Are the bells in your tower safe?
When was the last time your bells were serviced for safety and maintenance?
Out of sight shouldn't mean out of mind.
Although bronze bells are practically indestructible, the mechanical parts that allow the bell to ring and the frame supporting the bell, are not. Weather exposure, temperature extremes, and service neglect can cause bolts, clappers, swingers, yokes, and other parts and equipment to deteriorate, making the bell unsafe.
Exposure to weather, temperature extremes, and neglect deteriorate bell hardware and make bell ringing unsafe.
This rusted bell bolt is especially difficult to assess because the bolt passes through the bell head, where it cannot be seen unless the bell is taken down. A bell supported by a bolt like this is at risk of falling at any time.
Steps to Safe, Long-Lasting Bells
Conduct regular bell evaluations/inspections.
There are some key things that a visual inspection should include.
- Visually inspect the entire structure (bell tower, steeple, etc.), wooden or steel supports, floor, access to the bells, etc. Any signs of cracks, aging or wear and tear must be thoroughly examined, noted, and photographed from different distances and angles (Inside and outside.)
- Visually inspect and photograph the entire bell structure and bell equipment. Detailed bell records help to service your bells and valuable for insurance purposes.
- All bolts and hardware must be examined and photographed, including chains and clapper pins. Note the condition of the bolts, chains, and pins (rusted, corroded, loose, worn, etc.)
- Loose bolts need tightened and rusting bolts replaced immediately. (Bell bolts secure the bell to the frame and much of the wear is hidden from plain sight. It is important to properly assess their condition to ensure the bell is safe hanging and swinging in the tower. The main bolt is what holds the weight of the bell.)
- Bell clappers and strike point of the bell should be checked annually for the bell's proper ring tone to stay constant. Clapper wear can also change the resonance of the bell.
- Check bell(s) and equipment for cracks and wear, including ropes. Frayed or damaged ropes should be replaced.
- Inspect clapper joints. These should be adequately lubricated. Adjustments may also be needed.
- Roughness or noise indicates worn or damaged bearings. They may be gunked up, dry, or need replaced.
- Some towers and supporting structures may not be safe to handle the swing of a bell. These bells can be immobilized and a stationary bell ringer installed.
“Just as you maintain your car, simply lubricating the moving parts of your bell on a regular basis can reduce wear and add years of life to your bells.”
— Tim Verdin, sixth generation Verdin
Have you seen any of these signs of potential problems?
- Bells difficult to ring? This might be a sign that the pulley blocks or wheel are loose, poorly aligned or damaged. Could also be rope wear.
- Muffled or stuttering bell? This could be a sign that the clapper return springs are loose or broken.
- Feel a shock when ringing bell? This may be a sign that the bell is loose from its yoke connection and needs urgent service. Immediately stop using the bell, clear the area, and call for repair. The bell is at severe risk of tumbling.
- Support beams rotting, rusting out.
- Sound of bells have changed.
- Bat and bird droppings? Animal droppings corrode bells and hardware. It’s very important to keep bat and birds out of the bell tower. If droppings are present, photograph where the animals are entering the tower or steeple—if possible— and recommend take steps to screen them out.
Learn more » bell repair and restoration
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Verdin manufactures new bell ringing equipment and hardware to restore bells to their original beauty and resonance and keep them safe. Since 1842, Verdin has been servicing bells at churches, town halls, universities around the world. Bell repair and restoration are important hallmarks of our business.
Verdin provides customers with the industry’s most experienced bell repair and restoration team. And it’s all backed by the most respected, financially sound bell company in the U.S.