Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums General `Bell Stuff` Is this antique object bell related?

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    • #12589

      Hi everyone, has anyone ever seen anything like this strange iron wheel before? The numbers cast on it look quite a bit like bell-peal numbers, but my searches have come up short.

    • #18017
      Neil Goeppinger

      They certainly look like change ringing numbers to me. I am not into change ringing, but there is an organization for that and I’m sure an internet search would come up with a web page. Perhaps they could tell you if that is a set of changes for a certain number of bells. — Neil

    • #18018

      The two sets of 12 sequences (3-digit or 5-digit) on the wheel do bear some similarities to changes on three or five bells, in that each sequence contains each possible digit exactly once. But neither set follows the most fundamental rule of change ringing, under which a bell can only move one place at a time from one row to the next. (For example, 132/213 is impossible.)

      There are six possible sequences of three bells/numbers/notes (3 x 2 x 1), and two ways to arrange those sequences (rows) according to the rules of change ringing. (Technically, that would be the extent on three bells, rung in forward or reverse plain hunt.) So the maker of this wheel could have arranged the 12 three-digit sequences to reflect that pattern, and each possible sequence would have appeared exactly twice. But that didn’t happen; instead, only two sequences appear twice, while two appear once, one appears four times and one doesn’t appear at all. And only three of the 12 transitions from one sequence to the next follow the change ringing rule.

      The 5-digit sequences appear to be a random selection from the 120 possibilities (5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1), and none of the transitions from one sequence to the next follow the change-ringing rule.

      Since the outer edge of this wheel appears to have gear teeth, I’ll speculate that it could have been an indicator wheel on a chiming machine made to ring sequences on either three or five stationary bells. But if so, then its designer had only the vaguest idea of how change ringing actually works.

      Thanks for your intriguing inquiry, Michael!

    • #18019

      Hey Micheal!
      I am going to throw in my 2 cents worth here too! It rather fits with the comments Carl made.

      I recall seeing 2 or 3 of these wheels – various sizes – at an antique mall a few years back. I wasn’t overly interested in them at the time so didn’t buy or follow up on them but I think they looked very much like your sample. As I recall, the dealer said they were from an old metal working shop that went out of business. I believe he mentioned something about the gearing sizes and ‘turns marked’ to work the metal into different … cuts, shapes, sizes, thicknesses? in some sort of metal press or tooling unit. I forget which. Apparently you put these wheels together in different patterns to get different effects. If he is right (and my memory has any validity -sometimes doubtful :mrgreen: ), then you have a machinist gear for some sort of metal working machine.

      And seeing as Carl says that the patterns don’t really work for bells…

      Anyhow, I would follow up on that thought, if you wanted to check it out.

      Let us know if you find anything (besides, I’d like to know if my two brain cells are functioning or not!)


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