[Bell Historians] unusual clappers

geoffrey roberts rbrts1035 at y...
Fri Apr 9 03:19:01 BST 2004

Richard Offen <richard.offen at o...> wrote:> Am I right in assuming that the bell now has a SG clapper? If so, 
> don't waste time altering that clapper. It will never be any good. 
> 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 
> 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 
> repair - but that cost pales into insignificance when you hear a 
> 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 
> as I do now. If anybody really doubts the difference between these 
> 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 
> 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 
> 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 
> have recently recommenced their blacksmithing facilities. Whites of 
> 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 
> in clapper work.
> Readers may be interested to know that the new ring of 12 at 
> has WI clappers throughout. The bells sound very good indeed - and 
no small
> amount of that is due to those clappers.
> Chris Povey

This is absolutely right. The tenor at St Chad's Shrewsbury had 
been fitted with an SGI clapper not long before I moved up here in 
1989. For several months after I arrived, I couldn't understand why 
the bell sounded so pathetic compared to the bell I'd remembered in 
frequent visits to Shropshire during the 70s and 80s, then I 
discovered that a new clapper had been fitted. The bell flatly 
refused to go up 'right' too, however many people were on the rope.

It turned out that Taylors had told the church that wrought iron 
clappers couldn't be repaired any more and they'd have to have a new 
one! I took the bits of the old clapper down to Whitchapel where is 
was forge welded and returned to its rightful home. The result was 
an instant transformation back to the rich, warm sound that we all 
knew and loved ...and the bell can be got up 'right' by two people 
who know what they're doing!

I often wonder what Canterbury Cathedral would sound like with a 
decent set of wrought iron clappers in them?


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Hi, what is a 'SG' clapper? Also does wrought iron refer to iron smelted from bloomeries? Thanks, geoff<><

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