Restoration of 1883 Church Tower Bell
September 1, 2006 at 2:55 am #10508mjdragParticipant
Hello everyone. I’m new to this site, but what I’ve found so far is quite interesting. I am also new to bell collecting. I have a large bell from a local church tower that has been in storage for 40-50 years. I am looking for advice in removing what may be paint drippings or possibly a sticky tarlike substance from a roof that deposited random drips all over the bell. Could I use a paint/varnish remover to get them off? Steel wool? What could I use as a clear coat for protection as it will displayed outside and mounted onto a cement slab?
The bell is in sound condition with only a few chips around the outer lower edge. With the yoke included it measures about 4 feet wide. Weight is around 800-1000 lbs. The inscription on the front reads:
A. Fulton’s Son & Company
Any advice or available history or knowlege of this foundry would also be appreciated.
Thanks to everyone or anyone for their advice. If any other information is needed from my end please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
September 1, 2006 at 11:34 pm #12883lmurgiaParticipant
Welcome to bell collecting and ABA. What is the bell made of? Bronze, iron……..
September 3, 2006 at 5:38 pm #12884mjdragParticipant
Thanks for your interest in my request. I am not 100% sure what the material, but my father thought it to be bronze. Is there a way of determing what material it is?
September 11, 2006 at 3:01 am #12885Neil GoeppingerParticipant
Hello MJ, and welcome to the ABA. You’ll find this is a pretty friendly group. I started out collecting bells, and ended up collecting bell friends. I hope you do to.
Now, about your bell. Yes it is bronze, because that is the only kind of bell Fulton made, to my knowledge (notice how I hedged myself there – I do get surprises). Fulton was a regional foundry. They were not one of the large national firms, but not one of the small ones which only served a local market either. Few of their bells found their way as far west as Iowa, but I did find one in Omaha, Nebraska.
About the removal of paint or tar from your bell with solvents. That’s fine. I just used paint remover on a bronze bell this past month, and I’d try turpentine or paint thinner on the tar. If they don’t work, try laquer thinner. It’s more dangerous to the user, but it’s more effective too. Use rubber gloves as it absorbs into the skin. The problem you will find is that there will still be a discolored spot under the paint or tar because with the air shut off from that spot on the bronze, it will not have continued to tarnish (or build a patina) along with the rest of the bell. The discolored spots will be more acceptable than the paint and tar splatters, but the discoloration will still be there. I have not been able to find a way to remove them. Even when you polish the entire bell with liquid abrasives (I use 3M brand liquid auto paint buffing compound with a high speed sheeps wool disc), the spots will still remain.
As to a protective coating, I rather like a good coat of auto polish. Varnish, laquer or polyureathane will all discolor in the sun over time and are hard to get off to start over. With auto polish, you just give it another coat as you would a car.
The Fulton bells were a nice bell, and bronze bells are the Cadillacs of church bells. “A Fulton’s son” was Andrew Fulton Jr, who lived from 1850 to 1935. He started work in his father’s foundery at 16, and was the 33rd mayor of Pittsdburgh, Pa in 1888.
If you would care to send me a fax number at email@example.com, I will fax what I have on this foundry to you, along with the basic information I have on the predessor foundry. The firm went under several names, but always with the Fulton name in it. I have both a Fulton bell, and a Champlin – Fulton Mfg Co bell in my collection.
Again, welcome to ABA, and enjoy your bell. You have a much nicer bell than the first one I started with back in the late 70’s. It was iron and had no inscription. — Neil
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