How to clean Frederick Town Bell?
June 27, 2011 at 9:56 pm #11813
Hello – I read through the cleaning bells section, and still need a little advice. I have a #7 Frederick Town Ohio bell that was sitting in a shed in Wisconsin for who knows who long, and it is rusted. What would be the best way to clean it and possibly repaint it? Or should I just leave it as is? I plan on displaying it in our front yard, and we live in dry Colorado. Thanks for all your help!
June 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm #16487DingyParticipant
If it were mine, I would get the rust off of it. Plastic media blasting would get the rust without getting into the metal. Then probably enamel paint
June 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm #16488
Thanks – as I am not into restoration, what is plastic media blasting? Is this something I can do or do I need someone else to do this for me?
June 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm #16486DingyParticipant
It is done the same way as sandblasting but, they use very small plastic beads. Call a few sandblasting places and ask about plastic media.
July 20, 2011 at 2:20 am #16489hjlong3Participant
If you want to clean it yourself, you can use a flexible shaft with a wire wheel. Steel wire will remove the rust rapidly and will not damage the surface. Bead blasting is quicker, but may be a bit more expensive. Once the rust has been removed down to the base metal, consider a good rust reistant primer followed by a rust resistant acrylic enamel. Some people like the bell to be aluminum or bronze in color with black on the yoke. Some like red for the bell and black for the hardware. Use your imagination to make it a centerpiece.
Harry Long, MD
July 20, 2011 at 4:45 am #16490
Thanks for the great information. Can you get steel wire at someplace like Home Depot or Lowes? And when you say flexible shaft with wire wheel, is that something I can get from a local hardware store as well? Thanks again – I haven’t done much yet with the bell since I wasn’t sure on how to proceed.
July 20, 2011 at 5:54 pm #16491halanbParticipant
I am not a “big bell” guy but I have done work of this sort so will jump in. I think there are three questions you must answer:
(1) How good is good enough? You may be satisfied if you do the work yourself, and it will be more attractive than it is now. It will probably not be to a more professional standard that could be achieved by someone removing the rust for you and then painting the bell and parts, but that might not be important to you.
(2) How soon do you want it finished? It could take several weeks or months if you tinker with it yourself, but you might enjoy doing it.
(3) How will you mount it for display and how will you safeguard it? I don’t see any mounting stands in your pictures and you might need a local welding shop to fabricate some. You can find pictures of various stands on the ABA website.
You can get a circular wire wheel at any good hardware store, probably one in the 6″ range with coarse wire. It will normally be 1/2″ – 3/4″ in width, and have a 1/2″ – 5/8″ hole in the center as it is usually mounted on a bench grinder. You may need a shaft adapter that bolts through the wire wheel and has a 1/4″ shaft that can be gripped in an electric drill. There are other cup wire wheels, flap grinders, etc., that could also be used. A flexible shaft is an extension with one end gripped by an electric drill and the other end with a drill chuck. I have no connection with this company and am not particularly recommending it over another similar item, but this link will show you what one looks like. http://www.garrettwade.com/product.asp?pn=35N06.01&EID=W6061011&SID=W6061011&utm_source=googlepla&utm_medium=cpc&gclid=CIzU5OOskKoCFcTBKgodXRJLzA
Once you have this equipment, you are ready to start removing the rust. Be sure to use a dust mask and eye protection. This will be a long process, so be prepared to spend quite a few hours. Even then, you might not be able to get all the rust from the pits and crevices.
My recommendation, as others have said, would be to talk to a local shop that does abrasive blasting. There are various types of abrasive media that can be used. Get their advice and a quote for the work to remove the rust. That will be much faster than doing it yourself and may be a better job than you could.
Also get a quote for painting. You might decide to do this yourself, or it might be inexpensive enough that you would decide to have someone else do it. I haven’t heard of it used on bells but, if you want a really high end finish, you might consider powder coating.
July 20, 2011 at 6:15 pm #16492
I can’t thank you enough for your detailed reply. I will seriously consider your suggestions/questions. I really have no idea how I want to proceed. I am a teacher and my summer is coming to an end, so I don’t know how much time I will have to really work on the bell. I may start on my own and decide it is too much, but your suggestions are VERY helpful! I will let you know how the project goes. Thanks again!
July 23, 2011 at 9:52 pm #16493hjlong3Participant
I’ve used a cup wheel on a power drill, but this is quite stressful on the motor of the drill. A flexible shaft attached to a 3/4 HP electric motor will be durable enough to complete the job without over heating. You can get one at any Home Depot or Lowes together with the wheels and hardware. You might be able to find a suitable system at a smaller hardware store. It will require a lot of “elbow grease”. Be sure to wear a mask,gloves and protective glasses or goggles as rust and accumulated debry can be quite toxic if inhaled and can damage your eyes.
Harry Long, MD
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