Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Repair, Restoration, Parts, Cleaning Steam Locomotive Bell Restoration

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    • #10451
      dunrobin
      Participant

      I a have steam locomotive bell. I would like to restore it. Is it better to restore it in its present condition, worn etc. Or is it better to restore it to its original new condition? I want it to keep its value historically, which in turn will make it more valuable monetarilly. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

    • #12750
      Peter Hyde
      Member

      This is a really interesting issue. Point one as a collector is never to think about making money out of bells! Surely your sole criterion is what gives you most delight. From my point of view any object that is downright filthy or tatty deserves some tender loving care. I once bought an old fire engine bell that had been made out of bell metal from an ex fireman who worked in a bell foundry. It looked like new. He had put it on a lathe and returned it to it’s original appearance. Several years later it is still sitting outside my front door and has a deep patina through weathering. I occasionally clean it but I would not now dream of restoring it to it’s original state. I love the colour it has developed. So the fireman and me each had different points of view. I was glad I saw the bell in it’s original state and am pleased to see it now. Take your choice. This is what the bell is now like.

      http://usera.imagecave.com/padhyde/CIMG1655.JPG

    • #12751
      dunrobin
      Participant

      Thank you for your input. I have restored the bell to it’s operating condition when it was being used on the railroad. I machined new parts that were just plain corroded past usefulness. I also machined one part that was missing. I polished the tarnish off the bell, but kept the original machining marks on it and any dings it received in service. I rubbed the bell down with die-electric silcone to remove any deep down tarnish and to bring out it’s bronze look. This will also slow down the tarnishing process.
      I did sand blast and repaint the yoke and cradle. I am building a solid wood stand for it so I can display it in my living room. With a drawer to keep the original parts in I replaced. No way will it go out side. Eventually I would like it to go to museum as I have restored it to museum quality. I was not really interested in its monetary value, but in its historical correctness.
      I like the look of your bell. I am looking for a ships bell to do the same thing with. It is hard to find old ships bells though. Thanks again.

    • #12752
      Peter Hyde
      Member

      Sounds like you did the right thing from all points of view. Apart from simple cleaning I never attempt any restoration myself. Whitechapel Bell Foundry have recently done two for me on very similar lines to your approach. While looking bright and clean, both bells retain those little blemishes which show their age. Just like the rest of us!

      Regards

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