Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Large Bells Help identify 16" Bell with Horizontal Piston Ringer

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    • #12179

      Hello bell enthusiasts, (Images below)

      Upon purchasing a property, my father discovered this bell. It was atop a small outbuilding, near the house, and was likely re-purposed as a dinner bell. The original mount is missing, it is welded to a custom tripod to allow a rope pull for ringing.

      This 16″ bell contains a Horizontal Piston Ringer mechanism. It is unclear to me if this is the original ringer.

      There are no markings on the bell, and I have had no luck comparing the concentric rings at the top of the bell with other photos on this forum.

      The Horizontal Piston Ringer does have some markings as follows:

      X 18080 V (on the horizontal part)
      2 0
      SC1 (above the ringer, on the shaft)

      Can anyone give me more clues? The best guess I have is based on the 16″ size and the Horizontal Piston Ringer, making this a Locomotive Bell from pre 1950????


      ] ] ]

    • #17262

      This is a railroad bell with a hydraulic clapper. It is difficult to identify the railroad and the bell is missing its original yoke and bracket.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #17263

      Thanks, that supports my conclusion that it is a Railroad bell.
      Do you know the names of any manufacturers of bells like this, maybe I could find it that way.

    • #17264
      Carolyn Whitlock

      You might want to check out railroadiana.org, a website for railroad enthusiasts. The have lots of good information about railroad bells. Good luck!


    • #17265

      Thank You, this article on railroad bells was useful. http://www.railroadiana.org/hw/pgBells.php

      This article also features two views of a massive collection of locomotive bells, most from the Great Northern Railway.
      Below is one of the images, the bell (circled in the image) has a casting that closely matches. So far, this is the only bell I have found pictured with two sharply defined concentric circles on the top of the bell.

      The article also states that identification of these bells relies heavily on markings on the actual bell (which has none). Or documentation from the purchase (which there is none).

      The search continues!

    • #17266
      Neil Goeppinger

      Hello Karl, I’ll add just a little more information to what has already been supplied. First, the cylinder in the bell was operated by steam on a steam locamotive, and by compressed air on a diesel locomotive. Second, most locomotive works made their own bells for their engines, so they didn’t put the name of the locomotive works on the bell or mountings, since it was already on the engine. Once the bell is removed from the locomotive, it becomes hard to tell who made it. There were exceptions to this. Howard made bells for locomotives and put their name around the outside of the bottom plate of the iron mounting. They made quite a lot of locomotive bells. Vanduzen also made some locomotive bells and cast their name on the bell itself. These are rare – I have only seen one. Vanduzen mainly made church and fire tower bells of bronze. About the mountings, if the underside of the bottom mounting plate was concave upward, it came from a steam engine and that concave fit on the top of the rounded boiler. If it was flat, it was likely from a diesel. If the bell mounted from the top with a flat plate above the bell, it was almost certainly from a diesel engine and the flat plate usually had four bolt holes in the corners. Since your bell has been seperated from both it’s locomotive and it’s mountings, it will be very difficult to determine who made it. — Neil

    • #17267

      Hi Karl,

      Howard bells were made for diesels only. Please check out Curran Castings on the internet. It explains it all on his bell page. The air operated cylinder inside the bell was operated by air, not ever by steam and were not used widely until 1926 in the US. Some locomotive works made their own bells. Some bought them from foundries that supplied bells to different manufacturers of steam locomotives. The base of the lower bracket being flat or curved only tells you it was on a steam locomotive or a first generation diesel if the bracket looks like a steam locomotive bell. Other than the Howard bell assemblies, which looked like they were steam locomotive bells.

      Bell assemblies were mounted on boilers, top or side, flat fireboxes, smokeboxes, on the front of locomotives, on the smokebox or on the running board or under the front running board and could have been mounted on the tender. Which gives you a curved, flat, tapered sideways or tapered front to back bottom of the base at many angles.

      If anyone wants any information on their steam locomotive bells please check out steamlocomotives.com and contact me. I will include a photo of your bell on a steam locomotive or diesel locomotive, the year it was made, the manufacturer and what railroad it was used on in most cases.

      Please contact me at my email address. I am interested in your bell and I have the original bracket for it. Your bell is about 16″ in diameter and about 16″ to 17″ tall?


    • #17268

      Sorry Neil,

      Please contact me too. Thank you.


    • #17269


      just looked at your original posting with the photo. Sure looks like a PRR Loco Bell to me. Too bad you dont have the cradle and yoke. …Gary

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