Restorations etc

David Cawley dave at
Wed Jun 24 01:05:30 BST 2009

Rod's remarks about that good old M&S eight at Axminster pre-restoration are very much to the point and in my opinion most appropriate. It is a pity therefore to read of his recent disappointment. Rings like Axminster was deserve to be cherished. It was always a pleasure to go there and enjoy what Rod describes and then go to the marvellous heavy six (JT 1925)  at Axbridge.

I also concur with his remarks about the pre-restoration ring at King's Lynn. I rang there regularly in 1964-5 including a couple of peals, and found them tough going after a while. They all had Mears single race ball bearings of 1953, but the majority of the fittings were Mears 1887, with a frame partly of that date and partly of 1766. This frame remains in the tower, the new frame beneath it. At the time of the recent restoration it was suggested that the two 1887 trebles might be recast, being vastly inferior to the other bells (including the 8th of 1893).  Taylors' recent tuning has made them far more acceptable, and the money was better spent on recasting and enlarging the uncharacteristically horrible Dobson 9th. The L&P tenor is a superb bell even at only 28-1-4 in C# ; this untuned bell retains its canons, which may account for some people finding it slow turning or "ringing its weight". If the natural speed of the bells is respected they can be appreciated as a fine ten and a good job in every respect, notwithstanding the recent, well-aired and now resolved problems, which were not of the Foundry's making. 

As I say, the bells were previously on Mears 1953 single race bearings. It used to be a "stock phrase" of Taylors that "these are of a shafting type which we do not consider at all suitable for church bells." In fact between about 1925 and the 1970's (when they went over to the off-the-peg double-row housings) Mears & Stainbank fitted thousands of these units. The substantial housings are beautifully engineered and I would hazard a guess that a sizeable number continue to give good service to-day. The main danger, as Rod says, is dirt, which may enter through over-greasing and bursting the seals; another danger is of course lack of use, which may cause spotting of the ball races. These are equally enemies of double-race bearings.     

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