[Bell Historians] Questions - Bell tradition & Construction

Carl S Zimmerman csz_stl at ...
Tue Jan 31 05:56:36 GMT 2006


On American-made bells which were bought for civic purposes (alarm 
bells by fire departments, clock bells by city governments), it's not 
unusual to find the names of various officials involved with the 
purchase. However, "Ordered by" is definitely unusual. It's 
possible that Tucker donated the bell to the fire department, but 
it's equally possible that he was simply the head of the committee 
appointed to acquire a bell.

The arms you see inside the bell are clapper springs, designed to 
keep the clapper of a swinging bell from lying against the side of 
the bell after it strikes. They also serve the same purpose for an 
alarm bell, which doesn't swing but is rung with an internal clapper 
rather than an external hammer (as a clock bell would be). Your 
description of "ropes pulling the clapper from side to side" is 
typical of American-made alarm bells; that method was used because it 
produces a very rapid and loud sound which cannot be mistaken for any 
other kind of bell. For the same reason, the mounting in a tower 
could be original.

You didn't mention finding a date in the inscription on the bell. 
The Fulton foundry in Pittsburgh made bells for almost a century. 
Unfortunately the chronology of the various changes in the name of 
the foundry is not clear, partly because many of the Fulton bells are 
undated. The 1880s is certainly possible for your bell, but it might 
be later than that.

If you can supply photographs of the bell, I can tell you how it 
compares to other Fulton bells which I have seen.

Cordially yours,

Carl Scott Zimmerman, Campanologist
Avocation: tower bells: www.gcna.org (Co-Webmaster)
Recreation: handbells: www.gatewayringers.org
Mission: church bells: www.TowerBells.org (Webmaster)
Voicemail: +1-314-821-8437 (home) E-mail: csz_stl at ...
Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - 19th c. home of at least 34 bell
. . . . . . . . . . . foundries or resellers

At 23:03 +0000 06/01/28, edarata wrote:
>I am working on restoring and rehanging a bronze fire bell that was
>produced by A. Fulton's Son and Company, Pittsburg. PA (USA)in the
>late 1800's. On the outside of the bell is cast "Sutter Creek Fire
>Co. - Ordered by Wm. M. Tucker". - Question #1 - In the tradition of
>bells, if Tucker's name is prominently cast on the bell, is it safe
>to assume that he paid for the bell as a gift to the fire dept? -
>Question #2 - Inside the bell are thin metal strips or arms that
>hang down in line with where the clapper strikes the bell and it
>looks like there may have been strips of leather attached at the
>ends. They appear to be bumpers, what do they do? Are they found
>on bells that swing or fixed bells or both. Our bell has been
>mounted on a tower since 1907 and rung with ropes pulling the
>clapper from side to side, but was probably in a belfry before
>that. I can supply photos, if that would help.
>Thanks for any information that you can supply.
>Ed Arata
>Sutter Creek Fire Dept.
>Sutter Creek, California
>eearata at ...


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