[Bell Historians] Adjustable gudgeons
Carl S Zimmerman
csz_stl at s...
Tue Feb 15 15:33:13 GMT 2005
At 07:44 +0000 2005/02/15, David Bryant wrote:
> > BTW, I've long wondered - what is a stock that's not a headstock?
Ah - a headstock that doesn't move. That makes sense, but also
suggests more questions:
- Is a deadstock always the same shape as a (non-tucked-up)
headstock would be?
- Does this term also encompass the part of the frame of a chime or
carillon from which a single bell is suspended? (That's typically
how large and medium bells are hung in steel-framed instruments,
though not in old American timber-framed chimes.)
On further reflection, I think that "yoke" is not precisely
equivalent to "headstock". The latter term derives, I think, from
the piece of timber to which an old English change-ringing bell was
fastened. (Compare "stocks", the timber frame into which
colonial-era miscreants were fastened for a day of public derision.)
Before welded steel headstocks enabled greater flexibility of design,
modification of the period of swing of a bell was more difficult than
it now is. A small amount of tuck-up could be accomplished by
notching the center of the headstock; the gudgeons could be fastened
at various positions on or under the ends of the headstock; or the
headstock could be made taller as a counterweight. (The extreme form
of the last-mentioned is found in Spanish bells hung flywheel-style.)
Of course these methods could be used in combination if necessary,
but the adjustment was typically small, because change-ringing
compensates for the varying periods of swing by ringing to (or near)
the inverted balance point.
In contrast, all of the American bellfounders of the 19th c. hung
their large swinging bells for what the English bellfounders would
call "slow swinging", i.e., "well tucked up". This means that the
cast iron moving support to which the bell is directly fastened has
the shape of an ox yoke, hence the name. (A few very early American
bells do survive on timber headstocks which look rather like English
work of the period.)
The opposite extreme of bell-hanging is founding in Germany. (Is it
only a coincidence that Germany is also on the opposite side of
England from America, geographically speaking?) There the
non-tucked-up headstock is preferred for fast free swinging, which
produces a distinctly different "music" from that of an equivalent
set of free-swinging bells hung American-style.
Thus I conclude that "yoke" is closest in meaning to "well-tucked-up
headstock", rather than to the unqualified "headstock". (I also
conclude that we Americans ought to make use of "headstock" more
As always, I welcome corrections to these views from those more
experienced with bell hanging than I am.
P.S. In an exception to the rule, the Hooper/Blake bellfoundry of
Boston, Mass., used yokes which were specifically designed to have
counterweights attached to the top after the bell was hung, to change
the rate of swing. I have seen several of these which have a chunk
of stone, a large brick or a short length of scrap steel wired to the
top of the yoke. For an example, see the photos at
http://www.pinewoodlutheran.com/about/. Not all such counterweights
are this neatly done!
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