[Bell Historians] Bronze bells for clocking?

matthewhigby at a... matthewhigby at a...
Thu Oct 10 11:45:37 BST 2002

> Is there much difference between Whitechapel and Taylor? Though I
> know little about any of the bell foundries, it does appears that
> Whitechapel is almost more of a tourist attraction/momento maker. 
> Other foundries, particularly the Dutch foundries seem far more driven
> by technology and production. Just my observation though.

In the course of my business, I have had dealings with all of those foundries 
except Paccard. 
In my experience, Whitechapel are far more driven by technology and 
production than some of the other foundries, however many of their production 
methods remain traditional. I find that they take time to research bell 
profiles & harmonics, and can cast bells to match existing rings very well if 
needed. Whitechapels tuning of old bells (in very recent years) is in my 
experience, superb. 

Whitechapel do have a foundry shop and I expect, make a lot of money out of 
selling merchandise. Taylors have a shop and a museum for similar reasons.

All of the foundries mentioned can produce excellent new bells and as far as 
I know, all of them can harmonically tune bells to a very high standard. As 
DJB said earlier, who's bells are best is probably down to individual taste. 
My personal favourites are Taylor bells (especially the early 20th century 
profiles with square shoulders) and Whitechapels Simpson mk 1's and G&J 

Look at Bill Hibberts site for details and tonal analysis of modern bells 
tuned at both Taylors & Whitechapel. http://www.hibberts.co.uk/

> I wasn't aware that cast bronze had a "skin." Would this be a scale
> or slagging, or an actual metallurgical difference due to differing
> cooling rates on the surface of the casting?

The skin on a bell casting is due to oxidisation and probably contains small 
amounts of slag. Myself and Brian White (Whites of Appleton) are of the 
opinion that the casting skin gives good resonance. If you look at the "Old 
Masters" such as the rings at Chewton Mendip & Ditcheat, the tuning marks are 
minimal, probably just three narrow bands of machining. Both rings have 
superb resonance. The modern trend is to cast the bells thicker and machine 
more metal out, during the tuning process. It is interesting to note that the 
Italian bellfounders cast bells to the note required. If they do not hit the 
required note, they regard the bell as a failure and recast it!

Hope this helps,


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