I am the director of the Avalon History Center, Avalon NJ. In our collection we have a school bell used in the early 20th century. The bell was manufactured at the American Bell Foundry, Northville MI. I was hoping you might be able to answer a question or two with regards to the object. Time, and a poor conservation attempt, have left the bell pitted and very rough. I was wondering if there might be any way to to restore some of the surface. I have experience working with outdoor bronze and have used both hot and cold waxing techniques. Do you believe this would have a beneficial effect on the bell? Also, I have attached a picture of the bell and its parts, anything you might be able to share with us through these pics would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your time and considerations.
If you can help, please post a response.
This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.
There is nothing that can correct the pitting of a steel bell. If you machine it smooth, you will lose substantial metal, thinning the body of the bell and weakening it. The best that you can do is to remove the rust and treat the bell with a rust inhibitor. Give it a protective coating of paint or lacquer and appreciate its unique beauty.
Harry Long, MD
Cast iron bells usually have pits & cold pour delineations. This type of surface mark(s) tell the story of the casting method and the skill of the caster; removing such details, destroys historical manufacturing technique marks.
Preserve the story, preserve the bell, as is.
Thank you both gentlemen