Bronze bells for clocking

Bill Hibbert bill at h...
Thu Oct 10 11:10:34 BST 2002

Some answers to recent questions:

> Is there much difference between Whitechapel and Taylor?

Yes, they have different philosophies and approaches on various 
matters. Neither one is right or wrong, it is a matter of taste for 
those who care about these things. Both are reputable, highly 
competent suppliers.

> Whitechapel is almost more of a tourist attraction/momento maker.

Er, no! Both foundries encourage visitors under controlled 
circumstances, and are proud of their heritage (and who wouldn't 
be!). Both are in business to make bells and money, as I understand 

> I wasn't aware that cast bronze had a "skin."

I am not a metallurgist, but I understand the skin is a result of 
rapid cooling as the molten metal hits the cold mould. The 
crystalline structure of the metal is different at the immediate 
surface. Some people (the advocates of 'maiden' bells) say this 
surface improves the tone, others say that taking this surface off in 
the tuning machine improves the resonance of the bell - the 
expression often used is 'freeing-up' the vibrations.

> However I would guess all major foundries now use Finite Element 

This is not true, in my experience. It's not that the foundries are 
averse to technology, it's that the real issues in bell design and 
tuning lie elsewhere. I suspect the understanding gained from FEA 
(e.g. the studies by Lehr, and Perrin and Charnley) is now seen as a 
bit 'old hat'. The work confirmed, rather than replaced, the existing 

Most competent founders / tuners are able to produce a given result, 
if requested (i.e. they are masters of the design and tuning skills) 
but they still produce different results because they value different 
things. There is not a consensus as to what makes the 'best' bell - 
and long may it continue!

Bill H

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