NEWS NEWS
FEBRUARY 2002

A BIG WHEEL

The Dining Room

As well as designing, manufacturing and installing new bells, frames and fittings, Whitechapel Bell Foundry is also often called upon to refurbish and repair existing installations. A recent example was the 4'-2 ½" (1285) diameter slow-swinger at Dowanhill Church (The Cottier Theatre) on Glasgow's Hyndland Road. Cast by Wilsons of Glasgow in 1866, the bell had the usual deficiencies common to those of its vintage, as well as those which can come with age. The former included the original tuning, the bell having been cast before harmonic tuning was fully understood and adopted by most bellfounders (which occurred early in the 20th century), and the very common cast-in type of clapper staple. These staples, being of iron, are often the cause of old bells becoming cracked due to their rusting and subsequent expansion. Whenever we undertake work on such bells, we usually cut away the staple, drill a stress-relieving centre hole through the crown of the bell to take a new, independent staple which is mechanically insulated from the bell, and also remove as much iron from the crown as possible. The other problems that arise with age, as with this bell, can be an external layer of pigeon guano where sound opening aren't meshed over to prevent access by birds, and a layer of corrosion on the inside due to exposure to the elements. In consequence of these layers the bell sounded tonally dead, and we were also unable to inspect for cracks until had sand-blasted the inside and used a high-pressure water jet to remove the guano.

As well as refurbishing the headstock and supplying new gudgeons, bearings, bedplates, bolts and pulley, we also had to make a replacement wheel. The remains of the original were delivered to the foundry where our Head Carpenter, Terry Britton (pictured), laid them out and took all necessary measurements. Made from Oak, all the wooden wheels supplied by Whitechapel are fabricated on the premises in our Carpenters Shop. At 8'-6" (2590 mm) diameter, the wheel was outside our standard range and, indeed, the biggest made at the Foundry since World War II.

So far.



News Archive:
Open Day 2001 (with photos)
Historic Finds at the Foundry
Open Day 2000 (with photos)
Masham and the Millennium

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