Sanding down the outside of a big bell
August 16, 2007 at 4:07 am #10652AnonymousInactive
I recently asked a question about a worn spot on an old C. S. Bell and appreciate your quick response. I recently purchased an old C. S. Bell Company #28 School House Bell. I am tickled to death. Now I can understand why so many bell enthusiasts LOVE these old bells! I was surprised to find the date of the casting molded under the bell on the inside 7 8 21. This historic old bell was originally purchased by the West Virginia Coal and Coke Company (1929) and used in the school within this company town for some 50 years. I plan on installing the bell in my little country church about 2 miles away from Norton where it lived out most of its life. MY QUESTION: The bell is in good condition (already inquired about some slight worn marks on the inside where it was struck). However, the outside of the bell does have numerous, although shallow, pot marks. I estimate those marks are no more than a 16th to an 8th of an inch thick. Although the bell spent its whole life in a steeple it evidently took some weather due to blow ins and/or leaky roof. The bell has a wonderful rich and loud tone. Would you recommend that I sand down the outside of the bell and apply some good metal primer and metal paint? Would this painting AFFECT its TONE and LOUDNESS? The bell will be placed in a good dry steeple in its new location. There is no evidence the 86 year old bell was ever painted. Also could I use sand paper instead of having the bell actually sand blasted. The inside of the bell is in excellent shape except for the slight wear marks already discussed.
Can anyone help Him?
This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.
August 17, 2007 at 4:22 pm #13260hjlongMember
In order to get a smooth surface, you will have to remove a substantial amount of steel on the outside, possibly weakening the bell. This will require considerable effort and would best be accomplished on a table lathe to ensure an even result. The end result will be a beautiful cast steel bell that may lose much of its tonal quality due to the loss of metal, the cost of which will far exceed the value of the bell. I suggest that you remove the loose rust, paint it with a rust-retardent primer and what ever color you wish. Accept the pock marks as part of the historic patina of this old bell, and enjoy it for its history and crisp sound.
Harry Long, MD
March 4, 2008 at 4:54 am #13261AnonymousInactive
This is a reply from John Eachus:
Bell Striker Wear:
Steel bells & bronze bells should be rotated periodically, yes, maintained,
to provide even striker wear on the inside of the bell. Uneven striker wear
will eventually cause a bell to fracture.
The bell / yoke assembly should be loosened yearly, the bell rotated
slightly, then re-tightened. By rotating the bell, the bell metal is
“hammered” evenly around the circumference. This should be done for inside
striker and outside strikers.
Steel bells should be painted; painting does not affect the sound.
Bronze bells should never be painted; painting fills the bronze pores and
affects the bell sound.
This response was posted by admin at the request of John Eachus.
March 19, 2008 at 5:20 pm #13262bfriggeParticipant
I had a bell from the CS Bell Co sandblasted and had the same pits. I was curious to know if this was a condition of the firing process when the bell was originally made. There were imperfections in the yoke that seemed to have been filled wtih some type of putty perhaps before the bell was originally painted at the factory. Since the imperfections on the surface of the bell did not appear until after the sandblasting I wondered if the same material was used to give the bell its smooth appearance after painting. Obviously the sandblasting process removed the paint and as a result the filler material.
I have not found any information about how the bells were treatoed before painting, nor have I found any indication yet of what substance they might have used to fill in these imperfections.
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