I am currently conducting a condition and assessment report on a historic bell tower for the Mattole School in Petrolia, Ca. The bell sits within a bellfry atop a three level tower. The number 28 is on the yoke but no other numbers or letters can be found. We think this could be the original bell from the first schoolhouse built in 1859 and later destroyed by a fallen tree, or it could be from the second school house built a year later that was burned down by vandals in 1862. If it wasn’t on either of those than there is photographic evidence of a bell sitting on the two story schoolhouse that survived 1962 to the 1906 earthquake.
We are seeking more information on the makers of this bell. We also hope to remove the flaking paint and prime and paint the bell. However some want to preserve the bells original color so we will mask off sections that are in good condition. Is this a common procedure? On another note – How do we prevent the water from dripping down the rope and damaging the wooden surfaces that might be in contact with the rope. This is a problem with this bell tower. One level has mold and the other had a rotten plywood subfloor probably from 1962 the year the tower was built.
Dave: The bell was made by Blymyer Iron Works (Cincinnati Bell Foundry) and it is cast steel. Their bell production ran from the 1870s into the early 20th century so yours was not installed in 1862 They were shipped from the foundry with a flat-black painted finish.