[Bell Historians] unusual clappers

Chris Povey cmpovey at 3...
Thu Apr 8 19:23:44 BST 2004

> I would suggest that the Tenor at Whalley, Lancs (where I rang for
> many years) should be one of the first for this remedy.
> The clapper was changed in the 1980s, and origonal was substituted
> for the present clapper when it broke.
> What was once a fine bell (all eight were cast in 1924- Part of
> Taylors "Rolls Royce" period), is now really a 22cwt bucket. A shame.
> Alan

Am I right in assuming that the bell now has a SG clapper? If so, please
don't waste time altering that clapper. It will never be any good. The ONLY
solution is to fit a wrought-iron clapper. Get the old one repaired or get a
2nd-hand bottom end of the correct size and have a new top-end put on. SG
clappers are inferior to WI clappers on two counts: firstly, because of the
thick shank sizes and bigger flights, the dynamics are very different*; and
secondly, SG is softer than WI and doesn't bounce when it strikes the bell
half as much as WI does. Anybody who has responsibility for a classic ring
has a responsibility for ensuring it gives the best sound. I'm sure every
Stradivarius is played with the best possible bow. Repairing WI clappers is
not cheap - a new SG clapper is almost always cheaper than a WI clapper
repair - but that cost pales into insignificance when you hear a glorious
bell giving its glorious sound again. We have SG clappers for Evesham's 11th
and tenor - they were purchased back in the 80's when the WI clappers broke,
SG was in the ascendant and I didn't know as much about SG and WI clappers
as I do now. If anybody really doubts the difference between these two
materials, I will change the WI clapper that is currently in the tenor for
the SG one so that they can hear for themselves. There is a big difference.
Our glorious tenor is not so glorious. Similarly, when the extra treble was
installed in 1992, it didn't have the sparkle of the old treble. The SG
clapper supplied with it was big and chunky compared to the WI clapper of
the old treble. I watched the two bells being rung together and the WI
clapper bounced far more on the soundbow than the SG one did. We had a WI
clapper made for the bell and it now has the sparkle of the others.

* The only exception to this is the machined SG clappers from Eayre & Smith,
which do mirror the shape and therefore the dynamics of WI clappers.

Whitechapel Bell Foundry has never stopped making WI clappers and Taylors
have recently recommenced their blacksmithing facilities. Whites of Appleton
also undertake such work. Do not bother repairing WI clappers by arc or gas
welding, because it destroys the grain effect in the WI. These clappers need
fire welding and forging to ensure a full-strength repair. There's no point
encouraging a breakage; get repairs done properly by blacksmiths experienced
in clapper work.

Readers may be interested to know that the new ring of 12 at Kidderminster
has WI clappers throughout. The bells sound very good indeed - and no small
amount of that is due to those clappers.

Chris Povey

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