Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Large Bells I have this bell but dont know much about it

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    • #12157
      dnero
      Participant

      I have this bell but dont know much about it and would like to find out more. It says viloco BR 113 on it and the ringer says double acting. I think it says salem on it. I measured it and it is a like 13 inches. Does anyone know anything about this bell. Also a magnet does not stick to it which is what I was told to do.
      Any info. would be appreciated.

      Denise

    • #17200
      jackbell
      Participant

      You have a locomotive bell minus it’s original mounting hardware. Probably dates after 1940.

    • #17201
      dnero
      Participant

      Is it worth anything? How do I sell it or find out more about it?

    • #17202
      jackbell
      Participant

      I’ll tell you the same thing I tell everyone. eBay is the best place to sell something like this because of the maximum exposure. List it starting at a dollar and in a week you will know what it is worth. If you are unfamiliar with eBay selling there is probably an eBay consignor in your area. An incomplete bell won’t bring the price of a complete one.

    • #17203
      dnero
      Participant

      Thank you very much. I have not seen one of these on ebay and I think shipping might be alot. I will try craigslist too.

      Thank you
      Denise

    • #17204
      dnero
      Participant

      One more thing, how do I know if it is brass or bronze? I am seeing bells on ebay for many different prices anywhere from $50. to $10,000. I think I need to find out a little more about it before I sell it. Like an estimate value so I do not sell to low.

    • #17205
      jackbell
      Participant

      You can list on eBay as “local pickup only” but this will probably limit potential buyers. Some early locomotive bells (19th century) are bronze but 20th century ones are either brass or steel. A magnet adheres to steel. Perhaps another contributor can give you a dollar amount but I am not an appraiser.

    • #17206
      dnero
      Participant

      well a magnet does not stick to it. How do i find out the date of it so if I know it is bronze or brass. sorry for all the questions just not finding much on this bell.

      Thanks
      Denise

    • #17207
      jackbell
      Participant

      I assure you it is not 19th century. Enter “locomotive bell” in the Bell Talk search (above right). There are many posts.

    • #17208
      dnero
      Participant

      Anybody else know where I can get more info on this bell?

    • #17209
      Garry
      Participant

      Great looking bell.

      Actually the only true way to tell the difference between Bronze and Brass is by doing a metal test – you send in a piece to a lab for them to burn and look at the colors coming off.

      That said, we know that Bronze is mostly Copper and Tin, while Brass is a Copper and Zinc alloy. This gives us a possible test, depending on the amounts of each. Get a STRONG earth magnet. The small amount of TIN in a bronze will give a slight attraction to the object. No attraction at all usually means it’s Zinc based Brass.

      Not totally definitive but about the only non destructive test you can do on it.

      Garry

    • #17210
      dnero
      Participant

      Thank you for your post. and if it is bronze or brass what does this mean? Is this bell worth anything?

    • #17211
      dnero
      Participant

      What is the yoke of the bell? I was told that the yoke don’t look familar so it is either rare or not from a locomotive? Anyone?

      Thank you
      Denise

    • #17212
      Garry
      Participant

      Well Dnero,
      Part of the problem is that we aren’t really allowed to talk about value here. It’s for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that an accurate appraisal is pretty much impossible without actually seeing an object or bell in person. All the imperfections and special features (i.e. thicknesses, shoulders, etc) and ring tones (which expose flaws in the pours) affect the price and simply cannot be done with a couple pictures. Then there is the problem of location; What is the market for the bell in your area? It varies depending on a lot of factors – we simply can’t know from hundreds of miles away. Then there is history, can it be determined for this bell? and is it a significant item? – that could add hundreds of dollars to the value. The fact that you don’t have a complete yolk diminishes the value as the purchaser now has to find parts. The double action clanger/striker adds to the value though.

      Now think of what happens if someone out there sells it at the price we estimated then finds it was worth a lot more for some hidden reason we didn’t catch. Next thing we know we are being sued. Even if that person doesn’t win, we lose time and expenses. And yes – unfortunately there are people like that out there who want free advice but then feel they have the right to make the person who tried to help totally responsible for advise that wasn’t even paid for. Talk about wanting your cake and eating it too! 👿 Since we can’t do an accurate assessment without physically evaluating it -and doing research in the area you are selling- we don’t open ourselves up to the problem of pricing items.

      Also you can advertise the bell for sale in one of the other forums here. It helps you connect to bell collectors to find a sale, but puts us in an awkward spot if we also tell you what it’s worth. Rather a conflict of interest. Say I feel the price is $15, but I know shipping will be $3, do I tell you $12 to allow for it? $15 and hope you pick up the shipping if I buy it? You also noted that there is quite a range of going values, which do I give you?; the lowest one so that I get a better deal? or the higher one so that I lose? Puts us in an impossible spot so we don’t do that.

      So to answer your basic question, yes 8) – it definitely is worth something!

      1) If you take it to a bell factory (do a Google search for “big brass bells” for example) you will find many of them. Look for one in your area. They can appraise the bell for you. Remember though, they personally can only offer you a price that they can resell for a profit at, if you choose to sell to them. This price will be lower than the retail estimated price. That’s only fair. If it’s worth $15 they are likely only going to offer between $5 and $7 – that is normal and necessary for them to stay in business. The quote they give is likely to be the retail value, if you sell it yourself to an end user/collector.

      2) A very very very rough rule of thumb for large bells is about $100 per inch of Diameter (measure ACROSS the mouth of the bell). Again, this only puts you in the approximate ball park for a general bell. Other factors can influence the value up and down quite drastically.

      3) Scrap metal. I hate this one but it exists. Every bell also has a scrap metal price. Again that purchaser is NOT going to give full price, they have to melt it down to a useable ingot form and they have overhead too. Likely you would do better selling it online but an auction can go either way and takes time.

      So in summary the value is determined by a lot of factors, some of which you control (i.e. history of the bell if you can get it), some of which you can’t (i.e. market value in your area is different than mine). Condition is important, any special markings and features are important and could make the bell worth more than just scrap metal prices. But then you have to find the market for it too.

      Sorry, but that’s why you are unlikely to get a definitive answer to your price question. Unless you take it in for an appraisal you are pretty much stuck looking at on line auction sites for similar bells and seeing what they sell for at the end. Keep in mind some of the other factors though – is the one being sold complete, for example. Otherwise the approximate rule of thumb on prices is about all we can offer here, unless we happen to spot something special in the photos or your write up on it.

      Personally, I’d try one of the bell manufacturers first to see if they can appraise it. It might cost you a few bucks but then you know. They can get you to give them the measurements they need and probably come closer to a realistic price as they specialize and sell those bells regularly.

      Hope this helps you in your quest.
      Garry

    • #17213
      Willie B. Herd
      Participant

      @dnero wrote:

      What is the yoke of the bell? I was told that the yoke don’t look familar so it is either rare or not from a locomotive? Anyone?

      Thank you
      Denise

      Denise, Please dbl-check, and give us the base diameter. Also, it’s definitely made of BRASS.

      The ‘double-action’ bell usually has both a pull-arm and a pneumatic,(air-compressed) type ringer. The yoke IS unusual for a RR….compare others @ web-sites listed below. Salem, and any #’s are clues to it’s history.

      E-bay is the best place to ‘shop-and-compare’ , usually a HUGE price-range….I’d list high there to start, good luck!

      MORE INFORMATIVE WEBSITES FOR BELLS AND HARDWARE

      FYI: Check out Brosamersbells.com….great website, has audio ‘windows’ so U can hear some of the bells ring. EXTENSIVE RR Bell Collection!!!
      Also, he buys and sells, but doesn’t do research…and charges $95 for an appraisal!

      Verdinbells.com is also a great site, Company has long history, and was shown on the program, “Modern Marvels” on the History Channel. 8) Also has audio ‘windows’ for some bells.

      railroadiana.org for Locomotive Bells, Lanterns, info, etc. Also has a search feature for names of RR lines.

      bellsandbirmans.com Mostly Locomotive, he also buy and sells bells…also sells yokes, cradles, spare parts, etc. Polishing services offered.

    • #17214
      dnero
      Participant

      Thanks for your reply. I do notice the serial number 8004156 so wouldnt this make this a bronze bell?

      Denise

    • #17215
      jackbell
      Participant

      Denise: I think we have told you everything we know. Perhaps you should take the bell (not photos) to an antiques appraiser. They can give you a general idea of value but in the end the actual value will be whatever a buyer pays at that particular time. It’s no different than buying a house, car, or anything else.

    • #17199
      Garry
      Participant

      Did you check out the forum item next to yours titled “Additional sources of information about big bells”?
      It gives you contacts to find out more about your bell!
      Garry

    • #17216
      sunlander
      Participant

      Jackbell is quite correct in his identification of the bell as having come from a Diesel locomotive. Bells of this type were cast in brass and also in iron (cheaper), and are far from rare. Most usually end up as scrap metal when the locomotive is scrapped.
      They were mounted as a fixture and did not swing as the steam locomotive bells usually did, and were not mounted in a yoke (the part supported by the base or cradle). Some fixtures supported the bell internally, some externally, and were rather basic.
      The bell was sounded by the engineer in the cab operating a control for compressed air to activate the clapper. He was able to turn the air on or off at will, as was necessary, and the bell rang automatically.
      The main problem with these air-operated Diesel bells is that you do need a supply of compressed air to operate them!!!
      As these Diesel bells are all alike, it is impossible to determine what locomotives the bell was from, nor the railroad, without evidence from the person who removed it or initially acquired it.
      Your bell appears to be in very good condition and is a very nice acquisition – a nice piece indeed – and could make a fine display, polished and mounted indoors – a great conversation piece.

    • #17217
      Garry
      Participant

      Denise:

      Parts of a bell: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Parts_of_a_Bell.jpg
      The yoke is the piece the bell attaches to/ hangs from.

      Yes, every bell is worth something. Below is a general idea – not a hard and fast rule:
      The type of metal is important, as is the amount of effort that goes into making it.
      Copper bells are from malleable copper which is an element and found in raw form. It can be hammered or formed so is generally the least expensive.
      Cast Iron is also an element, but has to undergo a more labor intensive casting process so is a bit more expensive than Copper bells, generally speaking.
      Bronze is an alloy (mixture) of Copper and Tin which takes even more effort to get the mixtures correct, so it is usually the next most expensive.
      Brass is the Copper Zinc alloy zinc is more expensive and doesn’t oxidize as fast so this tends to be the next most expensive.
      Silver is next – obvious reasons
      Gold follows – again obvious reasons.
      I have not heard of a platinum bell so am not including it in the list.

      You really need to compare prices or get a hands on evaluation, though. As we have mentioned in an earlier postings, there is no substitute for that. You simply won’t get a definitive price any other way.

      Here is a site to consider:
      http://www.brosamersbells.com/inventory.html

      Good luck
      Garry

    • #17218
      RockinEZ
      Participant

      I found this site:
      http://www.bellsandbirmans.com/bells/bellfacts.php

      Great stuff on locomotive bells. I found it by entering the moisture separator part number visable on the bell in Google…….
      Your bell’s moisture separator is mentioned by name and part number in this document. (search the page for Viloco BR 113)

      The last paragraph of this website addresses “rescued bells” with missing mounts and parts.
      You may find it interesting.

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