Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Large Bells removal of paint from large bronze bell

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    • #12246
      shadowfax10
      Participant

      I am an architect working on a new school project here in Nova Scotia, Canada. We will take an old, large (approximately 26″ h x 36″ diameter at the mouth) VanDuzen & Tift Buckeye Bell from the cupola of the old school and place it on display in the lobby of the new school as a memento of the heritage school the new one replaces. Problem is, the maintenance staff at one point painted the bell white (it was in a cupola exposed to the weather and pigeons, so it probably seemed like a good way to hide the pigeon droppings. . .just a theory, it happened a long time ago). My question is this: how best to remove the paint so the bell can be polished and made spiffy for its new location? Are there paint remover chemicals which will not damage the bronze? I know from other heritage projects that metal objects can be sand-blasted with crushed walnut shells which will not hurt the metal, or at least, cause minimal wear. What is the way to go here — anyone have any experience with painted bells? The attached photos give an idea of the scale and show the paint layer well.

      Also, our structural engineers will need a ball-park idea of the weight of the bell so they can design a suitable mounting structure for its new location — anyone know what to expect for a 26″ x 36″ Buckeye Bell? That would be handy to know, even approximately.

    • #17451
      jackbell
      Participant

      The bell minus the clapper and any mounting hardware weighs approx 900 lbs. You can have it blasted or use brush-on paint remover such as Strypeez. Blasting will cost more. Glad to know it’s being restored and displayed.

    • #17452
      jjohnson
      Participant

      Hello, Im glad you are saving the bell. Please put it where it can be rung. Bells need to be heard and not only seen. A good bell makes a glorious sound just as it was intended to do.

    • #17453
      jackbell
      Participant

      If it’s going to be displayed in a school lobby I’m sure it will get tapped a lot!

    • #17454
      shadowfax10
      Participant

      Thanks for the tips, especially the approximate weight. The intention is to have the bell on display in an openable glass or plexiglass cabinet which can be opened for special occasions when the bell can be rung by the school children (probably tapped with a rubber or plastic hammer). Probably rung once when a child enters the school community and again when they graduate to Middle School. Maybe when they win awards or sports championships/rallies, too. So, yes, the bell will be heard, but in a controlled access environment.

    • #17455
      Neil Goeppinger
      Participant

      Sorry my answer is arriving so late. You have likely finished the restoration by now. I had two Vanduzen bells which were painted and I simply used paint stripper on them and they were beautiful when finished. The paint, which had been applied many years ago, protected the finish all those years and the bells gleamed when the paint was removed. Polishing bronze bells is another subject and a tougher one. — Neil

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