Bowell & centre holes

Benjamin Kipling bdk at b...
Wed Jan 26 08:14:15 GMT 2005

>Bowell rarely if ever drilled a centre hole in new bells or old, and 
>often fitted false staples which were suspended from bell bolt 
>extensions. I have seen jobs he did in the 30's where this has been 
>carried out.
>Nigel Taylor

We (Hayward Mills) have just done some work at Smarden, Kent, and they certainly have centre holes. Complete 1922 Bowell 18 cwt 6, details on Dickon Love's website.

The centre holes weren't used for anything (except possibly the tenor - I have a vague recollection of a fifth bell bolt using the tenor centre hole), and the crownstaples were indeed false staples suspended on bell bolt extensions. The front five are on normal Bowell RSJ headstocks and the tenor is on two sections of channel back to back with about a 1" gap between and steel plates welded on top and bottom. The new crownstaples are conventional independent type, using the centre holes.

>Now you mention it, I recall reading fairly recently how someone (Whites?) 
>had adapted Bowell RSJ headstocks for independent staples by welding plates 
>to either side of the RSJ in line with the staple bolt and drilling down 

That's essentially what we've done on the front five of Smarden, but others may well have done something similar elsewhere. It also allows twiddle pins to be fitted.

Perhaps the centre holes were just drilled to fit the bells on Bowell's tuning machine. There's also a picture of the Smarden tenor on the tuning machine on Dickon Love's website. Bowell got the tenor fairly close to being in tune with itself, but the front bells drift out a bit. All of the bells are tuned at least most of the way up the inside. I sometimes wonder if the likes of Bowell and Warners struggled with harmonic tuning for so long just because they were trying to follow Canon Simpson's advice, without realising that Simpson was a bit wide of the mark as regards where to tune to control which partials. Alternatively, did Bowell and Warners just have duff tuning forks? Or were they even trying (and usually failing) to tune only by ear? No doubt there are those who can shed some more light on this.

Benjamin Kipling


Whatever you Wanadoo:

This email has been checked for most known viruses - find out more at:
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Bell-historians mailing list