Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells Origin of this bell and should I paint it

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    • #12100

      My parent’s bought this bell in Santa Fe in the 60’s and it has hung outside on all of our homes ever since. It was gifted to me and my husband and now we are undecided on how to clean it since it is pretty rusty and pitted. He scrubbed it with a brush which removed loose dirt and cobwebs but now we are wondering what to do next. Do we paint it or does that decrease it’s value? I am also curious as to where it was originally from. The mounting bracket is 25 ” tall.

    • #17103


      This is outside my general area, but since nobody has replied I will take a crack at it.

      With the Padre figure, the theme seems generally Spanish, and a type of bell that could be hung on a wall to summon someone to a door or entrance. It would fit the Santa Fe style, but could have been made anywhere. If you were to list it on eBay with a proper description, I suspect it would sell in the $100 – $200 range.

      It appears that you intend to keep it. Your choices of how to proceed depend on where you intend to display it, and how much time, effort and money you are willing to expend.

      It appears to be of all iron/steel construction. You can check the parts with a small magnet – if it sticks, it’s steel/iron. It is coated with rust, not a patina that should be protected, so I can’t see how a restoration could decrease its value.

      I would suggest you disassemble what you can – at least the bell, bell bracket, and figure – and work with those separately. The main bracket parts can remain attached, even if bolted together, your choice. The figure might be cast metal or could be assembled sheet metal. If the latter, make sure you treat it more gently.

      Options I would suggest:

      (1) Spray liberally with WD-40, use a wire brush or rub with steel wool or ScotchBrite, continue until everything seems clean, then reassemble. You will have to do this again from time to time, but it will now be clean, and lubricated to inhibit rust for 6-12 months. Do not paint.

      (2) Use a rust-removing product. Take the assembly with you to a hardware store, ask their advice on what to use. Follow the directions for that product. Brush on a coat of rust-inhibiting primer such as Rustoleum rusty-metal primer. Brush or spray two top coats in the color(s) of your choice. Decide if you wish to use the existing chain, or get a new one at a hardware store.

      (3) Have the assembly sand blasted by a commercial establishment. Either they or you could paint it. If you do it, make sure you brush on the primer as soon as possible.

      (4) Have the assembly sand blasted by a commercial establishment and then powder painted. We’re now getting into the big bucks area, but you can lose nothing by inquiring.

      Good luck, and please post a description and picture when finished.


    • #17102

      I have an alternate idea if you are interested.
      For less than the cost of the chemicals needed to strip the bell and surrounding pieces you can have it bead blasted by a professional in 20 minutes.

      Most of us know of sand blasting, but they use many types of blasting media today including walnut shells, baking soda, even dry ice. These media are much softer and only remove the old paint and rust.

      It is very inexpensive. I would suggest it is less expensive to get this done in 20 minutes by a blaster, than to buy the paint remover and WD40. We should also mention that it takes hours to chemically remove the paint and rust, and then “clean up time” to clean up the mess you made stripping the paint.

      Just my two cents.

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