it was about a 42″ bronze bell as I remember it. John McCombie called me once trying to get a large bell he bought apart and I told him how I rigged that hydraulic puller and he made one and it worked for him. When each of us had pressure on it, we added heat from a torch to the center of the yoke to try to get it to loosen.
About heat. I had a railroad bell for which the cradle was frozen. I had tired penetrating oils and some heat, but was afraid to heat it too much. It was the pivot of the yoke which was stuck in the round hole of the cradle. I talked to a friend of mine who has a steel and aluminum fabrication shop and machine shop. He has worked on lots of old engines. He told me to heat it until it was beyond red, and turned white. Both pieces of iron would expand and get tighter, then when they cooled they would each shrink and retract from one another leaving a space. I tried it and it worked. As long as the heat isn’t applied to the bell, it won’t hurt it. Even if the bell temp rises a couple of hundred degrees, it isn’t going to hurt it. — Neil
November 23, 2015 at 12:02 am #23916nightflier51Participant
After giving a lot of thought about the cleaning of these farm bells I have come to the conclusion that they have survived for hundreds of years and still ring and that they are still around, a good flat black paint name brand would be the thing to do. After all, they are not going to crumble away anytime soon.
February 27, 2016 at 5:33 pm #24336RESHDESHParticipant
I have preserved our old farm bell and have built a gazebo-like structure for it. As such, a very close friend has asked me to help “fix up” theirs. I will get thru this with patience and ingenuity, but I would also like to share some of its history with her. I would love to find out what it’s date of origin and typical purposes were for its period. Any additional general info would be great. It’s stamped Fredericktown, Ohio and has an A cast on the bell and a B on the yoke. And, finally, am I breaking any “rules” if I cut it off the yoke and just work with the bell and clapper?
February 29, 2016 at 6:44 pm #24364
I need to look up my info on the Fredericktown, Ohio company. In the mean time, your inquiry about cutting the yoke from the bell has one major drawback. Once the yoke is removed, there will be no way for future people viewing it to know who made the bell as the wording Fredericktown, Ohio appears on the yoke, not the bell. — Neil
March 1, 2016 at 1:56 pm #24365
This reply is to Reshdesh above. There were two firms with similar names, Fredricktown of Corry, Pa. and Frederick Town Bell Co. of Frederick Town, Ohio. Your bell, of course, is by the latter. Note that Fredrick and Frederick are spelled differently. The largest bell I have seen by your firm was 40″ in diameter and located in Panora, Iowa. I have also seen 2 pre-Civil War shaped dinner bells at Evergreen Farm in Eminance, Indiana. I do not know what years the firm was in business. — Neil
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.