[Bell Historians] St Peter's Italian Church

Carl S Zimmerman csz_stl at s...
Sat Sep 28 16:01:40 BST 2002

At 23:08 +0000 on 2002/09/27, Bill Hibbert wrote:

>Basic details: 228.5cm in diameter (about 7'6"), nominal 395.6 Hz (G
>+15). Inscription unfortunately pretty much unreadable.

Chris Pickford supplied the details of the now-unreadable inscription 
from "Rubbings in Tyssen Collection, Society of Antiquaries". 
Unfortunately that wasn't accompanied by any indication of when the 
rubbing was taken, otherwise we might be able to estimate how long it 
took for the inscription to corrode into unreadability.

While steel bells are certainly much more subject to corrosion than 
bronze bells are, the rate and degree of corrosion are highly 
variable. The 1860 octave of Naylor Vickers bells which I discovered 
earlier this year in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, are in excellent 
condition, as are three huge bells here in St.Louis that were cast in 
1911 by the Bochumer Stahlverein of Germany. (Other names for that 
firm are known.)

At 10:09 +0100 on 2002/09/28, jim phillips asked:

>... would a coat of anti corrosion paint affect the bell tone?

Most American steel bells sound so horrible that nothing could make 
them worse. While they weren't painted originally (as far as I can 
determine), many of the surviving ones have been painted. (Sometimes 
the result is visually horrible, too!) I've not been able to hear 
that such paint makes a detectable difference to the sound, but 
that's not to say that proper instrumentation couldn't detect some 
differences, particularly if the paint were thickly applied.

The 48-bell Eijsbouts carillon installed a year ago in Springfield, 
Missouri, appears to have had its bells sprayed at the foundry with 
an extremely thin paint in a pale bronze color. Possibly this was 
for visual effect, since the bells are highly visible from the 
ground. Certainly it does not detract at all from the sound, which 
is very fine.

However, there is an alternative to paint as an anti-corrosion 
treatment. For some years, I've occasionally heard mention of an 
oil-based treatment to protect bronze bells (though I've not yet seen 
it in place). The Lancaster steel bells mentioned above have 
certainly been treated with such a substance; I was told that this 
was done when Schulmerich replaced the chime transmission a few years 
ago. While it does give the bells a dark and slightly damp 
appearance, it does not drip, and apparently is not at all volatile. 
It doesn't obscure the inscriptions at all, though it remains to be 
seen whether it will eventually collect enough dirt (a la vehicle 
motors) to do that.

If someone is concerned about preservation of St.Peter's great steel 
bell from further corrosion, I would strongly encourage investigation 
of possibilities along this line.

Carl Scott Zimmerman, CCP <XNS-Name:=Carl Scott 
Certified Computing Professional (ICCP) Campanologist
Co-Webmaster: http://www.gcna.org/
Avocation: tower bells / Recreation: handbells / Mission: church bells
Voicemail: +1-314-361-5194 (home) E-mail: csz_stl at s...
Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - - 19th c. home of at least 33 bell
. . . . . . . . . . . . . foundries or resellers

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