Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Repair, Restoration, Parts, Cleaning Who Builds Stands for Vanduzen Bells?

Viewing 8 reply threads
  • Author
    • #11519

      prhuey in Iowa needs to know about getting a stand built for his Vanduzen bell:

      Our family owns a large bell that was cast at the E.W. Vanduzen Bell Foundry of Cincinnati in 1896. How can we tell if it brass or bronze or what? I have read the forums and now know how to proceed with cleaning it up—who builds stands for them? Is there a “builders” type book available? We are working with a local college to try to place this on campus but need direction for installation etc . Any Iowa names who do this type of thing would be appreciated. Thank you for your attention to this. (the email address for the Iowa chapter is no longer correct)

      If you can help, please post a response.
      Admin (Carolyn)

      This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.

    • #15916

      Are you looking for original Iron A-stands or something to be fabricated from new material?

    • #15917
      Neil Goeppinger

      Your bell is made of bronze. That was the only material Vanduzen used in their large bells. — Neil (by the way, I am located in Iowa also).

    • #15918

      Robert Cowie adds:

      There are any number of welders who could make the stands for the bell. I would bet it is bronze, steel bells do not have the date on them. They need a picture of a like bell. Either Neil or I would be happy to send them a picture of the stands. What is the size in inches of the bell? Also a picture is good. What is large to one bell may not be large to another. If they send me a picture of the bell and size, I will send them pictures as to how it should look if I can be of help.

      So, prhuey, if you would like to send me a photograph electronically, I will be happy to post it on this forum. Please send it to me at coordinator@americanbell.org.

      Admin (Carolyn)

    • #15919

      John Eachus has given me permission to share his personal responses to “prhuey”. I will post them separately.

      Response #1

      Good Morning Carolyn & “prheuy”!

      Under separate e-mail, you will receive an historic blurb on the Vanduzen Bell Foundry.

      Unfortunately, bell foundry information has been an industry “secret” for 70 years now. There are no industry manuals to guide the lay-person. Even at the professional level, learning is trial & error with guidance from experienced technicians. Bells are poorly understood by architects & engineers, as bells involve structural & acoustically parameters.

      “Bell Talk” has been an excellent forum for providing information. There are no complete bell foundries in the US, only bell marketing companies. There are only four musical bell foundries in the world:
      (1) Royal Dutch Petit & Fritsen in the Netherlands,
      (2) Royal Dutch Eijsbouts in The Netherlands (…the foundry I represent),
      (3) Piccard Bell Foundry in France, and
      (4) Taylor Bell in England.

      The first three foundries are in excellent financial condition and are capable of producing excellent musical bells. The Netherlands has laws requiring villages to provide a bell clocks tower for public alert & time, thus The Netherlands, a country the size of Alabama, has more bell installations than the entire US. The French government financially supports bell ringing. The Taylor Bell Foundry makes bells primarily for Anglican / Episcopal change ringing. Change ringing bells are a slightly different profile and a heavier weight than carillon bells, thus Taylor is serving a very niche market. Taylor was placed into receivership this past spring, several non-industry persons purchased the foundry. While at the Royal Dutch Eijsbouts Foundry July first, several English “bell hangers” were at the foundry to purchase musical bells, as such, are not available in England. All foundries have the capibility of casting light weight to heavy weight bell profiles … thus affecting musical quality, and overall cost.

      In the US, there is a business tendency to provide less than specified; buyer beware. Bell casting and casting musically tuned bells are two very different industries.

      Musical bells were always cast of 80% copper & 20% tin, i.e. bronze metal. The Liberty Bell was cast of only 70% copper, and 30% miscellaneous metals …. that is why it cracked, it was too brittle. Bronze metal gives off a harmonious sound when vibrated.
      Brass is cast of copper & zinc … the zinc will not permit the alloy to vibrate. It makes a discordant noise.

      Bronze vs. brass: sound produced, length of vibration, metallic analysis, historic foundry information, legitimate foundry, current patina appearance. (Patina: at five years, bronze will be either reddish brown or green; the zinc in brass prevents it from corrosion.)

      The Vanduzen Bell Foundry historically cast only bronze bells for schools, churches and county courthouses. Each institution had industry designated sizes, schools being from 20″ to 28″, churches 24″ to 32″, courthouses 32″ to 46″.

      Bronze metal should not be cleaned, except with soap & water. Anything else, removes bell metal. Exposed bronze metal will form a thin layer of corrosion then stop. (Iron corrosion continues until the metal is consumed.) Sandblasting should only be done if the bell has paint on it. Personal care must be taken, as pigeon dung / dust contains 43 different viruses & diseases; one of which causes blindness. Bronze & brass bells must never be painted; iron bells must always be painted.

      Restoration of the bell for ringing

      Historically, the bell was swing rung to produce the Call-To-Worship and sounds of joy. Bells always had at least two strikers: internal for swing ringing, and external for tolling. For tolling, the bell remained stationary and the striker hammered the bell, producing a monotone. This method produces the tones recognized as Funeral toll, Deprofundis, hour strike, fire alarm, and playing melodies.

      For historical restoration, the bell is provided with replacement hardware, as needed. All bolts should be replaced with stainless steel for safety. Iron through copper produces galvanic corrosion. Re-hardwaring a bell can be extremely expensive.

      Due to hardware costs, ignorance of bell ringing techniques, potential damage to historic bells, overall safety, for most situations, I recommend a single electronic striker either internally or externally mounted to sound the bell. Current controllers provide both a swinging bell sound and a stationary, i.e. tolling sound, from a stationary mounted bell. By energizing the striker with alternating 70 volt DC & 110 volt DC current, a swing bell sound is produced; timed correctly for the mass of the bell, there is no difference in the tones produced. For tolling sounds, the striker is energized with 110 volt DC current. A digital controller provides the correct parameters for the various sized bells.

      For college campuses, an electronic striker with 100 year programmable digital controller would provide the capability of maximizing the bell’s use on campus. The controller I sell, is software driven, permitting campus network interface, thus the bell may be sounded anywhere on campus. Campuses use this ability to sound the bell in a specific manner for security alert of staff, without alerting students.

      Over 20 years experience as sales & engineering consultant in the bell industry, I have completed projects in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Israel, Zambia, and most US states. Current project is in San Luis Potosis, Mexico: 35 cast bronze musical bells played automatically & manually to be installed by September 15, 2010 in celebration of the 125 anniversary of the Mexican Revolution & 200 anniversary of the Cathedral of San Luis Potisis.

      Association declaration:

      Royal Dutch Eijsbouts Bell Foundry in The Netherlands provides bell strikers, new cast & pre-owned bronze bells, bronze statues, engineering, architectural drafting, bell hardware, installation services, maintenance services twice annually in the US for major carillon installations, and sales support.

      Chime Master Systems in Lancaster, Ohio provides electronic bell systems, and electronic bell control systems, manufactured in Ohio and distributed internationally through Royal Dutch Eijsbouts.

      Electric Time Co., Inc. in Massachusetts provides clocks, clock control, local service & installation.

      Mountain Machine & Welding in Gatlinburg, Tennessee provides precision metal work to supplement installations. This company fabricated the anti-heat seeking missile defense equipment for President Bush’s helicopters.

      Auburn Structural Engineers in Auburn, Alabama provides engineering computer modeling specifically for bells & steeple type structures, certified for 14 states.

      All companies are independent family owned and operated.

      If this gentleman would like assistance with his project, he needs to forward photos of the existing bell, both internal & external, and any existing hardware, along with the diameter opening of the bell. Notes on any obvious conditions is helpful. Photos, architectural drawings, etc. of the proposed physical structural location of the bell. With sufficient information, this bell could be restored in Iowa, or it may be shipped to Tennessee for restoration.

      All information provided is free, except certified engineering. Our compensation comes from products provided.

      Thank you for the opportunity of serving your bell needs.


      John Eachus http://www.bells-clocks.com http://www.steeplescrosses.com 800-788-0986 johneachus@comcast.net

    • #15920

      John Eachus has given me permission to share his personal responses to “prhuey”.

      It appears that prhuey sent a photo of the Vanduzen bell to John.

      Response #2

      This bell is in wonderful condition!
      From the photo & yard stick, this bell is either:

      30″ diameter at the opening weighs 500 lbs. approx. musical note B
      29″ diameter 450 lbs. C
      28″ diameter 400 lbs. C

      Starting at the bottom:

      The wooden cradle was used to isolate the bell’s vibrations from being passed to structure. This cradle appears to be dry rotted. Purchase 4″ X 4″ or 6″ X 6″ pressure treated lumber and duplicate this cradle.

      For mounting in a steeple or tower chamber, lay two timber beams parallel on the bell chamber floor spanning wall to wall, do not fasten timbers. Set bell cradle onto the timbers & fasten. Bell vibrations act like a mini-jack hammer and if passed onto structure will eventually tear the structure appart. Wood is a natural vibration isolator.

      The bolts holding the “A” support stands to the wood cradle are cast iron through wood, and will be badly coroded; replace these bolts with galvanized or stainless steel carriage bolts 1/2″ dia. Caution! The cast iron becomes brittle at 80 years, these castings are now 110 years old! Tighten bolts snug … not tight, put a second nut on top of the first nut, and reverse tighten the two nuts against each other, so the snug nut cannot vibrate off the bolt.

      The “A” support stand axel groove is open. If this bell is vigerously swung, the bell will jump out of the axel groove, possible damaging the bell. Only an experienced bell ringer should be permitted to swung this bell.

      The yoke axels are steel pins through the yoke arm. Sometimes the axel will be flat on the bottom; welding can build these flat spots back to round. If flat the bell will “thump” when swinging, rounding the flats spots by adding metal will make the bell easy to swing.

      The bolts at the top of the yoke & bell, hold the bell and the interior bell parts. These bolts must be replaced for safety. Replace with like galvanized or stainless steel. The exisitng bolts are iron through bronze, and galvanic corosion will have destroyed a considerable amount of bolt metal.

      On the bell interior will be a headpiece. A headpiece is a disk of metal matching the disk cast onto the yoke, clapping the bell to the yoke. This headpiece should have a clevis pin holding the interior bell striker. This clevis pin should be replaced for safety. The bell will have a “wishbone” looking piece of metal attached to the headpiece, usually by bolts. This is the clapper spring.

      The clapper spring prevented the interior bell striker from double striking the bell when swung into the horizontal position. Double strikes are harsh to hear, and can fracture the bell. In North American bell ringing, the interior striker travels in the opposite direction of the bell, creating a very violent impact.

      In European bell ringing, the clapper travels in the same direction as the bell, thus European hardware does not need a clapper spring. The European clapper is longer and weighted to accomplish this motion.

      The clapper spring had leather pads pop riveted to the lower flanges. Neopreme or rubber should be pop riveted to the clapper spring. This pads the interior striker shaft, preventing excessive wear to the shaft.

      The clapper will be cast of iron alloy, softer than the bell metal. The clapper ball will have flat spots from hitting the bell. The rounder this ball, the crisper & clearer the bell tone produced. The clapper ball can be sanded or ground back round.

      The bell rope pull wheel would have been fabricated of wood. It fit over the yoke axel on the left side of the photo against the yoke flange. A pair of bolts with large washers held the wheel against the yoke flange.

      The foundry is closed this week, but a replacement cast iron wheel for this bell is approximately $725.

      The bell only need be cleaned by brushing with TSP and water.

      The cast iron bell hardware may be sanblasted, primed and painted. Powder coating is warranted for 15-20 years;
      or wet coat with Rust-o-leum primer then finish paint.

      Enjoy the musical sound of this bell!


      John Eachus

      PS: To have this bell cast today would cost $19K. Vanduzen bells were musically too far off to match other bells with them, i.e. only Vanduzen bells with Vanduzen bells. Today, this Vanduzen bell would resale for $9-11K.

    • #15921

      John Eachus has given me permission to share his personal responses to “prhuey”.

      Response #3

      The Buckeye Bell Foundry by Vanduzen & Tift Bell Foundry

      1894 The Buckeye Bell Foundry Catalog lists:
      Date Firm Name Proprietors
      1837 Geo. W. Coffin G.W. Coffin
      1846 G.W. Coffin & Co. G.W. Coffin & Geo. R. Dudley
      1856 C.W. Coffin & Co. E.W. Vanduzen & C.T. Tift
      1865 Vanduzen & Tift E.W. Vanduzen & C.T. Tift
      1891 Incorp. Vanduzen & Tift Co. E.W. Vanduzen
      1894 The E.W. Vanduzen Co. E.W. Vanduzen

      Pre-1837, George Washington Coffin established a bell foundry in Cincinnati to cast bells and other brass & bronze items. The main foundry was called G.W. Coffin Co., and the bell portion of the foundry was called The Buckeye Bell Foundry. This foundry may have been the successor to the Riga Furnace in Salisbury, Connecticut founded by Holley & Coffin in 1810.

      Around 1856, his son, C.A. Coffin operated the foundry. CA Coffin specialized in riverboat bells for the Ohio River boats. The CA Coffin Bell Foundry bells were very ornate with elaborately decorated mounting hardware. Most Mississippi River paddle wheel boats sported a CA Coffin bell. Rumor was that CA Coffin used a metal mix of silver and copper for riverboat bells. (Normal bronze is 20% tin and 80% copper.)

      The Buckeye Foundry Bells cast by the CA Coffin Bell Foundry were primarily supplied to churches. In 1865, The Buckeye Bell Foundry was purchased by E.W.Vanduzen and C.T. Tift, and moved to 164 East Second Street. The foundry operated under their control from 1865 to 1891. Under their leadership, the foundry was very prolific. Vanduzen & Tift engineered their bell mounting in a very unique design: A 4” to 5” opening was made in the top of the bell. A pair of cast iron disks gripped this opening, forming the hanging method & yoke connection. The bell profile was modified from that used by C.A. Coffin, thus improving the musical quality.

      In 1894, E.W. Vanduzen bought out his partner, changing the incorpated name to The E.W. Vanduzen Co., Inc.; The Buckeye Bell Foundry. The foundry officially closed in 1950. (All bell foundries were forced to close for WWII in 1939, and never reopened.)
      The 1984 catalog claims only pure copper & East India tin are “combined with proper acoustic proportions in the shape of the Bell, guarantees a good, full, and clear tone.”

      The Buckeye Bell Foundry operated, under various ownership from pre-1837 to 1950.

    • #15922

      Carl Scott Zimmerman has given me permission to share with “Bell Talk” Forum readers his personal response to prhuey.

      Hello, prhuey,

      Your bell is made of bronze; large bells were never made of brass. In this respect, Vanduzen’s work was typical of that of most American bell foundries that made church bells. (There were also foundries which made cast steel bells, but Vanduzen was not among them.)

      Any competent metal-working shop should be able to design and build a stand for your bell, because it doesn’t have to look like the original. How it would be designed depends on what fittings you already have (yoke? clapper? bare bell only?) and the purpose to which you wish to put it (display only? ceremonial tolling? clock strike?). Only if you want to restore the bell so that it can be sounded by swinging do you need a professional bell hanger, because in that case the balance is critical.

      If you have more specific questions, just ask.

      Carl Scott Zimmerman, Campanologist
      Avocation: tower bells: http://www.gcna.org – Webmaster
      Mission: church bells: http://www.TowerBells.org – Webmaster
      E-mail: csz_stl@swbell.net
      Saint Louis, Missouri, USA – 19th c. home of at least 35 bell
      . . . . . . . . . . . foundries or resellers

    • #15923

      Re John Eachus’ Response #1:

      The Taylor bellfoundry in England was renamed John Taylor & Co. after its purchase in 2009 by a group of people with long experience in the bell industry. (Some of them were former Taylor employees.) Thus the foundry has not lost its expertise in producing carillons and chimes in addition to change-ringing bells and equipment.

      Other “musical bell foundries in the world” include the following:
      (5) Whitechapel in England
      (6) Meeks, Watson & Co. in the USA
      (7) Olsen in Norway
      (8) Ruetschi in Switzerland

      All produce excellent bells.
      Whitechapel has built complete carillons, and also supplies bells to carillon builders such as Olympic.
      Meeks & Watson are the only American bellfounders in operation. For bells larger than their own foundry capability, they subcontract the casting to Whitechapel. They also have more capability than anyone else for tuning American-made chimes (most of which were not originally tuned).
      Olson and Ruetschi are regional foundries, rarely exporting from their own countries.

      A more extensive list of present and past bellfoundries can be found at http://www.gcna.org/data/IXfdyCtry.html, which links to indexes of the work of each bellfoundry. Each such index includes a sketch of the history of the foundry; for operating foundries, it also provides contact information and identifies known American agents.

      As always, additions and corrections are welcome!

Viewing 8 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.