Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Large Bells Please Help ID this 14.5" Bronze Bell

Viewing 20 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • #12081
      FindBellHist
      Participant

      I hope some of you knowledgeable folks can give me some information about this bell. Here are the details:

      Height of Bell: 11″
      Height of Bell, Yoke, and Stand: 26″
      Diameter at bottom of Bell: 14.5″
      Material: Bronze
      Engraving on top of bell: 2769 (numbers are 3/8″)
      Lettering inside on hardware that holds the clapper: Patented June 17, 1924. (raised letters)
      More lettering inside on hardware that holds the clapper: T D and underneath that is O (raised letters)
      History: Owner #1 was a WWII naval officer who willed it to Owner #2. Owner #2’s wife gave it to me and the other owners have died

      See below reply for pictures of outside, inside, and top of bell.

    • #17046
      FindBellHist
      Participant

      Forgot to mention that this bell is very heavy. Takes two men to lift it. I was told it weighs 250# including the yoke and stand.

    • #17047
      jackbell
      Participant

      Sounds like a brass locomotive bell. A fourteen-inch ship bell would not weigh 250#. We need to see those photos. Just reduce the size of them in your computer files.

    • #17048
      FindBellHist
      Participant

      Thank you JBell.


    • #17045
      jackbell
      Participant

      A locomotive bell it is.

    • #17049
      FindBellHist
      Participant

      JackBell,
      Thank you so much for your response and your tip in resizing the pictures. Do you think this locomotive bell could be from the Toledo-Detroit RR line?
      FindBellHist

    • #17050
      jackbell
      Participant

      Sounds plausible. My knowledge of RR bells is limited. Perhaps one of our contributors with more expertise will post.

    • #17044
      hjlong3
      Participant

      This is a railroad bell from a steam locomotive circa 1900. Beyond that I can’t tell you what railroad or the type of engine.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #17051
      Willie B. Herd
      Participant

      I’m not sure, but think it’s BRASS….Bronze doesn’t have the reddish/gold color or “mirror shine” that brass, (or this bell) has. BIG Bell=BIG Locomotive…Toledo-Detroit is a great guess, any/all numbers can help. IMO,Patent date isn’t necessarily manufacture date….possibly made a few yrs. after 1924, but before the start of the Depression.

      Have U ever polished it??? Try to clean a sm spot on the very bottom edge, (so U don’t spot the outside) to see IF it’s brass.
      (On the other hand, it would look awesome polished!!!)

    • #17052
      FindBellHist
      Participant

      Thank you for all of your input! Certainly helps this novice.

      To my knowledge the bell has never been polished. I just finished cleaning a portion of it and it shines like brass where it is not covered with red paint. Thanks for suggesting the cleaning. The first picture shows the paste of salt, vinegar, and flour. The second picture is after the cleaning and rinsing. Shines like brass on the edges. So, I thought I had a ship’s bronze bell, but it is a locomotive brass bell. All of you are so helpful and I appreciate it.

      When I searched railroadiana.org for “TD,” Toledo-Detroit RR came up. That’s why I wondered if that might be the RR. I have also sent an inquiry to SMU as to whether they can trace the locomotive number in their Baldwin collection. It’s a stab in the dark, but it’s worth a try.


    • #17053
      Willie B. Herd
      Participant

      U R welcome for the tip. Interesting cleaning mixture, as long as it works what does it matter? Keep digging, eventually it pays off.

      FYI, check out Brosamersbells.com….they have alot of Locomotive bells. He does buy and sell, but won’t do any research for U, and charges $95 for an appraisal!
      GREAT website though…..has audio ‘windows’ on some bells, so U can hear them ring!

      Plz let us know what U find out.

    • #17054
      FindBellHist
      Participant

      Here’s the response from SMU librarian. “The Baldwin construction number 2769 refers to Northern Pacific #48 built in April of 1872. There is a chance this bell was made for this 1872 locomotive, but there is also a chance that “2769” refers to a railroad line locomotive number, not the Baldwin construction number.”

    • #17055
      jackbell
      Participant

      The bell and framework are not ornate enough for the 19th century. It’s definitely 20th century.

    • #17056
      Willie B. Herd
      Participant

      @FindBellHist wrote:

      Here’s the response from SMU librarian. “The Baldwin construction number 2769 refers to Northern Pacific #48 built in April of 1872. There is a chance this bell was made for this 1872 locomotive, but there is also a chance that “2769” refers to a railroad line locomotive number, not the Baldwin construction number.”

      Due to patent dates I would assume it was made from 1924 on.
      I’m pretty sure 2769 is an Engine number.
      Recessed letters, #’s are stamped into, (applied) after the casting process, the raised letters, #’s are made before/during casting.

    • #17057
      hjlong3
      Participant

      Remember that older bells were sometimes recycled into newer brackets to mount on newer engines.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #17058
      Willie B. Herd
      Participant

      Another possibility is that the raised letters on the hardware designate the name of the foundry…T.D. of Ohio.

    • #17059
      FindBellHist
      Participant

      Thanks for all the input from each of you. It is very much appreciated.

      Wow, the research has opened up to more possibilities. (I am beginning to think that without documentation it is almost impossible to trace the history of this bell.)

      So now I will search Foundaries, as well as Ford Motor Co. (owned the TD RR from 1920 until 1929), Pennsylvania RR (bought TD RR from Ford in 1929), other partial owners through the years were Grand Trunk Western, Wasbash, Norfolk and Western, CN RR, and Indiana and Ohio. Good grief!

    • #17060
      RockinEZ
      Participant

      I cringe, and at the same time bow to the more experienced members of this forum.
      I would have left the patina intact. Once you start you have to do a total restoration.
      As mentioned in this forum; polishing bells is normal and does not reduce their value. A partially polished bell is another story.
      Most of my collection came to me as partially polished or damaged bells. I am a restoration person, so I look for things with a damaged patina to restore to “Show Condition”. A piece with intact patina in every other discipline would be important. Bells are different; they are made to be polished and every sailor that had done a minor infraction has polished bell, brass, or rail.
      Your bell now qualifies as destined for restoration……
      I can do it, wanna sell it?

    • #17061
      FindBellHist
      Participant

      RockinEZ,
      Thanks for your post regarding restoration. I cleaned only a portion of the inside of the bell, but I have not polished the exterior. Appreciate the comments. At this time the bell is not for sale. I am still fascinated with it.

    • #17062
      FindBellHist
      Participant

      Just did the magnet test to determine brass or bronze. A strong magnet did not adhere but a smaller one did adhere. Therefore, can definitely determine that this bell is brass as indicated by previous posts.
      Really appreciate this forum and the good information that is provided.

    • #17063
      dunrobin
      Participant

      Hello,

      Interesting reading on this one. I can identify your bell for you and put it on a locomotive. I do charge a fee. My fee includes a Certification of Authenticity. I do appraisals as well. I also professionally restore steam locomotive bells. The magnet test I have never heard of. Brass or bronze should not have iron in them. Each manufacturer has their own formula for their bells. Iron is not in the mixture. Brass is made up of Zinc and Copper and bronze is made up of Tin and Copper for the most part. There are other metals added for different reasons of course. The only sure fire way of testing for brass or bronze is to take a dab of toilet boil cleaner and water and put it on a test spot inside the bell. If the spot turns brass the bell is brass, if it turns pink the bell is bronze. Once one is educated in the different metals and can tell how they tarnish it can be seen with the eye without testing.

      I agree with the patina comment. But there are ways of putting it back on but you have do the whole thing. The inside is a matter of taste. I leave the insides as they are found. I only wash them out with hot soap and water. The only time I touch the inside is if someone has painted it red after it came off the locomotive. Then I remove the paint and leave it off. I have one bell from the 1880’s and the outside shines. The inside is full of clean soot!

      The internal clapper is post 1924 in the USA. That was the first year they were used in the US. Canada use them in 1912. Your bell assembly is no older than 1900 and could be made up of different era parts. If you are interested contact me. I will need more information from you as well.

      Nice historical piece you have there!

Viewing 20 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.