More on steel bells

Bill Hibbert bill at h...
Mon Sep 30 21:49:03 BST 2002

Picking up on several different discussions:

> Can steel bells be tuned?
Well, there are two answers to this question. They can certainly be 
put on a vertical lathe and have metal taken off (though those more 
knowledgable than I might comment on whether different tools are 
required for cast steel than bronze). By this means, one could align 
the nominals better and perhaps gain some improvement. But based on 
my limited analysis (of seven bells only), the basic shape of Naylor-
Vickers bells is not good, and there would be great limits to what 
improvement could be made to the tone of individual bells.

My guess about N-V bells is that they are far too thin for their 
pitch - which means that the options for the tuner are pretty 
limited. This is only a guess, it would need confirmation with a 
proper set of measurements and analyses. That it would be possible to 
cast a true-harmonic bell I have no doubt.

> Rust has six to ten times the volume of the metal from which it was 

My comment to Dickon (while perched on a girder high above 
Clerkenwell) was that the rate of corrosion of a square inch of a 
steel bell's surface ought to be independent of the thickness of the 
metal. Therefore, a big bell like the one at Clerkenwell would lose 
less metal proportionately over a period of time than a smaller one. 
Ergo, it will sound more like it did originally.

> Clocking as a risk to the Clerkenwell bell

Getting the clapper swinging enough to hit the bell took quite a lot 
of hauling on the chain. Unlike a normal-sized clapper, holding this 
one against the bell seems impossible due to its weight. So, I think 
the chances of the bell cracking in this way are small.

Now, I'm off to analyse a peal of bronze bells to regain some sense 
of normality . . .

Bill H

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