[Bell Historians] Assistance required

Carl S Zimmerman csz_stl at s...
Mon Dec 16 17:03:10 GMT 2002

At 00:53 -0500 2002/12/14, laithbells at a... wrote:
>“We have located a 20” C.S. Bell & Company steel bell with a No. 4 
>yoke and we require: (1) supply of, or details of, the normal base 
>on which this yoke and bell would have swung; (2) a suitable 
>clapper, or if not available, the design of such a clapper and 
>details of the metal normally used; (3) advice as to where such a 
>bell would have been used, e.g. locomotive, industrial, etc; (4) any 
>originals or photocopies of C.S Bell & Company catalogues published 
>by the Company; (5) the information as to whether its successor 
>Company is still in existence and how we might make contact.”

Quoting from one of my Web pages:

The largest American producer of iron or steel bells was probably the 
C.S.Bell Company. This firm was established by Charles Singleton Bell 
in the town of Hillsboro, east of Cincinnati. Using a special steel 
alloy called "crystal metal," this firm produced bells of all sizes 
from 12" diameter postmount farm or dinner bells to 48" diameter 
church bells. An annual "Festival of the Bells" 
(http://www.hillsboroohio.net/upcoming_events.htm) there celebrates 
this history. The modern descendant of this firm bears the same name, 
but has moved to Tiffin, in northwest Ohio, and no longer makes 
bells. (They do, however, still use a logo of an iron postmount bell: 

Addressing your specific questions:
5&1) See last link above.
1) Generally speaking, American-made steel bells and associated 
fittings carried size numbers 1-7 for postmount bells of diameters 
from 9 to over 24 inches. Sizes 2-4 (12 to 20 inches) are most 
Larger sizes are rare because such bells more commonly were 
mounted on a pair of cast-iron A-frames, in which case the 
approximate diameter of the bell (in inches) was used as a size 
number on the bell and its fittings. (Most American steel bells 
carry no markings at all, though some makers did put the size number 
on the top of the bell, especially on larger bells. Only the 
fittings carry lettering.)
2) The original suspension for your bell would have been an eye bolt 
through the top of the bell and the center of the yoke, with the eye 
serving as the support for the clapper. The clapper would have 
consisted of a length of soft iron rod, perhaps 1/4" in diameter, 
with a pear-shaped iron ball cast on the bottom end. The top end 
would have been bent into a hook or open loop for attachment to the 
eye of the support bolt. Sometimes it is clear that this must have 
been heated in a blacksmith's forge in order to be bent closed (or 
nearly so) after it was hooked in place; after cooling it could not 
be removed.
I am not aware of any source for old American bell parts. The 
very few American dealers in used bells typically supply complete 
fittings. However, it is possible that someone might have some extra 
parts available. See http://www.brosamersbells.com for one 
3) A postmount bell was designed to be mounted at the top of a 
timber post. Most often, such a post was located outside the rear 
door of a farmhouse, with its base sunk in the ground. But 
occasionally one is seen mounted on an extra-tall fence post, or on a 
bracket on the side of a building. Typically they were used to call 
farm workers to meals, hence the terms "dinner bell" and "farm bell". 
But occasionally they were put to other uses--I have seen them inside 
tiny cupolas atop small, poor country churches. One can imagine them 
used similarly for a one-room schoolhouse, but so few of those have 
survived that I have not actually seen such an installation.
4) I cannot help with this.

If you have more specific questions, I would be happy to try to answer them.

=Carl Scott Zimmerman= Co-Webmaster: http://www.gcna.org/
Voicemail: +1-314-361-5194 (home) mailto:csz_stl at s...
Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - 19th c. home of up to 33 bell foundries

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